Byline: Eileen O. Daday
Was it a pilgrimage or a working holiday that sent 11 local artists off to Giverny, France, to study their craft in Claude Monet's very own gardens?
"For an artist it was a fabulous lifetime experience," said watercolorist Vicki Morley of Arlington Heights. "Everything we did was art-related."
The group included Betty Morley, Sharon Larson and Kathy Wolan of Arlington Heights; Beverly Becker of Des Plaines; Rachel Berlinger, Linda Hall and Jacque Thomas of Barrington; Ingrid Albrecht of Chicago; Nancy Rayborn of Palatine; and Tillie Walowicz of Mount Prospect.
It was art that brought them together in the first place. The group first met after taking art lessons from Tom Trausch in Woodstock. Trausch first planted the seed for the idea of painting in Monet's gardens, and another American artist made it possible.
Gale Bennett has been teaching art for 30 years, but only two years ago did he find a lodge in Giverny to lease, offering up to 11 artists at a time a chance to stay there, study composition and dimension with him, before going to the gardens each night. The program is called Art Study Giverny.
He has worked out an arrangement so that his workshops are able to have access to Monet's nearly four acres of gardens, during the off hours when they are closed to the public. …