Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Eating in Assisi

(Eggs with Truffle Oil and fresh shaved Truffle - Enoteca Mazzini)
I'm not sure what part of visiting Italy is better, it's history and art, or their food! Both can be overwhelming experiences that can not be replicated anywhere else in the world.  Let's be honest, we ate a lot, and we thought we would come back ten pounds,or more, heavier. To our surprise, even though we ate every day like it was our last, the amount of weight gained was very minimal. Two pounds to be exact. How does this work when you are constantly eating so much and so many carbs on top of that?  My theory is that everything you eat in Italy is so fresh and "organic" that you're body is able to use it all. As part of the group of Workshops in Italy, most of the dinners and lunches we were delighted with were specially created for us.  That's the great thing about the workshop, you eat and paint your heart out, a true artist's dream!  Here are some of the most memorable dishes we had in Assisi, buon appetito tutti!
 (Caprese Salad - Trattoria Pallotta)

 (Lunch at Enoteca Mazzini)

 (Tagliatelle and Asparagus - La Fontanella)

 (Beef, Roasted Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Truffle - Osteria Piazzetta dell'Erba)

(Tagliatelle with Arugula, Tomato and Garlic Sauce - Enoteca Mazzini) 

(Gnoccho with Fava Beans and Prosciutto - Trattoria Pallotta)

(Bruschette - Enoteca Mazzini)

(Layered Eggplant and Tomato Sauce - Osteria Piazzetta dell'Erba)

(Selection of Umbrian meat and cheese - Enoteca Mazzini)

(Pistachio Torte - Osteria Piazzetta dell'Erba)

(Orecchiette with vegetables - La Fontanella)

(White Lasagna - Trattoria da Erminio)

(Dinner at La Fontanella)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Views of Assisi

Welcome to Assisi, a hilltop town in the region of Umbria, and perhaps mostly famous in history as the birthplace of Saint Francis and the Franciscan religion order.  Here is where our two week trip to Italy began, and although it may not have been the bustling sister city of Perugia, it did offer lots of charm and good food.
As most painters in history who've been drawn by Italy and it's beauty, I truly thought I was in heaven, and painting both in Assisi and Cortona was a dream come true.  Vistas and inspiration was all around, sometimes a little too much, making it hard to decide on what to paint.
When you least expect it, you get hit with another grand view, such as this one.  This image was taken form the "secret garden" restaurant La Fontanella, owned by gracious hostess Franca.  Tucked away in one of Assisi's little streets, away from the main squares, this restaurant provided the magic one can always expect from Italy. Can you imagine having dinner with this backdrop as the sun goes down?
Although Assisi is, like most Italian towns, beautiful, I did find it to be a little sleepy, and this is perhaps because of it's religious history.  Most visitors come here on a religious pilgrimage, and if they are not, they are still most likely doing a tour of the sites that were a part of Saint Francis.
As in any hill town, walking the streets can be challenging, lots of uphills or downhills which can take a toll on your legs.  But for those like a little challenge, you can always walk up to Rocca Magiore, a medieval castle that sits at the highest point of the town. This castle is open to the public as a museum, where you can experience life as they did in the eleven hundreds. Remember to always bring a good pair of walking shoes!
The views don't end, this one was taken from the garden of Saint Anthony's Guest House, the place our group of artists and art lovers stayed in for the week. The sisters are lovely people, and they will always greet you with a huge smile. Just make sure to "re-enter" the premises by 11 pm, or else!
Did I mention the views? This one is taken from the main street you walk up when entering Assisi through it's grand stone portals.  On the first day of my stay there this is the spot where I executed my first painting.  I think out of all the paintings I did in Italy, that one was my favorite. I will show and tell soon.
"The hills are alive with the sound of music!" Yes, I did have a little Froilan Maria moment while checking out the surrounding hills from Rocca Magiore.
To sum it up, I had a relaxing and enjoyable stay in Assisi, and the food I must say was incredible.  I will be sharing some food porn shots soon and you will see what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Back from Italy

Two weeks went by too fast, it seems only a few days ago I was getting ready for my Italian adventure.  This was definitely a memorably trip, mostly because I have never turned out so much work in such a short amount of time.  Although the word work can sometimes have a negative connotation, in this case it was the opposite. I don't think a painter could ask for anything better than to spend mornings and afternoons soaking up the sun of Italy trying to capture her radiance. 
My original goal was to execute twelve to fourteen oils while visiting the towns of Assisi and Cortona. That's easier said than done, especially when the trip had a specific itinerary designed so that all twenty people involved with the workshop could be exposed to the great things Umbria and Tuscany have to offer. 
The final count of work accomplished? Five fully completed paintings, six oils unfinished but close to completion, and one watercolor, which puts it at a total of twelve pieces.  I guess I did meet my goal, and it feels good!
 (Painting in Assisi) 

 (Painting in Cortona)

 (Painting in Cortona)

The quality of the paintings I executed in Italy is perhaps my best yet.  I was able to capture the light and atmosphere of the landscape surrounding me very convincingly, and I think it was because of my excitement of being there. The sites, the colors, the light, my materials, my excitement, it all came together to create magical moments.  
I was happy that my paints and easel did not get taken away at the airport, it was such a relief to see that my suitcase had not been opened upon arrival at Florence. This was my first time traveling internationally with oil colors, which I did not know what to expect, but certainly hoping for the best.  I had also contacted Zecchi ahead of time and had them ship turpentine and sun thickened linseed oil to the guest house in Assisi. The people at Zecchi were very helpful and my shipment arrived quicker than expected.  Paints, mediums, and easel, all were set and it was time to get down to business.
In the next few days I will be posting more about the trip, including the work. Stayed tunned!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Preparing for Italy!

Almost a year ago I signed up for the second time to attend Workshops in Italy, and I can't believe the time has come!  For the last few weeks I have been preparing surfaces to paint on, mounting primed linen onto MDF panels. Mounting and toning, that has been my studio life recently.
The goal for this trip is to accomplish 12 - 14 plein air paintings, although the trip is eleven days, we only have seven full days of painting.
The panels have been packed and so are my paints…I'm ready!!!! I can't wait to share my Italian paintings when I come back in two weeks.  See you then!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Monotypes, Part 2

Near Durango, 2015, monotype, image 7 x 5 inches, paper 9 3/4 x 7 inches 

These are the most recent monotypes, all have been done during the Salmagundi Club monotype parties. As I continue working in this new medium I can start to see growth, which makes it very rewarding. Keeping this up will not difficult at all, since I can honestly say that I've become addicted to monotypes. More to come!
 Near Durango 2, 2015, monotype, image 7 x 5 inches, paper 9 3/4 x 7 inches

Colorado Snow, 2015, monotype and watercolor pencil, image 6 x 7 3/4 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11inches

 Near Pikes Peak, 2015, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 10 1/4 x 8 inches 

 River Boyne, Newgrange, 2015, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, 8 x 10 1/4 inches

 Trees in a Meadow, 2015, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 10 inches

Trees in a Meadow, 2015, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 10 inches

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Painting and Exhibition

Horse with a Fly Mask, 2015, oil on panel, 10 x 8 inches
This is the my most recent studio painting which will be exhibited early in June at Mehu Gallery in NYC. Although the subject of the painting is a horse at pasture wearing a fly mask, the focus of the piece is the landscape and the almost brooding effect the light of dusk has on the space. I was invited to show in an exhibition titled Equus and Such, and the theme is the horse. On a trip to Main in 2007 I encountered a pasture where two horses grassed wearing fly masks. Not knowing much about horses or their upkeep I thought it strange and slightly frightening. Since then I had been wanting to paint what I saw that day, and this exhibition provided the nudge I needed to get it started. My main concern was how to paint a landscape with a horse without it looking cute or sentimental? I knew the mask would take care of part of the issue, but I needed something else. I thought of a painting I love at the Met, a beautiful landscape by Charles-Francois Daubigny that is tucked away in a quiet corner of the museum, away from the other nineteenth French landscape painters such as Corot and Rousseau. Not sure how I came to think of Daubigny's work when I did, but I'm glad it happened because thanks to that I was able to execute a painting that is different than what I have done in the past.
Equus and Such will be on display from June 4 - July 12, 2015. Opening reception on Thursday, June 4 from 6 - 9 pm. Mehu Gallery is located at 21 W. 100th st, NYC.  212.222.3334. Gallery hours: Tuesday - Sunday 1 - 6pm.  Closing reception Sunday, July 12 from 3 - 6pm.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Monotypes, Part 1

Fog Rising, Olivebridge, 2014, monotype, image 5 x 7 inches, paper 7 1/2 x 11 inches 
This is the first group of monotypes I made last year. Some more successful than others, but this was the learning period. It takes some getting used to; sometimes too much ink gets rubbed off, sometimes not enough, and tones print darker than expected, the light reflecting off the copper or zinc plate can mislead you. Regardless of how tricky monotype printing can be though, I have been hooked.
Moonlight Nocturne No. 1, 2014, monotype, image 5 x 7 inch, paper 7 1/2 x 11 inches

Moonlight Nocturne No.2, 2014, monotype, image 5 x 7 inches, paper 6 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches
Tulum, 2014, monotype, image 5 x 7 inches, paper 6 3/4 x 10 inches

Colorado Impression, 2014, monotype, image 5 x 7 inches, paper 7 1/2 x 11 inches