Thursday, May 22, 2008

Semi-private furnished room to Rent for Summer in Florence, Italy

Cari Amici,
I do not suppose you would like to live in my room here in Florence, Italy? Sound enticing? Read on . . .

Really Affordable Room in Florence, Italy!

Visiting Tuscany for a summer workshop? or just visiting and want to make the most of your American Dollar? If you are looking for a place to stay, I am renting out my room for the summer months: 10-31 July, August, and part of September while I return to the States. Whole or partial time (pro-rated cost) is fine.

Price: 320 € per month, includes all utilities + Internet
The semi-private room is perhaps 18 x 18 feet, window, has two single beds (one with a VERY soft mattress), table, 2 chairs, closets, high ceiling, etc.
I live with 3 women: an Italian doctor; an Italian shoe designer; and an art student from Serbia. All speak Italian; one speaks very good English; the other two speak only a small amount of English.
The artist must access her room only by going through my room.
But she is very polite and respectful (not to mention charming, as they all are).

The house has 2 working full bathrooms (shower in one, tub in the other), a kitchen (including oven/forno) and dining room, a washing machine, and a lovely terrace with lots of plants on it. Plus Wireless Internet. (No air conditioning that I am aware of.) Sheets & towels provided.

My roommates will accept a male or female renter for this short duration.
One roommate smokes occasionally, but only on the terrace. No guest or resident
smokes inside. So the house is almost smoke-free.

2nd piano (3rd floor). Marble stairs, no lift.
Address is on Via Leonardo da Vinci, between Piazza Libertà and Piazza Savonarola,
just a 15 minute walk from the Duomo.
Grocery store is located about 3 (small Italian) blocks away.

Please inquire for more fotos.

Anyone interested can contact me, Kelly Borsheim, in Italy before 8 July via e-mail (anytime):

Monday, May 19, 2008

Street Painting In The Rain - Florence, Italy

Cari Amici,
I debated about whether or not to bother with street painting on Saturday, May 17th. The chance of rain was 50/50 and I have so much work to catch up on, but I really need to earn some euros. So, I worked in the studio during the morning and watched the sky on occasion.

My friend Francesco came by two days before on his way to rowing and said hello while I was working. He later told one of my roommates that although he liked the drawing I was doing (a copy of a Bouguereau), he wondered if I might connect with my audience more if I drew something Italian or better – from the Uffizi. I have heard from many Italians over my years here that there is an interesting dynamic occurring in Florence between depending on the Renaissance for fame and beauty, and wanting to birth new art. Some feel that Florentines are generally having a difficult time with change. It is easy to understand the desire to change when your past is not so desirable, but what if your past is really great?

Allora, I decided to try a work from a famous character in Italian art history, the artist Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio. The work I am copying here is the “Sick Bacchus” from 1593. At least one American remembered that he had seen the original work when he and his wife visited the Galleria Borghese in Roma.

I rather enjoy the shapes of the lights in the face of this figure. I like the abstract quality in this method of working that I am learning here in Florence. I am still struggling with the brightness of pastels. I always seem to be looking for the darker colors and feel a bit limited. But I am sure that I simply need to learn more about color.

I had some strange experiences on this day with audience reactions. I was on my hands and knees, as is often necessary for viewpoint/perspective reasons. And a man walked around to the top of my drawing and asked me if I spoke Italian. I responded, “Si, poco,” with the waggling hand gesture of “a little bit.” And in Italian he said, “It is dangerous for you to work in that position.” He actually used the word ‘pericoloso’ (dangerous). And he waved and walked away. Wow. What am I supposed to do with that? Well, at least he walked around to speak to my face! ;-)

Later on, during the rain, another man walked by and said, “Caravaggio e incazzato.” [That does not look right for some reason (vowels, I think).] The thing is that it was spoken quickly as the man was walking away from me and I simply heard ‘Caravaggio’ and ‘cazzo’. That latter word is Florentine slang for a man’s member and is considered vulgar, even while it is used quite frequently in the streets of Firenze.

