Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I spent last Christmas with other “stranded” American friends in Florence, Italy, and thought I would say hello to them via this blog. Gary and Janna, Jason, and Jessica: I hope your holidays are as warm as this evening in 2006 was.

I sometimes wish that Texas had a winter season, but then I think I am too much of a wimp for that. However, wherever you are, I do wish you a good day shared with kind people.

Merry Christmas from Cedar Creek, Texas (near Austin).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Lost Wax Bronze Casting

I received a wonderful gift this month. A new collector with a vision and trust is helping me to realize one of my most personal artworks in bronze. I first created “Against the Dying of the Light” in 2001. I originally sculpted most of the clay in a week in my Texas studio and then later added the large hands at night at my site at the MARBLE/marble Symposium in Colorado. After I returned to Texas that summer, I hired several different models to assist me in getting details such as the veins in the arms and, as I told one model Todd, “quads like diamonds.”

For various reasons, this sculpture was put on hold and finally finished in 2005. Then in August 2007, a mold was made. While I had received wonderful comments and several inquiries about this sculpture, it was only while I was in Italy this past fall, that a serious collector contacted me. So my foundry created the wax from my mold in time for me to arrive back in Texas and work the waxes that will later become bronze.

For those unfamiliar with the bronze casting process, most bronzes are created hollow, like a chocolate bunny. Smaller pieces can be cast solid, but if very thick, that is not practical. Not only because of the ever-increasing price of the metal, but mostly because of the chemistry of cooling molten metal. Bronze is poured into a mold when it is around 2000 degrees hot – after the metal has become a beautiful liquid. Thin sections cool faster than thick sections, and this unevenness, if you will, causes problems in “shrinkage.”

In the case of “Against the Dying of the Light,” the arms will be cast separately, and solid. The upper body will be cast hollow, but as its own piece. And the hips and legs of the figure will be cast as one hollow piece with the large hands. After the sculpture has been cast into bronze, the parts will be welded together and then “chased,” resculpting details in the metal where all the connected parts require it. Then I will add the patina and carve the stone base.

Here you see my original work in plastilina (an oil-based clay) and later the wax pieces that my foundry poured from the mold that was made from the plastilina original. I am spending this week “chasing the wax” or removing mold lines, bubbles or holes in the wax, and checking that every detail is true to my original idea. The first step I do is examine the wax and thicken thin parts. My goal is to have a wax of consistent thickness, to minimize the effects of bronze shrinkage after the pour. It is difficult to pour a hollow figure, and often (internally) protruding parts (receding parts in the outer surface) must be reinforced from the inside. (One image shows how transparent the wax looks in the crotch area of the figure. I can clearly see where the wax is too thin.)

I will finish these waxes and return them to the bronze casting foundry before I return to Italia soon. I cannot wait to see “Against the Dying of the Light” in bronze!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Zhi Tea in Austin Texas

Ok, I am (rarely ;) embarrassed to admit how little I know about . . . well, a lot in life. But somehow living in Italia is helping me become more aware of the joys of consuming – food and drink to be exact. Imagine my joy recently when I met Candice Oneida and Jeffrey Lorien. They have started a company called Zhi Tea. Why? Because, as Jeffrey explained to me, “We just love tea.”

I met these two through the event that Keith Hogan hosted last Wednesday in Austin, Texas. And while we were all busy showing off our various loves to all of the guests, I had a few chances throughout the night to speak to Jeffrey to learn more about their business and about tea. Their story started in Seattle, moved to New York, and their international business is based in Austin.

While I still want more information – and more tasting, I did get to learn that Zhi offers delicious organic teas and a healthy way of doing business. Jeffrey also explained to me a little bit about the “Fair Trade” program with which they are involved. Basically, 80% of revenues paid for teas (and other products) goes back to the actual people who grow the food. It allows these communities to make their lives better in ways that they choose. Read more on their site, search in the Articles section.

Pictured here are the owners of Zhi, Candice and Jeffrey next to some of their sample yummy teas (with my small bronze “Eric” in the background). The other image shows some of my newest friends Sue and life coach Rebecca Burgman with Barry Woltag. I did a stone restoration for Barry last summer. It was good to see him again.

And to continue to name drop, other friends I got to say hello to on Wednesday include Betty Gerald, Donna Wetegrove of Tips on Art, “my kid” Rudy Sanchez (who helped me setup my exhibit), Joe and Chris Kenney, Rodney and Donna Bohl, Jane Parsons and Carl Nelson (both of whom brought me Christmas gifts!), and Willy and Billie Gunther.

