Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Civita' di Bagnoreggio
7" x 10"
Returning to work yesterday was a challenge! LOL A short week, goodbye events for our president, planning welcome events for the new president, a holiday week, students away -- sure made it difficult to concentrate! LOL
I began this painting Sunday evening and finished it last night at the B&B. I've been using my 7" x 10" hand-made, watercolor, spiral journal - and really like the size for practice pieces. I have one slightly smaller that I like to use when time is really short ... the smaller size helps me focused on keeping things manageable in the time I have.
We're in for another hot day, and we've begun the arduous task of trying to get water around the 5 acres of plants ...
Monday, June 29, 2009
Traveling in Car
San Gemini, Italy
Funny thing about traveling - I love visiting new places, seeing new things, learning new ways -- but once I get home, I often find that I'm so very tired! C and I spent yesterday resting, doing some chores, and watering the wilting plants. The heat was high again, so we waited a while before venturing outdoors. We took our ususal walk and picked our own blueberries, caught up with a few neighbors ... but mostly caught up with ourselves! LOL
This was sketched and painted again in the car over the weekend. The trickiest part of sketching in a moving vehicle is getting one's lines fairly straight! LOL Fortunately, we were on open road during that part of our trip home - so sketching was a bit 'smoother' than dealing with the jerkiness of stop and go traffic.
The photo I used for reference was from the small town of San Gemini, Italy. The pinky/blue/lavender blossoms of hydrangea match those just blooming at home in North Carolina. Our soils tend to be pretty acidic - and so my hydrangea tend to be more blue than pink. I wish I had kept the steps a bit lighter in this - but I certainly learned a lot about wet in wet (and balancing a vial of water) during this painting! LOL
Off to a busy week and lots of sunshine. I heard the rain late last night - unfortunately it didn't last long enough to refresh the drying soils and thirsty plants. We're already 2" down from our ususal rainfall.
Hope your week is terrific!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
In the Car
Somehow, despite the extra day we had to travel, our time wih the grands went by far too quickly! We drove down Thursday and returned late last night, and the time in between seems like a blur!
The girls have grown so much! Taylor, at three, is so self-assured and smart (I KNOW, every grandparent says that! LOL), but when I think of my own at that age, I wonder if I thought they were as bright?! LOL She was a huge help with Riley, and she and I played grocery shopping, strolled our babies, painted, and we all picked blueberries despite the high temperatures.
Riley was the most cheerful five month old I can remember! She giggled, smiled, 'talked' and sung all the while we were there --truly the 'music' of joy!
We had a great time - but mercy, it went by far too fast!
My dear husband drove down and back, allowing me to, as best I could, sketch and paint enroute. (Yes, some roads were MUCH better than others! LOL) Passing cars, potholes, stop lights and the like certainly adds as much challenge to painting as does any plein air element! LOL
This scene, sketched in the car while riding, is rather fitting in circumstance. The photo was taken while we were DRIVING from La Romita to San Gemini - so I supppose it's even more a 'driving' view! LOL
Today it's preparations for next week. Our college president's last day is this Monday and our new president arrives on Tueday -- many farewell and welcome events are planned - along with the knowledge that there are many more changes to come. It'll be a short week with the Independence Day holiday next weekend, but a full week of activities. I'll be resting today to recover from the trip and prepare for next week.
Temperatures are still expected to be high, and the garden needs rain ... I'll be watering while I can and then hiding indoors ...!
Have a great and restive Sunday!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Thank you all once more for your kind and most generous comments!
Our plein air yesterday was rather poorly attended -- but those who came, had a great time despite the high temperatures! We arrived at Howell Woods around 9 am. We boarded a nicely air-conditioned truck, and for the next hour toured the almost 3,000 acres! Ponds, sloughs, dense woodlands, swamps, fields -- all in Carolina's myriad greens and tans -- birds - orioles, egrets, herons, buntings, and more than I could name -- were all part of the trip.
We returned to the visitor's center to pick up our painting gear and/or head out to other sites to set up for the day. Since I was coordinating the event, I stayed close to the center and settled myself in the Native Plant Garden so I could check in anyone else who might have arrived late.
I began painting -- but the social aspects of the day seemed to take over (LOL) and so I didn't get to finish what I had started. Around 1 pm, the heat hit us hard, and most of us decided to call it a day.
