It took me a while, but I finally found and took advantage of an art experience unique to Italy.
Back in the day (beginning in the 16th century), artists attended art academies where they were trained in the classical theories of Renaissance art. The idea was to elevate their status, so they would be viewed as more than simply craftsmen.
In Torino, where I am currently living, there still exists such a place ... the Academia Albertina di Belle Arti, founded in 1678 as the Academy of Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. And people like me can take classes there .... and so I did! I took two. One on drawing; the other on painting with watercolor, tempura, acrylic, and oil.
But the coolest thing was .... well...there were 2 really cool things.
First, our classes were held in the pinacoteca, which is just a fancy word for gallery. It houses works by Italian masters, so we drew and painted from them ... just like they did back in the 17th century and onwards.
Second, we made our own paint!!!
You started out with pigment and added honey and gum arabic (watercolor), egg and water (tempura), acrylic glue (acrylic), or oil (oil ;)
Here are some of my works in progress...