Sunday, June 26, 2016

Nitram Charcoal FIRE Sale

Charcoal drawing by Kelly Borsheim; Valentina Memories of Venice
Dear Art Lover,
     There are only five days left in my Nitram Charcoal FIRE Sale.  If you receive my art newsletter or follow some of my posts on Facebook, you may have seen me share information about a recent fire at the new Nitram charcoal-making facility in Canada.  They have been good to me, featuring my charcoal drawings in their new promo videos and even sending me supplies – to Croatia and Italy! They even supported my Kickstarter bronze casting campaign in 2015.   
    Naturally, I want to help out this art supply company that has so much passion for art and good materials and a generosity above the norm. I will make a donation to help Nitram rebuild and will base it, in part, off of sales of my charcoal, pencil, and carbon pencil drawings.
To encourage these sales, I offer you a

20% SAVINGS on these works, good through June 30 [2016].

Just let me know which artwork(s) interest you and I will be happy to work out the payment details that fit your budget.
You may find these drawings mainly on the following pages. Some will be framed, a few not, but you may order as you like.

Charcoal drawing Hellcat at the Pitti male model on motorcycle

Details, as well as images of my travels in Italy recently with my brother Steve, are here:

Or, you may also choose to help Nitram rebuild directly, through their “Go Fund Me” Web page.  Check it out here:

Nitram Charcoal Fire in Canada
Nitram Charcoal Fire in Canada

    Happy Sunday and enjoy your week!  


Charcoal drawing Daydreaming female model sitting on couch
Charcoal drawing Enough! male model
Naken Gondolier Carbon pencil drawing of male model by Kelly Borsheim

Charcoal and pastel drawing il Dono  male model offering gift

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Florence Accademia Lorenzo Bartolini

Dear Art Lover,
     Having lived for many years in Firenze, Italia (translated to Florence, Italy), I have passed many a time and admired the Demidoff Monument by sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini.  My favorite of the marble allegorical sculptures is a mother holding her sick or perhaps dead child across her lap, in a not unlike the famous Pietà pose by Michelangelo.

     My brother Steve was recently visiting me here in Italia for the first time and we traveled around quite a lot to give him a brief taste of this country.  Naturally, while in Firenze, we went to the Medici Chapel (my favorite place) and the Accademia

     Besides housing Michelangelo’s famous “David,” the Accademia also houses his marvelous unfinished slaves, many more paintings and then..the gesso museum… a true delight.  This is where many of the plaster sculptures used to create a copy or copies into marble (with a point-up system) are stored.  Many will still contain the little black dots on the surface of the plaster.  These mark the high points in an area of each sculpture and help in the roughing out of the stone, so as not to remove too much material from any given area. 

Lorenzo Bartolini Plaster Sculpture Museum Accademia Florence, Italy
“Love, Vice, and Wisdom” by Bartolini
      Lorenzo Bartolini (Prato 1777 - Firenze 1850) is one of the artist with many sculptures here to admire.  One of my favorites is a composition of three children.  It is unusual in that it is mostly horizontal.  Sculptors often create vertical compositions that read well from a distance.  “L’Amore, Il Vizio e la Saggezza” (“Love, Vice, and Wisdom”) is dated as “before 1845,” five years at least before the artist died. The three children are arranged in overlapping reclining poses, a bit triangular on a round base.  It reminds me of Giambologna’s “Il Ratto delle Sabine” {“The Abduction of the Sabine Women”) in which the sculptor was seeking a perfect composition that enticed the viewer to walk around to see all sides.  [Note that the title of Giambologna’s composition was given by someone else AFTER the work was done, based on a popular theme in art at the time.]

     Shown here is the plaster model from which was carved the marble sculpture for the Metropolitan Museum.  I apologize that my images are not so clear nor show all the views.  My main camera died in my second fall where I reinjured my knee back in March.  Then this smaller camera I bought from a friend years ago and only used for backups died during my brother’s vacation.  My neighbors were probably relieved that I was not sporting a camera during our recent dinners together.  Another one has been ordered in anticipation of my first trip to Sicily soon.  Enjoy… and see the Accademia when in Firenze.  There is also a small set of rooms for the study of music.  They have many unique and/or antique musical instruments there, as well as a handful of research computers.

For more information on sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini, click here:


P.S.  Welcome Home, little Levi! 

Lorenzo Bartolini Plaster Sculpture Museum Accademia Florence, Italy
“Love, Vice, and Wisdom” by Bartolini

Accademia Plaster Sculpture Museum Florence, Italy
Gesso Museo - Plaster Sculpture Museum-Accademia

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sculpture Armature

Dear Art Lover,
     There are times when I realize just how much I left back in Texas.  Today, I am referring to my sculpture tools and supplies.  In the end, I found no reason to turn down what I hope will be a fun commission experience.  I had previously wondered if I would ever create another bronze after being disappointed with an experience I had with a foundry last year.  Now, it seems I will learn something about at least one foundry in Italia.

     Anyway, despite all the supplies and tools I have in storage in Texas, they will not do me any good in Italia.  So, I have bought wire and am using things that I find in and around my home.  It turns out that my landlord once again saves my days.  Not only does he allow me to borrow his tools, he also used to work in a metal shop.  Recently we drove together to Firenze to pick up in his van some furniture that I had bought from a friend.  Along the way he pointed out many of the greenhouses that he helped to create and install in Tuscany.   

     Thursday we returned with his dog Gregory to his former place of work and he cut a few pipe parts and grabbed a small metal “slab” and welded together a pipe to the base and created an adjustable horizontal bar to my specs.  This will be the part of the sculpture armature that will add extra support outside of the actual sculpture.  The sculpture will also have metal under the clay, or I may be using foam under the larger sections…just woke up from a nap with an idea on how I might be able to solve I problem that I have been mulling over.  Will keep you posted, if it works!

welding, sculpture armature, dog barking at fire, Tuscany, Italy
Gregory, the puppy, is not a fan of welding.  Tuscany, Italy

     Anyway, here is an image of the welding being done.  My landlord’s dog Gregory did NOT like the fire and apparently is a brave one, even at five months old.  He kept running right up into the work area and tugging on his companion’s pant legs to “save him.”  It was cute, and you may see a few more images of Gregory at work on my Facebook page.  However, it was dangerous and soon after this shot, I grabbed the puppy during a break from the fire and took him into another room to distract him.
sculpture armature is a support for the wax or clay original sculpture
The armature is what supports the weight of the clay and future mold.

      This second image I took today.  It shows a definite work-in-progress!  I am creating a bronze sculpture, possibly to also exist as a fountain if the new owners choose, that will in any event sit down inside of a small circular pond.  The upside down bucket you see is a visual space holder.  I want to create a design that looks beautiful above the top ledge of the wall, as well as have it look good as one approaches the pond and looks down into the well. I moved everything inside since we have been having many days of rain lately.

     This sculpture is an adaptation and enlargement of my original bronze “Cattails and Frog Legs” that I described in my last post here:

See more images of the bronze here:

I hope your weekend was a refreshing change of pace from your normal week.  Please share any of these posts that you find interesting.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Frogs and Cattails Pond Sculpture

Dear Art Lover,
     Recently I received a request to enlarge and make a few changes to my original bronze sculpture “Cattails and Frog Legs” for a pond.  The new composition will be over twice the size of the original piece for outdoor exhibition.  Being a bronze, the small work will also suit for outdoors; however, it will work better in a smaller garden, or at least a more intimate space, perhaps a small entryway or even an interior?

     I also like the frog and lily pad base to be exhibited resting on top of a mirrored tile.  The mirror’s reflections tend to resemble the effect of water.  I have seen tiles around 12” x 12” and perhaps they are also made in the 18” x 18” size?  Ask for them in your local hardware or home décor store.

     While I was looking through my images of the smaller bronze sculpture for reference, I came across this fun picture from when I was casting several bronzes in the limited edition when I lived and worked in central Texas.  It is a box full of newly cast bronze froggies!  They still need to be chased (a bronze term meaning to remove the bronze sprues and otherwise clean up the sculpture with metal-working tools).

