Friday, November 22, 2019

Art Workshops in Valleriana Tuscany Italy in 2020

5-day workshops in Valleriana, Tuscany, Italy in 2020:
This is actually a series of workshops so that you may plan your preferred time to visit Valleriana. 
Our Tuscan hills are located between Florence and Lucca, with Pescia being the closest town with rail and bus stations.  We can meet you there.
Art instructor is Kelly Borsheim.

Day 1:  Discussion of composition, with emphasis on Notan and emotional design; a bit about taking photographs for reference; Afternoon:  start touring in Valleriana with cameras/phones
Day 2:  More Tuscan touring in our old villages and the surrounding woods.  A 2-hour (maximum) tour of our Museum of Paper, featuring the Magnani Italian paper that we will use in class.
Day 3:  Morning tours; afternoon studio time to sort, edit, and choose each student's photographs to use for painting composition
Day 4:  Studio day starting paintings with your own images of your visit in Valleriana
Day 5:  Continue painting

Each 2020 Workshop is from Friday to Tuesday, with 6 hours minimum daily.  [I chose these days of the week since it is often more economical to travel during the week.  Also, many art museums, in Florence/Firenze for example, are closed on Mondays.  If you choose to extend your stay in Tuscany to hit the cities, everything should be open and available to you after (or before) the workshop.]

Dates for EACH 5-day workshop in 2020, your choice: 
May 22-26
June 26-30
July 17-21
August 07-11
September 04-08
October  09-13

Included: basic art materials, such as Magnani Italian hand-made paper, and your choice of pastels, charcoal, or watercolor. 

Not included:  food [although we have lovely restaurants in the area to let each experience our local Tuscan foods], and lodging [but I provide a list of local places to stay, and can help you make arrangements, no extra cost], art supplies if you choose to paint with acrylics or oil.

Bring:  What makes you happy, but also comfortable shoes for the season you choose.  Will will be walking in forests and old villages.  The cobbled stones and a few uphill stairways entice shoes that support well.

Price of workshop at $490, with optional extra painting day:  $95  [you may decide on extra day during the workshop if you like]

Early Bird savings:  $400, if order by January 31, 2020, with a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $50.
[Note  Nov 22, 2019: I am having trouble with the PayPal pay button coding, so please send me an e-mail at  and I will send you an invoice via PayPal.  You may pay with any credit or debit card that they accept.  Thank you. ¬ Kelly]


For more information on this area of Tuscany, please visit:

We look forward to sharing with you this little paradise.  Come paint, learn, and breathe the clean air of our Tuscan hills.  Situated between Lucca and Florence (Firenze).  Pescia is the closest town with a train and rail station.

Castelvecchio in Valleriana, Tuscany, Italy

Monday, February 25, 2019

Natura Arte and Sapori

art exhibit in Castelvecchio Valleriana Tuscany Italy

I am pleased to announce a wonderful day-long event:  Natura, Arte, e Sapori [Nature, Art, and Flavors] on the 10th of March 2019, a Sunday.

Typically in March, the village above my home hosts the festival of the chestnut pancake [sagra del neccio].  We have loads of chestnut trees [Castagna] in the hills of Valleriana and the fall harvest time features the Sagra delle Frugiate [festival of roasted chestnuts].  One can often buy the flour and other products from chestnuts at these events.  They are fun!

The neccio [neh-choh] is traditionally cooked by heating many flat round stones [about 1 inch thick and maybe 8-10 inches in diameter] in the fire.  Then one makes a stack... stone, castagna leaf, ladle on some batter [just the chestnut flour, water, and perhaps a wee bit of olive oil], leaf, stone, leaf, batter, leaf, stone, etc.  The heat from the stone cooks the pancake in a short time.

Nowadays, some people use a long-hinged iron paddle.  Open the long arms, and place the batter on the inside of the round end, near the hinge.  Close it up and the hot iron cooks the pancake on both sides.

The neccio is then served with ricotta or another cheese or Nutella.  Rolled up inside.  Delicious!

So, then, my friend Danilo Giusti, is offering a tour of three of our ten castled villages of Valleriana that morning.  The villages are Aramo, Castelvecchio, and ending up in San Quirico for the sagra that starts at 2 p.m.  Meet up with him at 9 a.m. in Pescia, our nearest large town with train and bus station.

They will pass by La Pieve Ristorante, run by my friend Lara Matteucci and her parents for over 25 years now.  She asked me to put on a solo art show and demonstrate, as well.

So, we have a fun day planned for those who would like to get a taste of Tuscany!
If you would like more information about Valleriana, situated between Florence and Lucca, please visit this site that I created in English :

     If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Patreon, you may have seen a post in which I explained that I am currently working on some paintings for a competition.  It requires that no part or whole of any of the finished work or the work-in-progress may be seen online or in any exhibition prior to theirs.  I understand the desire to be special and new, but it leaves me feeling a bit strapped because it feels as if I am not working at all!  I mean, in the eyes of those who pay attention to my postings.  hahah...

Thank you for reading!
Kelly Borsheim

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Red, White, and Passion Painting

Still here, my art-loving friend?

I felt a bit wiped out after one month in vacation in Italy, Spain, and then Portugal.  This was a marvelous gift from a generous brother [all of my siblings are generous], but I get a little off-kilter if I am away from art-making for too long.  While I have been thinking about several unfinished projects, I also get intimidated that I am out of practice and will not have the ability to create what I envision.

To that end, I started a brand new painting yesterday to help get me into the flow.  But I am multi-tasking a bit.  Instead of completing this project before returning to the others, I chose to do another “red and white” painting.  You see, reds, as well as blacks, are slow-drying colors.  My goal yesterday was to layout the design on the wood panel and paint the red and the black sections.  I will allow at least two weeks for those colors to dry, probably longer.  Then I may continue with glazes to develop the form of the red cloth.  I will also be able to paint the white reflective object without having red or black bleed into this clean area.  It will also be easier to paint the marble slab.

This image shows how I started out with my easel next to my still life setup.  This helps me get started to make sure that my canvas [in this case, a ‘gesso-vero’ primed board] is the right proportion for my design.  I started off using the Sight-Size Method of lining up the model with the easel.  Horizontal measurements are easier this way.  It is also convenient because the light for the model is also the light for the canvas.  [The grey scarf suspended from the ceiling is a way to create shadows.  I want the right side of the cloth to be receding into a shadow area.]

However, as the second image shows, I later moved my easel back to my point-of-view position.  This may be more difficult for some artists because you have a lot less light on the canvas.  Adding a light for the easel often changes the light on the models, especially in the shadows and reflected light.  One reason I decided again to do this is because I am trying to move away from my training to paint EXACTLY what I see.  To do that is good training for the eye and hand, but it is terrible training to teach how to DESIGN.  I do not need to make an exact record of the objects I laid out.  I am more interested in exploring shapes [relating them to one another for emotional impact] and hinting at a story for the viewer to create or at least feel.  In this very simple still life, though, I want you to enjoy the textures of three very different objects:  velvet red fabric, porcelain roundness, and the amazing and fragrant passion flowers just off the vine.

Of course, my models will be long dead when I am able to continue this painting [the flower lasts only one day, unless kept cold, which is not possible here].  Thus, I painted as much of the flowers on the white background as I could last night [not realizing that I had a dinner invitation that interrupted my painting for several fun and delicious hours!].   I decided that the red color will be prettier if I get consistency on the bottom layer of color instead of working around jiggy-jaggy flower shapes.  As a side note, once I got all of the black, red, and reinforced white painted in, it became clear that I want to put in something subtle in the upper left background.  But I will wait on this since I have a few ideas.  Often the answer becomes clear as the work progresses.  How one travels the path helps determine later decisions, no?

Happy birthday, Aunt Carole!  