Zhi Tea:

Barry Woltag’s stone restoration by Kelly Borsheim:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Real Estate and Art Exhibited Together in Austin Texas

Austinite Keith Hogan knows how to throw a party and show people the finer side of life at the same time. Wednesday night’s Open House of his newly renovated (and available) homes in the Rosedale neighborhood in Austin, Texas, was a big success.
Afterwards, we estimated a minimum of 75 guests at the beautiful condominiums on 4207 Shoalwood Avenue. I felt so comfortable there because everyone was so warm and friendly, just like at a small town holiday party. And people really LOOKED at and were INTERESTED in the art and each property.

It struck me as good customer service for Keith to show these homes at a time when enough of the décor (flooring, walls, cabinetry, etc.) was installed to get the idea of the space, but unfinished enough so that the new owners might suggest a change or two, if desired. I especially enjoyed speaking with several neighbors who were pleasantly surprised by how different the homes looked after Keith and his crew worked their magic. According to them, the new floor plans were much more open, spacious, accessible, and yet, private. And they love how well the new homes fit into the neighborhood!

I met Keith some time ago through his partner Ruth Glendinning, or GuRuth. I am almost convinced that the two of them know everyone in Austin. Ruth has been helping me promote my artwork, some of which you see here in these photos from Wednesday evening’s event. Other artists who exhibited art here were Jennifer Lovelace and Reji Thomas.

Adding to the evening’s festivities were:
Music by Plan B (members are Bruce Banks, Tom Hughes and Wayne Rimkus)
Delicious food by Emily’s Catering of East Austin, served by Sharon and Jessica.
Fantastic organic teas by Candice and Jeffrey of Zhi Tea (more on them tomorrow).

For more information on the condos at 4207 Shoalwood Avenue, Austin, Texas 78756, please call Keith Hogan at 512.280.5402.

Help Keith make homes more enjoyable and accessible to people with disabilities:

Other useful links:
Austin Musicians Plan B:
Catering Services:
Zhi Tea:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nude Art Contest - Barebrush.com

Thanks to my long-time Internet friend, artist Roger Cummiskey, I have entered two drawings into a contest of sorts. I could use your views of the pages, which I understand count as votes? Keep reading . . . and thank you.

Dear Kelly,
Your new art is live on barebrush.com and is in consideration for the January 2008 calendar. It will be in the 'Art Log' as NEW ART for 30 days. Your will find the direct link to your art in the Art Log on the main page of barebrush today (left column):
Be sure to tell your friends & contacts about your art on barebrush.com: the more page views you have for your posts, the higher in the list for the curator's review.

[Kelly replaced the marketing text that follows with links to her drawing pages on this site – please view/vote:

Ode to Michelangelo (Mauro II):

Study for the Naked Gondolier (Lucio):
http://www.barebrush.com/listing_DS9d/art_pages/BB4557_205.html ]

And don't forget barebrush, the video! Find it on youtube.com (search:barebrush). Be sure to leave a comment and rating.

Also, send news of "barebrush, the video" to friends & tell them to pass it along. Help barebrush help you to promote your art! Thanks so much for your art and for your interest in barebrush.com.
Ilene Skeen
ILS Designs, LLC
372 Fifth Avenue, Suite 7D
New York, NY 10018
Tel: 917-806-7992
dedicated to the art of the nude


Web site of Roger Cummiskey

I Do Not FALL in Love

It was a fantastically beautiful day today as I loaded up my car and prepared for tomorrow’s exhibit in Austin, Texas. This evening while printing out new price labels, my printer jammed. As I waited for the reboot, I re-read all of my years’ old posted newsprint and decided to share with you one of my favorite poems of all:

i do not fall in love.
i magnetize to its demands,
attach to its clinging magic,
and sing its living charms.
i stand, i rise, i fly
towards love,
but never fall at all.

-- Thom the World Poet
“Loyalty to the Star System”
(an excerpt from his Secular Prayers)

Tomorrow night will mark the debut of my newest stone carving, “Encounter” (finished in September just before I left for Italy). Inspired by manta rays, I now see the connection to this poem that is rarely far from my thoughts: “i stand, i rise, i fly . . .” Will you not join me at:

Host: Keith Hogan
Location: 4207 Shoalwood Avenue, Austin, Texas 78756 US
When: Wednesday, December 19, 6:00 p.m.
Hours: 6 p.m. to ??
Phone: 512.280.5402
Please join us as we celebrate an evening of holiday cheer and beautiful art in the setting of two beautiful condominium units that I (Keith) have totally and completely renovated at 4207 Shoalwood Avenue in the Rosedale neighborhood. [They are for sale.]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Neck Injury – Stone Carving

I would hate to be my neck. Boy, does she ever get abused. And I know better – that was the depressing thing. I warn my students about doing what I did today, especially because I am the one who carves in sarongs most of the time. And after damaging five vertebrae in my neck in a skateboarding accident in 1995 (for which I am still boycotting ToysRUs – not for the fact that the accident happened in their store, but for the way they handled it afterwards), I should have thought that I would have been more careful.