Bronze Frogs After Bronze Casting Need Chasing
Box of newly "hatched" bronze froggies by Kelly Borsheim

Bronze Sculpture Cattails and Frog Legs by Kelly Borsheim
Bronze sculpture
"Cattails and Frog Legs"
bronze sculpture
limited edition of 99
19" h x 7" w x 6" d
© 2007 Kelly Borsheim

This bronze is available for only $1500, with the Layaway Plan available if that interests you.  She will ship from Austin, Texas, so if you send me a mailing address, I can get you a shipping quote as well.  You may see more images of “Cattails and Frog Legs” here:

Thank you for your interest and I will be showing you images of the new composition in the months ahead.
Bronze Frog detail of sculpture by Kelly Borsheim
Bronze Frog detail of sculpture by Kelly Borsheim


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Ciondolini – Language Lesson

Fuchsia flowers are also called ciondolini Italian language lesson
Fuchsia are also called ciondolini
Dear Art Lover,

     Today is Labor Day in Italia.  I am bummed because I was invited to a festa lunch today in a neighboring village, but it was cancelled yesterday due to a gloomy forecast.  The idea had been to enjoy eating lunch outside in the main piazza.  Today, thus far, has been a glorious day full of beauty!  I find myself annoyed that more times than not, it seems, the weatherman can be wrong, mess up your plans, and . . . get away with it.  Never even an apology!  Weathermen should never change occupations to becomes, for example, a brain surgeon!  Harumphhh.

    Recently, still living car-less (it turns out that the law in Italy has changed once again and it is more difficult than ever to obtain an Italian driver’s license), my neighbors recently let me tag along with them on a trip to a hardware and gardening store.  I took advantage of that!  I needed to buy some supplies to start work on my new bronze sculpture commission.  But I was thrilled to also be able to buy some jasmine, herbs, fuchsia, pots, and dirt.

     I replanted the colorful fuchsia (shown here) in a hanging pot and having it outside my kitchen window.  One afternoon last week, my neighbor Riccardo told me that the nickname for that plant is ciondolini (pronounced:  chon-doh-lee-nee), as in “little bells.”  He also pointed to my necklace, a braided piece of leather with cut cowry shells hanging along the leather.  He said this would also be referred to as ciondolini.  And he went home to get ready for cake baking. 

    A mutual young friend of ours Andrea had just passed his test for doing ambulance service.  The “boys” wanted to try to make an American Red Velvet cake to celebrate.  Other neighbors arrived and then so did Andrea’s parents.  We were standing in the little courtyard outside my door.  I was delighted to tell them that I had just learned a new word in Italian.  I pointed up to the hanging fuchsia plant and said, “It’s a ciondolini.”  Andrea’s mother is Italian-American, but has lived here for about forty years now.  She likes to speak English with me so she does not lose it.

     Well, she burst out laughing and demonstrated another object that is nicknamed ciondolini.  The other English-speaking neighbors and I were a bit confused, as if we were playing charades.  With the idea of bells in our minds, we were not expecting what she was acting out.  She had her legs spread wide and was waving her arms down in between them.  The light in my head went off.  Finally, I sang, “Do your balls hang low?  Do they frolic to and fro?  Can you tie ‘em in a knot?  Can you tie ‘em in a bow?  Can you … “  We English-speakers laughed, all being familiar with the song.

     When our group then entered the kitchen where Andrea and Riccardo were cake-making, I had to explain to Riccardo about Rita’s first thought in hearing the word ciondolino.  He was a bit embarrassed since he never intended to be birichino [naughty], a word that I learned some time ago.  Ha! 

     It turns out that ciondolino (singular; ciondolini plural) is a noun that refers to “things that dangle.”  Do we even have one noun to describe things that act/exist in that way?  Amazing.  The context would give the specific meaning.  So, the shells dangle from my necklace.  The fuchsia flowers dangle from their stems (in this case, like little bells).  And well, we all have some dangling anatomy at some point, right?

Happy Labor Day, Italia… and what a beautiful day it is thus far!


fuchsia plant, flowers, ciondolini, little bells
Fuchsia are also called ciondolini

Friday, April 29, 2016

New Studio Anniversary Tuscany

Dear Art Lover,

      Today is an anniversary of sorts for me.  It was one year ago today that a friend of mine introduced me to the man who would become my landlord.  He then showed my friends and me the house that would become my home and studio in the hills of Tuscany.

