Saturday, November 28, 2015

How long did it take you to make THAT?

Dear Art Lover,
Perhaps one of the most common questions artists get
asked is, “How long did it take you to make that?” Discussions among artists usually result in the ultimate response, “My entire life: Each thing I ever learned became the foundation of each new work.”
     This is hardly fulfilling to the onlooker, though, is it? He just wanted a simple answer to satisfy a curiosity, not really the whole truth.
     I hate this question because I have no easy answer. Most of the problem lies in that I rarely work on one piece at a time. And, no, I do not punch a time clock with each changing task or project. The other problem is that there is a difference between how long it REALLY takes to create a work of art and how long it takes just to EXECUTE the idea. For me, it happens in the brain for some indefinite amount of time, often longer than it takes to paint or even sculpt the baby.

     However, I decided to take a stab at some time frames and hope to satisfy some curiosity. As smarts would have it, these works are still available at the time of this writing. Just contact me if you would like to make one or more yours (or give as a gift). Subtle, huh?

     And please do not forget to visit the galleries who exhibit my work: See Don Elliott and Chuck at The Franklin Barry Gallery in Indianapolis and Mark Palmerton in Norman, Oklahoma, at The Crucible Bronze Foundry and Gallery.

Thank you for your interest!

Pelican Lips: Started carving in March 2006,
after I had already begun the Lips Series of stone carvings.
Finished: August 2006
Available: $3000.

The Lookout started out in the Spring of 1999 as “Jennifer,” a full-standing 3-d figure half-life-size, modeled from life. In those days, in order to jumpstart my career, I was casting two bronzes at once in each edition: one for a gallery and the other for my own exhibitions. However, the foundry in Bastrop, Texas, did a terrible job on the mold and wax work. When I called to make an appointment to proof the wax, I was told that they had already begun the ceramic slurry mold and it was too late! The result was that one bronze had a much-distorted thumb and a few other things that made me unhappy. I was so new to the sculpting business that I did not know I could refuse such work.
It was not until 2007 that I decided to cut her up and keep what I liked about her. I created a new composition, casting swirly fabric designs and then had them welding onto the existing figure. My new foundry needed a couple of months for this and John and I did the finishing work for this one-of-a-kind bronze. “Jennifer” became a wall-hanging as The :Lookout. So… eight years in the making? She is available for only $5,200.
Here is a convenient price list for all the available sculptures:

Stairway to Heaven, in Texas awaiting a new home
Then you have Stairway to Heaven, an angel (and a stairway!) carved out of a PINK limestone from Texas. I started March 8, 2011 and finished in October 2011. During that same summer, I also finished the marble “Gymnast” and the writing and editing of my book, “My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy” when I spent about two months living with my pregnant sister while her husband was in Afghanistan. Do you see the problem about “how long did that take you?”
Stairway to Heaven, is available for $900, if you do not mind the natural patina she has developed. Message me for more information, please.
Here is a convenient price list for all the available sculptures:

Comfort is a sculpture I made in clay [terra-cotta] that took about 2-3 days. I did not use models for this work.
And while the Web page says that I made a mold of this for a future bronze edition, I do not think that I ever did it, as life got in the way. So this is a unique piece. $1,200.
Here is a convenient price list for all the available sculptures:

Here I am with my charcoal drawing of a gesso (plaster) portrait sculpture. The gesso is a copy of the famous Italian sculptor Donatello's portrait of the banker of the Medici family, Niccolò da Uzzano. The original terra-cotta portrait sculpture is in the collection of the Bargello Museum in Florence, Italy.
For this project, I used the sight-size method of drawing [which means that all observations and judgements are made from about 2 meters from the art and LOTS of pacing the floor]. If you would like to learn more about sight-size, as well as see the finished artwork, click on the link below.
This work took me on average five hours, six days per week for about ten weeks. Niccolò is available for only $2600, or giclée reproductions are available for less than $500.
and check out the sizes and prices for the high quality reproductions here:

     Birds of Paradise probably took me two-to-three afternoons, between stone carving times: $575 for the pair 12 x 12 inch thick-gallery-wrapped canvas with metallic paint.

Happy, happy birthday(s) to my Aunt Nancy and my beautiful friend Kumiko Suzuki!
Thank you.



~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ti Ringrazio - Thanksgiving

Dear Art Lover,
     While many of my friends are backing out of the dinner we all signed up for that raises money to restore a work of art in the Church of Carmine in the Oltarno of Florence, Italy, I still feel grateful that each one of them is a part of my life. 
     I feel grateful to you, too, for sharing an interest in the arts, Italy, and or just living life as fully as we can and helping others to do so, as well.  And I wish you ever more abundance in love and health and even, happiness.

Thank you.

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

Monday, November 23, 2015

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant basilica church interiorDear Art Lover,
      Saint Minas (or San Miniato in Italian) was an Armenian prince.  He served in the Roman army, which is how he found himself in Florence, Italy.  He later survived being fed to a panther [the panther’s choice apparently], in the amphitheatre (Via Torta?) at the order of the Emperer Decius, because it sucks to have a religion that is different from the prevailing masses or leadership.  This Emperor (from the years 249 to 251) later watched as Minas was beheaded.  It is said that the newly dead saint then collected his head and walked across the Arno River and up towards what is now known as the San Miniato al Monte (St. Minias on the Mountain).

     The church was started around 1013 with various improvements added over the centuries.  Today the Olivetan monks still live and work there.  They still sell their own made honey, herbal teas, and famous liquers. 

     To learn more about San Miniato al Monte in Florence, Italy, check out these pages:

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant wooden beams ceiling
San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant altar

    For years I had heard of the special masses in Latin in which one could go to San Miniato and hear Gregorian Chanting. I imagined many male voices singing in harmonies and I have wanted to see/hear this for years, although I tend to forget a lot or have other plans on the weekends.  However, I decided to make a point to attend one such mass before I leave Florence this time.  My friend Alessandra said she would join me.

     Ale and I had met up in Piazza Santo Spirito to see friends and the antique/hand-made market that fills the square each second Sunday of the month.  Afterwards, we walked down to Porta Romana and caught Bus 12 up to the Basilica, the exit just before Piazzale Michelangelo.  I was glad that we arrived early.  The mass was to start around 5:30 and the fading light up on the hill overlooking Firenze was lovely.  We were too late to see the cemetery, which features wonderful sculptures, as well as the graves of Carlo Lorenzini [author of Pinocchio] and the artist Pietro Annigoni.

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant arches of art

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant church basilica

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant how old is this sculpture?
San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant unfinished fresco art
I found this unfinished fresco especially intriguing.

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant stone mosaic

     While I have been to the cemetery several times before, I had never been inside of the basilica. What a treat!  I really love the hand-carved and painted wooden beams on the ceiling, the mosaics in stone, and the sculpture and fresco.  The church goes mostly dark until someone puts a coin in a machine.  For some reason, I enjoyed being in the dark there, but I did take advantage of the light to photograph these images for you.

     The views from San Miniato overlooking the Arno River and downtown Firenze are pretty good, I would say.. er, I did say!

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant Fort Belvedere in distance

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant overlooking Florence Italy

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian ChantSan Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant view to Firenze


     The mass did not take place in the main open area with the pews.  Instead, it was a more intimate mass at a lower level “behind” the altar you see as you enter the church.  During the mass, Ale asked me if I understood the words.  I had already forgotten that the mass was in Latin.  As a child I remember enjoying the Latin mass.  It added to the mystery (along with tons of incense and bizarre rituals).  Not understanding the words was a blessing and was a great excuse for the daydreaming I have done all of my life when expected to sit still for any length of time.  Whether the mass had been in Italian or English, I would have daydreamed through most of it.

     I kept waiting for what I had come to see.  The priest was singing the mass… alone.  On occasion, a few voices in the audience joined in; sometimes I did, as well.  Then an old woman sitting to my left added her high and slightly off-key voice to the mixture.  I smiled.  I remembered going to Catholic Church as a child.  One time an old lady turned around and said to my father, “My, young man, what a lovely voice you have!”   My dad beamed:  he felt that he had been given TWO compliments with that one!

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant mass in Latin

     I still waited.  At some point, Ale asked me if I had heard enough.  I was unsure of how to respond, but since the money basket was being passed around, I understood the end was near.  She put some coins in and the next time the people stood up, we escaped.  Outside the mass, I apologized to her for making a mistake about which mass had the Gregorian Chants.  She looked at me in surprise.  She explained that Gregorian Chant just really means that the mass is sung and that all are welcome to join in.  Sometimes you will witness many monks singing, as I had in my head, and others, it would be just one man leading the show, as was our night out.   Hmmmm.

     We walked down the hill to the Ponte alle Grazie together.  She went to meet with our friends, while I went home to continue my work.  At home, I immediately went to and sought out Gregorian chant music videos.  It was the peace I wanted to fill the air and it was lovely, the many voices in unison.

To learn more about Gregorian Chanting, check out:

     I am not above taking a donation.  Even five bucks is a help, if you enjoy what you read about and see in my images here on this blog.  Thank you.  [You may make a donation via the PayPal links on the side bar on the blog site: ]

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant altar is behind us

A Side Chapel inside San Miniato:

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant side chapel

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant chapel

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant chapel art

San Miniato Florence Italy Gregorian Chant Sculptures