Curious at all????? Well, I had a big, rather fluffy grey scarf wrapped around my neck today, which was poking out too far from my jean jacket. I was using a 1/4-inch shaft double-cut carbide tip in an electric grinder on a small stone that I am currently carving and I leaned too close to examine my work in a detail area. Zing! Before I was aware of what happened, I was choking myself as the scarf got caught in the rotary movement and the tool head went straight for my neck!

Dumb. It so caught me off guard that it took me a while to realize that I could unplug the entire tool where it connected to the extension cord at my feet faster than I could figure out how to turn the switch off. Damn. The pneumatics are so much safer.

The things that run through one’s head during such times: concern for my stone; the sound of the stalled motor (which was surprisingly not burnt up); my scarf; how my body would have been discovered hours later, if at all – ha ha; rug burns on my neck?; air; my embarrassment over a stupid way to die; then relief that the tool did not go past my safety goggles. And then the ensuing unentanglement and discovery of a small clump of my yanked-out hair wrapped around the blades. Ouch.

Being the drama queen that it is possible that I am, it sounds worse than it was. Still . . . very stupid of me.

God, my neck hurts today. Even more than my first time as a madonnara. Hmmm. Good thing there is vodka in the house. Cures damn near everything! Anyway, be warned, and do as I say, not as I do.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Artists In Italy

I think that I first met artist Suzy Olsen about ten years ago. My friend Robin Urton, an artist who I have known since college, brought Suzy Olsen to my home in Texas. Suzy lives in San Antonio, Texas, but also has a home in Tuscany, Italy. And her daughter Rebecca runs an art school SRISA in Florence, Italy.

Suzy visited her daughter in Tuscana around the Thanksgiving holiday not so many weeks ago. And one day we were actually successful in having our schedules match up for us. So, here is the image of Suzy (left) and me having lunch at a charming little place on Via San Gallo in Firenze centro on 26 November 2007.
Thank you, Suzy! It is fun to see people you have some connection to while in a foreign country – or even just away from home.

Suzy Olsen’s site:

Robin Urton’s site:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fabric Art Quilt Exhibit Austin Texas

Last night I attended an art exhibit for Susan Lewis Storey at my friend David Sackmary’s Quattro Gallery in Austin, Texas. I had never met Susan before or seen her work, but I wanted to see what David had been up to. He’d cut his hair to a very flattering look since I last saw him. And I laughed when he introduced me to others as ‘the artist who strapped his arms up to the ceiling as he posed nude’ for my bronze sculpture “Warrior Spirit.” All I can say in my defense is that it seemed unkind to ask someone to hold his arms straight out in airplane position for hours at a time!

Ok, I am digressing again. Everything is connected, is it not? Susan had several beautiful and interesting art quilts on exhibit. She showed her “American Family Album Series” which I loved, having had a serious interest in vintage photographs myself. Last night I photographed this artist with one of her fabric works that depicts images of her mother as a young woman. It is quite charming and was one of my favorites of the evening.

Like many immigrating Americans, the ethnic family name was changed to help assimilate the family into the New World. Susan discovered that her Italian family name was Maffei which was changed to Murphy. (She created another fabric art piece to honor this heritage.) Rediscovering her Italian roots led her to create an image of hanging laundry in a small Italian villa – so typical of Italy and nostalgic to many people, including me. (I was always a bit warped, I suppose: I think that hanging laundry outside on a spring day is sexy.)

I also include here a close-up image of her fabric art piece depicting Italian laundry. Her process is unlike anything that I had heard of, but then I am not that familiar with the newer art processes. I may be wrong about this, but here is what I remember of her description of her process: She first scans images that move her into her computer. Then she plays in Photoshop to make those images into something artistic – exploring colors, effects, textures, etc. Then she treats her fabrics with some chemical that allows them to accept ink. Afterwards she sprays something on the fabric (and irons it?) to stiffen the fabric so that it will pass through her printer. And then she prints her images onto her fabrics. After that, she pieces the fabric together and creates the quilted stitching throughout the artwork and sometimes adds beads or varies the stitching for the home grown look of a real quilt.

