The actual color of the Black Sea

My trip to Bulgaria included a lot of firsts. I did a lot of things I thought I’d never do. I told everyone I’d never go to a country where I couldn’t speak the language. I’d especially never go to a place where they wrote in Cyrillic, which of course I couldn’t read. And I’d certainly never fly to Eastern Europe 2 weeks after I was invited. Oh wrong, wrong wrong! And so, I got to see the Black Sea.
Which isn’t black. Apparently the origin of the name has something to do with the fact that it was very hard to navigate. That is no longer true.
So here I was on the beach of this beautiful body of water. It was glorious (I was in the shade, enjoying that fact) and I really tried to paint what I saw. Turquoise. Dark blue. Green. Gold. This painting is for sale, all proceeds go to endangered species conservation…

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In Nesebar, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea


Truly, this is one of the most exotic places I’ve ever been to. It used to be an island, but has since been connected to the mainland by an isthmus, which makes it very convenient to go to this little town. It is full of ancient buildings, from the Greek and Roman settlements beginning 600 BC. Walking through that village, where the Byzantines and the Crusaders fought the Bulgarians for possession,it is hard for me to understand why they fought so hard for this tiny island. Apparently it was an important trading center. Who knows how many boats docked in this very harbor over the millenia!

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Velico Turnavo, new construction

While most of the time, I focused on the ancient buildings in this town, I found myself almost startled by the modern architecture found here. The buildings did not conform to my ideas of how a house should be shaped, and they towered over me, sitting on a curb across the street. Who says houses can’t be fun? In this painting can be seen a mix of old and new, illustrating the character of the town.

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Velico Turnavo – Stella Canfield workshop

The challenge to Plein Aire is that you have to contend with all sorts of things not encountered in the studio. The most perfect view might be in the middle of the street, or in full sun. As you paint, everything changes. The shadows move, the trash bins move, people walk by; in fact, in this painting a tree branch got knocked down by a tall truck. I also like to leave little surprises in my paintings, in this one, you can see Stella painting, right behind the trash cans. This is a half sheet painting, and it is for sale. All proceeds go to wildlife conservation.

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Velico Tarnovo – Stella Canfield

Velico Tarnovo was the capital of Bulgaria in the dark ages. It is carved into the side of a hill. I loved the architecture there. I did a few paintings, all of houses. These are pretty old. I was fascinated by the structure and texture of the roofs here. They are a lot like Italian roofs, but not quite the same. The streets were ancient stones, and pretty narrow. This painting is a half sheet and it is for sale. All proceeds go towards Wild animal conservation.

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