Italian Dream ComingTrue

Chris and Krysia Bell

Well, I still don’t have any paintings or sketches to show yet although I have been busy. Today was our first day of class and it was wonderful. Truly, I did not know what I was getting until I got here, but it has literally been a dream come true. This teacher, Chris Bell, is one of a kind. Usually when I take a class, the instructor will come in, do a demo and then set the class up to repeat what he did while he goes ’round individually. Not here.

Chris is actually taking the time to talk to each of us, draw us out and stress the importance of “seeing” things with objectivity. Now that will sound strange to those of you who are not painters, but the truth is, everything you look at in life is colored by your own perception and experience. If you got hit in the head with a swing when you were a kid you never look at a swing again the same way. But as an artist, you have to get yourself out of the way as much as possible to portray something accurately. (Unless you don’t want to…)

Yeh, I know, it’s a bunch of touchy-feely mumbo jumbo, but we are eating it up here. Then we did some really great expressive drawings in the studio today. And believe me, I’ve taken a lot of art classes over the years and almost no teachers put this much of themselves into it. It’s just too much work!

Image Meanwhile, this family is feeding us out of their house several times a day. It is really amazing. We had breakfast, then class, then coffee break, then class, then lunch (sit-down – with wine!), then break, then class, then break – and finally we were taken into Barga – a small village about 3 km away – for supper. This photo is of Barga. (and in case I didn’t mention it – you can click on most of the photos I post to enlarge them.)

Barga is a typical Italian mountain town. Very narrow streets… I mean I don’t even know how they navigate! Someone always has to pull over for someone else to go by. And everyone accelerates until the last possible moment and then hits the brake like a lunatic and glares at the other driver! Maybe if I live here long enough I will stop gasping for air every time this happens.

The village buildings are very colorful and good food and wine is everywhere. It’s hard for me to believe how many people are out and about so late in the evening – walking around town, eating out, etc – because this is nothing I ever see in Middletown Ohio. Maybe it is true in all big cities of the world, but this is not a big city! It is a small little burg of people living like they always have and it is ALIVE! It is fascinating.

So we had another wonderful supper. I got the ravioli made with chestnut flour and filled with ricotta. Chestnut flour is a tradition here so I wanted to try it. It didn’t taste any different than regular pasta, but it was very good and it is gluten-free for those who need it.

And by the way… all these British, Aussie and South African people talk differently than I do. They constantly use words like “brilliant”, “clever”, “stunning” and “divine.” So if I come home talking like that, you’ll know when and where it started…

Tomorrow we are going to Barga to paint for the day. We will be painting “plein aire” and I hope to get some great photos of this beautiful mountain village. And of course everyone in the class is “bonding” and sharing their life stories. I know from past experience that it won’t last once we all go home, but it is part of the fun. I love meeting these people from all over the world and discovering how they live. While we are here we are our own tribe.

Hopefully I have something arty to share with you tomorrow. For now I have to sign off but I doubt I can sleep yet – this is just too exciting for me! It’s my dream of a lifetime coming true – there’s no time to sleep!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ellyn
    Sep 19, 2012 @ 21:37:34

    Ahhh… painting en plein aire… it is so much more fabulous in French, no?

    That picture of conglomeration of Barga is interesting. Did you make that? I just can’t imagine living like what you just described. Fascinating!


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