Saturday, March 22, 2008

Charcoal Figure Drawing Damaged

Cari Amici,
I had taken my disegno di carboncino (charcoal drawing) home from the studio these past two weekends to try to improve my tonal quality and work on the background of the figure drawing. On the 9th of March, I had a small accident and my drawing fell off of my easel. As I tried to catch it, my sleeve collided in the most unattractive and slightly random ways with the paper. I include an image here so that you can see how many steps back I took.

I seem to be having a problem getting the darks to stay on this Umbria paper. But then, I do not feel that I have created enough disegni di carboncino to be quick or perhaps have developed a better technique. And so, I continue to learn . . .

The second image of my drawing of the beautiful Valentina was taken on the 21 of March, my last day of working with this model. Now the drawing is safely in my flat. I want to add more narrative to this work, but this is really a new skill for me, so it may take me some time. Now that I have a photo of the near finished work, I will play in Photoshop to arrange shapes and decide which composition ideas will look the best. That way, I can minimize any problems with the carta by too much charcoal or too much erasure.

This morning, I went to the grocery store Standa to buy last minute food items for the lunch I am hosting tomorrow for Pasqua (Easter). I love these giant chocolate eggs wrapped in bright and glossy papers, but I cannot afford them right now. However, I love it that dolci is displayed right next to the Italian wines. I usually do not think that sugar and alcohol should be imbibed together, ma I like the idea of life’s little decadences.

And I ran into my friend Alessandro while in Standa. He is the partner of my friend Susanna; both are fiorentini and wonderfully kind people. I have always been partial to smaller communities and feeling that I know the people that live around me, so it is always a treat for me to hear my name while I am out and about. Buona Pasqua. A domani!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Solstice and Art Collecting

Ok, so these two do not necessarily have much in common. But yesterday was the first day of spring and tonight is the full moon. Bellisima! I went out dancing with many friends and had a blast! And after passing my camera around, I now have hundreds of images to prove it.

Allora, trying to catch up on e-mail is often a problem for me, but I came across notice of this blog about art collecting. It is pretty cool and I wish more people were sharing their passions in this way. Enjoy (and click on the title for the full interview):


Some Exerpts:
Edward Goldman: “Yes, to wrap yourself in a blanket and just to watch TV. We cannot do anything without challenging ourselves. And when I say challenging, for [a] good collector, it’s to acquire, to buy only what [the] person loves. But it doesn’t mean [the] person should see only what [the] person likes and prefers to see. You have to see everything.

It’s like, you want to marry, you probably want to know, on a personal level, as friends and acquaintances, hundreds of people before you make a choice. You meet good people, you meet not very good people, you meet wonderful people, you meet nasty people. So you learn something about people. You learn about whom you want to spend the rest of your life with.

The same about art. You have to understand not only what you like, [but] what’s there around for you. You might be surprised. I believe that if someone likes to drink tea and coffee, and never drank vodka – we are talking about good Russian vodka from the freezer – you might be shocked. It’s [an] acquired taste. The same probably for the whiskey. The same for the very spicy food. You’re acquiring [a] taste. So you want to look at a lot of art under different circumstances and slowly decide, what kind of new friends you want to make among the art and artists.”

“For me, and I think for all of us, art shouldn’t be a luxury. Art is expression of our human collective experience, of our collective soul.”

“I think about art collecting, if you do it smartly, not to invest money, I’m not interested about that, and I’m not able even to advise people on that. I’m interested in investing yourself, your soul in collecting art, the way you invest yourself in building friendship, which lasts, you hope, for the lifetime.”


Edward Goldman’s ART TALK audio and text archives available on

Laurie Lamson is a writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She produces and directs mini-documentaries for neighborhoods, causes and organizations, and is currently raising funds to make a documentary about the Fine Art of Art Collecting classes. You can send a comment to

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Street Painting in Florence, Italy

Cari Amici,
Coming to you not even live (hey, I resemble that remark!) from Florence, Italy . . . Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It also happens to be Monday, so I have spent my day as an Italian madonnara. I had to share this with you since I am so happy to have access to the Internet again.
So, anyway, I chose to draw a portrait of a Madonna by Sassoferrato in 1640 AD. This first image shows how I got started today. I am not particularly comfortable with my skills with pastels, so while I try to lay out a basic pattern of light and dark shapes, I do not have the layering skills that true pastel artists have mastered.

And thus, you see image # 2 after I have mooshed all of my hatched layers together with my hands. This technique is part of the reason I tend to wear so much chalk color on my face and clothes! Oh, and please let me know if this post had too many images for your taste. I get fascinated by process that I worry sometimes that I am overwhelming others.

I should have gotten the face more in proportion to the original print I had to work from since using a grid is supposed to help the artist. However, I have some bizarre resistance to measuring and creating straight lines. So, while I do a lame job of laying out my grid (or as they say in Britain – I can’t be bothered to create a proper grid), I suppose I am not troubled by the result enough to change. Stubborn Irish girl!

The third image is of me working on my disegno. I cannot seem to get enough darks to make me happy. Also, I think this image of a face (only) emerging from the street is creepy in a cool way. And yes, I was wearing a GREEN turtleneck under my suspenders on the jeans that my sister Amber gave me last August. You just cannot see it since I added the white pullover from Sophie and later, my jean jacket. I also had drawn a shamrock to the left of my Madonna image.

This fourth image was taken when my friend Skye dropped by for a visit while she worked the crowds in centroFlorence, handing out pubblicità for a bar on Via Dei Benci. Note her lovely green wig to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I actually did enjoy today, although my body has already started to pay, because I had so many friends drop by to look and give their enthusiastic support. I get a kick out of hearing my name called out in Florence.

This next image of the hands with the face basically done, while the veil leaves much to be desired, was taken around 18:00. I started my work around 14:00. I had to wait for Tomo, one of the top madonnari here, to use my space for a videographer. Claudio is still hoping for enough public support that the madonnari will be able to keep making street paintings in Florence after 31 March 2008. Anyway, my friend Abdu stopped by again and said he really loved this partly done look.

But, I moved past that . . . I quit just before 22:00. The tourists are coming more now, but not enough yet to stay until midnight, as I did in September 2007. This image was taken by another friend of me with my work on Via Calimala.

And finally, I show you the finished chalk drawing. The word ‘takk’ that you see is Norwegian for ‘thank you.’ Besides getting a generous tip from some traveling Texans (Texans have always been decent tippers, from my experiences), a couple of Norwegian music students gave me some Norwegian coins and wrote the word out for me. I told them the money is very cool and I like it, but I took the coins out of the buckets and put them into my pocket so as to not encourage other people to leave money that I cannot buy food with here in Italia. With the US dollar so weak right now, it is better for me to earn what I can in euros to avoid the costly exchange rates.

And, today I received more questions than usual about “how can you wash this away tonight?” So this last image is of my washing my square to prepare it for tomorrow’s artist.

Buona notte! I am exhausted!
And thank you for reading! TAKK. Grazie mille!