Archive for April, 2011

A Sunny Day in Seattle

April 29th, 2011 4 comments

It has been a long dark winter here. Day upon day of greyness and colder than normal temperatures have dulled the enthusiasm of even the most loyal Seattlelites. But a week ago the clouds parted and the sun came out and the temperature rose above 60 degrees for a day. I rode my bicycle across the 1st avenue bridge and below me there were kayakers, cormorants, barges and beautiful blue Duwamish waters. What, the Duwamish is blue? Why certainly it is, when the sun is out!

The Duwamish is a humble river, scorned by most, but it has a run of chum salmon every year and at least from this one vantage point, there is a magnificent view of Mount Rainier. These unloved places are the ones I love the most, there are no tourists or postcards showing this view, but I found it and share it with you on this 14″ x 20″ piece of watercolor paper.

This painting is for sale $350.00

Categories: bicycling, biographical, birds, landscapes Tags:

How to commission a portrait

April 27th, 2011 5 comments


Most people that want me to paint a portrait say “How much” and I tell them, right now I charge $175.00 for a portrait of one person and $250.00 for a portrait of two people. But not everyone commissions a portrait that way. The last time I went to Sersale, I brought a very special gift for my recently deceased cousin’s wife, Santina. It was a portrait of my cousin, Giuseppe Mercuri that I had painted some years before. It showed his wonderful personality and everyone loved it. Even before we got it hung up on the wall a steady procession of cousins, friends and neighbors came through the house and admired that painting.

Annina, Santina’s best buddy and the wife of another cousin saw it and immediately had an idea. She had lost a daughter a few years ago and all she had of her for her little shrine was an enlargement of a blurry photo. So Annina began her negotiations for a portrait of Caterina. First she invited me over for dinner. No, not just any dinner, she’d already fed me many times. This time she made Sersale’s own specialty pasta by hand for me. She made a huge quantity of mparetate, they were gorgeous and delicious.

I ate as many as I could and felt guilty because I could not eat more. This was the first time anyone in Calabria made me homemade pasta.
But that was not all! She gave me wonderful olives, of course she gathered them herself and processed them too. She also gave me half of a Pittanchiusa, a dessert specialty of Sersale’s that is made for Easter. It’s a dough rolled rather thin and stuffed with fruit and nuts, a little bit like a cinnamon roll. Since I’ve never been to Sersale for Easter, I’d never eaten one before. This was a great gift! I was honored and delighted. It was a little stale, but hey, it still tasted good.. The last gift she gave me were some dried figs stuffed with walnuts. Oh, these are so delicious. A combination of two of the most delicious things in the world. The fact is, every one of the things Annina gave me in exchange for the portrait were priceless. How could I NOT paint that portrait?
After I finished the painting, I shipped it off and the worrying began. Would it get to Sersale? and how would I know if she liked it? Once again thanks to Facebook, two of her grandkids friended me. And thanks to them, I knew she had received her painting and was happy with it. A job well done.

You want to commission a portrait? Make me an offer I can’t refuse.

Categories: biographical, Italia, portrait Tags:

Pomegranate – the jewel fruit

April 19th, 2011 5 comments

I don’t remember my first pomegranate, but I do remember as a child deciding that pomegranates deserved their own holiday. I chose the 28th of September – about the time they showed up in the supermarket. I insisted upon a pomegranate every year so I could celebrate that day.

Over the years I have noticed that most people don’t like them very much, they are not inspired by their jewel like beauty like I am. The fact is; they are seedy and can’t hold a candle to a peach. I didn’t know anything else about them except that they were exotic and beautiful, and I continue to eat them annually. I understand the pomegranate might be the forbidden fruit on the tree in the Genesis story.

Many years later, I found my first pomegranates growing in Brescia, Italy. I guess I imagined a great big tree like the old apple and cherry trees I saw as a child, but instead it was a weedy little shrub with these sensational fruit bursting out of it.

besides just pulling a pomegranate apart, and eating the jewel like fruit by the handfuls, my favorite way to eat pomegranates is in a salad. It will transform any boring salad to a thing of beauty.

This watercolor is 10″ x 14″ and is SOLD

Categories: biographical, food art, Italia Tags:

Meeting in Bologna

April 16th, 2011 3 comments

Every time I go to Italy I try to find new places to go. In 2008 I went to Bologna with my good buddies Vanda and Rino. We met a friend of theirs there and “did the town”.

Now about Bologna. Like most little kids of the 1950’s I ate a lot of Bologna (Baloney) I even knew it was named after a city in Italy. We carried Bologna sandwiches on Wonderbread in our little metal lunch boxes- I liked my Bologna sandwiches with dark mustard and pickle relish.

Bologna is a city that looks a lot like that Bologna we ate! The city is full of pinkish buildings. It is truly beautiful. It is also full of galleries; covered sidewalks – so you can walk through the town on a rainy day and not get wet. Bologna today is NOT famous for Bologna – instead they are very proud of their Mortadella, a cold cut that gave me terrors as a child because I knew it was made with BRAINS!
While I was in Bologna, my friends and I ate Mortadella proudly served by Bolognese. It was a wonderful day I will never forget. In this painting I sought to reproduce the colors of the city in the clothing that my friends are wearing. This city is truly a feast for the eyes.. And if you like Mortadella, you’ll eat well while you are there too.

Mercato di Catania

April 11th, 2011 6 comments

This is a 14″ x 20″ watercolor painting – $400.00

One of the most wonderful places in the world is the open air market. The one I painted today is in the Sicilian city of Catania next to their famous pescheria (fish market). Farmers bring their fresh vegetables, butchers bring their freshly cured meats, cheeses can be found, as well as fruits, nuts, all sorts of spices and preserves. Every mercato (the Italian word for market) that I have been to has had its own unique personality. In fact, every day, every mercato is different.
Italy, just like the USA, has plenty of supermarkets with rows upon rows of food in them. However, every day, Italians like to go to their mercato to buy dinner. In Rome, we followed my cousin to a little mercato. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough of a vocabulary to get all our questions answered about all the things I saw, but we still had a blast. During my next visit, I was in Cefalu, and discovered that at noon every day, the mercato closed only to open again the next morning. All of those little booths, all of those vegetables, meats, and other wares were cleaned up, packed up and disappeared. You’d never know they had been there except for a few wet spots where tubs of ice water had been spilled.
In Catania, where I stayed at the home of my cousin Antonietta and her children, I learned Mercato was part of the routine. Every day after breakfast, everything was cleaned up and we went to the mercato a few blocks from their home. We bought bread, fruit, whatever we needed for the day. Next day, same story. As we walked down the street, other shoppers would greet us, their bags already full.
One of the best recent changes to Seattle, which is my current abode, has been the opening of many farmer’s markets all over the city. the most famous here is Pike Place market, but as the days lengthen and spring comes, you don’t have to go downtown to find farmer’s markets, they are everywhere. How about you? Do you like to shop at a farmer’s market?

Categories: biographical, Italia, landscapes Tags: