Saturday, October 31, 2009

So I guess this blog should change titles. . . I am not in Europe anymore, so therefore am not painting in the EU. Nope, I moved to Washington DC 9 weeks ago to start graduate school at American University. It will be a two year program, and so far, so good.

This is the first piece I have finished. It is 4' x 6' oil. I had a lot of fun painting this one, it was enjoyable composing it with the strong horizontals and her legs disrupting the entire flow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Last Painting from France

So last painting of the three.  This one is of a festa that I saw in Panzano, Italy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

France Paintings

Okay so here is what I have got so far.  Hopefully I will get the third done in the next couple days.  With only a week left, I am getting nervous about the drying time.  The first two are details of the third, and then I posted the finished version of the one I previously posted.  These two focus on a series of fetes that take place in the area I am staying.  Festivals that highlight the man's control over horse/bull is the overall theme of these fetes, and they have been taking place for generations.  I also was fascinated with shapes of different frescos of this area as well as what I had seen in Italy.  The whole idea of extreme preservation of the frescos led me to connect that with the extreme care and preservation of the traditional fetes.  Therefore, the images I chose, I placed within the shapes of the local frescos.  Just an idea I am playing with at the moment.  Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 29, 2009

France photos

Couple of photos from France. The first was taken in a village close to where I am staying. I obviously didn't get the memo about the blue tank tops and matched an entire tour group from Germany. They kept looking at me and wondering when I showed up. I was just missing the black baseball cap.
The second is one of the other artists here (from Ireland) and I in front of one of the cabins. Yes, we live in cabins. I have found that even though I love the outdoors, I could really do without spiders in my bed.

The last is of the amphitheatre in Arles. Not quite as impressive as the colosseum in Rome, but nonetheless monumentous.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Better photo

Sorry for the horrendous photo of the last painting.  I didn't know it was that crappy.  Here it is thus far, hopefully a better shot.  

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sketches and New Painting

Here are a few sketches I did here in France, and the start of the new painting.

Friday, June 19, 2009

On to France

So, now I have arrived in France and begun my second residency in a small village called Aureille (pronounced Or-ay).  The town is so small it is not placed on the map.  I have found it quite hard to navigate in this area, since a.) I don't speak French, b.) no one speaks English, and c.) no one has a clue where I belong and what I am doing here.  
       I have gotten lost quite often and have been confronted with the same predicament every time.  The French word for ear is coincidentally pronounced or-ay as well.  When asked, "Where can I find Aureille?", every last Frenchman points to their ear and laughs.  I bring a pen and pencil just for this occasion, but by the time I begin spelling the city, the person usually has lost interest and left.  This is not the place for someone who is directionally challenged.

The residency is run by 2 women, both going on 80, and both crazy.  I have been accused of stealing a bicycle, and hoarding clothespins.  The studio spaces are nice, however, and though I have to tread softly, I do enjoy painting here.  I will definitely post the new painting (in progress) and some more sketches soon!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


In lieu of keeping a sketchbook, which I am absolutely terrible at, I have been doing little sketch paintings on gessoed watercolor paper.  Just people I have met, quick studies.  Thought I would post a couple.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Today I got up at 5 to watch the sunrise.  I have never done that before, and seeing that I have only a week left of being in this gorgeous landscape, I thought I should take it all it.  
I guess it was like reading a book for the second time, or rewatching a movie.  You already know what is going to happen, even the sequence of events.  I knew what was going to happen, the sun was bound to come up.  But in the instant it rose to the horizon, it took my breath away.  

Monday, May 18, 2009

African Party

On Friday night, we attended the 50th birthday party of our friend Alberto.  Alberto, a carbon copy of Tony Shaloub, decided he wanted to make his festa African themed.  He has spent a lot of time in Africa and has started a foundation to help African children. 
He had indicated to me weeks ago that to come to the African party, we must dress in African attire.  Well, first I thought that this was the most politically incorrect party I will have ever attended.  And then worried that I didn't have anything African.
Meema, the woman that I am living with, hooked Michelle and I up with awesome outfits.  We both wore big African necklaces and African cloth as shawls.  She even had this hat with beaded braids that I wore.  Meema wore an African dress, jingly huge jewelry and a turban.  I even corn-rowed Michelle's hair.  All this time, I felt that we would be shot on the way to this party.  A bunch of whities dressed up like Africans--not a good plan.
But as we approached the party (which by the way was held in their home, a beautiful villa in Impruneta, right outside of Florence) we saw huge canopies made with African drapery.  We were told where to park by someone in a galabiyya.  There were turbans and hijabs galore, and beaded headwear and jewelry.  If you were not in an outfit (about 5 out of 200 people), you definitely stood out.
In the canopies were silken pillows and cushions to sit on.  Belly dancers performed every hour.  Unlimited wine and food.  The Italians can't help being Italian when it comes to the food so there was Tuscan bread, salami and cheese.  Yet they did manage to fix some Morrocan food like meat with prunes and arabic rice with peppers.  
There was a couple of women singers that sang songs like "It's Raining Men".  Italians, even the ones that speak zero english, somehow sing with perfect pronunciation.  They also break out in line dancing at times, no matter what song is playing.  It was a blast.

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Painting

This painting is of this old man I saw in Panzano, which is a neighboring village of Greve.  Here, basket-weaving is a skill that is primarily done by men.  I think what attracted me to paint him was his extremely yellow apron.  He was surrounded by the beige of the reed and the table was covered in burlap.  But that yellow really jumped.  I talked to him a couple days ago when I saw him at a market in Greve, and told him I painted him.  He didn't seem to understand, and I figured it was my terrible Italian.  So Mimma, the woman I am staying with, helped out with the explanation and he kissed my cheeks.  
His first name is Fagioli, which is Bean in Italian.  I think that will become the title--Bean.  Anyway, this gallery owner from Greve came by and wants it in her gallery!!  So in the next couple days once it dries, I will move it there.  Exciting!!
Sorry about the glare, that is the reason for the two angles. . . 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Progression pt. 5

So, today blocked in some background and underpainted the hair.  I still have to work taking the blue out of the face but that can wait.  Also have started a new painting, 100 x 150 cm.  Hopefully that one will come together as well.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Progression pt. 4

So as the face dries a little, I block in some hair and shirt.  This, in total, has taken about 2 and a 1/2 hours.  Also testing some color for the background. . . 

Progression pt. 3

Okay, so from that point I lost a lot of the initial darks and some of the drawing.  So going back in and redarkening eyes, and so forth.  I also have to consciously blend more.  I have found in doing commissions of young children, parents don't seem to like it when they have random blotches on their skin.  Who'd have thought? So, to appease them, I HAVE TO BLEND!  At least a little.  I also notice that I got way to blue, so once this dries, I will have to work on covering some of the blue.  Parents don't like when their child is half smurf either.  They are worst than brides.

Progression pt.2

Then on to the half tones, trying to lighten it up, and introduce actual 'skin tones'.  Hopefully it looks less like a sea monster and more like a girl.  


So, upon Kyler's suggestion, I am going to post a painting from start to finish.  This is a commission painting that I am completing here for an Italian I met in a neighboring village.  I am really excited because I will be able to make a contact in Italy by leaving a painting here and I get paid!!!  So anyway, here is the first step.  When I start the painting, after the initial sketch, I begin putting the shadow colors.  I tend to hyper-saturate the hues.  If it looks diseased, I know I am off to a good start.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Painting Finito

Okay so here is the finished painting.  I am going to live with it a while, before I really call it finished, because there are some things that still bother me. . . but for now, it is finished because I need to move on!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another Holiday

Tomorrow is yet another one of Italy's holidays.  "Prima Maggio", the first of May, is similar to that of our labor day.  No one goes to work.  In my 4 and a half weeks here, this is the third holiday.  I still don't understand how Italians make a living in how little work they actually do.

Anyway, tomorrow there will be a barbeque hosted by the couple that owns the artist residency.  Since Italy does not produce or sell molasses nor ketchup, BBQ sauce is not really going to be possible.  Instead it is replaced with BBQ'ed sage, like the leaves.  I am not quite sure how this works, but they somehow put the leaves on the grill and serve them up.

The concept of grilling meat has not been mentioned yet. . . it will be interesting for sure.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Painting, thus far

Here is the painting so far.  I have decided that after this, it will be a while before I paint architecture again.  It has taken forever to try to get lines and perspective.  And like most of my paintings, I will probably just add a bunch of colors and leave the perspective wrong anyhow.  I wish the glare wasn't so bad, with all the darks it is hard to photograph.  There are still going to be some people on the left, I think. . . The last building on the left's perspective is going to be changed, I promise!!  I really wasn't asleep through drawing I, I swear!!

Again with the Sex Part

I think that English did some good in naming genitalia.  For instance, penis and vagina do not sound like any other word.  It can't be easily confused with other terms.  
Italian however, likes to make their words similar to others.  I can envision the inventor of this language laughing as he thinks of words that will embarrass those who accidently speak them in public places. 
Not only is "mouse" one letter off of "vagina" which I have already shared, but "penis"  is "fava".  It doesn't seem that this would pose any problems to anyone, except for myself in a crowded grocery store.  For "fava" is a type of bean, is it not??  The ones that look like long pea pods?  We were looking for green beans when Meema found them and began filling a bag.  I was confused because they were not the green beans that I had known, but more like fava beans.  I began telling Meema that these were Fava beans.  As she said no a thousand times, I grew louder, convinced that I was right.  I kept repeated "fava" and pointing to the beans.  By then, people were staring, and again Meema had to pull me aside and explain that fava was "man sex part".  I was shouting "penis" in a crowded store.  What!!
Can't bad words and sexual terms be universal?  I think it would be a lot less confusing and embarrassing for all.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Painting Update

So thought I would post a pic of part of the painting I am working on.  The men talking are almost done.  Now about the entire left side of the painting, that is another story. . . I think the glare is kind of bad, but at least it gives you an idea.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not kidding!

