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!