Tuscany Italy unfinished art studio space
2015 April 29 - future art studio - Tuscany, Italy

    You may see here that my main studio was not a finished space.  There were many problems with the house when I saw her one year ago.  It was mostly empty and the upstairs (which had never been used) had only new bare walls from an extension that my landlord did after he inherited half of his grandfather’s home.  [The other half was given to his aunt and uncle, who . . . naturally . . . live next door to me now.]  The woman who lived here before me made a complete disaster of the home, leaving animals locked inside while she moved out to a new love, I understand.  The kitchen had been completely gutted when I saw the home.  Parts of the house reeked of cat urine.  I was not so sure that would be salvageable.

     He had not been ready to show the house, but because I was looking and we had mutual friends, I saw this house along with many others around Italy.  But I had not made any decisions.  He told me that by my return in October, the house would be ready for me to see it again.  I then went to the USA for four months last summer. I looked around the States, as well, in every place that I visited, desperate to find a place to call home and stop the loss of time from constantly having to move.

    While I was still in the US last September, I was told that I needed to get my stuff out of storage in Italy immediately. I was desperate to find a home and not have to move my things twice. I wanted to see if this place had improved.  Over the summer, the long searching had tired me and I decided that I would take one of the two homes that I saw in this village.  I had decided that this one would be the best for me as far as access [for stone carving] and my friends being neighbors.  However, my landlord had had a terrible summer caretaking for his wife until she passed, just about two weeks before I returned to Italy.  My friend was afraid to even ask him about showing the house.  And, naturally, not much in the house had changed in those four months.

     In the end, this dear man not only let me sign the contract, but he gave me a place to store my things across the mountain while he continued working on the house.  He found me a driver with a van that I hired to move everything.  For two months, I stayed living out of a suitcase in temporary quarters in Firenze.  I was waiting for a student who later cancelled the trip to Tuscany due to a serious injury. On December 3rd, I moved into the house next door until my house was livable. This was wonderful.  I was amongst the trees and each day, I got to see what the workers were doing and even helped my landlord with various tasks and decisions.  It was a fun way to get to know someone and I began to be happy again.

home and studio of visual artist in Tuscany, Italy
2015 October 12 - for the love of Nature - view of studio
     I could see that he was getting tired and I felt that the approaching holidays were depressing him.  He just said that it was best that he keep busy.  So, we did.  I moved in after my Christmas guest returned to her home in Firenze.  So, here is an image of my main studio room on 29 December 2015.  My neighbors and my landlord gradually helped me to move my things from across the hill, even before I moved to the real house.  Each day, my future brightened and my heart soared. 

Tuscany Italy moving into art studio space
2015 December 29 - moving into new studio - Tuscany
      Just before Valentine’s Day, I had my first official and overnight house guest, a dear friend from Serbia.  It was cold and rainy most of the visit, but hey, I have a fireplace now, and so we snuggled up in front of a roaring fire, playing music videos on my laptop, dancing, singing along, drinking wine and together making quite a good meal. And the chocolate… with rum inside!

two women friends relax before a fireplace in Tuscany, Italia
2016 February 12 - Enjoying a fire with a friend - new home!
     However, I still had no heating upstairs and told my landlord that I thought it might be more economical to buy a stove in the springtime. I was fine living on the bottom floor this first winter.  Italy often teaches foreigners a new sort of patience, but also, what sort of person would ask a grieving and hard-working man to add to the list of all he had done for me to also climb up high to cut a hole in a ceiling or a wall and all that?  In the middle of winter?  It could wait.  It has waited. 

     However, the temperatures are warming.  I have not used my upstairs studio room much yet since I am working on a mural and a sculpture commission now, had been to Firenze to teach that healed-up student for a month, and am still recuperating from two [same] knee injuries already this year (stupidity and a lack of grace are not good bedfellows).  And my sweet landlord and I still have a few things we want to do for the studio [going vertical!].  I hope my long-winded story did not bore you, but seriously, every single day I feel grateful. 