So instead of my partial work, I've uploaded this sketch of the pond up the road from my home as I saw it a few weeks ago -- filled with daisies and wildflowers.
I'll be gone for a few days as Charles and I make our way to South Carolina to visit my daughter and our grands. Riley, now 5 months old, is on solid food and rolling over and gurgling her comments in that special baby tongue that is so tender to hear! We simply HAVE to see she and Taylor! (and of course their parents! LOL) -- they're growing so dang fast! Where does the time go?!
We'll be back before the weekend ends -- but I'm not sure how much painting I'll get done. We're scheduled for a blueberry picking and waterpark visit, special dinners and catching up ... The temperatures are supposed to climb to almost 100F (MERCY, it's not even AUGUST yet -- and THAT'S our hottest month!) - so we'll all be looking for ways to keep cool.
I hope your weekend is filled with fun and joy -- and that you too - stay cool!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Rebecca's Green Beans
Yesterday was certainly a day focused on farms, gardens, produce, plants! We took the Arboretum staff to the Raleigh Farmer's Market to check the offerings while we scouted the vendors for future farm tours, new ideas, new 'green industries' for our students. We picked up several replacement plants for those shrubs that weren't looking their best, and some plants to use as 'starts' for our propagation classes. Though the day was rather warm, we found MANY plants we want to add to our grounds, some new melons that we'll grow next year for the plant sale, and some ideas for trips -- a very productive time. To top this off, the blueberry plants at the Arboretum yielded a huge BOWL of wonderfully sweet blueberries!
At the B&B last night, I took photos of Rebecca's chickens -- funny things! And Rebecca picked a huge bowl of green beans. Hot, tired, and a tad distracted (LOL), I sketched a handful of her beans for my daily practice.
Today I take a group of artists to another of our college's attractions - the Howell Woods Environmental Education Center (http://www.johnstoncc.edu/howellwoods) for a paint-out. It promises to be even warmer than yesterday - but a day in the woodland will be fun--especially after all these long, long days.
Hope you have a great day!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I got to the B&B last night close to 8 pm -- a full 12-hour day .... we're in the throes of so much planning and deadlines, that these extra-long, tiring days will continue for a while.
Rebecca was out, and so I snipped a couple of flowers from her incredible garden to sketch before I fell into bed. These delightful orange-yellow plants were dancing in the cooling evening ... and I only wish I had the energy to join them!!! LOL
Today, we're off to collect additional data for our files, and continue the arduous process of planning and getting things finished for summer session and planning for the fall and winter.
GEEZ .. I thought summer was supposed to be a quiet time! LOL
Monday, June 22, 2009
It was a quiet Father's Day yesterday - leaving me enough time to rest and to paint. I decided to give Bill's challenge a try (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorus_maver/3646005065/) since our next weekend is going to be rather busy.
This photo posed a number of challenges - lots of foreground detail, greens of all kinds, white flowers, the contrast of red poppies, and a low horizon line. I used several of my own poppy photos to vary and add to the flowers, some negative painting of the dasies, and masking fluid to get in the background trees - fun! Thanks once more, Bill!
I also tried uploading my husband's video -- after 8 hours I gave up, but will try again today from a better IT connection.
In the meantime, a friend sent a video clip she took of Charles and her husband while they were at Jam Camp:
It'll be another busy week but one with a few out of the office kinds of things which helps break up the day!
Have a great one!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Italy has been my dream place for a very long time, and visiting a country I love, a dream come true. But it is equally wonderful to come HOME to a place I also deeply love.
As I sat beside these newly planted geraniums painting, I thought about how similiar Italy and North Carolina are - friendly people, simliar temperatures and climates, bodies of water, a love of the land, food, family. And I know truly that loves of these aren't unique to either place. Still, when I drive the rural landscapes that bring me such joy, I truly could be either place -- and equally grateful.
Today we celebrate our fathers, and though mine has been with HIS Father for over 16 years, there are moments when I miss him even more acutely, or feel as though he is still watching over me and my children, guiding us, laughing with us, sharing his unique gifts.
Last week, my sister called laughing and laughing .... she had come across the last interview I did with my father before he died -- a special Christmas where the family was all together, and I told Dad that I had to have 'his' stories for a school project. He hated talking about himself ... but for school, he'd cooperate. So 16 years ago, I recorded the hilarious storytelling event - typed it, copied the recording, and gave it to my family members. Time has made it less difficult to read ... and so when she came across it again and finally read it -- she recognized Dad's uniqueness in a new way -- and got to know him a bit better. We were all grateful for that glimpse of him we wouldn't have otherwise.
And so I think about the stories we all have to tell and how quickly they fade from our minds. Our paintings, blogs, flickr and myspace, facebook accounts are often a glimpse into the hearts of our friends and family members who care to take the time to share those stories. And I'd encourage all of us to keep some of those stories for those who are not so computer savvy...our parents, perhaps even, our young children. Time truly does fly.
So today, I'd like to tell my dear husband's story a bit ...thru one of the 'jam' sessions he truly enjoys. It's a only a piece of his story ....but a start. I can't upload the video here (and my apologies -- it's my first attempt at videography and I haven't a clue how to edit! LOL) ... but it'll be on my blog if you're interested: viewfromtheoak.blogspot.com.
I've tried to upload this video for the last five hours -- nada .... I'll try again in a bit .... sorry!
Happiest of Fathers' Day - Charles - and thank you for the gifts you so unselfishly bestowe on our family and others.
And HAPPY FATHERS' DAY to those who assume the role of Dad - be it the single mom, aunt, uncle, teacher, friend.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Civita de Bagnoreggio
I fondly remember this doorway and large shrub as we visited Civita. One of our participants was sitting in the shade painting the scene from across the courtyard, others were sketching the flowered doorway around the calle, and many of us were taking as many photos as we could before leaving Tuscany. The sun was bright that day, and the front of this church was mostly in shadow, so I changed the direction of the sunlight a bit to highlight the flowers that seemed to soften the entire scene.
It was mighty hot here yesterday as well. We spent most of the day catching up from a busy, busy week, but ventured out just before dinner to the Hillsborough Hog Day Festival. The full activities will run today (another scorcher!), but we were able to participate in the evening's concert - featuring one of my favorite groups - The Wells Family (http://www.wellsfamilyband.com/) - acoustic music and the best harmonies I've heard! We sat in lawn chairs under a darkening sky while around the woodland, families with young children enjoyed the rides, and we all sampled the first of the festival's BBQ. A bit of a walk into town, the BBQ Cook-Off was firing up, and the smells coming from the cookers were heavenly! We drove home just as a few showers watered our plants again ....
A very much needed restive day, and most enjoyable evening.
Hope you get to enjoy the day as well -- and stay cool!
Friday, June 19, 2009
La Romita, Italy
Olives and Poppies
For all the time we were in Italy, we kept trying to find a place to pull off the road to take some photos of the last blooms of bright poppies. Finallly, on the last day in La Romita, a number of poppies bloomed against a few old olives and a backdrop of hazy mountains .. YAHOO! This is the scene I see when I close my eyes and imagine Italy.... orange/red poppies against gnarly old trunks and the blue/green/grey leaves of olives ... and sitting in the cool of a shade tree, crunchy bruchetta on a plate, sparkling water in a glass, the day's promise rolling out before me ....
That won't be the case here today! Our temperatures, cool and wet all week, will now climb to almost 100F with a blistering sun to finish drying off any of the damp places ...That kind of heat coupled with high humidity certainly saps one's energy ...I need to get out in the garden early this morning - the wind and rain have knocked down every tomato cage and the weeds are having their way with the flowers ....
We gathered the first cherry tomatoes at the Arboretum yesterday .... that means mine will be ready for plucking in about 2 weeks -- Tomatoes! The offical sign that Summer is here!
Stay cool ... !
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I have only a few more pages left in my travel journal ... but I wanted to include the wonderful rainbow colors of Burono - the tiny island across the water from Venice. The colors of the buildings, the lush green and bright flowers of this wonderful place just HAD to find a place in the journal!
More rain today--and we are turning green with weeds and mold -- sigh ... I was watching the news last night and they compared Wake County, NC as the extreme opposite this year of Seattle, WA -- they're having our sun, we're having their rain ... At least Burono will give the grey of the day some bright color! LOL
Have a great one!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I didn't need too much encouragement (LOL) to give this colorful wall we saw in Spello a try. I think my perspective is a bit off ... but I am pleased with keeping things light and getting close to the wonderful blue of the lobelia baskets.
