The last view of the residency complex at high noon. Packed up my studio here in Italy at La Macina di San Cresci. It's amazing how quickly a month has gone by. Leaving at 5 am for the airport! 
Look out America, here I come!

Ultimo Giorno

Delicioso breakfast with Giuditta in Genova. Leave the gun, take the cannoli.

in case of shipwreck, abandon ship

It is my last day here at the residency in Italy. My flight leaves bright and early at 7 am for Paris tomorrow, then back to American soil. After visiting the Uffizi on Friday I was able to catch a train to Genova for the night and visit with my friend Giuditta, and I cannot believe it had been two years since the last time we saw one another. We enjoyed a nice night and afternoon together in the city before parting ways on a train heading to Pisa.
Yesterday I finished up my final drawing, in case of shipwreck. All the work I've made here can also be viewed on my flickr page (or click the typewriter at the top of this page). I'm going to walk into town this morning to pick up a few things and then back here to do a little sketching and pack!

The Uffizi

Friday morning in Florence, it was off to the Uffizi where I saw some of my favorite paintings, including Titian's Venus of Urbino, Boticelli's Birth of Venus, Artemesia Gentileschi's Judith Slaying Holofernes, Laocoon and Sons and an unfinished painting, Adoration of the Magi by Da Vinci. I had the pleasure of seeing many works that I lecture about to my classes, here is a link to the virtual Uffizi tour online, it has links to see images of the rooms and a comprehensive list of the schools & artists in the collection.


Domani, a Firenze!

Tomorrow, a 7 am bus into Florence. Look out Uffizi, here I come. I'll be there early enough to revisit the Duomo & get some coffee and brioche con cioccolata in me before my 10 am appointment at the museum. I found this book at one of my favorite stores, Helping Hands, while searching for potential art supplies. It was literally the day before I was accepted into the residency here at Greve in Chianti, and I think it was a sign.A little peek into my idea to image process here at La Macina di San Cresci. It is very similar to preparing a drawing for a woodblock, but instead of carving and printing, I am drawing and coloring. First, I draw on tracing paper because I like how the pencil looks on the surface, and I can see what is underneath when layering the drawings. Next, I arrange the images on gridded paper, draw in the patterns, tape everything down & transfer to Stonehenge paper (found out the hard way that it doesn't erase well, the pencil indents the paper and never goes away).

Then I begin to develop the image in color on Stonehenge, little by little. It's actually a lot like developing an image in print, layer by layer, until finally you get to the end and see what you have! It is either a disasterpiece-plus or a masterpiece-plus, as one of my high school art teachers used to say. Today's drawing, about abandoning a sinking ship. When we were little my friends and I would ask each other what we would bring along on a deserted island if we only had three things to take....

Above is a detail of the background, the iceberg that brought the trip to an untimely end. Sharks patrol the waters. Ever since watching a Jaws marathon on vacation circa 8th or 9th grade, I have been terrified of being eaten by sharks. You can click on any of the images on this blog and they will enlarge in a new window so you can see the detail.



Finally got to the grass in this piece, the 1st drawing I began here in Greve.
And put the finishing touches on the love story drawing.
These little guys will have to wait until we get back on American soil, as the pale green prismacolor has once again been completely used up. All that remains to be finished is the background, so not too much more to go. Tomorrow is my second to last working day in the studio. Can't believe how fast time has gone!



Almost finished...the clouds need to be filled in and then basta! Finito! It is a daring rescue, a love story. Two more working days in the studio and then off to absorb some art history in Florence! Non vedo a l'ora! Very excited to see what I've been teaching to my art history classes in person again and hopefully get some good photos for my slide lectures. Nerd. The new artist arrived yesterday, she is from NYC and will be working on landscapes in watercolor and gouache. Mailed off my last batch of postcards today, even though I will most likely get home before they do. I received a letter today from my Great Aunt Dee and was really excited! It made my day, and then some. I love mail! In fact, I made this collage concerning my love for letters by post (the lace was the inspiration for the background in my drawing).


Monday monday! let the countdown begin...

What I once thought was too big of a table to possibly ever need is now full with the work I've made these past three weeks. Front and center is today's drawing in progress, 1/3 of the way done. I have two other pieces in rotation and will try and get some more sketches done tonight. As they get finished, I'll be posting the images to flickr, so make sure and visit and leave some comments if you fancy! you can access it by clicking on the typewriter at the top of the page.
Tomorrow will be nice weather (it has felt like october in Clemson this past week, windy and rainy and cold) so I will head out to the hills with some acrylics and attempt to do a few landscape paintings. Wish me luck, haven't painted since undergrad...exactly one week left of the wonderland that is this residency, on Friday I head off to the Uffizi Gallery and then a train to Genova in time for apperetivo with Giuditta! Woohoo!
The colored pencil body count so far. Thanks to my BF who mailed me some desperately needed replacements! My hero. He has been busy with engineering and photography while I've been away, and posted some very beautiful miniature pictures on his flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevenbower/). In other news, I bought some carbonation packets from the store this evening to make my own frizzante water, but I think I did it wrong because it just tastes like crocodile tears.


nighttime drawing station

My after dark drawing station here at the apartment, there is a nice big kitchen table, at least 3' x 10'. The lighting is nice, and within close proximity to the teapot! Also very convenient for spreading out, as I tend to do in my own studio. Gathering some inspiration for my next sketch, listening to the rain and drinking jasmine tea here in Greve. Picked up a copy of Under the Tuscan Sun in Florence the first week I was here, and have been listening to the dubbed Italian version (also is in English w/italian subtitles, pretty hard to find.)
Hope everyone had an enjoyable Sunday!

Rain rain go away

A detail of today's drawing, above, and the entire image below (about halfway finished). Listened to one of my Dad's favorites, Harry Chapin, all day in the studio.
Happy Father's Day!

Well, it is raining again and today the storm feels very ominous, not a clear spot all day long. The church attached to my apartment was struck by lightning in 1966, let's be glad lightning doesn't strike the same place twice! I woke up with the crack of dawn this morning and got a good solid day in the studio. Apparently the word for rain and cry are very similar (piovere and piangere). now I know why Duccio was confused the other day when what I said roughly translated to 'I'm always crying.' I meant always raining. Oops!


Marketo a Greve

Spent the entire afternoon and evening transferring my next two drawings to Stonehenge paper. Here is a peek at a portion of what I worked on today. The background is very intricate, and took the better part of four hours to complete, but it is done and I can move on to the rest of the image tomorrow! It is either a happy reunion or a sad parting, depending on how you look at it. More to come! It rained and thundered all day long, and the storm rolled across the hilltops here in Greve. Good for the vineyard, bad for the tourists.This morning I drank my tea in the doorway of the apartment, watching the birds fly around. One kept singing and chirping and fluffing his feathers because it was just starting to rain. He kept swooping around off to a tree, then back up to a post sticking out of the front of the church in front of my door. I wonder if birds from different countries can understand the different chirps. Mimma took me down to the Saturday market in Greve this morning, before the rain really got going. These tomatoes looked tasty, and I will use one in dinner tonight, along with the eggplant, mozzarella and basil I picked up. Buon appetito!


Swan on a stick

The view walking back to the apartment for dinner and drawing. It looked like a painting, and such a nice change from the gray skies we've been having. I enjoyed a nice apperetivo in the garden with Mimma after a day of drawing in the studio.
I have invented swan on a stick. It is a handy little device for drawing the paper swan from different angles, and I don't know why I haven't thought of it before. Genius. I worked on two sketches today in preparation for the final drawings, you can see one in progress behind the swan. A large group of Italians came in to the studio and wandered around smiling and talking today. They had walked all the way from Florence on their way to Siena (one of my favorites) and according to what I understood of their Italian, it took them 5 hours on foot to get here. I'm glad it wasn't raining for them! Now it is time for pasta, email, and planning my trip in to Florence and Genova later this week! Kelly & Meghan, I wish you were here! Not the same without my ragazzi. A dopo!


