Friday, June 6, 2008

Bicycle in Florence, Italy

For some reason I love hearing my name called out in the street -- gives a city a small-town feel. Today it was my friend Lisa whose voice stopped me. Our schedules have changed recently and we do not get to see each other as often as before. I miss hanging out with her. Allora, she caught me as I was riding down Via Fiesolana and she took this image of me with my new bike. I was headed to the station to buy a train ticket for tomorrow evening.

Besides being fun, my bike has also been a big help: I am still moving into my new place, slowly taking art supplies from storage and bringing them home on my bike. On my way tonight, I passed Piazza Santa Croce and I am wishing that I would be here in Florence when the event they are putting up all of these bleachers for happens. But instead, I am heading to the mountains near Austria for the weekend.

Ciao, ciao,

Thursday, June 5, 2008

More Street Painting - Florence, Italy

Cari Amici,

I hope you are not getting tired of seeing my process of being a madonnara (Italian street painter) in Florence, Italy. This past Monday was a national holiday for la bella Italia. I was hoping that this day would make up for all of the rainy Mondays that I have paid for a tessera (permit) to create paintings in pastel in the street. But . . .

I arrived to my spazio on Via Calimala around 11 a.m., about an hour or so after the other two madonnari, Roderick and Giovanni, began their day’s labor. I chose to draw a work by William Adolph Bouguereau in 1888 titled “L’Amour au Papillon” or “Cupid With A Butterfly.”

Bouguereau is a difficult artist for me to copy because his key is so light. I have a challenge to try to determine what is a light shape and what is dark on his figures. I think that was ultimately my main problem with this drawing of the bambino. However, I was able to get a decent head drawn and placed the shoulders so that I could draw in the wings. And then the drizzly rain hit. The kind that makes an artist wonder whether it is better to wait it out or just go home and work on other art projects.

I took the plastic that I had and covered up the next areas that I wanted to draw. I can work on dry pavement only. While the rain was still light, I took out my black pigment in powder form and created the background. I love the way that a black background makes the figure’s form just pop out of the ground! Most of the street painters use rubbing alcohol or even just water to help spread the powder over a large area. I prefer to simply sprinkle dark dust everywhere and rub the pigment into the pavement with my hands. But in the rain, there is no problem. Go figure . . .

I lost several hours due to the rain and called up my friend Martinho Correia to see if I could do something productive during this time. Martinho had asked me if I would work as his assistant while he teaches a class later this month called “Painting Methods of the Great European Academies” and so I was able to drop by his place nearby and find out what my job entailed. Click here if you would like more information about his workshop here in Florence.

By around 4 p.m. as my meeting was just getting started, the rain let up and the day turned out beautifully! In this next image, I am trying to fix the face after the rain. You can see how the pigment has faded a bit (compare the blacks and general contrast). And thus, I began to finish the drawing, first working on the body and legs of Cupid, then adding the architecture in the background and foreground. Lastly, I added the greenery and grasses at the bottom of the image.

You can see the Mercato Porcellino in the background, as well as my fellow madonnari street painters. The image on the right shows Giovanni cleaning his square. (Rod on the far side of Giovanni had already gone.)

Hafiza’s lovely bicycle is serving me well. I still have difficulty navigating through tourists and narrow roads, but I feel these wheels give me a freedom I did not have before. I am loving it, especially after a long day’s work and an otherwise decent walk home with all of my supplies!

Below, you may see how I finished this street painting. So many people express dismay at the idea of washing the art away each night, but I have made a discovery. There is a bizarre beauty in the destruction of such fragile art. And I find myself fascinated by the paths and patterns the draining water makes over the dry art before I start to scrub. So, for me, the destruction has become a temporary creative act. Like the rest of my “performing art” day, I am ending on a high of sorts.

And some cool news: I was contacted by Anthony Cappetto of and interviewed for their blog about street art. Here is the interview: Interview of madonnara Kelly Borsheim

Buona notte!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Teaching Sculpture, How to Draw

Cari Amici,

I have finally figured out my teaching schedule for this summer in Texas. I will only be in the States for two months. Here is the jist:

Classes in the Teaching Studio of Beth Schoen in Austin, Texas:

Drawing Class:

Tuesday evening 6 - 8 p.m. (or 7 - 9 p.m. if you think that is better)
Dates: July 22, 29 + August 5,12,19, 26

Sculptural Anatomy Workshop:

Two weekends (Sat and Sun) 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Dates: July 19-20 + July 26-27

Sculpting Hands and Feet:

Saturday, August 2: perhaps noon to 5 p.m.? or 10-5 with lunch break?

Then at my studio, Cedar Creek, Texas:

Intro to Stone Carving:

Labor Day weekend Aug. 30, 31, + Sept 1; hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

I hope to publish a Web page with the final dates, costs, materials list, and payment options soon. But if you have feedback and wish to take a class or two, by all means contact me sooner than later.

Quoted Artist

I recently received a “Google Alert” on my name, which let me know that a site had quoted me. Pretty cool to be on a page with such people as Audrey Hepburn, one of my longtime favorites, and other notables. Although, I should blush because this happens to be one of the less-than-lady-like things that have come out of my mouth. Here is the link if you are curious at all:

Enjoy your day and give me feedback on the teaching schedule!
Grazie mille,

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Antonio Ciccone Art Drawings - Florence, Italy

Cari Amici,
I spent the 25th of May in Sesto Fiorentino, Italy, with my friend Hafiza to help her celebrate her birthday. Once again her generosity showed itself when she gave me her bici (bike). She is a beaut! A jogger, who took a break when she saw me trying to balance my camera on a trash can, took this image. I was riding home from the (train) stazione, trying to remember the last time I rode a bicycle.

However, I did not use questo bici until today, 31 May. In Florence, there is a pretty healthy bike theft business, with stolen bikes often sold to the many students here. I want to avoid becoming a victim in this situation and it took me several days to find the right friend to advise me on which bike locks were the best. And there was also the rain to consider. But today, I was flying high, zigzagging down some of the less car-traveled streets of Florence as I made my way to the reception of artist Antonio Ciccone at Casa di Dante.

Antonio studied with Pietro Annigoni, one of Florence’s more recent art heroes. I heard that many years ago, Antonio moved from the more representational style of Annigoni to America and its more modern movement/style. He has been back in Florence for a while now and is doing representational charcoal portraits. (He also attended last week’s reception for the mostra that included two of my drawings. The maestro Michael John Angel also studied with the late Pietro Annigoni.)

Art critic John T. Spike gave a warm introduction (in Italian) to Antonio Ciccone, while Rossella Annigoni, Pietro Annigoni's second wife and widow, smiled warmly nearby.

I photographed some detail shots of these lovely drawings. (Please pardon the reflexions in the glass.) I was impressed by the subtlety of tone combined with a sure hand and strong lines. I even enjoyed the artist’s signature!

And finally, I was able to meet the artist. Surprisingly enough, I am a shy person and it was only because my artist friend Francesco wanted to photograph me with the artist that I was introduced to him. Being the star of the show, Antonio did not have much time to speak with me, but he seemed genuinely charming and I was happy to meet him. And then look at more of the drawings, as Francesco continued to take many fotos throughout the exhibit.

Ciao a presto! And thank you for your interest.