Saturday, December 20, 2008

Towers in Florence Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Not only do I love exploring Florence, Italy, at night, but also I cherish her during the winter holiday season. The colored lights enhance the buildings and we have had so much rain lately that everything seems to glow.

I include some recent snapshots I took while riding Hafiza’s bike along the Lungarno (the roads that parallel the Arno River) after midnight. These two towers are situated between the Ponte (bridge) alle Grazie and the Ponte San Niccolò.

In this first image, the fuzzy white almost-circular shape on the right is the rising moon. Beside some of the still-remaining fall foliage, you may be able to make out some of the raging waters of the Arno, roaring over the dam.

This second photo is my favorite of the bunch. I love the patterns of the reflected colors created in the top and relatively calm portion of the dam. Some of them look like people to me.

And this third focuses on one of my most photographed landmarks in Florence. I love this tower and have seen how the light changes it. I hope you enjoy these images.

Please do not forget to look at the many prizes offered by the Menu for Hope program. Make a donation and possibly make out with a gift for you or your loved ones.

Click here for prize list

or here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Menu For Hope - Stop World Hunger

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I met fellow blogger Sara Rosso in Florence, Italy, in April 2008. Her blog is called “Ms. Adventures in Italy” and she writes beautifully about food and shares great images too. Sara is currently the “Host for Europe” for a special program to fight hunger around the world. It is called Menu for Hope.

This is a fund-raiser in the form of a raffle, with bloggers worldwide offering prizes for your enjoyment. I just found out about this project and decided to jump onboard.

My Prize for you (Code: EU25):
Art Images of Italy: 6 giclées of Florence and Venice
Printed on thick quality (Arches Infinity textured) watercolor paper using UV pigmented inks for longevity.
The long dimension of each image is 10 inches (about 25 cm).
Valued at over $200.
Plus, I will ship worldwide from Florence, Italy.

Details on how to bid are listed below . . . but hurry, bidding ends 24 December 2008!

The Programme

In the interest of time, I want to quote Sara:
This year’s beneficiary of Menu for Hope is the
UN World Food Programme. WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.
With the success of last year’s campaign to support the school lunch program in Lesotho, we are going to continue our support to the same program. During the duration of Menu for Hope V, we will be posting updates from the kids and the farmers we supported this past year.
If you weren’t around last year for Menu for Hope 4, let me explain a bit about why we are supporting this particular program. We chose to support the school lunch program because providing food for the children not only keeps them alive, but keeps them in school so that they learn the skills to feed themselves in the future. We chose to support the program in Lesotho because it is a model program in local procurement - buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy. Instead of shipping surplus corn across the ocean, the WFP is buying directly from local subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming methods in Lesotho to feed the children there.

Who Collects the Money?

NOT the bloggers! We use a very good online fundraising company called Firstgiving, who has worked with us since the first Menu for Hope years ago.

Donors can make an online donation with a credit card. Firstgiving collects and processes the payments and, at the end of the campaign, transfers the donations in one lump sum to the WFP. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved. The bloggers never touch the money. The WFP don’t waste overheads on processing mini-donations, the majority of which were between $10-$50, that’s a whole lot of tenners to make up $90K. Firstgiving does all the work and collects a small fee, which include the credit card processing charges.

Last year, Firstgiving gave back 1% of the total amount raised in lieu of a discount on their processing fee. Thank you Firstgiving, we appreciated it very much!

Donation Instructions:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at or
Chez Pim
2. Go to the donation site at
and make a donation.
3. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize
of your choice. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal
Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation.
You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize
For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets
for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02
4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box
and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
5. Please allow us to see your email address so that we could contact
you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with
6. Bids on prizes will be accepted from December 15-24th. The last day to bid on a prize is December 24th.
7. Check back on Chez Pim on January 12, when Pim will announce the result of the entire raffle. Sara Rosso will also announce the winners of European prizes here.

Portrait of a Banker - Donatello

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

The sculpture that always makes me stop and admire him in Florence’s Bargello Museum is “Niccolò da Uzzano” by Donatello. This portrait is a painted terra-cotta sculpture and he is simply arresting. He is regal in pose and execution. Niccolò was the banker of the Medici family, made famous during the time of the Renaissance for their incredible support of artists.

When I got the opportunity to create a charcoal drawing of a white gesso (plaster) copy of this artwork, I jumped at it. I referred to my drawing in an earlier blog entry before I left for Texas this summer, and am so happy that after returning to Italy, I can say he is finished and available for your viewing pleasure.

The type of drawing I am currently doing here in Florence, Italy, is very detailed and time-consuming. I have been working for many months on ‘Niccolò’, spending an average of twelve hours a week on him. I am using the sight-size method of drawing, which means that I am pacing the floor a lot as I view the work from about 3 meters away before advancing to make a mark on the paper.

This drawing is actually done on a light grey Roma-brand paper. I use Nitram charcoals for my darks and white Rembrandt pastels for anything lighter than the paper itself. The idea is that the white and the black will never need to mix. This makes for a more difficult tonal study since I cannot just smudge my tones around.

“Donatello's Portrait of Niccolò da Uzzano” is just over 64 x 46 cm. He is available for only $2600 (US). And I would be happy to ship him anywhere in the world for you. Simply contact me with a shipping address and I can get you a quote for everything.

Thank you for your interest in my work and thank you for telling others about it. And if you know any bankers who might like this original drawing for their offices . . .

Click here to see other original drawings in charcoal.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Warped Art

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I have been trying to finish some long-term projects, but I discovered long ago that I need rewards in order to do so. It is not that I do not like what I am doing enough to finish it, it is that my brain keeps moving and I find it difficult to celebrate an ending of sorts without some promise of a future.

Often the act of finishing details in my art is a tranquil type of activity, whether it is polishing a stone, altering edges in a drawing or painting, or photographing the work. While the tasks are by no means mindless, my thoughts tend to drift to what I will create next. Life is a sine wave and this visually slower time is necessary in order to have the energy and ideas to reach for something greater later.

So, I have been spending part of my days going through my images, drawings, and notes. And I found an image that I wanted to share with you today. I went to Bremen, Germany, in late September 2006 to see an exhibit of my favorite painter, the late Eugène Carrière. This artwork is not his, but I am afraid that my notes on the art and the exhibit are not close at hand at the moment.

I remember that during an otherwise relatively representational show, I was drawn into these abstracted squiggles on a table. I had heard a few things about how various works of art were created with specific viewing situations in mind (often discovered once the art is moved from its original location), but this was extreme.

In this painting, one must not look at the painting itself to see the “sensical” image, but at a mirrored column set in the middle of the swirling colors. The curving perpendicular surface of the mirror alters the seemingly random waves of color into a scene of Jesus on the cross, surrounded by various figures and framed with a grey and white curtain.

At the time I remember that my main impression was that “Nothing is truly new.” This painting was created in 1800 something, if I remember correctly. Part of my problem is that I know very little about art history. What appears new to me in contemporary art is very often a continuation of a past exploration. But the first artist to try something like this may have been inspired by reflections in a river or some other natural phenomenon. So, I was hardly disappointed.

Happy Birthday, Cindy. And happy belated birthday to Paul and Lexie.