Office of International Programs

Comillas: Studio Art in Spain 2019

At a Glance

Topic: Studio Art 
Location: Comillas, Spain
Credit: 2 Brown courses (Painting & Drawing)
Approx. Dates: June 1 - 30, 2019
Application Deadline: March 1, 2019
Faculty: Brown Professors Leslie Bostrom and Leigh Tarentino 



Spend  a month this summer in Northern Spain creating an art portfolio while learning about Spanish language and culture. Comillas, located in Cantabria, boasts a stunning landscape in a smaller town with close proximity to larger cities.  Studio facilities sit on a hill near the old Pontifical Seminary (now the Fundacion Comillas), only steps away from the rugged coastline. Leslie Bostrom and Leigh Tarentino teach and direct this month-long program, which includes coursework in drawing and painting, weekly non-credit language courses, and local excursions.  Courses are able to accommodate students from beginning to advanced levels.  All coursework is taught in English; no previous background in Spanish is required. 

Courses and Excursions

Students enroll in both of the following courses. Courses are taught in English.

Drawing I and II: Introduction and Advanced

Working on site and in the studio with traditional drawing media – charcoal, graphite, ink wash, markers and ball point pen students will study the experimental and innovative potential of drawing. Weekly assignments will challenge students to encounter aspects of Drawing that are fundamental to visual thinking. Projects are aimed to develop drawings that stand independently as finished works on paper. Working from direct observation beginning students can expect individual one-on-one support daily and experienced students develop means of visual research that build advanced-leveled projects. Students will be required to keep a journal/sketchbook for drawings and personal notations collected during field trips as well as documenting studio developments and on-site observations. 

Painting I and II: Color and Pattern/ Nature and Culture

This high immersion studio class will investigate painting based on information collected from the surrounding environment and within the town of Comillas. Assignments will relate to the ocean, mountains, animals and Northern Spanish culture with an emphasis on color.  Assignments will stem from direct observation and selected visual findings within the landscape, field trips and local architecture. The class will accommodate both beginning and advanced level students through individual and group critiques. All students will be given access to a studio space allowing for a wide range of projects ranging in scale and materials. The minimum requirement of nine highly focused completed paintings is expected within the four-week course. Basic painting and color principals as well as conceptual critical thinking skills will be introduced. This course will include daily interaction with the professor and individual support throughout the program.  

Course-related excursions provide students with an opportunity to explore the area’s vibrant cultural scene.

Possible Excursions*

  • Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Museo de Bellas Artes
  • El Castillo Caves and Santander, Centro Botin and tour of the city
  • Field trip to Picos de Europa, beautiful mountains!  Fuente dé: cable car and route, Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liebana

*Excursions subject to change based on scheduling and academic programming requirements.

Housing and Meals


Students will be assigned to host families in the town of Comillas.  Each homestay is matched with student preferences in mind.  While Comillas is a small town, the walking distance to the classroom and studio space can range from 20-40 minutes. 

Students will have weekly meals with their host families, daily lunches at the studio, and some dinners.  Specific information on what meals are covered will be included when final costs are set.

Program Faculty and Staff

Leslie Bostrom is a printmaker and painter and Professor of Art at Brown, where she teaches printmaking, painting, and drawing. She is currently Chair of Brown's Visual Art department. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. A graduate of the University of Maine and the Rhode Island School of Design, she has served as Master Printer and Printer Consultant for several national artist presses. Ms. Bostrom is the recipient of three fellowships from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. One of her recent exhibitions was held in Seoul, South Korea.

Leigh Tarentino is an Associate Professor at Brown who graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design. She teaches painting, drawing, and printmaking, and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. A selection of recent exhibitions include a two-person show with Martina Lindqvist entitled Illusory Landscapes at Muriel Guépin Gallery (2014), a windows installation entitled The Night Hours at Mixed Greens Gallery, New York (2014), and a collaborative exhibition (2016-2017) with Nancy Friedman-Sanchez at Darger HQ in Omaha, Nebraska.  

Program Costs

To get an idea of total estimated costs from Summer 2019, view the 2018 estimated program cost page. Limited financial aid is available for eligible Brown students.

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