Friday, September 14, 2012

Room With A View Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Here are some shots of from my office window, morning then afternoon. How about that rainbow? This morning, my client upped the ante on my deadline. I must return to Firenze by the 24th of September and he and his wife will leave Italy not much longer after that. So, he plopped down a 1 TB external hard-drive this morning. He knew I needed another one because several weeks ago when I was here, I spoke to a friend of his at dinner about computer advice and more. The deal is that if I finish by the 23rd, I get to keep the hard drive as my reward. If I do not, then I keep the hard drive, but he takes the price out of my artist’s pay. Haha.

I used to think of geraniums as “old lady flowers.” But here in Tuscany, their brilliant reds against the stone and landscape have made me a tifosa (fan). I hope you enjoy those and the lovely skies. I just cannot seem to stop looking up!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mural Project Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I have the perfect client! He not only treats me as a professional, he gives me his dream requirements and then he also allows me to interject my artistic opinion and usually goes with it. He contacted me this spring and asked for a large painting. He had the idea fairly fleshed out in his mind, consisting of three voluptuous women, Roman ruins, mountains, and a pool in which the babes would frolic. But not knowing the lingo, he said “mural.” By the time I finished asking him questions to clarify his vision, he agreed that a mural on the entire wall was much better than what he thought he wanted.

He is also ideal because he can just look at a very rough sketch of my basic idea and see past the scribbly charcoal and into the vision. Over the summer I have fleshed out more of the details and spoken many times with my new mural guru, Victor Goikoetxea. After arriving at the site of my very first mural (as a grown up, I mean, since my mother let me paint an ocean theme on my bedroom wall when I was a young teenager), I recalculated a few details in the perspective and architecture part of the designo.

My client helped me on my second day here to draw all of the perspective lines in pencil on the wall. See how perfect he is? Even giving me an extra pair of hands! Actually, I think he is quite interested in the whole art-making process and has warned me that many neighbors and guests will be dropping in from time to time to watch me work. So, this is to be more like vertical street painting! Ha.

The second day I was delighted when I was told to come see the cinghiale in the yard and caught one on “film” here. The fig trees are starting to have ripe red fruit, and the beasts want to eat them more than they want their privacy in the woods. Who could blame them? I have myself been eating the juicy figs right off of the tree!

In this last image, I tried to show you how much I have drawn on the wall. I am not that good with Photoshop and thus just ended up making the contrast higher and then darkening the image. I hope you can see some pencil marks. There is a ventilation window in the upper left part of the wall. It was a bit of a problem and a HUGE consideration when I designed the mural. I was not sure if my idea would even work, but we took a look at the sketch on the wall and think that with some embellishments, all will be lovely. Here the dark wooden door with black iron hinges has been taken off and the base coat of white paint was painted over the red brick and wood piece that creates the opening. That way, I can paint right up to the window and the illusion will work better.

I am lacking sleep these days, not just these few days, but also because I explored San Sebastian, Spain, a lot, as well as spending long days at the mural workshop, trying to learn as much as I could in half the time of the other students, who stayed for the whole month class. I even spent one night working at the atelier in an attempt to get to a point in which I could continue with the next step of oil painting. Still, I have yet to learn that while I can do anything that I want, I cannot do EVERYTHING that I want!

Thank you for reading. I am not sure if I let you know often enough how grateful I am for your interest in the art and my journey.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

San Sebastian Spain

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Sometimes life feels like a “chicken and egg” thing. My friend Victor Goikoetxea who I met in Firenze, Italia, had only just told me about his mural painting workshop in his hometown of San Sebastian, Spain, when one of my collectors with a home in Italy told me that he had an idea for a mural he wanted me to paint. It has been a crazy, life-filled summer with a few unexpected twists.

With my schedule I found myself flying into Barcelona from Italy in time to catch the overnight bus across northern Spain. I arrived around 7 a.m. and was greeted by my kind host, one of Victor’s cousins. He drove us home and after being introduced to his family and dropping off my suitcase, his wife and kids walked me over to the mural workshop in the central part of the city. We began the first lesson shortly after 9:30 a.m.

While I have studied perspective before, I always need to “relearn it,” not using it to this degree so often. We spent the first 2-3 days calculating the proportions of a design that Victor had already come up with. The drawing of the bozzetto is the most important part of the work and most of us took a full week just for the drawings. We drew everything to a smaller scale than our real project and thus, one must always remember which number we are referring to. It spins my head around and I enjoy math!

Anyway, after working that whole day after a long sleep-deprived bus ride, I was surprised at my energy level. I met all the other artists taking the workshop and went out with a couple of women from Paris that evening. We had dinner on the beach and I took this snapshot of San Sebastian’s famous shore. Do you see the light in the clouds in the shape of a bird? I love watching skies!

The first thing that really struck me about this city is the architecture. It feels as if Alphonse Mucha and his Art Deco tribe settled here and made themselves comfortable. It is gorgeous here, with even door pulls having flowing beauty. Prettier than Bilbao. There… I wrote it.

By the third day, I was drawing an enlarged version of my bozzetto onto my canvas at three times the scale. We drew with pencil and will paint with acrylics and oil. Having already designed most of my first mural project in Italy, I was grateful that we were saving time on this workshop project because our instructor Victor had already done all of the creative design work for us. Sometimes I think that people just think we pop this stuff out of our heads. Well, sometimes we do (usually after many years of creating), but just like Albert Einstein, few become genius before having worked a lot in the field beforehand, learning, making mistakes, making progress, and repeating the whole process… a lot. I doubt very much that geniuses are born. Made, I believe in. Even then, most of us do not reach that lofty title, and remain simply students. It is a good thing that learning itself is rewarding.

P.S. No, I have not forgotten the anniversary that most people are thinking of today. I have no wish to make light of what happened by seeming uncaring about it. But I have always been confused on where the line is between remembering loved ones we have lost and letting losers remain famous for their “triumphs.” In my own personal grieving, I rarely remember the day a loved one dies, preferring to remember the life and the love, wherever and as often as it moves me.