Here are some pics from yesterday's event.  Wow!

Italy's Independence Day

Yesterday was Italy's Independence Day.  It was on that day when they were liberated from Nazi Germany.  All stores were closed, everyone had the day off.  It was a tradition to go to a neighboring village, Panzano, to see their festival and parade.  I was thinking flags, a sparkler or two, maybe some popcorn--I was dead wrong.
It turns out that to celebrate this day of independence, Panzano hosts a reenactment of a related? event.  I arrived at Panzano just in time for the parade.  There was a drum band, and some trumpeters, but no one was smiling.  Actually, everyone looked very disturbed.  The band was followed by a lot of people in Medievil costumes-kind of like the Renaissance festival.  They seemed to be grouped into families of some sort, but each one was very serious.  At the tail end of the parade were two boys being dragged and whipped.  They were screaming in Italian, and I am sure the whip was soft, but it was very convincing.  The parade went from the Church to the square then returned to the Church.  At this point, there was a play.  I, of course, didn't catch any of it, therefore probably missing the significance of the event entirely.  But the kids  were pulled to a stage area where one was hanged.  Yes, hanged.  The whole shabang, rope and the bag over his head and everything.  It was very well done--he must have had a hook on the back of his costume, because his feet were a good three feet off the ground.  He even shook a bit when they kicked the stand out from under him.  The crowd clapped and laughed and commented on the performance.  
Again, I have yet to figure out what the hell this was, and how it had any connection to the freeing of Italy from the Nazis.  Any ideas?  

Friday, April 24, 2009

It happens all the time, I am sure.

The Italian word for mouse is dangerously similar to the slang term for vagina. If you want to say that you can't believe how fast the mouse moved, nibbling on everything it found, it's best to use the correct word. In my case, you are left with a room full of amazed Italians looking with excitement at your cooch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So tonight I taught the Italians how to make smores.  My parents sent ingredients because Italy does not sell anything that is similar to a marshmallow.  Most Italians have never tasted it's smooshy goodness, or even seen one before.  
Graham crackers were another mystery to them.  Italians haven't grasped the concept of cinnamon in a cracker yet.  They didn't exactly survive the trip to Italy (our smores had many pieces stuck on them), but they were good anyhow.  
They also didn't want to use sticks, so we started with kabob sticks until our hands were becoming red.  Then we went out in the pitch black to gather some olive branches for the roasting.
They were a big hit.  I think it will soon become the new rage.  

Monday, April 20, 2009


here are some paintings I am working on.  They are definitely two different degrees of completion, but they are coming along.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bad Translations

The first day in Italy, the owners of the Residence explained their idea of the "American Drawer".  In order to accommodate American residents, they decided to dedicate one drawer of their kitchen to what Americans would crave.  This drawer contained corn flakes, whipped cream, and chocolate topping.  They said that I can go into the drawer for "American Food".  

The next morning, I proceeded to pour myself some corn flakes.  They were very interested in the fact that I would put milk on the flakes, and were watching me suspiciously.  They offered me coffee and pointed to the milk, asking, "with cafe".  I thought the milk would cut the strength of the expresso, and replied that I would like milk with my cafe.  To my surprise, they poured the coffee right into my cereal, and watched as I struggled to eat it.  I complimented the gesture, (I didn't want to be rude), and insisted that I would do it myself the next day.  That I wouldn't want to trouble them.  

I have never again asked for coffee in the morning.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Thought I should post a couple pictures of the glorious Italian landscape.  Enjoy!

Some happenings in Italy

I have come to find that Italian is not only a tricky language, but also a strange one. Literal translations can be maddening.  For instance. . . 

I have met a lot of people in the small town I am staying at.  I occasionally visit the downtown area, and meet two girls-Paola and Nadia for a drink.  Even when I first met them, they constantly asked me if I had stories back home in the U.S.

I found this very peculiar, since I didn't think stories were that region-specific, nor did I think 30-year old women would be that interested in stories.  So I kept answering 'yes' and told them such stories like "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Cinderella".  Each time, the women looked completely dumbfounded, and confused.  They would laugh, and would mutter things in Italian.

I kept this up, until I finally met someone who's English was a bit better and filled me in on a secret--that a "story" was the literal translation that meant relationships.  

They were asking me if I was SINGLE, and like a dumbass american, I told them the tale of the Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.

They think I am completely insane, this is not so different from back home.