28 February 2011

Value in Repetition?

If you've been following my latest project, you just might feel like you've seen me paint this painting before (because you have).
With the heavy rain and cold weather I decided to stay in and paint today and I wanted to paint this scene over to see if I could learn something new, especially with the tricky part of painting these white semi-transparent curtains.
I don't know that today's result is anymore successful than last weeks attempt, but I was not resolved with the first painting and wanted to try again. After the second attempt I still feel like there is more to be developed and explored in this painting. You may just see it again.. who knows?!
Any thoughts on repition? Worthwhile or waste of time?

25 February 2011

A Day Off and Away...!

Today is my 34th birthday,yeah!!

I'm going to take a friend's advice and do exactly what I want today so that when I next do what I have to I'll really love it. Good advice, to be taken more than once a year.

I'll think I'll go painting and sketching in one of my favorite museums and just wander around town, it's a gorgeous sunny day.

Talk to you Monday and have a great weekend!

23 February 2011

Spring Along the Aqueduct

Spring Along the Aqueduct, 12x10", oil on panel

"Are you still out there painting ruins and stuff? Why don't you paint something real!"

This is what a friend of mine (and an Italian) said to me lately about my paintings, he's so bored with all this ancient ruins stuff.
Maybe he's got a point, but at least he didn't scoff at today's painting (modern living tree juxtaposed with ancient ruin aqueduct..).

This is the park near my house. I just love going here, if nothing else for the great company. It's one of my favorite painting haunts right now, and I think I'm just bedazzled by the fact that my neighborhood park has a Roman aqueduct running through it. I'm sooo American!

Some old timers stopped to see what I was up to. Most of them just could not comprehend why on earth I would paint that old tree. According to the locals it was "dead" for a couple of years, but made an unexpected comeback last year. I think it's looking great.
Another old man told me about how during and after WWII this place was just lined with make-to sheds where people lived, and what is now the park was a kind of swamp, you couldn't even walk in there. This was the countryside and there were only dirt roads. Hundrends of people were living along here and just had the public water fountain (Il Nasone) as their only source of water. Hard to imagine, but really painted a different picture of life in Rome, and aren't we lucky that there is still someone to take the time to tell the tale.

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21 February 2011

From the Bedroom Window

From the Bedroom Window, 10x8", oil on panel

Monday! Who thought I would be complaining about something like Monday (or any day at all really..), I have the most fabulous job in the world, painting Rome.
But this morning felt like "Monday." It was chilly and overcast, looking like rain, so I thought to stay at home and paint here. To tell the truth it's not the weather that deterred me so much as much as I just felt like relaxing a little and not lugging my (heavy) easel around town. Besides, I love my room and the view into the gardens of varying styles and sizes.

It's quiet and when lunch time comes, you can only imagine the smells that come wafting through my window and inspire me to eat throughout the entire afternoon. Today was the opportunity to do something a little different, which I'm glad I did. It's always tricky figuring out how to compose a painting from a window here in Italy. Usually the windows are really tall and slender, which is not ususally the kind of canvas I have lying around. I could really spend time and make an entire series just based on different views from the window, as there are always very paintable things like colorful laundry hanging out with the bright blue sky and sunshine slanting across the courtyard. I just haven't figured out how to compose these things yet, but it could be worth a try.

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18 February 2011

The Ancient Roman Road

On the Appia Antica, 8x10", oil on panel

It's almost overwhelming just how many amazing places there are in Rome, and this is by far one of my favorites.
This is one of the longest roads built by the Romans (and now restored) and is in fact still the longest stretch of straight road in all of Europe. It starts in Rome and goes to the southeastern most tip of Italy. You can't tell from the painting, but the big flat rocks that are the road are full of ruts where wheels must have passed for hundreds of years.

You can go for miles and miles on this road and it's out in the countryside (although just a 15 min. bike ride from my house in the city). All you see while traveling down the road are a bunch of crazy ruins jutting out in the middle of what are otherwise pastures and occassioanl large flock of sheep. You can see the city just off in the distance and the snow capped mountains not far behind. Who ever thought of this when picturing Rome?

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16 February 2011

Pantheon: View from Piazza Minerva

Pantheon, View from Piazza Minerva, 10x8", oil on panel

The Pantheon is probably the most well known site in Rome after the Colosseum. I actually had no plan of painting this, it just seems somehow too obvious. I had no plan at all except to paint something, but as I was walking through this square the light slanting across the back side of the Pantheon with that deep, clear blue sky just seemed too good to pass up. It's an odd angle, not one I would have thought to have painted, but that's what made it even more interesting and less predicitable as a painting.

I really enjoy the surprise element of walking and finding these magical spots, and the real beauty is that they are endless.

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14 February 2011

Isola Tiberina, 10x12", oil on panel

How exotic, an island in the middle of the Tiber river, right in the middle of Rome! Of course this isn't the first painting of the island, most famously Corot painted it in 1825. I love being able to see these old paintings, painted right in the place where I was this morning. It lets me see how much has changed and how much has stayed the same over time.

