Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ceiling of Uffizi Museum

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Some years ago one of my local friends told me that you could always spot the tourists in Florence, Italy, because they are always looking up. I say “Peccato!” (It is a sin!) But it must be the same for many people the world over: when you live in a place, sometimes you do not see it. I look up, down, and all-around. There are treasures everywhere.

Today I share something with you about il soffitto della Galleria degli Uffizi (the ceiling in the Uffizi Museum/Art Gallery). This first image is of only one room in the museum. It looks like many of the really fancy interiors in Europe, to me. I only include it here to show you that not all the ceilings in the Uffizi in are the same style.

The Uffizi Gallery is laid out in a square-shaped U. The latter leg has frescoes more in the style of realistic, large figures and I have not shown these here. But in the first leg you will see there is a lighter feel, since the graphics are thin, delicate, fanciful, and permit much of the white background to be seen. I love the imagination in these patterns – people morphing into animals and architecture.

So, I hope you like those. This next is a ceiling painting to look as if birds and plants are covering a glass lid. I do not know how old this is, but I do know that contemporary artists have used this idea time and time again. Perhaps they were inspired by the Uffizi?

For these last two images, how could I not show you some sculpture. And THE sculpture that inspired Michelangelo so much: Laocoön This marble in the Uffizi is a copy of the original one in Vatican City. That was discovered during Michelangelo’s lifetime and one can make an easy connection between the two.

I hope that you enjoy these images – I was not supposed to take any of them. Sneaky artist! But without flash, I fail to see the damage I have done, especially when my intention is the entice you to see some of these beauties yourself. So, chin up!

Official site for the Uffizi Gallery (click on the “eng” link in the upper left corner to read the site in English)

If you like what you read, enjoy the photos, and would like to help support this blog(ger) / artist, click here . . .

Monday, April 19, 2010

Streetpainting Florence Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

So, I last Friday I did my first stint this trip as a street painter on Via Calimala in Florence, Italy. On this day, I worked with one of the best street artists that I have ever met: Tomoteru Saito (who we all call simply “Tomo”). He is a gentle soul and you can see this in his lovely style of creating art.

This first image came from the camera of a Canadian artist who recently finished his art history studies here in Florence. His name is Antoine Mountain. We met the day before while I was crossing the (bridge) Ponte Santa Trinita. I saw a cute couple trying to take an image of themselves with famous Ponte Vecchio in the background and asked if I could take the photo for them. Then I heard a request from the man (Antoine) sitting on the bridge nearby, “Would you mind taking one of me, too, please?” Afterwards he decided to take a shot of me and I invited him to come over and check out the street painting the next day. He gave me permission to share this image of us that a tourist took while I was working.

Shortly after Antoine left, Tomo and I got rained out a little. Here is Tomo posing with our “good fortune.” I am not sure what the deal was, but with the rain came the cars and vans! This is strange to have happen around lunchtime. There is very restricted traffic in centro and I have yet to comprehend if the rain made the rules somehow obsolete. And yes, one of my money baskets became a taxi casualty.

One bright thing happened as the rain was slowing down: I met one of my blog readers! He happened to be in town and wondered if he would be able to find me street painting. So, this was quite fun and we got to have a decent conversation until the street became dry enough for me to return to work. Allora, Tomo and I finished well enough and we left just before midnight. Oh, and the original artist is William Adolphe Bouguereau.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Conti – Tasting Tour Tuscany

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I once heard that “you can either write about life or live life, not both.” Boy, that is a tough one for me. So many interesting things – good and not so good – happen and seem worthy of documentation for a variety of reasons. So, perhaps you will bear with me today as I share more good things about the Conti family food products here in Tuscany. In my last post, I wrote about the balsamico that Stefano and Grazia Conti offer in their colorful shop in mercato centrale here in Florence, Italy. They also carry all things TRUFFLE!

But during the tour given by the brains and passion behind the Divina Cucina, Judy Witts Francini (in violet) shared with us a wide variety of Italian foods, spices, leather goods, jewelry, and more. She knows all of the merchants here, especially the Conti family. Judy’s tours are fun and you move at just the right pace. She keeps all tour groups small so she can offer the most personal of experiences. And she delivers!

So, a quick explanation of some of these images before I get back to my drawing board.
1) Judy, right, gives her tour group a moment to look over the Italian labels.
2) Judy and Grazia Conti share a laugh with the group.
3) Getting a whiff of a special spice mix (I think for putting on meats) – a perfect example of my shooting an image with my right hand while the rest of my body wants to pass up the photo-op for some yummy fragrances.
4) The fresh fruits and vegetables are displayed in a way that you may see all at a glance and reach everything that you desire. I had never before seen horseradish (the tubular shapes to the left of the Conti sign).
5) Loved the mushroom display!
6) Candied fruits – strawberries in the front, kiwi in the back, and my personal favorite: zenzero (ginger). Fun to say, fun to eat!
7) Grappa in test tubes and a box in the style of a cigarette case! I think grappa is stronger than vodka, and not for the faint of heart. I like it in the right circumstances.

Enjoy your day – I cannot wait to be able to show you my new artworks soon.

Useful links:
Tuscany Flavours – the site for the Conti Family’s delicious offerings
Divina Cucina – get to know more about Judy Witts Francini and her cooking knowledge
Judy’s blog about food and Italy