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Archive for April, 2011

A year of progress – Catania, Sicily

April 10th, 2011 3 comments


I painted this first painting about a year ago but was very unhappy with it because it did not really
catch the feeling of Catania.

When I was a little girl, I often asked my grandmother Maddalena where she was born. She always answered me and I always promptly forgot what she said. I knew it was in Sicily, but the rest I continued to forget. I could tell from the way she answered that she wanted me to get it right, but little girls are fairly thoughtless and it went in one ear and out the other. One day, when I was a teenager, I asked her again and this time, I wrote it down. I had finally gotten the message. It’s important, write it down! Maddalena was was born in a little town called Agira, in the province of Catania. There were many other things she didn’t tell me, like the fact that there was a castle on the top of the hill her birth town was on, or the fact that you could see Mount Etna almost every day from her house. As I stood in the street where she was born, and looked at that mountain, I could not imagine NOT telling my grandkids about living next to a belching volcano.
So when I turned 50, I flew to Sicily myself to check it out. Agira was a pristine little town built on a hill. Only Agira is no longer in Catania, it’s now considered to be in Enna. And Catania is a city so ancient that its ruins are Greek, not Roman. Two blocks from the scene I painted sit the remains of an ancient coliseum which was made of tufo (a type of sandstone) long before the Romans thought to conquer the world.

I include two different paintings of the same scene here so you can see the progress I have made this year. The lighter colored one is actually one of three attempts, none of them pleased me and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I used nice colors and got the shapes right, but I never got the richness of the scene. That is, until today. I am extremely happy with how this painting came out. What about you? Can you see the difference? This is a large (14″ x 20″) watercolor painting on Arches paper.

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Niimi Dental Clinic – Old Kyoto

April 9th, 2011 No comments

I enjoyed the first google maps “virtual plein aire” painting I did so much that I decided to do another one. This time, I searched a long time to try and find an older neighborhood. Most of Japan is extremely modern, clean lines, grey square framed homes over perfect streets, after a while, I am disappointed to say, one city looked a lot like another. Except for Kyoto. Kyoto has preserved some of the older neighborhoods, narrow winding streets with open fruit stands and lots of interesting stuff to see. There are still standing today, lots of buildings with wood fronts, odd shapes and lots of bamboo screens. On this street I found a dental clinic. This unusual clinic building had a rounded roof and a flying saucer looking lookout on the top; I decided I would paint THIS street because if I was walking down that street, I would be captivated by the scene. This 14 x20 inch watercolor painting is for sale at auction on the Daily Paint Works website, all proceeds go to Japan relief. I hope you like it.

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Categories: acquarello, landscapes Tags:

Virtually Japan

April 4th, 2011 1 comment

A while back I discovered that if you have a Google email account, you can keep track of other people’s block with the Google Reader. Since then I have found a number of blogs, discarded some as boring, and others, I savor just like I used to do reading my favorite newspaper columnist, looking forward to their every post. And some bloggers have become friends of mine and I look forward to their blogs just like I always look forward to hearing from friends.
I found a blog recently called “The Virtual PaintoutBill Guffey, the host, challenges people to use Google maps to find a scene to paint. He then displays our paintings along with his own. We each can do 3 paintings a month.

This month the subject was Japan, so I thought I’d paint this painting of a street scene in Tokyo. I decided I really like painting Japanese scenes because of all the characters! I have no idea if my Japanese Characters (Katakana, Hiragana or Chinese Kanji) are any good, but it was really fun trying to reproduce them.
This painting is for sale for $300, I will donate the proceeds of it to the Japanese Red Cross.

What I noticed about Japanese streets is they are very well maintained, they have a plethora of electric wires above them, and that bicycles are everywhere. I also noticed they use different color paint on their signs and walls than you would see in Italy. Kind of curious.

So if you are up for the challenge, I suggest you start cruising Japan or your favorite place with Google maps and see if you can find a street scene that you like.

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Categories: landscapes, travel journal Tags: