Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 100

100 days
6 countries
21 cities

In 100 days I have met some of the most unbelievable artists that are changing the world daily. I have seen Hitlers bunker, the Berlin wall, magnificent street art, Athens from a birds eye view, olive groves, lemon groves, vineyards, 3 different seas, islands with mythological history, the Acropolis, the Coloseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the sunset in a 100 different ways, painted 92 paintings, drew for the first time in 15 years, learned 3 different languages, kinda.  I witnessed villages nestled on cliffs, had a bestie visit, woke up to hills for days, found a Greek family, read 13 books, read 35 articles, hiked 100 miles at least, slept average 10 hours a day, listened to my playlist on itunes 250 times, painted with wine, had an apartment flood, rode a train almost daily. Experienced 50-110 degree temperatures, missed my friends and family, a critique for Transart, ate hundreds of tomatoes, and much, much more. 
The most important is that I’ve seen myself.  I have seen myself become a better person every single day.  Thank you to all those who supported this adventure from the dream like beginning stages, to safe travels on my way home.  I couldn’t be more lucky to surround myself with the most amazing support system that not only whole-heartedly supports my dream of creating, but has watched it unfold on this adventure! 
With all the love in my heart, thank you! Danke! Efharistoomay! Grazie mille!

Day 99...last day in Italy

I was for sure when this day came that I would want to reflect on everything that has happened.  But I don't.  I want to extend much gratitude for what has occurred here, but I want to focus on tomorrow and the next day and next week.  The attributes of being here has made me want to create tomorrow for me, not because of my surroundings.  I went for a hike today and all I could think about is what I am going to create when I get home. I was worried about losing that feeling of intense creativity, but I realized it's not Italy, it's me.  I will forever have it and no matter where I am, I can express it.  Don't get me wrong, I believe that this time by myself has been exactly what I needed artistically, but it would have occurred anywhere that I found myself in semi seclusion.  Yes, the sunsets were magical and the rolling Tuscan hills were delightful, but the sun will always set and the beautiful landscape will always be there, you just have to open your eyes to it. That has been the biggest lesson, love where you are, love what you do and love who you are. Italy was my 'love' in my pseudo eat, pray, love parallel,  and that is exactly what I have done, loved.

Day 98...sketchbook

Today I photographed all of my paintings that I had done while in Europe.  Edited them all nicely and as I was flipping through them on iphoto, it was a brilliant stream of RED!  It has been a magnificent journey with this color and what I have not only found out about it, but what I found out about myself as I was immersed.  One of the most important things that I created was my sketchbook.  My sketchbook is filled with tickets stubs, drawings, brochures from art exhibitions I attended and of my fellow classmates, topped off with design and a splash of color.  This sketchbook has contained my artistic ideas, doodles and experiences on this journey.  It is a visual journal of the time that I have spent here, to remember the ideas, to remember the feelings and to just remember.  My days are becoming limited here in Europe and I am grateful for the time and energy that I put into this book, because I already find myself fingering through the pages to remember the art I saw in Hydra, Greece and a classmates show in Berlin.  These are things that made this journey what it is.  Yes, I have had lots of magnificent food and saw some amazing blasts of history, but in the end, its what is in this book that has fully reflected my journey:)

Day 97...black/orange and soon red/green

With Halloween fast approaching, I can not help but wonder why black and orange?  Why do we have a color coding systems for holidays?  Through my research of red, I found why we color code Christmas red and green.  Red comes from the holly berries that represent the blood of Christ and the apples on the Paradise Tree, which was usually a pine tree (christmas tree) were also red. Even Saint Nicholas' robe was red, as were most bishops and saints.  These sacred symbolisms were the root of a belief that has been carried on for centuries.  Literacy not being available to anyone really, they would perform the stories of the bible. With those stories stood the holly berries hanging proudly and the apples hanging with care on the tree.  The greens were heartedly exchanged in symbolism of the spring that awaits.  Over the years it has become the holiday we know it today, all cultures adding a little something over time.  So this holiday season, remind yourself that the wreaths, decorations and tree that you put up are the essentials in symbolism in story telling and that spring is right around the corner:)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 96...last day of painting