The only original bridge left in Rome is the one connecting this island to the right bank of the city, it's called Ponte Fabricio. Early on the Romans seemed to have thought this an evil or unlucky sort of place, so they avoided it and just sent the sick and criminals here. Eventually though the Romans built a temple to Aesculapius after a plague came to Rome and the temple they built was in the form of a boat (to read the history of the island, clickhere).
Today one could easily walk through the city without realizing there is this magical island in the middle of a huge fast paced city.
Tourists are lucky because they get to take the time to walk the streets and absorb the almost overwhelming greatness that is Rome. I'm continually amazed by Rome and its ancient contents popping out at you around every corner. Romans seem to think this is normal, but I hope I never get used to it.

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11 February 2011

Via Cencelli

Via Cencelli, 10x8", oil on panel

Transportation strike! That meant staying close to home, which was fine by me as I'm lately fixated on going to the local park to paint and it was a gorgeous sunny day, so off I went.

Walking back and forth, up and down the park with my easel, I couldn't decide on a composition, so I sat down on a bench to sketch and think about it. A man who had been sitting on a bench approached me to ask me if I was lost and needed help. He saw that I had been walking in circles lugging something like looked like a suitcase! When I told him what I was doing, it didn't seem to relieve his worry or to clarify anything, so he offered to bring me a coffee from the shop around the corner. When I said thank you, but no thank you (if I drink any more coffee this morning my hands will shake too much to hold the paintbrush steady), he didn't really accept that answer either and kept insisting.
Finally, we moved on, each going our seperate ways and I thought maybe I should check out the neighborhood behind the park. That's when I found this street, Via Cencelli. The light was just so cool, that I thought, "I've got to paint this!" I don't have a lot of practice at these street scenes, so it was a little intimidating, but I need the practice.

The light was moving so fast that I had to move my easel every 15 minutes or so to keep the sun from hitting the painting. I stayed a few hours with the light constantly changing and I really got into it. I would love to paint some more of these kinds of scenes. Even though it could be a street anywhere, for me it's definitely Italian with the red, pink and yellow buildings.

I'm so grateful for sunny Italy!

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09 February 2011

Il Nasone

Il Nasone, 8x6", oil on panel

Nasone in Italian means big nose. That's right, here's a portrait of one of Rome's famous big noses!

I've been wanting to paint this public fountain for awhile (this one in particular because of how it is just about to fall over), as it is one of many fabulous things unique to Rome.

There are somewhere around 2,500 of these public fountains all over Rome- in and outside the city center. They get their name from the long metal waterspout which curves down at the end and has an endless flow of cold clean water. On the top of the metal nose is a tiny hole (like the blowhole of a whale) and I had to be shown that if you plug the fountain from the bottom, a nice small strem of water shoots out the top making it quite easy to drink from.

In fact, while painting this all kinds of locals stop to drink from it: people walking their dogs, nearby workers and even a business man in a suit. These have been a staple and defining characteristic of the city since 1874, and I love that they're still around every corner. Rome is most likely the only city where one doesn't have to lug a bottle of water with you wherever you go!

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07 February 2011

La Salita, View of the Vittoriano

La Salita, View of the Vittoriano, oil on panel, 10x12"

This is a secret magic spot. It's one of those places that one always hopes to find, especially when wandering around a new and unknown city.
A friend brought me here by accident one day (we missed our turn), and I've gone back many times since. It's right in the center, a steep, old walled road with the hand hewn and layed stones that Rome is famous for. It leads to the river at the bottom and to a park overlooking the center of Rome at the top. Hardly anyone passes this way and there is a group of homeless people living in the shrubs along the protected side of the wall.

I had the chance to talk with a woman when I was painting here one day. She was shouting at me in Italian that she knew that I was some kind of secret spy because only spies that want to destroy this treasure of a place hang around as long as I was. By her accent I could tell that she was American. I spoke to her in English and she stormed off and I kept painting. After a little bit she changed her mind and came back and we talked for a long time.
She is American and she is homeless and has been living in Rome for over 30 years. I don't know anything more about her, but I do know that she is the self-appointed guardian of this ancient little road.

Rome is full of these places, it's incredible. Another day when I was painting in this spot and older Italian man stopped to tell me that he has lived in Rome almost 50 years and this is the first time he ever walked down this old road. He didn't understand how he missed it all these years.
How lucky that I found it after only 3 months!

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04 February 2011

Boat Tour, Lungotevere

For some reason I keep going to the river to paint. It seems to be a place for peace and quiet along with endless paintable themes.

This little treasure of a spot is where (in the summer I presume) you can take a boat tour of Rome's Tiber River. It is just under a foot bridge going to the famous round castle on the way to Saint Peter's Church, and I consider myself lucky to have found a quiet spot in such a busy part of town. This is a place where I would like to paint several more times and would consider this my first quick study.

When the weather really gets warm I think I'll jump on this boat tour one day and take the opportunity to see Rome from this point of view. Until then I'll keep haunting it from these sidelines.

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02 February 2011

City Olive

City Olive, 10x8", oil on panel

Even in the dirtiest park one can find a lovely olive tree.

I happen to love this park, it's in my neighborhood and it is where one of the old Roman acquaducts runs (which I just found out was still in use until the 1970's).

I seem to be a bit of a homebody, only in the sense that I have the huge, amazing, gorgeous city of Rome, but I go to the park to paint this little olive tree. I like this tree, and even more I liked the pink and blue with the green, the tree in its abstract city surroundings and the juxtaposition of it all.
Why not paint a single tree? As we know, Rome wasn't built in a day (or even a lifetime for that matter...)

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