Hurry to see this interesting work – I am not sure when the exhibit closes, but contact information follows:

David Sackmary at the Quattro Gallery:

Susan Lewis Storey’s site:

Kelly Borsheim’s bronze sculpture:
“Warrior Spirit”

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New Pencil Drawings Done In Italy

I have three new figure sketches that I did in Italia recently. I am embarrassed that in my haste, I was only able to tape them up on the wall of my new apartment and take poor quality photographs. I will take new images of them when I return to Italia. However, I hope that you can see some of my latest endeavors to capture the human gesture. “Mauro” was sketched for my Naked Gondolier series on 21 November. “Sara” and “Chiara” were sketched in different model sessions, both on 28 November. These are short poses (2 hours or less). If memory serves, these are anywhere from 10 inches to around 14 inches tall.

While I sometimes can get further along in two hours in paint, not often. And I am really trying to refine my designo of the gesture. So, it is better for me to slow down, observe, and think. I hope you can see these and that they appeal to you. I do feel that my skills in 2-dimensional figure drawing are improving dramatically, even if to some people these differences seem subtle.

Michelangelo and Humor

Here is a little light-heartedness for the season. I was visiting my Italian friend Susanna in her home before I left Florence and typical of me, I share images. While I was in my e-mail attachments folder looking to show her the latest images of my family, I found this gem. So, check out what it takes for Adam to loose his britches!
PS While I am in Texas, I am on verrrry slow lent-e-ment-e dial-up Internet connection service. I cannot see the animation unless I click on the photo and go to a new page. Perhaps you will need to do that as well? This image is not terribly thrilling without the animation.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Drawing of Sara in Charcoal

Even though I am back in Texas and working on my sculpture projects, my mind cannot help but linger on the main drawing that I did not finish while in Italia. I really wanted to keep working on my charcoal drawing of Sara after my time with the model ended, but I had too many friends to visit before I returned to gli stati uniti.

My friend Skye Campbell took this foto of me during one of the model breaks. While I have some more turning of the figure to do, such as making the shoulder and pectoral form darker on the viewer’s left side, most of the work left is everything other than the figure in the drawing.

Per esempio, I have exaggerated the reflected light on the spine of the book under the model’s foot, as I often do when making notes to myself. The exaggeration reminds me that something is there to address, whereas a subtler note might become an overlooked detail, or a missed opportunity. There are subtle changes to be made to the book to show that the source light is falls brighter on one end of the book than on the other. In addition, the big black box that the model sits upon needs more work, mostly darkening the top plane, but also improving the gradation of tone to show more depth to the box itself. The floor and the background wall need to have these sorts of subtleties finessed as well. I will add more movement of tone to improve the interest in this charcoal drawing.

The Best Gelato in all of Europe Bologna Italy

My flight from Italia to Texas, US, began in Bologna early in the morning on the 12th. Allora, I took a train from Firenze to Bologna the night before and stayed in the house of my friend Medi. After dinner I was offered some homemade ice cream. Little did I know what a delight I was about to experience! While I had refused some of the food Medi and his roommate Andrea offered – too much cibo for me at one sitting – how could I refuse gelato?

I proceeded to eat PLENTY of the “best gelato in all of Europe,” according to The London Observer Magazine and Germany's Focus. They were not kidding. Medi’s roommate Andrea works at Il Gelatauro on Via San Vitale, 98/B, in Bologna, Italy, and it was certainly better than anything I have ever tasted in Florence. And that is no small statement.

In 1998, the Figliomeni brothers Gianni and Cosimo opened Il Gelatauro in Bologna. They use organic ingredients, including those from their own citrus grove, as well as a few fig and walnut trees in Calabria in Southern Italy. Besides gelato, they offer handmade chocolates and pastries, as well as selected wines, fruit preserves, and bright green krumiri cookies. Also, they put no vegetable fats in their dolci.

There was an assortment of flavors on our dinner table, but the pistachio was fantastic and probably my favorite of the evening. Bologna is an interesting and energetic city. While I did not see much of it this last trip to Italia, I really enjoyed my weeklong stay in Bologna in 2004. And Il Gelatauro is now on my list to visit and try some more flavors of gelato.

