Italy Trip 2019: Day 5 Sunday

Since today is our last morning in Rome, we packed up all our suitcases and backpacks and then ate an early breakfast for the last morning on the rooftop patio. We watched the birds that always come to join us for breakfast, and this time a large baby crow-looking bird perched right next to us. The little nuthatches and chickadees were still bold enough to to jump right on the table as we left to get juice or coffee.


Our taxi arrived to bring us to the Roma Termini to take the train from Rome to Florence. We had booked tickets on the Frecciosa Treni, the express train that goes faster and makes fewer stops. On our way in several people asked if we needed any help or information, so we asked one woman the right direction to go, so she walked with us to show us where we would go and explained that the train wouldn’t be assigned a gate until 10-20 minutes before departure time, so we had to stand to wait an hour and then enter and try to figure out which was our train platform. The lady came back a few minutes later with her hands held out, “some money for the information I gave you, please,” she demanded, so I handed her a small bill for her to leave us alone and then she went away. I should have known better that the people offering information weren’t for free. She was even wearing a lanyard that made me think that she was an official train station employee. Oh well.

There were two other 10:20am trains, and their times and gates were posted, but ours still wasn’t showing a platform number even within 5 minutes of the posted time. Then we saw a bunch of people moving purposefully towards a train, and so I scouted the sign next to the train, only to find that it was the correct train towards Milan, with a stop at Firenzi, or Florence.

The train trip was a comfortable hour and a half, with gorgeous views of the Tuscan countryside through the train windows. The train attendant came with a light snack of packaged shortbread and juice/coffee. For most of the trip I worked on just trying to type up all my adventures from the prior days along, check in on our tours and itineraries,  with a brief nap.


Arriving at the Florence train station we exited until we found the hotel shuttle driver holding a sign with “Brask” on the sign, standing over by the Pharmacia. He helped us load up his van and we drove through the city to our hotel. When I first saw the Duomo through the rows of buildings, it was then that I knew that I was indeed here in Florence!

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We checked into our hotel, a very small and boutique artisanal hotel, a former palace of an influential and wealthy Florence family. The rooms have high ceilings and antique frescos on the walls and ceilings. The window of my room looked out into the hotel inner courtyard, my parents’ room looked out directly at the Duomo!


After checking in and settling, my father and I took time to go explore our neighborhood of Florence, making our way towards a cafe that was recommended by a friend who recently honeymooned here a few weeks ago. The city feels a lot smaller and less crowded than Rome, a little more comfortable and a little more beautiful. We arrived at Pasticciera Deanna and ordered an ice coffee and a cappuccino and we shared a small pastry. We sat outside watching the people walking by from what appeared to be a shopping mall across the street.


On our walk back to the hotel, we stopped at a hat vendor and my father got a small cap and I bought a wide-brimmed visor, very similar to a gardening hat I have at home but without the roof of the hat. We walked a bit more and ducked into a souvenir shop to browse. We returned to the hotel and rested for an hour or two before we caught a taxi to go to our dinner reservation at Il Latini, a small restaurant that serves authentic Florence typical food. This place came highly recommended from a gourmand friend, so we looked forward to the experience.


The place was cozy, feeling like we were in a wine cellar  underground, with aging pork hanging from the ceilings. The tables were close together, and we discovered that there were fellow Americans at the table next to us so we chatted with them a few times. For dinner we ordered a pre-fixe Tuscan meal so it included house wine and 4-5 small courses. The first course brought was the tomato and bread soup, which was not just tomato soup with bread on the side, it was tomato soup with bread in it as part of the soup! What an interesting surprise!

Then they brought us three different types of pasta to try and compare which was our favorite. The main course included bistecca fiorentina, or Florentine style beef steak, a very soft cut of meat with savory seasonings and almost like prime rib. My father expressed how this was probably one of the best tasting and most flavorful steaks that he’s had before in his life, and I thought it was pretty good too.


Later they brought out dessert, a combination of a chocolate cake and something called cantucci and visanto. The waiter explained that it is very Florentine tradition to take the biscotti and dip it into the sweet wine before the actual dessert, to prepare the palette for the real desert. It was quite delicious! They brought over another bottle of the house wine but we couldn’t realistically finish it, so we gave it to the table next to us for free and hope they could use it or pass it onto the next party.


