Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sylvia's painting done in Cortona, Italy

The photo I took of this painting by Sylvia Gude in Cortona did not come out very well so I did not include it in my blog. She recently emailed me this photo so I am posting it so you can all appreciate it. This crooked old arch had some really difficult angles and she handled it beautifully. Love her rich stone colors too.

Back home in California and picking up speed

I am back home in California now and getting back up to speed, literally. When I first arrive home from anywhere else in the world I am always struck by the fast pace we Americans live. Driving home from the Bay Area, Sylvia and I could not help but notice how fast everyone was driving and the crazy lane changes made by some drivers as they tried to go even faster.

We Americans work harder, longer, faster and worry about money more than any society I have visited. We take pride in our ability to "multi-task", we eat in our cars, and we hire people to do things we don't have time to do (like mow the lawn). Our magazines offer recipes for meals that can be prepared in 20 minutes, gyms offer fitness programs that can be done in 30 minutes, restaurants advertise "fast service" its all about time. rush rush rush.

In Europe dinner in a restaurant takes hours, all evening if you wish. You own the table until you ask for the bill. And you must ask. It is considered impolite for the restaurateur to make you feel you must leave by bringing the bill when you have not asked for it. No one cares about the time.

Every evening in Italy everyone takes a walk and visits with everyone else. The piazzas and streets are filled with people; mom's and dads push baby carriages, toddlers and kids run about, grandparents stroll along or sit on a wall or step. Cafes and bars are busy and it seems many people don't go home until the wee hours of the morning.

One night in Cortona, we were walking back to our hotel after dinner in the rain and were amazed to see the Piazza Della Repubblica was empty. Then we noticed a crowd of people standing under a stone arch all talking, and smoking (of course, this is Italy). So the rain did not put a damper on the visiting, the crowd just moved from the open piazza to stay dry under the arch.

So now I am back home and all the economy news is bad, politicians are playing that same old blame game they always play, wars are still being fought and people are rushing about with worried looks on their faces. As for me, I do my small bit by volunteering to help elect a new batch of politicians to replace the current batch of politicians that got us into this mess. Who knows if they will be any better... after all they are politicians too!

I think I will go paint a painting now, as getting into that "zone" one gets into when painting is the best stress release I know.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cast of Characters, Cortona Italy Painting Trip

Cortona Sept

The gang's all here on the steps where the Carotonese have been meeting for centuries.

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Celeste from Texas rolling pasta

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Marie from Mendocino with her painting of the Tuscan countryside

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Linda and Sylvia enjoying their Italian lunch.

Tommie in Cortona

Tommie raising her glass to good times in Italy.

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Bonnie on the farm in Tuscany.

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Cathy the famous artist and her roadie Pete

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And our wonderful hosts, Patrick and Angela of ToscanaAmericana.

If you would like to join me on my next Watercolor Workshop with ToscanaAmericana, this time in Santorini, Greece, here is the link to learn more about it.

Some of my favorite photos of Cortona

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September 12, 2008 our final day in Cortona

A busy day spent finishing paintings, taking photos and doing last minute shopping.  We had a "show and tell" at 6:00pm and I quickly photographed more of the students paintings. 

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Celeste did beautiful pencil drawings all week, but my camera just could not pick up the drawing.  She began painting some of them before we left the site, and will paint the rest from her photos when she returns home.   When she paints these lovely drawings she works from light to dark in layers.  This one is close to being finished and is so lovely I wanted to share it with everyone.

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Tommie captured the charm of this lovely window, copper pipe and all in the little village of Lucignano.

Cortona Garden

Here is another page from my watercolor journal, sorry my writing is too small to read.  This was painted in the garden behind the Museo di Ocesano.

Monday, September 15, 2008

September 11, 2008 afternoon painting at Le Terre die Cavalieri

This beautiful Agra-Tourisimo is in the valley below Cortona.  We enjoyed a sunny afternoon with a delightful breeze painting in this lovely place. 