Tonight was my last night of painting.  I cleared my space at the studio/kitchen table and washed out my brushes and packed everything up.  I needed to take pictures of some paintings and did that.  Afterwards, I was sitting there are was so, so, so sad.  I feel as if I have severed an appendage of who I am.  I have literally painted majority of the day for 43 days straight.  When you spend that much time with something, it is hard to say goodbye.  Although it is not goodbye to painting, it is goodbye to a lifestyle, where painting is the priority, not only the priority but the only thing on the days agenda.  I have been so incredibly lucky to be able to have this opportunity to indulge in creating like this.  I am not sure if it is because I am losing this lifestyle or that I am afraid I will never get it back.  In 3 days I return home, which I am so incredibly excited to be home, but so fearful of losing that relationship with my painting.  Life will hit me from all directions and I am ready for that, but it's going to be hard to not wake, make a cup of coffee and just paint.  I will admit to being spoiled in this regard, but I know if there is a will, there is a way!

Day 95...little indians painted

At the beginning of the month I created Italian coloring books for my niece and nephew and got colored pencils for them to color with.  At a run to the little shop in Campagnatico, I came across little palettes of watercolors.  How perfect!  It wasn't until I got home and that I noticed that they have a little Italian artist painting two little Indians!  I thought it was so right on,  I had to take a picture!  My two little indians will get paints from Italy for painting indians....so funny!

Day 94...Rosso vino

As being in Italy AND for being in the wine industry for so long, you think that I would be indulging on magnificent red wine all the time.  Really since I have been in Campagnatico, heart of wine country I have had three bottles.  All very good and local to the surrounding communities, but tonights Cab/Sangiovese was the premiere!  Absolutely phenomenal.  It was perfect with a few chunks of dark chocolate that I nibble on nightly for dessert.  There are a lot of vineyards but not too many wineries in this area.  Although harvest happened this past month, I have not seen too much action for it.  I see machinery on the hillsides, and apparently there was Wine Fest, but I never saw anything anywhere for it.  I think I have painted with more wine than I have drank, shows where my priorities have been:)

Day 93... Treausue Island and Pride & Prejudice

I have officially read all the reading material I have.  I did have two books on my Kindle app on my computer that I have not read.  Treasure Island & Pride Prejudice, both in which I have not read yet.  In three days I finished both.  Such classics that I had never had read, and now that I have I am gonna read them again!  Not just because I have nothing else to read, but because they were so good! On the edge of my bed constantly wondering if they will find the treasure?  Is Long John Silver really going to be a good guy, I think it's a ploy!  Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, can't believe it!!!!  Mrs. Bennett would be an awful mother!  Ha!  I am thankful that these are the two books that I got to indulge in on these windy, cold days in Italy:)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 91...pictures do say 1000 words

Sometimes, I feel more drawn to the camera than the paintbrush, because it executes exactly what I want to capture, not necessarily translate, but hold a specific moment forever.  I have over 3000 photos that I have taken on this adventure, and have been organizing them to use as tools for the next step in creating.  It has been so incredible to go back and see everything!  I am a firm believer in living in the moment, but sometimes when you are too in the moment you forget about the past.  It has only been 91 days since I left and started my travels, but looking back, it's a lifetime of memories.  The people that I have met, the sights I have seen, the art I have created and how the evolution of this time has changed my inner artistic voice, and perception of the world.  It is quite cliche to say that a picture says a 1000 words, but honestly it's more like a million.  Each photo has created a new passage of life through my existence and that just increases the possibilities in which I can travel.  I have six days until I venture back home, and I find myself in a hurry to keep looking and seeing things, but at the end of the day and at then end of this trip, it's all there.  It is all contained in who I am now:)