We took a taxi back to the hotel after walking around just a little bit outside to take in the piazza duomo at night, with the green and white marble walls all lit up from powerful strobes. Florence at night was actually a little busier and more active than Florence during the day, it seemed. I really liked observing the play of light on the ancient architecture at night. After dropping my father off at the hotel for the night, I continued exploring the city, looking for a wine bar by the name of Obsequiem, but once I found them they were closing. I walked along the river for a bit to take in the colors of dusk and the reflections of the lights on the water. Altogether it had been a wonderful first day in Florence! Tomorrow we are going to a winery and vineyard in the Tuscany countryside!

Italy Trip 2019: Day 4 Saturday

After such a busy few days and very little sleep, it was nice to finally have a morning when I let myself sleep in, until around 11am. My parents were really sweet and brought some breakfast vittles to my room since I missed the last chance to get breakfast from the hotels continental breakfast. After breakfast we took a slow afternoon and just lounged in our hotel rooms until around 2:30pm.

We went to a late lunch in the neighborhood nearby al fresco under a canopy surrounded by bushes. Where we sat by the corners of two streets there was a nice breeze. We started lunch with a little prosecco. After lunch we walked a bit around the nearby streets, gradually making our way to the Trevi Fountain, where we took a few photos and sat on one of the benches to take a break and watch some people.

 

After the Trevi Fountain we got some gelato, and then we went at a strolling pace to head towards Cafe Eustachio and the Pantheon. My dad purchased some of the same St. Eustachio coffee beans that I had gifted him from my last Italy trip. I ordered a hot chocolate that the three of us sipped just for the taste.


We snapped a few photos of the Pantheon and watched people go by, including a bunch of tour groups. We were pretty tired after walking around most of the afternoon, so then we caught a taxi back to our hotels, where we rested for a bit and changed up before heading to our dinner reservation at Ristorante Zodiaco, a hilltop restaurant with a reputation for gorgeous views of Rome at sunset and to see the twinkling of the lights at nighttime.

We took a taxi up the hill in time for our reservation. Just arriving, we could see that the views were indeed beautiful, with a 180 view overlooking all of Rome. Of course we snapped some photos before going in and being assigned a table. The interior of the restaurant actually has a whole wall of clear Windows and the tables are arranged in tiered floors so that no matter where a table is located it has an unobstructed view of the city.

Our appetizer of meats and cheeses arrived, followed by a long gap during which the sommelier decanted the wine over a single flame before very carefully lining the glass and then pouring the Chianti. The first course was various pasta, and the main course was variations on a beef theme. After dinner they brought dessert, which we all shared so we could each try a little bit of different ones for different favors. It was wonderful to be able to watch the sky out the window make the long and beautiful transition from afternoon to sunset to nighttime.

After we finished dinner we returned via taxi to the Piazza Spagna. We walked a little around the plaza, then we were convinced to take the horse ride, yet another series of wonderful moments of an otherwise very magical evening. The horse’s name is Roxy,the. Took went right through most of the main historical and architectural monuments, and it was much more pleasant to see everything via horse carriage in the evening when it was cooler and at less risk of burning (knowing me, I’d probably still get sunburn from the stars and moon even at night). Then we returned to the hotel and turned in for the night.

 

Italy Trip 2019: Day 3 Friday

Today was the big day for the opening reception of my art exhibition in Italy! We planned to arrive at the gallery around 5pm, leaving at 3:30pm, so that we had some time in the morning to see some of the sights in Rome. We started the day with breakfast up on the rooftop in the cool of the morning. Then my father and I aimed to get to Vatican City early, around 8:30am so that we could get our Omni/Roma Passes and get ahead of the lines.

We took a taxi there, and then we looked for the store where we could pick up our Omni/Roma Passes. The last time I looked for this place it took 3 hours of getting lost with wrong directions so this time I knew the correct general area to look for the shop. We stood in a short line to wait for it to open at 9am, checked in with the tour group, and headed with the group immediately to the Vatican Museum, where the Sistine Chapel is located. We were able to avoid the long, long lines since we had the special pass and group entrance.