Not wanting to jump to conclusions about a potential insult, I asked Matteo, my fellow home-bound madonnaro, to explain. He told me that the man was saying that Caravaggio was angry now. Ok, I understand the words, but the meaning? Was the original artist upset that I was recreating his work in the streets or . . . Matteo said in Italian, “No, he means that Caravaggio is angry because the rain interrupts your work.”

And later, my coinquilina (roommate) Elena explained the different words that I had confused. ‘Incazzato” means angry, but a very strong, passionate word compared to the more usual ‘arrabbiato’ or ‘furioso’. She suggested that a “lady” might not use ‘incazzato.’ So, I sometimes swear like a sailor (as my father laments) in English, and if I keep hanging out in the streets, maybe I can soon start sounding like a Florentine!

I asked a couple of tourists to take some shots of me while working and include a couple here. In these, I have taken some powdered pigment (black) that I bought at Zecchi’s Art Store and am spreading it around by rubbing it into the pavement. Some madonnari mix the powder with alcohol or water and apply it with a brush, but since the rain was about to start, I figured I could just play in the “mud.”

One thing that I have learned from the rain is that once the drawing is wet, it is best not to touch it. My colleagues have taught me that if I cover the part I want to draw next (if I do not have enough plastic to cover all), then once the rain subsides, I can uncover the pavement and continue working in a new section.

Shortly after this last image was taken, I left. The rains were off and on and I decided that my time was better spent working in the studio. I have two charcoal drawings in the upcoming exhibit:

2008 Annual Exhibition of the Angel Academy of Art
Via San Niccolò 88/r
Florence, Italy
Tel. 055 246 6737
Dates: 23-24 May (Maggio) 2008, Friday and Saturday hours: 10:00-18:00
Reception: 22 May (Thursday evening): 18:00-21:00

Since I work at the school, I will be very busy this week, cleaning up the studio and helping install and strike the exhibit. I hope to share this exhibit with you as events unfold.

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Street Painting Madonnari - Florence, Italy

Cari Amici,

On Thursday, May 15, I began another street painting on Via Calimala in Florence, Italy. This time, I challenged myself with a Bouguereau – a child’s face. He created the original painting ”La Tricoteuse” (“The Little Knitter”) in 1882.

A bit of a stressful thing about street painting is that while your good days happen in public, but so do your bad days. I have learned that major errors that happen in the beginning of creating a drawing usually are a constant struggle throughout the process. In this case, it is difficult to get rid of the poor attempt and start again. You can see here in this first image that I have already done a horrible job with the eyes. I never did get them right (or the level of contrast on the shadow side of the face, the mouth, the chin, etc.).

The mother of the two German children that I invited to draw with me took this second image. The rules of the madonnari state that no other person is allowed to draw in our spaces. But those kids were so cute and interested and I happened to have a large area of white background, so . . . occasionally, rules must bend for the greater good. And yes, I did receive the mother’s permission to post this image of her children.

I madonnari (the Italian word for street painters) all had a large street painting festival in Nocera Superiore, south, near Naples on Friday and Saturday. I really wanted to go, but with my never-ending influenza, I worried that a trip might set me back again. However, since all the madonnari would be gone the next day, Claudio (the organizer) told me that I could leave my drawing that night and keep working on it the next day. I decided to take advantage of this and work at a slower pace. This next image is how much I had completed by midnight.

I worked in the studio on Friday morning, my last day with the model Ernesto. When I returned to my square on Via Calimala at around 2 p.m., here is what the street cleaner did with my drawing. You can see a lot of evidence of the texture of the street. Some spots, such as the two on the girl’s neck, do not accept pastel well.

Most of the drawing is still intact, so I set about repairing her, starting of course with the face. But shortly after that, the rains came – again! Allora, my one day as the sole working madonnari in Florence was a wash. I returned to the studio to work on my unfinished écorché drawing and prepare him for the upcoming exhibition this Thursday.

Ciao domani,

PS Happy Birthday, Dad, and also to Aunt Chris.