Saturday, March 25, 2017

Childhood in Casignano

Dear Art Lover,
     Many years ago, I got to stay in a friend’s home in a magical place called Casignano.  It is in Tuscany, on the outskirts of Firenze.  I got to be friends with the farming family there.  As I write, the patriarch Renato is 94 years old.  When I first met him, he told me of being a little boy in the same house during the American arrival to help Italians liberate Firenze during WWII.  American soldiers stayed in his home, hiding out in the hills surrounding Firenze until the moment was right.  For this experience [and perhaps others afterwards], Renato has a good feeling about Americans.  I only lived as their neighbor for a few months in total over two years (having returned to the States between times), but my friendship with this family came about quickly and has lasted.

     I recently completed a pastel sketch of some of the dancing olive trees in Casignano.  During one of “our” olive harvest times, I saw little Marco, grandson of Renato, running down the hill and just goofing off while the rest of us picked olives.  I have always relished this memory because childhood has a freedom we rarely experience in later years.
“Childhood in Casignano, Italy”
12 x 18 inches    $650
Pastel drawing on UArt sanded paper
Copyright 2017 Kelly Borsheim

Childhood in Casignano Tuscany Italy Pastel Painting Drawing Boy Running in Olive Grove

     If you like pastels, check out more of them here:

     For years I have returned to Casignano for the “raccolta delle olive” (olive harvest) each November.  Renato’s wife Giuliana cooks up a huge lunch for all of the workers, mostly family.  Natalino is one of Renato’s brothers and I have seen him year after year.  He is even in a previous blog post, as you may see in this image below.  Natalino is a name many Italians born on or near Christmas receive.  [Natale = Italian for ‘Christmas’ and the suffix “-ino” means “little.”]
      This past November, I could not get down there for the harvest.  I have a new home in the country some distance away from them and a new pair of brothers to help.  However, I was able to get down to Casignano after dark for dinner last November.  Like most families, this one had members coming and going and I did not get to see everyone for long or some at all.
    A couple of days ago, my friends posted on Facebook that Natalino has died.  So, I dedicate this blog post to him.  He was a “bravo uomo,” a good man and a kind man.

Natalino sits near wooden ladders in Casignano during Olive Harvest, Tuscany, Italy

     For my fellow nature lover, I would like to share a few snapshots I took while on [the dog] “Gregory Duty” this past Thursday as my landlord volunteered for ambulance duty.  In Italia, this group of mostly volunteers is called the Misericordia.  Can you tell how I love the bees?  More images are on my Facebook page.

Happy birthday to my artist friend Hélène Delmaire!



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Walk in Tuscan Hills Curious Dog Gregory
Gregory is curious.
Walk in Tuscan Hills Bee Approaches Wildflower
See the bee approaching this wildflower?
Walk in Tuscan Hills

Walk in Tuscan Hills close-up of tiny white flowers on bushes

Walk in Tuscan Hills Bee enjoys harvesting on tiny white flowers

Walk in Tuscan Hills  fungus growing on dead log in forestWalk in Tuscan Hills  Tiny bell shaped blue wildflowers

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Public Art Stone Sculpture Designs

Dear Art Lover,
     This past Sunday, March 19, was Father’s Day in Italy.  I spent the day with a bunch of local sculptors I know.  We met up at Cava Nardini (the Nardini Quarry) in Vellano, Italy.  I was not told what the meeting was about, but went along for the social event and also in the hopes of keeping connected with what is going on.  It turns out that it was originally thought that this proposed project would need to be completed by May and since I will be in the US, I would not be able to participate.  Now we know we have until September, so I am spending this week coming up with a design for the specs of the public art project in Tuscany.  The mayor or his team will have a look and decide which proposals they will like to realize.  If mine is chosen, then I know what I will be working on in June!  

Cava Nardini Vellano Valleriana Tuscany Italy Sculptors Discuss Designs
Cava Nardini Vellano Valleriana Tuscany Italy Sculptors Discuss Designs

Metal ropes hung outside Cava Nardini Vellano Valleriana Tuscany Italy
Metal ropes hung outside Cava Nardini, Vellano

Boys and Toys Cava Nardini Vellano Valleriana Tuscany Italy
Boys and Toys and distant snow-capped mountains

     It was a cool and overcast day, but fun.  After our gathering in the quarry, we went into the town of Vellano where I took some of these close-up and scenic shots before we enjoyed a huge and lively lunch at Trattoria Manero.  My friend Kumiko and I are the only non-Italians at the table and I swear hanging out with these guys made us laugh and laugh, especially when the older guys give the younger ones their words of wisdom about life.  Lots of hand gestures in the conversations and I really believe we had the liveliest table in the whole place!

Vellano Valleriana Tuscany Italy Springtime Starts La Pieve

Vellano Valleriana Tuscany Italy Springtime Starts

Vellano Valleriana Tuscany Italy Springtime Starts

Lichen on Stone Wall Vellano Valleriana Tuscany Italy Springtime Starts

Pietra Serena stone quarried locally in Vellano Tuscany Italy

Sculptors 3-hour lunch at Trattoria Manero, Vellano, Italy
Sculptors 3-hour lunch at Trattoria Manero, Vellano, Italy

     I am looking forward with joy and trepidation for my almost two-months in the US.  I know that I will not be able to see all whom I would love to see, but am doing the best that I can.  I have much to do there.

     If you like, please have a look at some of my sculpture online here:




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