Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mommy Sarah and Nancy

This photo is solely for Sarah's kids, who must miss her dearly.

Day 4: A Trip to Florence

Today we all woke up early to climb into the van driven by Giancarlo, boyfriend of Francesca. He lives very nearby and works at Autoleggio Caroti as a mechanic and chauffeur/driver. He was brought up in the Mugello, the part of Tuscany directly north of Florence. The Mugello is famous for its slate and knives. So Giancarlo knows the ins and outs of Florence - all those one-way streets, dodging for tourists, and pushy cars.

We were dropped off at the train station, which is basically across a couple of streets from the Santa Maria Nouvelle, a beautiful church famous for its important art: a carved, wooden crucifix by Giotto, Massacio's Trinity which is the first good depiction of perception, and incredible side chapel pieces with wrought iron work, to mention only a couple.

Then we walked over to the Duomo and the Baptistery and its Ghiberti bronze doors (copies). We did not go inside because our one-day overview trip of Florence stirred up a whirlwind of trotting artists with little time. However, people were given about one-half hour to circle the outside of the intricate pink, green and white marble edifices.

We then had a very good lunch at Cantinetto di Verazzano, where we opted for a sampling of delicious little sandwiches (I'd never had a pea-cream cheesey sandwich before; I really liked it!), beans with tuna, and a cheese sampler. The house white wine was perfect for the hot, hot, humid summer day: twas crisp and a bit fruity.

Then we headed for the Uffizi, where we had reservations for 2:00 pm. On our way over there, we stopped at the Piazza Signoria ..... to view the sculptures under the Loggia. It must have been quite a violent time; there are decapitations galore, sculpted by Donatello, Cellini and Giambologna and others.

Even though we had reservations, we waited in line at the Uffizi: to exchange the voucher for real tickets, to get into the building, to go through security, to check bags, to climb the many flights of stairs up to the beginning of exhibits. Separately, we all wended our ways through the packed museum. Some of the more famous paintings there are Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and Primavera, Lippi's Madonna and Child and Michelangelo's unfinished Holy Family. These more famous paintings and others were so mobbed that it was difficult to really get a good view. (There is also so much art in the Uffizzi that one easily gets overwhelmed. It is a museum to tackle one room at a time, again and again, over the span of a lifetime.)

After the Uffizi we went across the river via the Ponte Vecchio to the Boboli Gardens where some of us climbed to the top. The older geezers stayed below while the more youthful class members got photos of the entire city panorama. The heat and humidity were dreadful. Some of us then hightailed to the restaurant for our early 7:00 pm reservation while others went with Billy and Laura to an art supply store to pick up coveted Florentine paints and supplies and foam core for Fran. Giancarlo joined us for dinner, the herded us back to the train station for our sleepy trip back to Radicofani.

Photos will be loaded at a later date.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 3: Picnic Day

As usual, most of us wake early, some earlier than others, to paint outside in the morning light. The paintings that people started Monday are continued and finished or new ones are begun. Some of us most be reminded that less is more; that too much fussing defiles the original spirit of the painting. (The early painters are also served coffee outside - a nice touch.)

Nancy at the big olive tree.

Larry's Geraniums

Breakfast follows. The morning buffet is laid out with fresh yogurt, fruit, ham, cheese, toast, fruit tarts, cakes, croissants, boiled eggs, juice and more that I'm forgetting. We are served capuccino, tea or "american" coffee.

After breakfast, the first real class takes place. Today the topic is observation, looking, painting what you see, not what you know. I didn't get photos of this session, but Larry's first start at the tractor is an example of what not to paint: Laura said it looked like a diagram in an repair manual. Georgio's tractor now exudes the spirit of Georgio, the gardener or maybe Tommy the Locomotive.

Then the post-breakfast session begins, each person taking up his or her place again in the hay field across the road to finish the painting started there on the day before. For some, the rolls of hay are hard to capture; for others tis the sky that's difficult.

Larry's Field with Hay Bales (for a well-rounded diet rather than a square meal, attributed later to George O'Connor of the Wicked Pickers.)
We break; tis getting really hot now. Ask Ellen: she's our thermometer. After the clean-up, we gather our secret picnic lunch from the fridge, cram into the cars, and drive towards Sarteano on Route 478. Only about 10 minutes away, after many curves and hills, we pull into the picnic table area with beautiful panoramic views which unfold from both sides of the road. Billy and Laura unpack their loot: salamis, cheese, olives, cherries, apricots, peaches and a melon, all of which taste so wonderful, as we throw the pits into the trees below. We go through a lot of water in the heat.

