Archive for March, 2011

Pansies – loving thoughts

March 23rd, 2011 6 comments

Two paintings, each measuring 11″ x 14″ the one on the left is sold. For some reason, they appear on my computer screen more blue and less red than in real life.

From the language of flowers, Pansies – loving thoughts and attraction – known also as ‘hearts ease’, this pretty flower was believed to heal love problems. Anyone wanting to ensure they were loved by their sweethearts would carry a pansy.

I have been painting Pansies all week, inspired by another artist who was using Pansies to work on washes. But that’s not what is so strange about me painting Pansies.

This week, unbidden, loving thoughts have come into my mind. I was thinking about how wonderful the rapport between my uncle Ben and my two sons was when they got together last spring during my stepfather’s memorial service. My uncle and my mother only had daughters. They had to wait another generation for some boys. It was just so sweet to see the three of them all standing in a row, all about the same size, happy in knowing each other.

And another memory, of my son Josiah, who, when confronted with my grandmother’s sorrow at losing her uncle, told her (at the age of 3) “I will be your uncle.” And from that point on, at least in my mind, he always was.

I grew up thinking that my father did not really speak Italian. I found out after he died that his first language had been Italian, that when he started school at the age of seven years, he had only known Italian (no wonder he was such a poor student). This was a disappointment to me, the loss of countless chances to talk to him about Italian, a language I now struggle with daily. But this week, it came unbidden, a memory of me, a small child, sitting with my father; he teaching me a simple phrase in Italian; “Dammi un bacio” – “give me a kiss.” How rare and precious – an innocent childhood memory – it is very infrequent at my age that new ones surface. And so I called my cousin Rosalee, and asked her; do you remember, my father speaking Italian? “Of course,” she responded “he talked to his mother in Italian all the time” And then I remembered, that secret grownup language. I did remember him speaking Italian! They used Italian when they didn’t want us kids to know what they were talking about.

Pansies are a really interesting flower. They come in many shapes, sizes and colors. And they have faces. If you don’t get the emphasis right, the flower just seems to fade away. And if you start painting them, and if you’re open to it, the fog of forgetfulness will dissipate and sweet memories will come in.

Categories: biographical, flowers Tags:

Postmarked 2011 – prison library project

March 21st, 2011 2 comments

This is my third year participating in this project. All they ask is that you send them mail at the following address:

Postmarked 2011
Prison Library Project
112 Harvard #303
Claremont, CA 91711

What’s nice, though is that you can paint, color, paste, use any media you want, and as long as the address is on the front, it will go. I will end up sending them some illustrated envelopes, but I also like the challenge of sending them something a bit larger. Like a 1/4 sheet of watercolor paper with a stamp on it. I guess here is the before picture:

This is 11″x14″ on 300 pound watercolor paper. It will be raffled off in June, all proceeds to the Claremont Forum’s Prison Library Project, which sends books free to prisoners in the U.S.

So anyway, after they get your mail (envelope, postcard, art project) they display it on their blog. Then in June, they have a big exposition and they raffle the pieces off! All proceeds go to charity, providing books for prisoners. You have plenty of time! get started, and share with me your entries. Stay tuned for more of my entries.

Categories: flowers, postal art Tags:

Atena Lucana a little hill town near Salerno

March 17th, 2011 5 comments

About the painting; “Sitting in the morning sun” This is a 15″ x 22″ watercolor on Arches paper. It is for sale. It is from a photo that I took early in the morning, while on a stroll through this small hill town. It was extremely peaceful, and this woman had probably just finished her morning chores. If you like a little history, you can read about why I was here in the first place below, or you can go here to read about how I actually got there that day.
One of the reasons I’ve gone to Italy as much as I have was that I wanted to understand what it was that my grandparents left, what they gave up. I have four Italian grandparents, each from a different place. Ok, if we’re going to be technical, my grandfather “from” Atena Lucana was born in Manhattan, but his whole family was from Atena, and that’s where he spent some of his formative years.
My grandfather is the boy on the far left of this photo, which was taken about the time that they went back to Italy
My grandfather is the boy on the far left of this photo, which was taken about the time that they went back to Italy, his father stands next to him, and his mother sits beside him.