Why hello there

After the storm that rolled through Greve today, I went outside looking for snail shells to draw from. I happened upon this little fellow, a few steps from the door. He was having his lunch, munching on what appeared to be a small rock.
The view from under my umbrella, which did not keep me dry. It's neat to hear thunder here at the top of this hill, because the sound bounces around and you can see the rainclouds sitting over parts of the town.

while you were sleeping

Good morning! It is 7 am in America, lunchtime here, and while you were were all sleeping I got into the studio early today, excited to add to one of the first drawings I started here. Last night I sketched this snake, which you may remember from one of my woodcuts in grad school. He makes a repeat appearance here at the welcome home party, camouflaged under the couch. This is the beginning of the end of this drawing, it's nice to see some of them nearing completion.Two women, Bev and Gerry, from America (who are staying in greve for the summer) came to the studio today, Gerry is a retired art teacher from NC, moving to Asheville this year. I love that town, a good place for an artist. I passed the wild artichoke plants on my way back to the apt for lunch and noticed that someone had picked all the fruits. Now they just look like giant weeds.


Clouds rolling in

The view outside the studio doors today, off to the left it looked like the cloud was sitting on the ground. Chilly, gray and windy again here in Greve. I've been drinking mint water all day today. I discovered some fresh mint on the way to Montefioralle while walking with Jillian yesterday. I picked some, boiled it in water and chilled it in the fridge. The fresh mint smelled better than the mint water tastes. Oh well. This one is almost finished, from the sketch I posted a few days ago. a bit more work to do in the background. My favorite part is the iceberg in the distance. Here I attempted to create a more stage-like setting with flat colors and a shallow sense of depth.
Visit this link to see my bio on the La Macina di San Cresci website It can also be found under 'guest artists' where you can look at what other people have done at the residency so far.


Rainy days and farewells

Today it rained in Greve. The sky was dark, there was a chill in the air, and it felt like Fall. The next two days, according to Mimma, will be the same, 'che brutto tempo.' I always prefer a rainy day in the studio to a beautiful one (I'm more inclined to make art than run around outside in the sunshine.) Some recent progress...
I am finished with this one, for now. I have changed the rowboat from grayscale to brown, I think it works better than before, but still needs a little something. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered...I would like to watch Labyrinth for inspiration, but it is not available to download on Itunes. I settle for the soundtrack.
Some delicioso bruschetta, made by Teresa for Jill's going away party yesterday night, ieri sera. It was a beautiful night to sit outside and relax. And it is always nice to have dinner cooked by an actual Tuscan! There was also couscous w/mint, salad, zucchini omelette, fried potatoes, gelato, macedonia....Jill and I were also lucky enough to see some handmade necklaces by Simonetta, Teresa's mother. Very beautiful sculptural jewelry that made me yearn for my sewing machine and home studio full of supplies.
Here we are in front of Teresa and Mario's beautiful roses. Winding behind us is their driveway, they live in an oasis outside of Florence in a place called Imprunetta. Behind their houses and courtyard where we had dinner, there were chickens, pigeons, and a goat and donkey wandering around amongst the olive trees. After hee-hawing really loudly when we approached, the donkey let us feed it grass. Jill left tonight on a train to Paris, and I will be alone in the studio for a week before another artist arrives from NY. I am sad to see her go, but as she said, DC is not that far away. Alla prossima volta!


The business

Mimma & Duccio had these business cards printed up for me, they are very nice, everything is sharply focused & the correct color, which is kind of hard to accomplish when you let someone else print them. They are mini business cards from moo.com (not too be confused with the half and halfs by land-o-lakes, mini-moos) There are a bunch of different designs, so you can trade them like baseball cards. Fun! On the back is my name, contact info & 'artist in residence @ La Macina di San Cresci'. Fancy. Above is one of the swans I finally was able to fold, and you can also get an idea of the size. Maybe 1" x 2 1/2"?


