Thursday, June 9, 2011

Italy and living "la vita dolce."

I'm back from teaching a workshop at the fabulous Tuscan Renaissance Center in San Fedele, Italy. My carefree life of eating incredible Italian meals nightly, drinking cheap but marvelous Italian wine and painting the sun kissed Tuscan hills is over. However, since I am a painter, my tour will live on through my paintings.....

Here are some highlights of the trip:
I saw Snooki and JWow, of the Jersey Shore, in Florence. The girls and their camera crew walked past my table (I was close enough to give them a good slap, which from Snooki's smirking face, appeared to be needed), giving us all a cheap (very cheap in person, I dare say) thrill.

We were waited on hand and foot during the workshop at the Tuscan Renaissance Center and treated to EXPERIENCES, not food, every night. We enjoyed wine and olive oil tastings and some excellent serenading by Linda and Michael, who perform as professional singers! Wow!

I now realize why there's not much gold left in the world: every bit of it is in the Catholic churches and museums in Italy, ensconced in the frescoes, artwork, altars and chalices.

It appears that being an artist during the Renaissance might have actually been profitable.

Venice is amazing and you cannot take a bad picture in the town or run into a bad shop.

Even the most meager outdoor market in Italy has better fashions than one can find in.....Virginia.

There is no bad food or bad wine in Italy. This thought leads me to another thought: I may not be able to drink Virginia wine again or eat American food. Ugh. Food in Italy is a three hour, five course experience, utilizing only the freshest ingredients while our food here...... oh, well.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Best of.....

As my travels in France come to a close, I'm compelled to examine just where I've been and where I'm going. I'd like to share some of my favorites.

I believe that the best lighting and the best scenery for the painter are in France. The people are very accepting of "une artiste" and seem flattered when I'm squatting in front of their home, or their historic building or taking photos of their spotted cows.

The best toilets and t-shirt slogans are far and above in Japan. I visited toilet facilities that featured singing commodes, appliances that masked one's personal hygiene with the sound of romantic waterfalls, heated seats and self cleaning wands. The t-shirts, with their imaginative non-sequiters, were amusing. Among my favorites were: "Happy Trendy, " and "My Flamingo Best Girl Friend," and "You Make Sexy."

The cheapest place to shop is Ukraine. Unfortunately, there's nothing to buy.......

The greenest fields are in Scotland. The most beautiful, and plentiful, thatched roof houses are in the Cotswolds in Great Britain. The best mussels, frites and beer are in Belgium. The best gelattos are in Italy, and what a thrill it is to stand in the very center of old Rome and walk the cobbles which are trenched with the marks of chariots from one thousand years ago and hold one's hand beneath the spring fed fountain which nourished the ancient ancestors.

I'm blessed to see, and experience and visually inhale the sights of other countries and cultures. Through my paintings, I wish to convey to YOU the feeling and delight of another place and time. Au revoir and "bonne chance."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thanks to Les Amis de la Grande Vigne

The committee visits last night at the atelier

I want to express my thanks to the Committee of Les Amis de la Grande Vigne for the opportunity to come to Dinan and spend the month painting.

The artist Yvonne Jean-Haffen started the program before her passing at the age of 98 in 1993, and she bequeathed her home as a museum and the artist's studio as a place for artists to come and paint the beauties of Brittany. The Committee selects one artist each month to come to Dinan, and I'm incredibly grateful for the honor and am proud to join the ranks of excellent artists who have benefited from this remarkable program.

The only problem is that there is such a remarkable variety of natural beauty, historic scenes, wonderful characters, and amazing landscapes that a month isn't time to paint it all. But I've also been taking photos--more than 1,000 of them--so I'll have material to work with for a long time to come.

Merci beaucoup, Les Amis de Grande Vigne! a' Bientot!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dinan At Night

Nighttime comes late here--the sun sets around 10 PM, so working late one night, I came up with this scene as dusk turned into dark.

27 out of 30 Days....

In rain gear, and on the move

The opportunity of a lifetime! A month in France to paint in watercolor, but the entire 30 days is the rainiest July in recent memory. It has rained at least once all but 3 days so far since we arrived. What is the watercolorist to do? Other than curse, that is....

Work fast, find imaginative cover, and carry plastic bags, to start with.

I've found a number of other techniques that I'll share in classes and future articles when I return home and dry out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More to come

I know it's been a few days since we posted, but traveling and painting have superceded the Internet for the moment. I promise more very soon. Thanks to the many who have e-mailed and said they enjoyed the blog.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Water, Water, Everywhere

Low Tide at Cancale, France

The coast of Brittany and Normandy is full of little jewels for the artist. There are craggy mountains, cliffs of pink granite, hills covered in gorse and heather, and always there is the turquoise water. The range of the tides is enormous and we often pass boats that have been grounded by the low tide. In many locations, the tide will recede by one hundred feet or more, leaving the lonely little boats, rocks encrusted with mussels and scenic views.