Some interesting links:
Il Gelatauro on Via San Vitale, 98/B, in Bologna, Italy

Fruit and Nuts - a brief history of figs, melons and pears; pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, pinenuts and walnuts. Now, does this not sound great:
“The same Medieval tract suggested that pears be cooked in cinnamon, cloves and red wine, and served with butter, soft cheese and sugar on top.” I also love anything with ginger in it. Read more about my favorites – figs, fennel, and cloves:


An interesting history of various ingredients used in Il Gelatauro’s organic gelato:

Other articles on gelateria in Italy/ Bologna
Read about the fabulous krumiri cookies made from Bronte pistachios made by Il Gelatauro:


Another reason to visit Bologna, Italia:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

La Perla - Shopping in Italy

Walking home in a misty night recently, I saw this storefront on a main road in central Florence, Italy. Now, how delightful is that? Is there any place in the United States that is so comfortable with this sort of display? ha ha

BTW, La Perla means in Italian 'the pearl' or 'the bead'

Oh la la. ;-)
Happy holidays. I head to Bologna this afternoon and fly back to Texas from that city early in the morning -- assuming that my travel agent fixes his error. He changed my itinerary without my knowledge and I was apparently supposed to be on a flight THIS morning. Doh!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Light and Shadows in Florence Italy

Before Lisa and I ended up at The Art Bar in Florence last Friday night, we stopped in at a friend of a friend’s attic apartment to buy some sheets for my new room. (Oh, yes, I forgot to say that I found a nice room vicino the Teatro Verdi, not too far from my room with Grazia. I moved in early to help the situation with my old space and am now sharing with a cute young couple studying design here in Florence.)

But, I digress, as I often do. After we purchased the sheets I needed, Lisa and I did some exploring on the lower floor of this woman’s building. If I told you the address, I might have to kill you. (Nice, huh? Gotta protect the private.) I love going into all of the Italian homes and business spaces in central Firenze. This one surprised us both. While I was still photographing shadows in a hallway with a large vase and plant and looking for other hallways to explore, Lisa was curious about some beautiful wooden doors.

We were both delighted with the view below that Lisa discovered after she opened the doors. Pictured here is the beautiful window with a simple floral design that only partially hid a warm Tuscan-colored floor behind it. This is one way to add a bit of nature to a city of stone and concrete!

But then, look at the cast lighting from the hall lamp hanging from the ceiling. Lisa can definitely spot the cool stuff! The way the light hit the floor made the wooden floor look fluid. I hope you enjoy the images I took of the water-rippling floor and a bit of Lisa’s door on the left, as well as the image of the light that cast such a hypnotizing pattern. While the ceiling’s shadow is not quite as interesting, the contrast between it and the floor’s design is fun. So, when you visit Tuscany, do not forget to keep your eyes open for even the smallest pleasures. And definitely peek into open doorways!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Art Bar in Florence Italy

I missed the sculpture exhibit at the Florence Academy last night because my friend Lisa was leaving for the States this morning and she really wanted to visit The Art Bar. I had taken her there for happy hour one night last month before we attended an art history lecture at the Charles Cecil Studios.

We really had a fun night – three “Chi Chi’s” each as you see in the photos. I love this drink, if for no other reason than I enjoy another way to serve vodka – what a versatile beverage! I drank my first Chi Chi in Hawaii in a luau (loo-ow) in 1999 with my family living there. Not sure I wanted one actually since I discovered in Colorado ten years earlier that in Spanish, chi chi means ‘breast.’ And the drink looks like milk (because clear vodka + white coconut milk + perhaps other ingredients = chi chi). While I have never liked to drink milk, I do love a good chi chi -- very cool and refreshing. And The Art Bar here on Via del Moro in Florence tops theirs with a boatload of fresh fruit and mint!

Allora, we laughed a lot as you might imagine. And then went over to one of my favorite pizza places – Osteria del Gatto e la Volpe – near the Bargello (sculpture museum) on Via Ghibellina. Lisa is on her way to New York now and I hope she did not have a grand mal di testa this morning!

10 Dicembre: I just found my card for The Art Bar and their official name is:
Antico Caffè Del Moro "Cafè des Artistes" -- although I wonder if that accent is a misprint? Address = Via del Moro, 4/r - Tel. 055 287661

Friday, December 7, 2007

All in A Day’s Work – Drawing

So, I am coming to the end of my projects. Here is what my weekday often looks like: from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., I work on my charcoal drawing of Sara. Then from 2 to 5 p.m. I work on my charcoal drawing of a plaster cast of a sculpted ear using the sight-size method. I do not actually see it as an ear. For the longest time I have only seen abstracted shapes, such as the duckie, the infinity symbol, and the sideways apostrophe mark.