It's raining again, and we've already experienced flooded roads, woodlands, and don't even mention the weeds -- they think they've reached Nirvana! GEEZ ...
It's been an incredibly busy time with budget crises, retirement events for our college president, training of student helpers, preparations for next year. I'm hoping for a restive weekend -- these long days and nights are mighty tiring!
Stay dry and safe!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Back to the travel journal! This charming restaurant was spotted as we walked from one canal to another. I can just imagine how neat it would be to sit by the canal while enjoying a meal and watching the gondolas pass by.
We're in for several days of rain and so many of our planned outdoor events will have to be postponed. I suppose it is either feast or famine -- it wasn't but two years ago we were in a horrible drought!
Stay dry everyone!
Monday, June 15, 2009
A quick departure from my travel journal images to participate in Bill's challenge to paint a scene from his trip to Spain and Baza Lakes (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lorus_maver/3576236206/).
Quite a number of challenges in this small landscape -- from the clefts in the mountains to the small waves in the lake - but fun to do!
We're in for a busy week at work with training some summer students, budget meetings and preparing for reductions of all kinds. My fingers are crossed we get through this rough period without too much being cut.
Hope your week is great!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
It was so enjoyable to see Emily and Nick last night! How quickly they are growing! I believe Emily will be as 'tall' as I am before she finishes elementary school! We did the ususal walk and arts, played softball before the heat returned us to the house.
Yet as much as I love being back in the familiar rural space I live, I am reluctant to let go of my time in Italy. I return there as I paint or sketch, or scan photos for painting, and thus keep my dreams and memories vivid.
Here, a market in Venice - on a boat tied to the dock - colorful, fragrant, crowded! There is much chatter going on from the folks passing by, bargaining for fresh vegetables, sharing news of the morning. The boat rocks a bit when 'traffic' passes ....and all the while I drink in those moments, that time, that bit of daily life unlike my own.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
As I go through the photos I took while away, I'm finding more and more items that might make an interesting study.
During my visit to the private garden in Civita, the owner had so many 'niches' filled with the most wonderful antiques - from olive jars to farm implements, to odds and ends I couldn't identify. This grouping was one such cluster. My husband identified the rusty ironwork as an old wheel barrel wheel, the item behind it and the 'ash/tray?' - not so sure ...but I liked the stones behind this little cove as well as the various textures .. a painting challenge indeed.
We spent a good amount of time in the garden yesterday placing the many plants I was able to purchase during our Arboretum trip -- which, thankfully, did NOT get rained out! LOL We picked bowls of greens for our lunches, and the tomatoes are just beginning to turn red. The grands come for dinner tonight so it will be a fun, busy time.
Weatherwise, we've been having a significant amount of rain -- so much so that some of my plants -- such as a few species of basil -- aren't fairing as well, even with good soil drainage. I'll have some replanting to do if I hope to have basil preserved for the winter.
Have a grand day!
Friday, June 12, 2009
En Route to Venice, Italy
I loved the traveling we did through such varied countryside during the trip. I found a setting on my camera that would capture fairly decent photos from the van window, and so each day I took several shots of the landscape we passed.
When we were heading to Venice, we moved through such varied scenery - wheat fields, olive groves, deep, rich woodlands and mountains, ravines, to more of the farming country that so closely resembled my own. Here, amid the backdrop of hazy mountains, hay bales and grapevines ...! I had to take a photo just to document this 'home' scene! And the funny thing -- when I got back to North Carolina and we were driving past the fields -- here too - hay -- rolled into bales and sitting, like these, in the field.
We lacked (and missed!), of course, those wonderful mountains ... sigh!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Before leaving La Romita, I sat in front of this ancient olive tree and tried to capture the twists and turns, bits of sunlight and that incredible blue-grey foliage of olives.
The trees were in flower ... a delicate, soft white/grey that one could hardly see .. but promised that ever popular fruit that has made Italy, and this region, famous.
I took many photos of the olives and will paint several more .. I just love them!
We're off to another Garden with a group of Arboretum guests today ...fingers crossed for fair weather!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Sketched in Venice
Painted in NC
Taking the time to sketch while enjoying Venice was exceedingly difficult. I did manage a sketch, however, but couldn't get it painted until I got back to North Carolina.
This view was one of the first we saw in Venice .. and, gardener that I am, wished Icould get behind those iron gates to see what was there!
