Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Portrait of Brian Rising River Florence, Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I got a two-hour start on the portrait of Irish artist Brian Smyth on Monday evening. He is sitting in what I call a “bird of prey” pose and staring right behind my head. There are a lot of artists in the room and my easel is behind the standing row of others, with plenty of space for them to move back to look at their work from a distance. A lot of painters like to use binoculars. I have yet to succumb. Some part of me wants to work with whatever I have got; another hates shopping except on rare occasions; and still another likes the challenge of recreating the shapes and shadows one sees, regardless of how hazy the details. Or maybe I am just lazy and wanting to avoid the headache that looking through binocs often gives me.

I have created a lot of mistakes in this first attempt. I like photographing my art since it helps me see it in a very fresh way, in a way that a mirror rarely does. My tones are off, as well as many of the shapes, especially from the nose down. Peccato!

So, let me struggle with this again on Thursday. The second image happened after another artist told me that she loves the impression that my WIP (work-in-progress) made as he is stashed in one of the few open spaces I found in the studio. That is one long canvas that is wrapped around the board. I just couldn't be bothered to attach it during painting. I simply draped the canvas over the backside from the top of the board while it was on the easel. See? Lazy!

Most mornings I ride my bike upstream along the River Arno here in Florence, Italy. I have been thinking lately that Tuscany is not so different from Texas. After a dry and relatively warm winter here through January (Feb was COLD), we had a drought this summer bad enough to worry the farmers about the olive yield, and now we have a ton of rain. “Feast and Famine” always seemed like the creed of Texas to me. The Arno River is rising. Even the “beach” along the Oltrarno side of the river is thoroughly submerged. (And have you seen the images lately of a once again flooded Venice?) However, the forecast looks up from here on out and I am looking forward to spending some time in the country this weekend to watch la raccolta delle olive (olive harvest).

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