Monday, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I draw from live models (portraits the first two days, one 2-hour pose of the figure on the third day) from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. I host the Wednesday evening sessions of lots of artists sharing model expenses. Thursdays are art history night, often with two events at two different art schools here in Florence, Italy: Angel Academy of Art and the Charles H. Cecil Studios. Fridays, I have the option to draw from life again or usually, just catch up on other projects or maybe even go out with a friend.

After drawing each night, I then work some more on my drawing of Sara (without the model) until 9 p.m. Much of working with charcoal means using the point. By this I mean that the charcoal stick must be sanded to a fine point in order to be applied to the paper, especially when trying to remove any blotchiness from using other application methods. My figure of Sara is 60 centimeters tall. She has taken up a lot of time, but I am happy with the progress I am making.

The rest of the time, I am either living life, meeting new people, or doing laundry or something. Perhaps this is not the exciting life some imagined – being in Italia and all – but I am really refining my skills as an artist and I love it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sara – Big Form Modeling in Charcoal Drawing

Picking up where I left off:
The sooner I convey the illusion of form, the stronger my disegno (design or drawing). Allora, after I distinguish the main tone design, I want to start turning the form with Big Form Modeling. Like other drawing systems, I will work large to small. This means that my first objective is to depict the entire figure as a three-dimensional form. Then I will do the same, within the context of the larger form, for the smaller forms, such as an arm.

I tend to like the brush, thus far, for things such as subtle blending. I get plenty of dust as I sharpen my charcoal sticks against a sandpaper-covered board (a small cutting board or a ping pong paddle work well – something flat and strong). So, I dip my brush into the dust and work my way from darks to light. How quickly I go from dark to light depends of the form I am creating.

In today’s images, I am showing you the beginning of Big Form Modeling on the figure’s head. The first image shows the head as a pattern of light paper with generalized dark shapes. The second shows that I have started to indicate that the head is an egg-like form, becoming darker closer to the bottom of the face, which is further away from the light source above the figure. I can do Big Form Modeling from side to side, as well as vertically.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sara – A Charcoal Drawing Process

My last day working with the model Sara is Friday. I wish I had more time, but then six weeks seems really long to most 2-dimensional artists.

These next two images were taken on the 8th of November. Here you can see that I have done a really poor job of creating consistent tones. I will work to correct this before moving on to the next step in the system. In the beginning, I only have two tones in my disegno: the light of the paper plus my added darks. You may see in the detail shot what I mean by abstraction of nature. The shadow on the wall behind the model is grouped together with the figure-in-shadow, creating one solid dark shape. I can re-find the line separating the two later – or not. My choice. (You can also see the vertical striping pattern of the textured Roma brand paper.)

The next step is to start to differentiate the darks by averaging together the DARK DARKS (such as the hair and shadows of the legs on the box). Those DARK DARKS get compressed charcoal, so I want to be sure of where I want them in my design. I then have my shapes set in three tones, all determined by the relationships to each other as I decide them.

That last part is important. Each artist makes her own decisions. A good example of the various choices one can make is in the vertical part of the leg. My tone here is not a solid one. That is because with each new sitting, there were subtle differences in the pose, creating slightly different light patterns. That portion of the leg has quite a few areas that are debatable as to whether to group them with the lights or the darks. What you see here is a case of indecision. At some point soon, I will have made that choice.

You also see in the top left section of the front of the box that I had begun to distinguish more dark tones to show the three sides to the box. (And I have lightened the background to something between the lights and the figure-in-shadow.) The sooner I convey the illusion of form, the stronger my disegno (design or drawing).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sara – A Charcoal Drawing Continued

I thought you might want to see some more of my progress with my first carboncino (charcoal) drawing of Sara. I referenced the creation of the disegno of the figure’s head on 18 Nov. and also showed you something of how I transferred my cartoon to a quality toothed paper that accepts and holds carboncino.

In these next two images, taken on 4 November 2007, I have completed the transfer of the outline of the shapes in my disegno. Now I am filling in the darks. It is important to establish what is considered a shadow vs. what is light. There is no other way to define form, really. I start with vine charcoal, the French Nitram brand in this case. Using a soft B stick, I work it into the paper fairly dark. I try for consistency. Just as when building a house, an important foundation makes for a stronger house and less work further down the road. Then I use a soft sponge to really push the carboncino into the paper and fill in the tooth-y lines as much as possible.

In the close-up image of the figure drawing of Sara, you may see the difference between the roughly drawn-in charcoal (left above the head) and the sponged area afterwards (right). This is about all that I can do without the model present since all tones are relative. My background is too dark, but until I can be on -site and compare the tones on my paper to the tones I see before me, I cannot make my choices so easily. Especially since this is a new medium for me. Stay tuned . . . same bat channel.

City-Wide Art V Exhibit – Florence, Italy

In bella Italia, if you want to see art, you most likely will enter a church. That is true of this week in Florence as well. It feels great being accepted into a juried art exhibit and opening night is especially fun. One gets to meet so many other artists and art lovers that might never cross one’s path any other way. Tonight was the reception for the City-Wide Art V mostra in Florence, Italia, the same city that is currently hosting the Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea or the Florence Biennale, now through 9 Dicembre.

Art critic and historian John T. Spike juried the City-Wide exhibit and gave a speech tonight that spoke of how exciting it was for him to see the contemporary art created in Florence. And reminded all of us of the legacy of the art created in Florence throughout history. Indeed.

Pictured in the group shot is John Spike, just right of center. To his left is Keith McBride, organizer of the City-Wide Art exhibit. This event is being held at the St. James Church, Via Bernardo Rucellai, 9, in Florence. My friend Simone told me that this is where David Bowie got married. Check it out soon – it ends this Saturday. See my exhibits page for details.

Oh, and the other photos are some of us just goofing around: Nancy Hines hams it up in front of her lovely drawing of our friend and fellow artist Jason. (Photo published with approval ;-) And artists Kieran and Hélène let me know that they will not hesitate in pulling out the euros for my lovely bronze “Ten.”

Now, I must get some sleep. Much work to do tomorrow. Thank you for reading!

PS Comcast appears to be blocking my borsheimarts.com e-mail addresses as spam. If you have a comcast.net e-mail address and also signed up for my mailing list and somehow are missing these letters, you may need to contact Comcast and ask them how to solve the problem so you get the news you want. Ciao, belli.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Heidelberg Christmas Market – Florence, Italy

It arrived this past Wednesday – the annual Heidelberg Christmas mercato in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. This market features 50 wooden huts filled with holiday goodies. Lots of food is available from cheeses, breads, spices, and meats to sausages, pig, kraut, and pretzels with all kinds of toppings. Other gift items are handmade clothes, ornaments, porcelain and ceramics, candels, toys, and hats. Vendors come from Germany, Poland, Austria, France, and other countries.

I miss my friend Sylvia, from Austria, though. She was here last year selling the clove ornaments that I so adore. No one this year has anything like them.

One of the favorite selections among so many of my friends here in Firenze is the gluwein (pronounced 'gloo - vine') or as the Italians call it vin brulé, perhaps best understood as a VERY tasty mulled wine. Oh, the smell is yummy and the effect powerful. I asked a tourist to take this photo recently, documenting us drinking the stuff for lunch: from left to right, my Austrialian artist friend Skye; our Italian friend, photographer and model Sara; and, I hope, one of your favorite sculptors (ha!) on both sides of the Atlantic. ;-)

The night image I took on my way home of the carousel bar out in front of the entire mercato. You can see the façade of the Basilica of Santa Croce, where Michelangelo and other famous Florentines are buried.

Cin Cin (pron. ‘chin chin’)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shops in Florence Italy

I have to look for a new place to live. Not sure I should give specifics about why since I am in a foreign country and all. I do not feel free to discuss the problem that the friend I am staying with is having, in case it makes things worse for this friend. And few people know that I am here.

Anyway, room hunting has led me to walking around town at hours I would otherwise be working on my art and I am getting to see many shops that are not normally open when I am out and about. The shop in the image here is near the Pitti Palace, I think. Or maybe Santo Spirito, but I think the Pitti.

You may not be able to see, but there is a man working diligently behind a desk way at the back of a long and rather narrow shop. He makes masks and other art objects for decoration. I do not know if all of the paintings in this shop are his, but some fit the theme with the masks and faces. I have been enchanted with many different kinds of shops here and wonder how anyone can pay his rent. Most shops specialize to a degree that I cannot believe there are enough buyers out here to keep things rolling. But, oh, the eye candy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Locks of Love – Florence, Italy

The Italians are quite the passionate bunch. It shows in many ways – from the care that is put into the preparing a meal to the pure enjoyment of every passeggiata, the evening walk throughout the city’s streets, usually arm in arm. One can see lovers, friends, siblings, and parent and child couples of all ages walking linked and involved in familiar conversations as they people-watch.

Of course, the passion extends to areas of romance. Pictured here are some of the proclamations of a lasting devotion – the locks of love. One can see them in various, sometimes random, places around Italia. Sometimes so many locks are placed in a spot that they are eventually cut off and the process may begin again. This image was taken at the end of the arched walkway that is near the famous Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, along the Arno River.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Festival dei Popoli – Documentary Film Festival Florence Italy

Last Tuesday night, I was invited for a quick dinner after I finished my drawing for the day. Then my friend Simone took me to the Festival dei Popoli – a documentary film festival – at Cinema Gambrinus, a movie theatre near the Edison (English language) bookstore and Piazza della Repubblica. I was really tired, but rarely turn down an invitation to see the interior of some space in Florence, especially by a local.

Allora, the first film was a depressing view of an Israeli soldier’s term of active duty in the reserves. It had Italian subtitles, which helped me to learn more of this language, and see how common phrases are interpreted, even some naughty ones. Hey, these are soldiers in a war after all. The second film was titled, “King Corn” and chronicled the adventures of two men who found a plot of land in Iowa, USA, to plant corn for a year. It was a comment on how much corn (usually by way of corn syrup) Americans eat.

I do not often see a lot of documentaries; however, I assume this was better done than others. And the message was “preaching to the choir” for me. And in all fairness, I slept through a lot of it, off and on. The snoozing was more about me than about the film though. And what I do remember was that there were many quite beautiful and artistically composed images of the farmland and skies in Iowa. Simone loved the film’s poster, but it was too much yellow for my taste.

The Cinema Gambrinus is not nearly as beautiful as the Odeon Theatre in Florence, but charming in its way. There was a sculpture of three women (Graces?) above the screen and you can see one pink chandelier in the photo above.

I was really charmed by the live classical musicians playing outside of the cinema when we exited about mezzanotte. But the Italians do seem to love the night, even during the week.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Construction of a Painting

I started one of my “Naked Gondolier” series paintings this past Sunday. I am doing it in my spare time, whatever that actually means. Anyway, I used the drawing I did of “Mario” that I showed you recently in a previous blog entry as the step-off point. I like the idea of the light in a figure emerging from darkness.

However, I also wanted to imply the gondola, as well as a bridge. I mean, what else spells out Venice (Venezia) in bella Italia? I am not looking to create details, but I do want to elicit an emotional response to the romance of this city. So, I began my disegno, starting with line and a vague idea of three tonal values. I photographed my beginning and then, in Photoshop, started playing with various lighting effects.

Not happy with any one thing, I decided to just start painting. Sometimes these things have a way of speaking for themselves, you know. Yesterday, I asked the Maestro John Angel if he could give me some pointers. I felt lost because I liked the light under the bridge, but it might not work in this particular painting. I was not sure that I wanted the reflection of the bridge to alter the shape of the dark water on the left. And the list went on. I could see why artists do works in series – it becomes possible then to choose one element for each artwork and play with it. Too many notes being played at once only makes noise, not music.

Allora, I concluded my confession to the Maestro with a, “I think that I am trying to do too much with too little.” Tilting his head slightly and with a pensive hesitation, he responded, “You took the words right out of my mouth. But also, I think you are afraid to lose too much.”

Wow. He just summed up my life.

So, I will add the darks and get back to you.
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sara – A Drawing In Charcoal

Today has been somewhat of a catch-up day. It has been very cold in Firenze. As such, I have begun to organize and archive some of my images. That includes my progress images of current projects, such as my carboncino drawing of a model named Sara.

Here I have posted five images of my drawing of Sara’s head at various stages. I am spending three hours per day with the model, starting on 22 October. And I am moving very slowly since I am trying to learn a lot and not just produce a drawing.

You can see that each day the head has changed. There is something that I like about each one, although (honestly) there is something that I prefer in the first disegno. The problem with her was that the head was too small for the body. Because I am pushing myself, I chose to completely erase the head and observe fresh rather than simply trying to make all of my drawn features larger.

The first four images are of my cartoon. The cartoon tends to be just regular drawing paper and is where the artist creates the design. The less expensive paper gives the artist the freedom to make mistakes and change one’s mind. Once satisfied, the cartoon image is transferred onto the quality, toothed paper that will accept the charcoal medium, as described a bit in a previous blog.

The last image is of charcoal on the Roma paper. I wanted my drawing to fill the paper, so I took my original drawing to a copy shop and had her enlarged a wee bit. Then I used tracing paper to transfer my disegno. This method allows my original to not be harmed, although in this case I did not transfer from my original drawing. Anyway, the charcoal is faint because while I am going over my lines and pushing the charcoal I have drawn on the underside of the tracing paper onto the Roma paper, I am trying not to emboss the Roma paper.