Gratefully yours,
Kelly Borsheim

Monday, May 28, 2018

Hello there! Are you enjoying this time of year? I would like to invite you to my first solo show in Italy. It is in Tuscany: Pescia, to be precise. It is a town famous for its productions of flowers [and greenhouses] and lies between Florence [Firenze] and Lucca. I will be showing a mixture of subjects with some new works never shown before, publicly. Come say a fun hello to father and son team gallery owners, Giovanni and Stefano. Here is the information:
Kelly Borsheim: Un Calderone d'Arte ~ figura, paesaggi e natura morta
[Minestrone was the original title]

Jun 9 – 29, 2018; artist reception: June 9 at 6 p.m. [a Saturday]

Bottega d’arte Salvadori
Via G. Amendola, 89
51017 Pescia, Tuscany, Italy
Hours: Monday through Saturdays, 9:00 – 13:00 and reopens 15:30 – 19:30

Solo show art exhibition Bottega d'arte Salvadori Pescia Tuscany Italy
Outside of booklet

Solo show art exhibition Bottega d'arte Salvadori Pescia Tuscany Italy
Inside of booklet

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Art Workshop in Tuscany

Bas-relief sculpture art workshop in Tuscany Italy 2018
One of the sample views of this area, from Castelvecchio in Tuscany

Dear Art Lover,
     I occasionally am asked when I will teach another workshop.  And 2018 is the year.  I am pretty happy in what I call paradise and home now.  It took me a while, but now I would like to share some of it with you.  So, I started my research to see what was already available to you so that I could offer something different.

     It seems painting is the thing, especially in plein aire.  And the subject is very well covered in Tuscany, Italy!  I decided that sculpture is too complicated for space, materials, and later shipping your project home.  However, as I was reminded when I broke my wrist this past June, bas-relief sculpture  is not only VERY do-able, but even more than 3-d sculpting, relief really lets your work on your drawing skills, your composition ability, and your story-telling.  Naturally, those are skills also used in painting. 

Bas-relief sculpture art workshop in Tuscany Italy 2018
Detail, The Gates of Paradise:  Florence, Italy
     I have set this for June 8-15, 2018.  Hopefully, we will have fireflies as we have my last two Junes here.  Magical they are!  I will meet you in Florence, Italy, [Firenze, Italia] where we will tour some prime examples of bas-relief sculpture, including seeing the famous Gates of Paradise.  By that evening, we will have moved up into the Medieval village that I call home:  Castelvecchio.  It is one of ten castled stone villages in an area collectively called Valleriana, the hills just north of Pescia.  Pescia lies between Firenze and Lucca, another charming walled city in Tuscany.
     Here is the link if you are curious for details:
     Accommodations here are with families, who let out apartments or small houses.  The prices are affordable and in January I will be posting a few images and prices of a variety of places from which you may choose.  The economy in the mountains seems a constant struggle and I would like to help out as I can.  That means that I will help you secure the place you like the best, but I will not add on any fees and your lodging payments go directly to the homeowner.  We will have a great time in a really pretty area and I will share with you all of the art information that I can, with six hours minimum of studio time each day after our Firenze adventure. 
    So, if you are looking for a last-minute stunning gift idea for the artist in your life, even if that is YOU, perhaps this is the sort of experience that would really make your 2018 and beyond.

Peace, Happy Solstice on Thursday, and enjoy all of this winter’s holiday festivities.
Thank you for being a part of my life.

Kelly Borsheim, artist

Bas-relief sculpture art workshop in Tuscany Italy 2018
One of the beautiful views in Valleriana you will see during the art workshop 2018

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Yoda in the Snow

Snow in Castelvecchio ItalySnow in Castelvecchio Italy
Snow in Castelvecchio Italy  Yoda in the Snow
Yoda in Castelvecchio, Italy
Dear Art Lover,

     So, I was up till about 4 a.m. last night, determined to distribute my art newsletter to the subscription list before going to bed.  [Sign up here if you would like to receive this in your e-mail inbox: ]  My neighbor has told me that if I close the shudders, my house will stay much warmer.  I did not move to be surrounded by trees just to close them off from my view, but recently, I thought to try this.  Thus, when I finally woke this morning, I discovered on Facebook that it was snowing in my village before I had even seen the outside for myself.  Oy!

Snow in Castelvecchio Italy  Azalea in the Snow

     Shortly afterwards I let Yoda, my neighbor’s dog, out of his house, before a neighbor dropped by and whisked me off to her place for an impromptu lunch invite.  But afterwards, I let Yoda out of my house and he and the dogsitter went for a wee bit of a stroll before dark.  Here is a taste of our little winter adventure just outside of Castelvecchio. Sadly, the snow changed to rain as the day went on.  This is my first time seeing snow in Italy.