Day 92...setting suns

Since I have been in Campagnatico, I have daily seen the most unbelievable sunsets.  There is a clean, crispness to the light as it transitions into night.  The clouds create another layer of color that reflects the lighting of the day.  It is a moment each day that I am usually painting and always seem to be drawn to the window to see it in all of its glory!  I know that I have posted before about how artists come to Tuscany, how the Venetian painters were known for their color, but it resonates so much more clearly when you witness it every day.  The time in Campagnatico has been a time, of solitary, creativity and understanding whole-heartedly what I have experienced and where I want to go.  There isn't crazy clubs, but there is very GOOD wine, or restaurants.  That life is a 45 minute bus ride away.  It is a calm, sweet and humble community that allows for the majestic backdrop nightly to keep tourists here. (which right now, I am certain to be the only one.)  Daily I see the hills roll into the horizon, daily I see bright blue sky, daily I see the sunsets.  For myself that is all I need.  Its been challenging not being able to execute a conversation in its depth as I am use to, but all you need to be able to do, is express your gratitude for the amazing scene you witness daily.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 90... Fog moves on

This morning I woke up to a crazy amount of fog!  I almost couldn't believe it.  When I went to the window with my cup of instant coffee, I was startled by the lack of view.  As the morning progressed it lifted and moved over the hillside but a mystical morning indeed!

Day 89...the light

Newton many moons ago discovered that white light is all the colors and can be broken down through a prism, which creates a spectrum. It's been ironic how these little signs from my research draw my attention.  Tonight as another glorious sun set over the Tuscan hillside I saw a spectrum on my wall. I just happened to look up and the light was perfectly arranged through a crystal frame on the mantle of my medieval stove/fireplace.  A single line of the wonderful colors that create our visual world:). Following that light I saw the source. The sun was setting with an almost identical spectrum. Sometimes I wonder if it's the light that has the color of the atmosphere that captures it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 88...organizin' the paintings

Today was the first day that I took all the paintings that I have done since I have been in Europe out and looked at them in relation to one another!  I have a lot of paintings:). The evolution of the thought process is so clear now that I see them all.  A wonderful feeling to see when I began and when the ah -ha moment happened, to the natural pigment take over!  I'm incredible fortunate to have been able to paint every single day all day long for the last month!  It's remarkable where your work takes you when all you do is make.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 86...natural pigments get used

My collection of pigments finally have their time to shine!  From Greece; red sand stone, terra cotta, eucalyptus bark from Italy; rose petals, red wine, bougenvalia petals. I have been saving these pigments because I have very little of each ( except the red wine, I'm in Italy, that resource never goes dry). And inhale had two pieces of canvas that I have been saving as well. Due to the history of pigments as dye originally and not having gesso for my canvas I painted with my natural pigments in a cotton duct canvas unprimed and received a beautiful outcome.  It was a wonderful way to juxtapose the history and the contemporary of my research!

Day 87....Let the critiques begin!!!

This entire time I have been traveling i have been in school. The month I was in Berlin kicked off a magnificent artistic adventure and project that has kinda take over my thought process!  I see red everywhere!!!  Today I start group group critiques for the next 2 months.  I use to have anxiety about critiques, are thy going to like my work? Does it make sense? Etc. but I know that every word out of my other group members will be written with love and to help further my artistic voice. They are extremely brilliant and we are all so supportive of one another's work that it's a discussion if what happened, what is and what will be.  I am excited to receive feedback about a series of work that is so different and so true.  I am extremely grateful that I found this program where we have become family even though we are all over the world:). 

Day 85...water patterns

As I have been drawn to the patterns and shapes of rocks I also have been drawn to the pattern and shapes of water. These organic compositions have become mesmerizing and bringing a symbolic quality to them just feels right.  I have been working in this piece based off the water passage way to Theises island in Galatas Greece.  It is approximately 2 feet by 10 inches and painted in vermillion.  That walk way was such a magical spot, and I am sure there are hundreds throughout the world but this one I walked and I walked on water to an island rich with mythology an with great people:)

Day 84...Barnett Newman

I am currently reading a book by Thomas Hess about artist Barnett Newman. A Color field painter that I definitely look to for inspiration and a part of my artist tribe.  It's amazing when another person omits the same thought process as you.  We have so many little things in common down to graduating from a Clinton high school!  Another verification that I am on the right path and that the artists before me laid a very wise, colorful one that it's hard not to follow it:)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 82...must get out of studio

I have been so enthralled in my research and painting I have barely made it outside the past few days (classic issue with just getting your technology back).  So I got up this morning and went for a wonderful hike!  Looking for pigment sources I roamed the Tuscan hillsides. It was like a fairy tale of the medieval princess finally let out of the dungeon to see the world, it was glorious!!!  Nothing gets you more aligned than good Ol fashion outdoor time:). Fresh air, green grass and bright blue skies were definitely uplifting. Captured some of my favorite moments; a fish pond, lazy bamboo, olive groves a hidden church:)

Day 83...Rose story

In my research on the color red, I have begun to dive into my own heritage of being Ojibwe.  I was not brought up on the traditional teachings but as I have gotten older and looked into this heritage I found a lot of teachings that ring true to my soul.  I have found an artistic voice that preaches these teachings that I didn't even know existed until this research began.  One story in particular moved me to tears.  The Rose Story, taken from a text written by an Ojibwe elder, Lillian Pitawanakwat.  I am grateful for this lesson and for all the teachings that I come across that my elders, grandfather and father would have taught me if they could have.

We have many teachings on the value of nurturance. When I was a child my father told us about the Rose Story. He said the Creator asked the flower people, “Who among you will bring a reminder to the two-legged about the essence of life?” The buttercup answered, “I will, Creator, I will.” And the Creator said, “No, you can’t, because you’re too bright.” All of the flowers offered their help. At the very end the rose said, “Let me remind them with my essence, so that in times of sadness, and in times of joy, they will remember how to be kind to themselves.”
So the Creator, the Master Gardener, took a seed of the rose and planted it in Mother Earth. The winds tilled the soil and the warm rains gave it water until a very small sprout came through the ground. Day after day it grew. The stem sprouted little thorns that were very, very sharp. After the thorns came the little leaves. As time went on, a little bud formed. After much care this little bud bloomed into a full rose.
And so life is like a rose. The thorns are our life’s journey; without them we would lack the hard won teachings that we need to in order to grow. Life’s experiences make us who we are. And like the rose, we too decay and die many times in a life time only to come back to fruition again and again, after reflection, meditation, awareness, acceptance and surrender.
My father told us the rose is both life and it’s gifts. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 81...red, red, red, red, red

After all the books, photos documenting, articles searched and notes organized I have come up with five reds that are all the other reds ancestors!  Now it's time to create the family tree. Working with the thought of which artist utilized each red to it's max potential I am developing a timeline that will reflect both. I have searched high and low for something like this and it's no where to be found, so I am going to create it.  This will be the muse for my entire research!  I CANT WAIT!!!!!  Starting with red ochre my days have been filled with the brilliant, earthy red. On a break from all the red, I just so happened to witness another magnificent, magical light show in the sky!  It's so crazy because in mere moments it's all gone.  The clouds shift and the sun sets a little lower to create a new display.  This one just happened to be a case of good timing!

Day 80...working on the church

My current subject matter is rocks. Patterns they create and how they live in our every day world.  In Camapgnatico there is a beautiful church up the street from me, as there is in every town in Europe. It is the Chiesa San Giovanni Battista. Dating to the early 1100s. The pattern of repairs over the last thousand years is unbelievable. As one that rarely drew my skills are becoming better each day, my confidence is a little behind. I tried. I did. I think I conquered.  Not only is it the amazingly radiant architecture of spirituality but also of history of materials and patterns of the past.  Still in progress I thought I would share since it's a bit out of the norm for me to do such a realistic work:). 

Day 79...a day with Robert Hughes

Today was rainy and cloudy in Campagnatico, and really I didn't feel that well either, so I watched documentaries all day and ate cookies:). I watched a documentary by art critic Robert Hughes titled Mona Lisa's Curse.  A wonderfully, sad realization of art as an icon in the market versus a genuine legacy of craftsmanship and story by an artist. He interviews collectors who monopolize the market and artists who were in the end screwed.  It brings up important ethical questions of creating.  Who should create the market? Why so expensive? And really, is it about the money?  I have painted for commissions, sold paintings in galleries etc. and nothing compares to someone seeing something you've created and instantly being in love.  I always say paintings are like my children, you want them to have the best future with a loving home of their own. I love getting pictures of paintings I have sold in their new homes, they radiate happiness!!!  If I didn't need to pay for supplies and wasnt actually trying to make this passion a full time job, I would give them all away to people who would be so incredibly grateful to have them:). That would use them as a reminder of what color does for our soul.  It saddens me that artist these days has to paint for the market, the world is big. There is a loving home for each of our paintings I am certain of it!  I know my romantic views of what should be are oozing out of this, but it is crazy to see people with no intent on having a connection to a piece of work and buy it from the artist and then sell it and make millions of dollars of profit, while that artist receives nothing for creating his profit, not even a high-five:(. So to all the people out there that buy art, buy because you love, because you can't get the image out of your head, not to make a quick buck, that is sad.  Sad for us all and is ruining the future of our creativity.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 78...and the countdown begins

There is that point in your travels where your countdown for your return home begins, today is that day.  Three weeks from today I will be packing up all my stuff, getting a bus to Florence, flying to London and then to Chicago, I will be home.  But the question is, then what?  You are in such a bubble of creativity, with no real responsibility except to stay alive and get from point A to point B as you travel that the astonishing sense of duty will automatically take over as you land home, and back to the grind you go.   I have a situation that I will still be a nomad until the beginning of the year, and then I create a new home in Denver, which I am excited for!  With this continued lifestyle I am hoping to continue the bubble to a certain degree.  I am entirely ok with responsibility but to have forego my all day creative practice is going to be certainly difficult.  What a true blessing to be able to have had that for so long, and my new goal and dream for my returning life in America is to maintain that.  My last post was about dreaming big, I am dreamer, a romantic and because of that I am here now, and because of that very same reason I will be able to make this dream come true too.  It will work out to be able to immerse myself into a NEW kind of creative schedule that will naturally come next after this intense experience, I just know it,
 because everything happens for a reason!

Day 77...DREAM BIG!!!

As I was walking around Campagnatico I cam across a edificio (building) for sale!  I had been by this building numerous times, but this specific time, I stopped and immediately saw a studio!  Its floor to ceiling windows and lot adjacent would be perfect to host an artist residency.  I have always had a dream to have a residency, where artists of all kinds from all over the world could come and create together.  This location just happens to be in Italy, with one of the most amazing views EVER!  I snooped a bit and peeked inside to see what the inside looked like, simply perfect.  From that moment on, I could not stop thinking about it!  I found myself waiting for the bus, sketching the building, writing down crucial information and starting the works of a business plan.  Sometimes the biggest, surreal  dreams, can come true!  I will keep dreaming of this perfect little studio and all of the potential it could give artists and the community:)  Welcome to my dream,  Rossa Residency.

Day 76...A little bit of Campagnatico

Campagnatico is a medieval town of around 2,000 people that sits on the top of a hill in Tuscany.  It is incredible to not only see this history daily, but to live in it!  I FINALLY got my camera out and of course it died after a few pictures, but this gives an idea of how this beautiful town is set up.  I sat on the hillside overlooking the valley and read for a few hours and then meandered back to my apartment.  It was wonderful to follow the sheep herd themselves through the pastures and see the perfect lines of the olive trees and vineyards.  It is really like time has stood still here, but in a way that preserves the theory, "if its not broke, don't fix it".  Things still work in the simple way they did centuries ago, and it works even today in a world ran by technology and instant gratification.  It really makes you think about your lifestyle and how complicated we make everything, when in actuality it is not at all.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 75...Book of RED

Since I have been somewhat limited on substrates to paint on, my new thing is newspapers!  I have quite a few paintings on newspaper and then I decided to create a little book.  A little picture book of my favorite drawings thus far.  Being it is crafty, resourceful and definitely hand-made but sweet at the same time.  It was fun to bind it with thread from my sewing kit (that luckily haven't had to use).  It was nice break from a compositional piece.  I liked it sooo much that I made my niece and nephew Italian coloring books in the same format!  Who knows maybe I'll just start making coloring books:)