Archive for December, 2013

Zio Totò a most memorable person

December 31st, 2013 1 comment

Zio Toto Giardino
In 1989, with the proceeds of my husband’s $800 bonus check, I went with my mother to Italy. We stayed in Rome for a week, and then we took a quick trip to Sersale, a small town in Calabria where my grandfather was born, and we stayed there just 24 hours.

The trip to Calabria was a whirlwind to me, a sleepless 8 hour overnight train ride from Rome to Catanzaro (where four of us laid down together, my cousin Patrizia, my mother, myself and with his feet in my face, a young Calabrian man who actually slept). Upon arriving in Catanzaro, we sat outside for 2 hours waiting for a bus in predawn chill, and then finally arriving, the opportunity of a lifetime, I met relatives who had not been seen face to face for over 70 years.

My grandfather was the oldest of six children, and the only one to emigrate to the USA. When I visited his home town that day in 1989, shortly after he died, I was able to meet two of his siblings; his sister, Angelina, who was his best buddy in youth, and Antonio, affectionately known as Zio Totò, the second to the youngest.

My day in Sersale was a blur. I knew very little Italian, so little, in fact that I did not realize that my cousins weren’t speaking Italian, they were speaking dialect. My teenaged cousin Patrizia, acted as interpreter. This is not an easy job for anyone, so lots was lost as she was also trying to catch up with her favorite cousins that lived there.

As we sat in Antonio’s house, it was explained to me that his father, Francesco Torchia, my great grandfather, had built it. It was the “Casa Torchia” and there was an implication that I, too, had some sort of ownership of it, being a Torchia myself. As I ate from a giant bowl of delicious pasta, I noticed that Antonio had twinkling green eyes. They were the exact color that my sister’s were. He was the first person I’d met in the family with that eye color. And then he laughed; which made me cry. He laughed just like my grandfather! Mind you, he had not seen my grandfather since he was 3 years old, over 75 years before. It was stunning, I still marvel at how they could possibly both have that same silly laugh.
He took us to his garden, which was just starting as it was early spring. He led us to a hut which he proudly proclaimed was his own design. He had built the little house there by himself. Inside were seeds that he had conserved, and tools. And this is how I like to remember him.

Zio toto era la persona che mi ha colpito di più nel mio primo viaggio in Italia. Era buono e gentile e si assomigliava mio nonno molto. I suoi occhi brillavano, e la sua risata era quella di una persona senza rimpianti. Era orgoglioso della capanna che ha fatto nel suo giardino pieno di vita che ci ha mostrato. Non lo scordero’ mai piu.

This painting is not for sale.

Categories: biographical, Italia, landscapes, portrait Tags:

Selfie – word of the year

December 21st, 2013 1 comment


Time for a new self portrait. I like my hair with a bit of henna, and just colored it so was inspired to paint the only person in the house.
I love to do portraits but it is unusual for me to have the opportunity to paint from life. With a nod to Rembrandt, this is what I did.

I would love to paint your portrait too! Talk to me about reference photos, or (gasp) a sitting!

Categories: biographical, portrait Tags:

Paint my kids!

December 17th, 2013 1 comment


It makes a person feel good when someone calls you in a panic in December wanting you to paint a picture of their kids for a Christmas present. Lucky for me, or not, because it means I don’t have a lot of commissions coming in, I had only one other commission, so I had time to do this painting. Painting two different faces is daunting, it’s twice as much work, and they have to appear to be together. It all worked out and I finished the painting in time for a very happy customer. Just in case someone else needs a commission done, I have time to do another before Christmas.

All proceeds from this and any painting I do go directly towards endangered species conservation.

Categories: portrait Tags:

Merry Christmas silly card

December 16th, 2013 1 comment

So I responded to a silly Christmas card challenge. “Send me a Christmas card” he said, and the only rules are the words “Buddy Holly” have to be on the card. So, the left side of my brain says “I don’t want to have anything to do with Buddy Holly on a Christmas card” and the right side of my brain said, “but I LOVE to paint animals and plants and stuff!” So Buddy became a little white cat cavorting in the holly.
I am working my way back to sending Christmas cards again. It has been very hard to face all the full of life Christmas letters that people send. What can I write back? It stinks to be a widow? But as the wounds heal, I feel more and more like saying HAPPY MERRY JOLLY and BRIGHT. SO maybe next year.

Categories: cats, postal art Tags:

An opportunity to make a postage stamp!

December 11th, 2013 3 comments


Being a big fan of postal art, I became very excited when I heard about this swap. Initially I had to buy a post card, which cost about two dollars and came all the way from England. The blog, Friends and Faux, is filled with wonderful examples of filled out and partially filled out cards. What a wonderful collection of teeny tiny art to be able to be a part of!

So I designed a stamp, a beautiful unicorn-horse trotting through a meadow in the woods. I am sending it to a mail art buddy of mine in Staten Island. Hopefully she will be as excited about it as I am, and will send it on.

I am getting another postcard soon, and I will design a different stamp for it. If you would like to be the next person to play with me, (make a stamp, and send the postcard to yet another person ) please let me know in a comment below.

Categories: horse, postal art Tags: