Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tuscan Table Painting Art

Dear Art-loving friend,
      There is comfort food and comfort art.  This next painting I share with you gives me a very peaceful feeling and memory.  I had gone with a close friend to the southwest region of Tuscany, to an area called Maremma.  She wanted to buy a tombstone for her late father who is buried in the area.  When we stopped to visit at the home some of her long-time family friends, I was struck by the light in the dining room and the rich wood of the table in front of old chairs and stone walls.  This room invited me.  I let them visit each other . . .

      “Tuscan Table” is one of my oil paintings on primed Italian-made heavy thick watercolor-like paper.  She is 74 x 54 cm (or 29 x 21 inches).  I will offer FREE worldwide shipping if you would like to buy this original work of art for your own home or the collection of another.

Just contact me via e-mail ( or call (0039) 334.245.0129  [Italy].
Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

PS.  Happy birthday to my sweet sister Amber, founder of

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ExTempore Art Festival Grožnjan Grisignana Croatia

Dear Art-loving friend,
The ExTempore Art festival that I wrote about in the previous post on Grožnjan, Croatia, had a deadline on Sunday, 10 a.m.  All 2-dimensional artworks had to be turned in before that time.  If the earliest registration time was Thursday morning, then each artist had a maximum of three days to create his masterpiece.  I had only spent a couple of hours on Friday working on my surprise entry.  

On Saturday morning, I had taken a walk to another little village up the hill from Grožnjan.  For me it was an escape into sanity to be out in the country air in mountainous areas, dirt roads, and stone buildings.  I returned to meander among the stalls selling antiques at the festival.  

After lunch, Marino locked up his gallery and again we drove out to his home.  I studied the plants in his garden and the woods behind his home.  We are starting off castagne [chestnut] season, the trees loudly and periodically dropping their nuts.  Then I took my obligatory nap, loving being outdoors.

It was not long before I got out the paints and plastic bags I had used as a palette the day before.   I had done some thinking during the night and wanted to add a few things to my composition, despite the short time I had left.  I even painted while another artist from the symposium in Bulgaria where I met Marino dropped by with his wife.  They left and another couple arrived for dinner.  So the hour was getting late and pacing oneself is an important part of the work, at least when there is a deadline and you are at the mercy of others in their lives.

Marino hunts cinghiale (wild boar) and he had prepared a dinner for our little group of artists, including Saša Kosanović and Željka Gradski, artists who have a gallery selling their photography and paintings across the little stone road from Marino’s gallery.  Marino served up his own hunted cinghiale with gnocchi and peppers from his garden:  a lovely and tasty way to dine!  During dinner, I heard about “Big George” … really called “Jure Grando. He is said to be the first vampire in Europe.
Maybe that was why I woke around 4 a.m. and looked out of my bedroom window back in Grožnjan.  What a joy to see the constellation Orion above me!  So many stars that city life cannot offer.
I still managed to get some sleep before really waking around 8 a.m.  Marino suggested that we turn in our paintings early since the crowd would start to gather around 9 a.m.  They actually have a pretty good system in place.  They stamped your empty canvas day(s) earlier to insure new art and when you turn in your piece, they instantly photograph it with a plain background.  I was told they had a long-distance juror, but these images allow them to not only document each year’s entrants, but gives them an easier ability to create publicity or send images to magazines or newspapers, even on the Internet.

After the photography is done, artists wander off to find a place along any wall (except the church’s) to hang the art.  Marino, Saša, and Željka already had nails in exterior walls around their gallery.  Marino took this shot of a sleepy me with my work “Elettricità’”  in acrylic (60 x 80 cm).  The next image is of our artworks along one wall.. .mine, Marino’s and Saša.  [Saša won third place with his photograph (right) and bought drinks for all of us later that evening!]  And two of Željka’s colorful compositions grace the wall in front of her gallery.

We returned to the caffe with the best morning view in Grožnjan and I enjoyed a strudel stuffed with soft sweet cheese and a freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.  By the time I returned to the registration area, it was obvious that Marino knew his stuff. The line of artists waiting to enter their artworks extended beyond the town’s outer wall.

Back inside again, I was delighted to see an exhibition of … FUNGUS!  I had never seen so many varieties in one place and I loved the display of them against the green moss. 

Although two entries, this pair won Second Prize.  I like them as I composed this image.

This pair of paintings is obviously by the same artist.  The one on the right, however, was a prize winner.

This child hanging from a clothesline was the First Prize entry this year! 

I was surprise to meet a lot of other artists that had participated in the Russalka symposium in Bulgaria that I had attended this past July.  They had created art there in earlier years, but we knew some of the same crowd.   I had an idea that it would be fun to take a group image and share it with our various colleagues.  This was taken inside of Marino’s gallery by the brother of one of the artists.

The 5:30 p.m. awards ceremony was packed with  all sorts of people and the winners were well-chosen.  Afterwards, interviews were taken and the band recommenced while  the party moved on into the dinner hour.  I chose to disappear, not knowing many people anyway, and sat on one of the city walls to watch the sunset.  Life is so very peaceful here!

Calimara was my lunch choice, having received a voucher from the contest organizers.
Saša Kosanović with his award for wonderful photography.

The next morning involved a trip to a few spaces along the coast.  I had come to research a place to live because I must leave Italy for a bit later this year.  People here in Istria were so friendly to me and I have a lot of things to work out, but I may be back for the winter.
I hope that you enjoyed this art festival and I thank you for your continued interest and support.
Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Grožnjan Grisignana Istria Croatia

Dear Art-loving friend,
While I was sculpting stone in Bulgaria this past July, I met a slew of artists.  One of them was Marino Jugovac from Grožnjan [known also by its Italian nameGrisignana].  It is a part of Istria, the north-western part of Croatia.

Grožnjan is a beautiful little town, full of stone-paved streets, old buildings, and lovely views from its hilltop location.  Marino had invited me to visit for a long weekend during an arts festival, held annually in late September.  Normally, many told me, the foliage is a bright red during the festival, a vision I wish that I had seen.  However, it has been a strange year for weather for many, Croatia included, and autumn has not really arrived yet.

Grožnjan / Grisignana is a city that is known for a two-string “cello” called “Bajs,” instruments that are played in Istrian folk music.  There is a "string" of music fests during the summer.  They are famous for jazz, too.  Also, in 1902, a  set of railway tracks named the Parenzana were built so that trains may aid in the transport of agricultural products and general commerce.  The trains no longer run, but many bicyclists and hikers follow the existing trail through this beautiful region.

According to the brochure: “In the 3rd century B.C., all of Istria including this region was settled by the Illyrian and Celtic tribes.”  Romans began to dominate by 539 B.C. and later (around 339 B.C.) Istria was under Byzantine domination.  In more current times (1358-1797 A.D.), Istria was under Venetian administration.  Grožnjan prospered under Austrian rule.  There is a lot more to her history, but in 1954 she became under the rule of Yugoslavia, after which three-fourths of the families decided to leave.   Proclaimed in 1965 as a city for artists, Istria is now part of Croatia.  This means that she, for the time being, is NOT a part of Schengen territory (hence my immediate interest).

Allora, through my lack of language skills, I arrived not really sure that the festival was happening during my visit.  I had looked at various Web sites and it seemed unclear to me what was or was not going on in Grožnjan.  But before 2 a.m. I was on the overnight train from Firenze to Trieste (Italia) and my friend was there to pick me up in his car at the station around 9 a.m.  It was not a far drive (one hour?) to Grožnjan. 

After a coffee (only an expression for me since I rarely partake), I got to explore the area a little bit, snapping off a few images as something caught my fancy.  Then we had pizza for lunch at a new place in town called “aModoMio” (My Way).  It was very good!  After that, Marino took off for a bit and returned with a blank canvas (60 x 80 cm).  He told me that he was giving it to me so that I could enter the competition.  We walked over to a “loggia” (covered porch) and the canvas was stamped on the back.  I was given a number and became officially registered!  Now what? 

Apparently “Extempore” is an arts contest that wants to insure new work.each year, days or hours old even!  They do so by having many registration points in the cities and towns in the around Istria, including Trieste in Italy.  Artists bring any canvas or art support they choose and have it stamped on the back to verify its “blankness” as they officially register for that year’s competition.

After that, we drove out to San Valentino (population of 3, I was told) to paint for a bit in Marino’s studio.  It was lovely to pass giant pumpkins being harvested by, I supposed, the other two citizens.  After a little tour and then a delicious nap lying in the outdoors, I started on the only real idea I had had after seeing that I was to work with acrylic paints and stuff very stiff old scraggly brushes.  I am not known for my speed, so I can tell you that I was a bit mortified at the idea of creating something pleasing in a matter of hours using materials that are not my own.

Thankfully, engineer John Borsheim had given me an interest in Nikola Tesla and electricity in general.  Often when traveling I find myself taking photographs of insulators and such, thinking to send them to him once I am home again.  Marino had suggested that I try something way more abstract than my usual work.  I tried to see this as an opportunity, since I have wanted to loosen up a bit anyway and push myself in a more free direction. 

Here you may see my inspiration: a spider-like arrangement of electric wires.  They are actually right around the corner from Marino’s Atelier / Gallery in Grožnjan and come out the wall of his sister’s home.  All I had with me was my camera, so I looked at the image on my small camera screen, drawing the lines in charcoal onto the canvas after I painted and let dry the yellow and grey background colors.  I wanted to enjoy the process of being outdoors to paint and just breathe in clean air, away from any city.

I had hoped to see a lot of artists around as Marino took me back to Grožnjan.  I had a room for myself above his gallery in the center of town.  But he said that most were off in their studios working away.  By the time dinner was finished and Marino had left me in town, even the tourists had gone.  But what a lovely evening!

I will be back tomorrow to tell you want happened on festival day! 
Thank you,
Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher