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).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Florence, Italy Firenze Italia

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I have been quite busy lately . . . you may see images of the “blow-up doll incident” in my Facebook photo album titled “Friends – Album VI” if you like. Seriously, I am working a lot as well, but one must always stop to smell the roses, even if sometimes the smells are not so sweet. One of the problems that I have getting to and from the studio in Florence, Italy is that I stop to record images whenever something interests me.

I am a bit nervous because once they remove the marble art installation by Mimmo Paladino in Piazza Santa Croce today, they will probably move in the “new oil” market that celebrates this year’s olive harvest. After that, . . . drumroll please . . . my favorite event there: The German Christmas Market! Oh, the gluvine (mulled spiced wine): My second favorite way to keep warm!

So, the butterflies you see over the Ponte Vecchio (and in a clear plastic box lined with a mirror on the floor in Piazza della Signoria) is a current celebration of the many individual Tuscan wines. I must admit that while I am not fussy about much, I actually prefer the wines from Sicily and Sardinia. For me to even remember that much is pretty astonishing really, because I never remember names of even the wines I love. Anyway, the “flutterbies” as my mom calls them are lovely and a fun temporary exhibit. The geometric marble sculpture of a figure is part of the Cross of marble by Mimmo Paladino. It was part of the Florens 2012 cultural celebration I wrote about earlier. It is over today.

The last images are of The Broggi-Caraceni Villino. I had never seen a dog here and this German Shepherd just looked wonderful.

So, while I am off to the studio now, I just wanted to remind you that books make great gifts. My book “My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy” is available from my own Web site, from myself and another location in Florence, as well as on several Amazon sites around the world. If you buy one from me here in Italia, I would be thrilled to sign it to you or whomever you wish. Here is a link to the list of Amazon pages for your convenience in online ordering (see the right side column):