This particular grandfather, Vincenzo (AKA Jim) Fressola, always resented the fact that instead of growing up to be an all-American guy his parents decided to move back to Italy and take him with them. It was at the most crucial part of his development, when he was a pre-teen. That would have been before 1914, and my very unlucky grandfather ended up fighting in World War I, for the Italian Army. If he had fought for the USA in that war, he would have been a hero with a good pension, and other veteran’s benefits. He always felt cheated because the Italian government never gave him any benefits at all.
As a teenager in Italy, he was probably teased because he was an American, and then of course, discriminated against when he came back to the USA because he was Italian, but America he preferred, and as soon as the war was over, he ended his undistinguished career as a soldier and returned to the USA on the first boat possible (which landed in Boston). On the ship’s passenger list, in a long list of Italian immigrants, his name stands out proudly “US CITIZEN.” He had no good memories of Italy, but he told the rest of us that he had left vast orchards of Olives behind. That was certainly something that seized all of our imaginations. I always wanted to go there to see what exactly it was that he left behind.
So in 2008 I took a bus to Atena (one of my most amazing adventures, you can read about it here), and stayed with a nice lady who lives there, Concetta Mango. It seems that members of her family worked for the Fressola family many years ago. The Fressolas were landowners, not peasants, and I did see their land. I found the town of Atena Lucana to be very picturesque and this painting is a representation of one of the photos I took there. The town is very clean and well cared for. It might have been impoverished 100 years ago, but in 2008 it seemed comfortable and peaceful.

Categories: biographical, Italia, landscapes Tags:

Miniature Artwork Raffle – For Japan Relief

March 16th, 2011 No comments

three miniature carvings to be raffled for Japanese Red Cross

My favorite miniaturist artist, Diem Chau, is raffling off some of her wonderful crayon sculptures. The winner will get up to 3 crayons carved to their specifications with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross Society. Each raffle ticket costs only $10.00 and the drawing is March 24th. Go to her website for the details.

It’s a wonderful way to help out, good luck, Diem!

Categories: portrait Tags:

Stella Canfield’s Workshop

March 16th, 2011 3 comments

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a painting workshop put on by Stella Canfield. Stella’s vibrant use of color and motion intrigued me and after attending one of her demonstrations I decided I needed to go to her workshop.
That morning it was raining out and I spied three women walking along Beacon Avenue’s wonderful green median all carrying umbrellas, so I rolled down my window and took a picture of them with my cell phone. They were all wondering what the heck I was doing, so I turned around and came back and told them how cute they all looked, they were the perfect Seattle scene. And I took another photo.

Armed with this photo and many others that I have taken during my travels over the years, I loaded my car with art supplies and not enough food and drove off to Daniel Smith, my absolute favorite Art Supply store, which happens to be 4 miles from my house.
The class was friendly, many of the attendees had taken a workshop from Stella before. She talked a lot about the elements of design (light, composition, and 5 other elements) and her method for producing a nice painting. Then she gave us a demonstration, she painted a boat in some water. I was not impressed with her reference photo, I would never have chosen it for a subject, but by the time she was done, (which didn’t take very long) she had a beautiful luminous painting of a boat on water..
She gave us an exercise, just paint. Just put colors down on paper. Don’t think about it. The results are here:

As I mentioned earlier, I have a treasure trove of photos that I have taken in the last few years, many of which I had hoped I could turn into a painting. But they are too scary for me, so I have never attempted to paint them yet. I took a couple of those along, and this street scene from Napoli, Italia is the first one I tried to paint at the workshop.

Stella is a great coach, she comes in and gives you great suggestions for how a painting can be improved. I would recommend her class to anyone interested in watercolors. She shares my opinion that anything you do to the paper is fair game, including scraping, scratching and scrubbing. As long as there is paper left, it counts. All of the paintings displayed here are very large for me, 15″ x 22″

Categories: acquarello, Italia, landscapes Tags: