Thursday, July 31, 2008

No journey is too great if you find what you seek

Classes ended yesterday, I was very sorry to leave Florence but we had made the commitment to start the long journey to Positano. It's not an easy place to get to but to say it was worth it even for 2 days is a serious understatement. So a 3 hour train to Napoli, another 1 hour train to Sorrento and an hour bus that hugs the cliffs which would have made my mom stop the bus and walk back (even with her boot), we were dropped off in Positano. 

When I said I loved Castiglioncello, I was premature, this has to be the most beautiful place I've ever seen. And not surprisingly only the tourists who are a bit more adventurous (or rich actually) come here because it's either take a boat, the bus or drive yourself. 

So we spent 2 nights and one day at Hotel California (where you don't want to ever leave) run by Maria. She hooked us up the first night at a restaurant where they send a car for you, not because it's ritzy but because it's on the top of the mountain and that's the only way to get there. 

It had an awesome view (in Faith's words) and when we sat down one of the family that owns it came and explained that the meal was "family style", so they started bringing food and because we were really hungry from not eating all day we started eating alot of the antipasto (we thought that was it). Then they brought the next course and then the homemade pasta, then the salad, at that point I thought that there couldn't be more but I looked over at a big guy at a big grill with 40 pounds of meat that he was starting to cook, and started to feel a little sick, but I'm glad I tried the meat because it was exceptional. Then it was dessert and coffee and lemoncello, a liquor they always bring after the meal, ugh, I thought it was just Americans who serve the large portions.

The next day was a beautiful day at the beach and more gathering of the beach glass. 

And then we had to go back to Florence to pack for the flight the next day. 

I decided we should go out to dinner one more time because there was no food in the apartment and so we went to a restaurant attached to a bakery that Faith's friend Michela works, she gives Faith cookies almost every day. I had ravioli in white truffle sauce and I'm still dreaming about it, (along with the watermelon gelato, and the crepes).

The next day we got up at 5am and took a taxi to the airport and we all wondered why we had always slept in when the city is most beautiful and quiet at this time of day. I was fighting the tears but the tears won.

A bird's eye view

One of my favorite nights was pretty much the only night that all of the class spent time together, we all got along really well but in the studio there was not much time to visit (except for the long break when we went for gelato, and I discovered the watermelon). But on Tuesday of the last week we all went over to Penny's apartment. 6 floors up and 2 story apt and then a rooftop terrace that looked over the entire city. We were supposed to go for pizza but no one wanted to leave.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The David, not your run of the mill renaissance sculpture

So there are several David's floating around the city here (well not exactly floating), and with my class last week I had the honor (with a hundred other people) of seeing the original.

The historian who gives us the tours for the Academy helped translate a book by a researcher who was studying the tools that Michelangelo used on his sculptures. Turns out he couldn't have made it any harder for himself. He grew up with a family of a Quarryman (I guess nobility sent their kids away to be raised by other families in the country) and he used to play with the quarry tools, (these are used to chip huge chunks of marble from the quarry), not to do the sculptors fine detail.

On top of that the piece of marble was a cast off piece that had been sitting behind the Duomo for 10 years or so that no one wanted because it had too much veining and it was too narrow in width, it was one that another artist had already started and so he had to design the david around what was there.

Some guy that Michelangelo, when he painted the sistine chapel he had done one other fresco in his life.

Tomorrow is our last class and we are all rushing to bring our drawings to final. I'm sad to have it end, it was a pretty amazing experience.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Seashells by the seashore

Sunday we had a family outing at the beach. We took a train to Castiglioncello (say that 3 times fast). A little resort town on the Italian riviera, it is the italian's holiday place which the tourists haven't discovered yet (except us of course). If Don won the big lottery I would buy property here, it's beautiful (could you get on that for me honey?).

There was a little stand at the top of the stairs leading from the beach where 
Faith had a hot dog on beautiful bread with ketchup that was more like 
pasta sauce. Adair and I had this thing they call a crepe but it was more like 
a doughnut sort of thing but it was lemony and melted in your mouth. I 
keep dreaming about it, it was so good.

We got back tired and sunburned so we stopped to eat "al fresco" on our 
walk from the station. There was a view directly through a little side street 
to Piazza Signoria by the Ufizzi and at the end was the David, not the 
original, but still...

We continued our walk home through that piazza and stopped to listen to
a man playing the flute. The acoustics on that particular corner are really 
amazing and every night there is someone playing there.

Once again crossing the bridge to our apartment there was another amazing 
view of the Ponte Vecchio. I don't know how each night can be so different 
but that's the magic of this place.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Learning how to walk again?

Given that the sidewalks range from 1 foot to 3 feet wide and the traffic ranges from 30 to 60 mph and no one stops at stop signs there is even an art to walking here. If you look back for traffic it's possible to fall off the sidewalk so it is important to listen for traffic as you are stepping off the sidewalk to pass someone, I am proud to say I have only almost gotten hit by a bicycle. 

Classes this week have been excellent, we have a live model and very close to a finished drawing. I was informed that the regular classes during the year spend 6 weeks on one pose so 6 days is really pushing us through. And I got a compliment from the model on my "finished" drawing which is high praise since she is one of the regular students.

Faith has come down with a cold so she and Adair (her babysitter) are taking it easy for a couple of days which isn't such a bad thing since it's turned hot again.

Last Saturday we went to a place called Villa San Michelle for lunch with my mom, as we walked in the waiter asked if we would like to stroll in the gardens before we sit down - it sits above Florence and looks down on the beautiful terra cotta rooftops, the building was designed by Michelangelo, it used to be a monastery but it's been turned into a very elegant hotel and restaurant where you can take culinary classes.

We may go to the beach this weekend perhaps stay over in a little pensione. I will try to post some photos now that we have a computer in residence (Adairs).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Bella Firenze

July 4, 2008

No fireworks today, thank god.

Tonight I had the most amazing visual experience.

I walked to a welcome dinner for the students on the other side of the Arno, quite a long way but at night there's lots of activity around the piazzas with street performers and musicians so it didn't feel that long.

The dinner was held at a beautiful palazzo outside on the terrace.

But on my way home at 10 or so I was walking over a bridge and looked up at the ponte vecchio and saw a sliver of the moon hanging over the bridge exactly in the center. With the colors of the bridge and lights reflected in deep turquoise water, it was absolutely breathtaking and with that added bonus of the moon it was quite spectacular. Of course I didn't have a camera with me and I'm not sure if a photo would have done it justice anyway.

Faith has charmed her way across Florence (big surprise there), they love children here. Bella bambina.

I hope to continue these posts, but I'll have to wait to add photos at home. I'm in an internet cafe.

Ciao for now.

Art Boot Camp

July 4, 2008

It is the end of the first week of classes and the only way I can describe it is "art boot camp" (another guy in the class calls them Art Nazi's). I spend the mornings walking with Faith (the only time she gets out), we usually go get crema, her favorite. And then I start the 3 mile walk to class, then upstairs to the ninety degree studio with gorgeous light but no open windows where we start sight sizing. Anyone familiar with this process knows that the Renaissance painters suffered for their art.

1. Spike your mark 10 or so feet from drawing so you always go back to the same spot.

2. Use plumline to measure area of cast, walk back to easle and mark a line. Walk to spot and chek measurement. Walk to easle and fix it because it will be wrong.

3. Do this process about a hundred more times until you have a geometric drawing of what the cast would look like if in fact it were geometric, which it isn't.

4. Then do the same process all over again with the shadows and then half tones (this takes days). Where's my bamboo stick.

The charcoal that we use is made by hand by a little french man.

This is one of the most challenging art classes I've taken and absolutely amazing. Just what I hoped it would be.

A mac conspiracy

July 3, 2008

It came!!!! After 5 days in the same clothes. We are all very excited. I can finally post on the blog and Faith can watch a movie in the afternoon so I can sleep at night.

Plug in computer, try to log on, error, damn.. turn it off, go to class, come home to a crying child. the computer has quit, no movie no sleep for me, ugh.

The next day I told Jordan my instructor about my computer woes. He asked if it's a mac. Apparently he and 3 friends all brought over macs from the states and within a month they all died. So, is it the Italian gods telling us to look at all the beauty around us instead of a computer screen? or a conspiracy against macs. We'll never know.

It's all about the suitcase

Monday, June 30.

We arrived yesterday, my mom broke her foot last week and has to wear a metal boot that weighs at least 10 lbs. I call it her armour (I figure if anyone bothers her she can use it as a weapon). The flight over was very interesting with wheel chairs, special airplane elevators and one real plus was going around the mile long line at customs in Amsterdam without any wait at all.

Now that we're here it's all about the infamous missing suitcase. Poor mom has been in the same clothes for 3 days. Jet lag persits and is especially hard for Faith. She naps while I'm at class and then wakes me up at 3:00 in the morning. My computer battery has died and of course the 220v converter is in "the suitcase" so there is really nothing to keep her occupied and awake in the afternoon while I'm gone.

I missed my first class today after a major meltdown about me leaving, by the time I got there I was already an hour late and I wasn't sure of the street numbers. Nothing is in order, but it makes life more interesting.