We're having bouts of heavy rains and winds each afternoon ... more expected today and more, unfortunatley, expected on yet another of our field trips to a garden. My fingers are crossed that we'll get clear weather enough to tour the gardens before the showers. Afterall, THIS is the trip we scheduled from the last 'RAINED OUT' event! LOL
We walked back to the hotel sated, a bit nostalgic and sad, guided by lamplights and the need to finish packing... but knowing that the bonds of this trip, the memories made, and the dreams of tomorrow will have followed us home.
MILLE GRAZIE Douglass! MILLE GRAZIE Karlyn! Thank you Jona, Robyn for joining us!
And thank you too my dear Flickr Friends for sharing this incredible trip.
I pray the health and finances to do it again, and to continue reliving the moments as I paint some of those thousands of photos!
Jona remembered this 'tucked away' restaurant in Venice where so many of the 'locals' enjoyed the food.
I ate a superb dish of Spaghetti and Prawns and it so reminded me of a similiar dish I had in Sicily four years ago and the special 'spaghetti and blue crabs' my mom fixes .. that it was hard not to cry!
My stay in Bergano wasn't very long, I'm sorry to say. I snapped photos while we walked from where our boat dropped us to the public transportation across the island.
Dark, threatening clouds were growing ever more heavy, and the waters were getting choppier and choppier. Several folks decided to 'wait it out' .. but the land-lover that I am took the first water taxi BACK to Venice and the arms of terra firma.
I was glad, though, to catch this hour of Berano ...
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
My dear friend Jona (http://jona-sunnydays.blogspot.com/) and I have been corresponding for a couple of years. Jona lives in a small country near Venice - SLOVENIA: Slovenia /sloʊˈviːniə/ (help·info), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: Republika Slovenija, listen (help·info)), is a country in Central Europe bordering Italy to the west, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north. The capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana (from Wikipedia). Last year, she kindly sent me hundreds of her photos from Venice so I could practice painting for this trip.
When the dates of my visit to Venice were firm, we emailed Karlyn who agreed to have Jona join our group for THREE DAYS! And what a JOY it was!
Jona arrived early and met me at our hotel. We found our group for introductions to Karlyn and Douglass, and we sat in a square attempting to sketch one of the doorways and restaurants. We dined on the square, and immediately Jona was helping with all the translations! Everywhere we went -- from directions to gelatos to reading signs in storefronts and churches, Jona helped us with her fluent Italian! What a marvel! Just think of the mental gymnastics! Her native tongue is Slovenian, her second language is Italian, and she was translating it all into English!!! WHAT A GIFT!
But more than that, Jona was sheer energy and FUN! She has been to Venice many many times, and so my painting pal Judy, Barb, Jona and I set off on our own adventures -- exploring, shopping, taking dozens of photos, and of course, eating at some of the 'less touristy' trattorias! (Jona has been working on my Italian -- thank God! Lol)
What was amazing to me too what the instant bond we felt. It was like refinding a sister! Our days were filled with laughter, excitement and sheer joy!
Mercy, I miss her already!
Here the famous Rialto Bridge. We were taking a boat tour of the Grand Canal when I snapped this photo. The next day, we WALKED over that bridge and were astonished at the crowds of people!!! I had to wait in line to take a photo FROM the bridge!
Monday, June 08, 2009
Painted in Studio
9" x 12" Arches CP #140
There is much to tell about Venice with a most incredible surprise I'll share tomorrow...I've been itching to tell this part of the story, but I truly need to dash off to the office.
Meanwhile, back to Tuscany.
I sat just inside the street limits to paint this garden - located just outside the ancient city walls. Behind me, the sounds of children laughing, teachers instructing, bells ringing kept me company as I sketched. It was a soft, beautiful morning! People passed me as I sat between two vehicles for safety! But I cannot look at this without hearing the merry sounds of those schoolchildren!
I sketched this and again struggled with perspective - painted a bit of it on site - then packed up my gear and continued exploring this amazing stone city. I gave the piece a lot more light (photo posted earlier) and softened that grey wall of the old town limits.
It's back to regular routine again and as ususal, I'm dashing ....
Thank you all for your most kind comments and encouragement, and for sharing this amazing journey with me. Already I am longing to return ... I hope that it won't be another four years, though, between vacations! LOL