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Le Terre die Cavalieri

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Here is Bonnie with her painting standing in front of the bridge she painted.

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And here is Bonnie's cute painting of the bridge and the hills in the background where Cortona is located.

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Here is Sylvia with her painting.  Look closely at the background behind her and you will see it in her painting below.

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She nailed it!  Love her trees, and the farmhouse in the background is just right.

When I travel I like to create little paintings in a Watercolor Journal here's the page I did today

Cortona from below

Cortona as seen from the Tuscan valley below.

We thank the owners of Le Terre die Cavaliere for a lovely afternoon, and look forward to creating more paintings from the photos we took.

September 11, 2008 morning, painting in Lucignano

For a change of pace we left our lovely Cortona and headed to tiny Lucignano for our morning painting session and lunch, and then on to a beautiful guest house on a typical Tuscan farm for our afternoon painting session.

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Lucignano lane

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Linda painted this window,next photo is her painting.  She did not get the shadows in yet, but will do that later.

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Pretty painting, Linda prefers yellow flowers.

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The Critic!  Pete watches over Cathy's shoulder as she creates the painting I have posted below.

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This is Cathy's first Watercolor Workshop, hard to believe looking at this charming painting.

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Marie no sooner got the umbrella up than the rain quit!

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Marie gave herself a big challenge with double arches, a path and a garden with a statue at the end.  She did a great job!

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Our lovely guide Angela with her pretty fan at lunch time.

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"Nice People"

The ladies are pointing at the directional sign in Lucignano where it states one of the village attractions as "Nice People"!  We agree!

Friday, September 12, 2008

September 10, 2008 Florence and a cooking lesson

We took a day off from painting today to visit the Uffizi Gallery and explore a bit of the city of Florence. 

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Of course being artists, we had to make our first stop at an Italian Art Store!  It is always fun to see the materials artists in other countries like to work with.  Here we see pure pigments ready for Italian artists who like to mix their own paint.

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Angela our guide, Marie, Linda, Sylvia, Tommi, Celeste and Bonnie on the steps of the Uffizi Gallery.  Missing from this photo are Cathy and Pete who spent the day in Cortona.

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Florence reflections

From Florence it was on to rural Tuscany for a cooking lesson at Agriturismo I Gustasapori Fontelunga.

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Sunflower field in Tuscany

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Chef Donatella stirring the lamb.

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The hard working pasta rollers

Dinner was fabulous and so much more fun knowing the work that went into its preparation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September 9, 2008 TuscanaAmericana Workshop, Cortona Italy

Today we painted in the area around the medieval row houses and in the garden behind the Museo di Ocesano.  We visited with two darling children and their mother.  The little girl had a toy camera and she would point it at us and say "ready photo!" and pretend to take our picture as you see here.

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Marie, the Birthday Girl, hard at work on her painting of the flowers and old wall.

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Here's Marie's painting of the garden with the old wall behind it.  Sorry the photo is not very good, it does not do the painting justice.

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Linda standing by the flower pots in the garden she painted.

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And just so the guys at work will know she has been painting, here is a photo of her cute painting.  Again, the photo is not great but the painting is!

Another fun day painting in Cortona, Italy Sept. 8, 2008

A beautiful clear sunny day, we walked up and around and up and around (those of you who know Cortona will know what I mean) to a painting site Sylvia and I found behind the church of San Francisco.

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My students are troopers!  It takes more than a bleeding thumb and a cramp in a leg to stop them from painting!

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The devoted son brings Mama out for her daily walk and she stops to talk to each artist and admire our work.  Neither she nor her son speaks English, we do not speak Italian, but the conversation was delightful!

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Pete says Cathy never misses a photo op, we believe him!

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Here's my little watercolor sketch of Tommie, Linda, Cathy and Marie hard at work on their paintings.

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If you have seen the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" or watched the TV boradcast on PBS of the Andre Reu Concert in Tuscany you will recognize the piazza where we are enjoying our wine.

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Tommie really did order the personal size pizza, they eat big in Italy!