     Oh, so before I forget, this recent newsletter included a link to a new art workshop I will be teaching in June 2018 in Tuscany.  We will start in Florence, Italy, then move up into this Medieval village.. but no worries… the snow will be gone by June and instead, I hope that we shall see some fireflies!  Here is the link if you are curious:

Kelly Borsheim, artist

Snow in Castelvecchio Italy  Snow-Covered Cavalo Nero
No, these are NOT palm trees, but "Cavalo Nero"

Snow in Castelvecchio Italy  Yoda in the Snow

Snow in Castelvecchio Italy  Yoda in the Snow

Snow in Castelvecchio Italy  Yoda in the Snow

Snow in Castelvecchio Italy  Yoda in the Snow

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Olive Juice

Childhood in Casignano - Pastel Art of olive trees in Tuscany

Dear Art Lover,
     If you see my posts on Facebook and now Instagram at times, no doubt you have seen images of my landlord’s scruffy little Terrier [terror?] dog named Gregory.  He is two years old now, and I get to be his babysitter at times.  Yesterday, Gregory got to visit a frantoio, the place where olives are squashed into olive oil, or green gold, as we call it here.  First the olives are filtered to remove as many of the leaves as possible.  That is what is happening in the conveyor belt images you see.  This frantoio is in the process of changing technologies, as many are. The laws are getting stricter and many of the established places using the large crushing stone mills are deemed too dirty to be able to continue.  But here, you will see the old machines in the background.  

Trimming olive trees after the harvest
Trimming olive trees is an ongoing process, even an hour before pressing.

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Gregory enters il frantoio!
dog in the car on the way to olive pressing into oil
Gregory loves a road trip!

     I was surprised that they even let me in with Gregory and even though I tried to get as many pics as I could of the dog near the action [just for fun], I was conscious of the gift of everyone sort of turning a blind eye to this.  Although, Italians are accustomed to seeing dogs in places that American stores and businesses would never allow.

     Oh, and the title of this post “Olive Juice” is a play on words that my aunts and mother have used.  Maybe it came from a book or film?  If you say it right, it sounds like “I love you.” 
     This year's olive harvest was low in general due to the drought in the spring and summer.  I did not participate much at all, other than one day cooking lunch for the two Tuscan brothers who work this land near my home [the eldest being my landlord, the youngest is the owner/cook at a local restaurant].  However, for me, hearing them both say that what I cooked was GOOD was pretty rewarding.

     However, in Casignano, outside of Florence, where I used to help with the olive harvest, the family I know there did the harvest without their patriarch, Renato.  He died this summer at the age of 95.  I went to Casignano for the funeral, but did not return for the harvest this year.  My thoughts are with them.  So, here is a pastel painting that I did of Renato’s grandson Marco running down the gentle sloping hill towards some of their olive trees.  I love the freedom in this image and hope that it does something good for you, as well.

Childhood in Casignano - Pastel Art of olive trees in Tuscany

Childhood in Casignano

12 x 18 inches
Pastel on UART
Acid-free Premium sanded paper
© 2017
Kelly Borsheim
Ships unframed, but mounted on foam core, from Austin, Texas.  [Pickup is available, if you like.]
Please contact me if you are interested in this artwork.

Peace and thank you,

Kelly Borsheim, artist

P.S. IF original art, while affordable, is STILL a bit out of your budget, or the piece you adored has sold?  Or do you like arty things in different formats, to surround yourself with art?  Looking for a gift?  See my store online for pillow, phone cases, shower curtains, towels, tote bags, and yes, even prints on metal, wood, canvas, and so much more:

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
This year's harvest was low due to drought
Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Lovely how people help one another!

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Neighbor Kathy took this shot of Gregory and me in front of the old crushing stones.

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Those EARS! 

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
First filter to remove leaves and stems

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Green olives in foreground are being weighed.

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Some of the older presses

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Cool that people get to work on their own oil!
Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Final filter after centrifuge

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Sitting on my lap and watching the final filter

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Green gold olive oil

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
Gregory, il capo -- the boss :-)

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
They carry this to a nearby location to pour the oil into the owner's containers.

Olive Harvest Tuscany Italy Frantoio pressing olive oil green gold
This expression just amuses me.