Today in Tuscany

On my walk into town I spotted this Virgin Mary statue on the corner of a gigantic house that was elevated form the ground, with a very nice concrete banister. Anyhow, the Zano family lives there, they make really great wine apparently. In Italy, the Virgin Mary statue or relief can be found on many a street corner and side of a building, very beautiful. This one really caught my eye because it was so large and also, had some cut zinnias that were freshly placed in there through the hole in the fence. I do love zinnias, and have a very nice garden of them at my apartment. Notice the other flowers are dead, save for the zinnias. They'll grow even without water, and will spread to places where they weren't originally planted. Hardy and sneaky.Walking back from Greve in the smoldering heat on a dusty road, again feeling my heartbeat going way faster than it should. Going uphill at what feels like a 90 degree angle=not fun, even if you are in Tuscany. About halfway there some French tourists on their way to Villa Bordoni, next door to the residency, were nice even to give me a ride. At first I thought they might be kidnappers, but 1. I am not a little kid and 2. What would they want with a sweaty American carrying a loaf of bread and lettuce in her purse. I had the pleasure of using the little bit of French I haven't blocked out of my memory from high school. Merci beaucoup! They thought I was Italian, as did some bicyclists who asked me for tourist information. Non so, sono Americana. Bike riders come here to train for something, they must hate themselves to go up and down these hills. I kept slipping on rocks just walking, I'd be afraid to get on a bike and attempt them. I can imagine the bike beginning to spin out of control and flying off into someone's vineyard. I worked on this drawing today, finishing the wallpaper, party banner and adding in the bird, fence and the chair. Still pondering the midsection.
Did you read about the girl who was lost at sea on her sailboat? They found her safe and sound with a broken mast. She thought she could go around the world alone in a tiny sailboat. Didn't she watch Titanic? She made it halfway, and I hope she tries again. With a bigger boat. Here is my sketch for today, partly inspired by that story, partly by flying over the ocean in a plane. In the event of a crash your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device. Today was a victorious day as well for me, I finally figured out how to fold my own paper cranes to draw from. Nothing like something simple to make you feel like an idiot when you can't figure it out.

A startling discovery

Yes, this small piece of ancient Jurassic history was discovered just steps away from my front door. I've heard that dinosaurs preferred a diet of chianti and olive oil, but now we have solid proof that this true fact I made up is, in fact, true.


Friday night in Tuscany

Very productive here today in the studio.I have finished the wallpaper background for the third drawing, having worn the pale green down to a teeny tiny nothing. It felt victorious to finish with just enough of the pencil left to color it in. Here is my workspace today. As you can see, I am trying to stay hydrated with my OU bottle. On my playlist today were the Smiths and Third Eye Blind (1st album). I also listened to Cocorosie's new album, and liked almost all of it. Here is a portion of a drawing in progress, titled tentatively What Took So Long. Tomorrow I tackle the foreground in graphite. I like realizing these drawings in sections, its fun to watch them appear on the paper, like magic. The colors are more saturated in life but the lighting here was not so good. Probably because I'm in a medieval cellar.
Had a wonderful and delicioso dinner in the garden above my studio with Mimma & Duccio, Jill (studiomate), some local friends and the Czech couple who is vacationing next door. They leave tomorrow to go back to Prague and so this was their farewell dinner, lots of fresh seafood and chianti classico to wash it down. Nom nom. A great day finished by a beautiful night outside in the fresh tuscan air. Goodbye new friends!

A sad day for cool colors

It is lunchtime in Greve, and it is official...I have run out of purple and light blue. However, the wallpaper is done in two drawings, and that is good news!


draw-rings in progress

These works in progress are all drawn on 22"x30" Stonehenge. Almost done with this one, 3 purple pencils worn down to almost nothing and some finishing touches to go!Still plenty of work to go, here is the left third of the drawing so far.
I've retired back to the kitchen table of the artist house to sketch out the next drawing, so I have a few things in rotation. Thank you BF for folding a crane for me to draw!
Listening to music and making art. Expert photograph taken by my new Czech friend, Suzanne, who is vacationing next door with her husband.