     And a nice “Pay It Forward” thing is that I get to spend my house anniversary today helping my foreign neighbors apply for their residency. What a process life is!

Tuscany Italy art studio space, Toscana, Italia
2015 April 28 - Art Studio with pond diagram on floor - sculpture commission

Tuscany Italy artist art studio space, Italia, Toscana On Easel
2015 April 28 - WIPs [works-in-progress] on the easels in new studio

Monday, April 25, 2016

Festa della Liberazione Italia

Dear Art Lover,

     My friend Ale popped onto Facebook chat this morning to say hello.  It went like this:
Alessandro:  Buon giorno!
Kelly Borsheim:    ciao! Come stai e buona .. FESTA???
Alessandro:  bene,oggi è il giorno degli americani!
Kelly Borsheim:  cosa? pensavo partigiani.
Alessandro :  senza i soldati americani sarebbe stato impossibile! anche se i partigiani si prendono quasi tutti i meriti......

Which all means:
Alessandro: Good morning!
Kelly Borsheim: hello! How are you and happy .. HOLIDAY ???
Alessandro: Well, today is the day of the Americans!
Kelly Borsheim: What? I thought [Italian] partisans.
Alessandro: Without the American soldiers, it would have been impossible!  Although the partisans take almost all the credit ......

protecting art and sculpture with sandbags on Church Orsan Michele Florence Italy
Orsan Michele, Florence, Italy circa 1944
     My 93-year-old friend Renato in Casignano (where I go to help with the olive harvest each Novembre) told me the first time he met me that he was just a boy when the American soldiers came to live in his home.  They made quite an impression on him… polite and friendly people, he said.  He also had the opinion that the Americans saved the Italians and I seemed to earn immediate bonus points with him, even though I could not have possibly had any connection to events of World War II.  Casignano is in the hills outside of Florence.

     Also on Facebook I got lost in looking at tons of images of Hitler and Mussolini’s visit to the Renaissance City, as well and the hideous scenes of the city after the bombing.  The images come from an album on the FB Page: titled Firenzepoco conosciuta  [The lesser known Florence]. 

     This first is an image of Orsan Michele, not far at all from where I used to street paint in Florence.  The Florentines moved most paintings and other portable artworks and valuables outside of the city and often into the hill country surrounding the city.  But for fresco and larger works, they built walls of sandbags and sometimes brick (as for the original ‘David’ by Michelangelo in the Accademia).  Granted if the art took a direct hit, it would be gone, but they were mostly trying to protect from shrapnel.

     This second is a gorgeous photo with the light and composition, but what a horror!  Hitler ordered some Florentine Jews rounded up, about 300, and sent to Auschwitz.  Only 107 of these people were deemed “good enough” for the camps.  The rest were killed right away.  In the end, only 8 women and 7 men survived the camps.

Florentine Jews rounded up and sent to Auschwitz
Florentine Jews rounded up and sent to Auschwitz

n bombs placed along the Lungarno Archibusieri-never detonated
Bombs along the Lungarno Archibusieri
     This third is an image of the bombs set up under the Lungarno Archibusieri, beneath the famous Vasari Corridor and beside the Ponte Vecchio.  The caption says this was August 1944, but the bombs were never detonated.  Still, what a sight.. and sadly, there are so many much more terrible!


     This last I share with you today from this historical album first struck me for its beauty.  The light on the ruin of Borgo San Jacopo is striking in its shape and contrast with the surrounding city.  But, oh, such loss!  Borgo San Jacopo has been rebuilt and you might never notice how ravished it once was.

Borgo San Jacopo Bombed During WWII - Florence, Italy
Borgo San Jacopo Bombed During WWII - Florence, Italy

Here is a good explanation and other context for 25 April 1945 and what it means to many Italians.
Google Translate does a good enough job on this article for you to understand it.

     Also, I shared an album of war-torn Florence on my Facebook page.  The album comes from a page titled “Firenze poco conosciuta”  [The lesser known Florence].  Find them here:

So, happy Liberation Day, Italia!


Kelly Borsheim, artist

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