After this fine repast, we divide up into 3 groups: those staying on the hill to paint the view, those going back to the villa either to paint in the shade or to slip into the pool, and those going on a little hill town excursion.

We meet back at the villa for critique of work done so far.

Then we have an "early" dinner that starts between 7:30 and 8, so that we may wake up early for our early departure to Florence tomorrow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 2: Painting Begins

One Challenge of the Week: Hay Bales in Perspective and Realism in

This morning at 7:00 am the painting began in the immediate vicinity of La Palazzina. Each painter chose a spot to work from: assuming he/she will not finish a painting in one morning, that morning spot will remain hers or his until the painting is deemed finished. The theory of this method is that the light will remain sort of the same for the duration of the painting process.

Here's what we have so far:

Our fearless (and very good) teacher: at least one of them for now.

Billy Noonan, Oil Painter

A View from the Terrace A View (more finished)
(the beginning)

and later in the morning, Billy worked from the driveway to the sheep field ...

View from Sheep Field
(the beginning) (more finished)

From our other fearless leader and very good teacher, Laura Martinez-Bianco, pastel artist:

Later in the morning:

Olive Tree with Hay Bale

Color Studies by Ellen Trayer:

The Olive Tree (the beginning of what Ellen considers her best work ever)

Concentration and then JOY

The Veteran Student, Nancy Woogen:

Nancy is a very prolific painter. I think she must have painted at least 15 works by week's end.

Fran Devitt, our last-minute sign-up. I think we are all very glad Fran joined us - her good sense of humor and practicality lightened us all.
and get a load of her pastel tray!!

Fran's goal for the week was to let loose: to paint blocks of color instead of tiny detail. Here, she's off to a great start.

The New Student: Larry Hill.

The Geranium Pot, Larry's First Pastel

Plein Air 2010: Pastels and Oils

Here we are again!

We arrived yesterday at La Palazzina to a very unique greeting. There was a 500 Fiat rally convened around the circular driveway year, with tables of pecorino, salami, the Palazzina's olive oil. Little tiny cars with funny-sounding horns were being ogled by proud and jealous admirers and owners.

Billy was on the terrace painting the multi-colors of the 500s, while Laura was in a corner by the entrance to the property, painting this Fiat in gray. Billy said he had never painted so fast!
Laura doesn't paint cars, but didn't want to insult all these passionate car people by not painting a car and at the same time she knew she had to paint a decent-looking 500. She did. And Billy pleased all.

Most of the painters spent the afternoon sleeping off jetlag, relaxing or lounging by the pool. Remember: the last word of our website is vacation!

Later in the evening, before dinner, we met under the gazebo in the orchard to have an overview of the workshop, the week and the options. We heard a collections of goals for the week, all different, indicating all levels of experience - or lack of... Laura and Billy reminded us that this week will give all an opportunity to paint uninhibited by the family screaming for food or the blue shirt or trips to the grocery store or picking up the kids from baseball practice. The week is solely for the students' pleasure.

2009 - 2010: Intervening Time

After a year's hiatus, we come back to our blog.

In the interim, since last July, we had Andrew DeVries' sculpture class - or an art history class with the focus on sculpture. Andrew walked us through Florence, Orvieto, Pienza, San Antimo, Assisi, Deruta' the Spoerri sculpture park and more to show us some of his favorite works and impart his excitement and extensive knowledge of sculpture specifically, art in general to all of us. When I am home again and have access to all my photos, I will post some of them here, along with a power point presentation Andrew gave at Tutti Italiani at The Cultural Center of Cape Cod during the winter.

Another event that took place in February was a series of dinner put on in Cape Cod when Silvano, Eliana and Francesca came over and cooked up a Tuscan storm. They fed approximately 350 people over the course of 5 dinners, parties and demonstrations. The following local businesses and institutions participated and are deeply in our gratitude: The Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Snows Home and Garden, The Beacon Room, Ring Brothers Market and Orleans Wine and Spirits. All these events were videotaped by John Rega of Fooding Around; you can find some podcasts of our 2-week whirlwind. I will also post photos of these events also.

Laura Martinez-Bianco made a presentation of the plein air workshop that William Noonan and she will teach in June 2010. I will try to insert the PowerPoint show here.