We made a beeline to the Sistine Chapel, following signs for Sistina Cappella. Even though we skipped the longest of lines, there were still a good amount of people in the museum. So my father and I went as fast as we were able to, given the fact that we had to just get shepherded through by the museum guides, along with the other tourist sheep. We passed many a Roman marble sculpture, many portraits of a popes or cardinals. We went up stairs and then down stairs and then up and down stairs again in order to get to the Sistine Chapel. Once we entered, the room opened up with the really high ceilings, and we could take in the grandiosity of Michelangelo’s painstakingly detailed creations on every wall and ceiling surface, even curtains that looked transparent!


It was interesting for this to be my second visit to the Sistine Chapel within 6 months. While the paintings on the walls and ceilings were the same, the crowds of people were a bit thicker and more crowded this time around. We were herded towards the middle of the room by a waving security official, like a parking attendant at a music festival directing us to which patch of grass upon which to park our vehicle. Speaking of parking, this time there were no open bench spots upon which to park ourselves to sit and rest to take in the artwork, only standing in the middle. All the while the security and museum administrators kept periodically yelling “Silencio!” Aand “No photo! No photo!” This time around seeing the Sistine Chapel was also nice because then I could see how my father reacted to seeing it all for the first time, asking questions and noting his own observations about it.

 

Once it became a bit too crowded for us, we left out the exit towards the Basilica of Saint Peter the Apostle. We had to negotiate the strange configuration of entrances and group entrances but we eventually located it. We walked counterclockwise around the outer small mini-altar areas of the Basillica until we came to the very large sculpture of the altar of St. Peter.

This time around I noticed the swirly, twisted texture of the columns, steady but not boring. Also a first time for my second visit to the Basillica, my dad and I followed a line of people that looked like they were descending some narrow winding stairs directly adjacent to one of the many saintly statues. As we went down the stairs we realized that we were entered the papal grottos, an underground network of vaults that housed the remains and memorial statutes and sculptures of popes and royals. It was nice and cool down in the grottos, and there were a lot of statues of sleeping men.

 


After we returned upstairs from the grottos, we continued on with walking around the basilica, snapping photos and taking photos of many of the things we saw. After the basilica, we walked for a little bit until we found a little cafe to get a coffee and do some people watching. From there we walked back towards where we saw that we could get a coffee then we did that until we hailed a taxi to bring us back to the hotel by the Spanish steps. We tried to hail an Uber but our trips got cancelled and rescheduled multiple times just in the 10 minutes we were waiting.

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Coffee!

Upon returning to the hotel, I showered and got all prepped for my big night of the opening reception for my solo exhibition. I took some time to briefly write out my artist talk in English and then used Google Translate to translate it paragraph by paragraph into Italian.  At around 3:30pm we were picked up by car to be driven about an hour out to Frosinone, where my show was being held at the Galeria Dei Villa Communale di Frosinone. We arrived about a half hour after we had anticipated arriving because of traffic, but we were not late for the official opening time, at least. There were only a few people milling about, and the musician was just setting up for the concert in the main gallery room. I found Alfio and touched base about the program schedule for the evening and when I would be giving my talk about the artwork.

 


After the accordion concert of traditional Italian folk music, along with some experimental ambient symphonic sounds, it was then my time to shine. Alfio gave a brief introduction of me and my artwork, all in Italian, and then it was my time to give a brief talk about my art. I had prepared a brief talk in English, which I then translated using Google Translate. My parents advised me to drop doing the speech in both languages, so I settled for giving only the Italian version my best efforts. I asked the crowd forgiveness in advance for any mispronunciations or wrong words that I might use.

 

I had practiced pretty fine in the taxi on the drive to Frosinone, but it’s quite another when my nerves get going while up in front of an audience. I stumbled over my initial introduction, but then I feel like I got into some better momentum with the language pronunciation the more I went, asking every few lines if the audience could understand me. When I finished everyone clapped, so I’m assuming that they understood me or that they were just being polite.

After I finished my talk, people got up and walked around looking at the artwork, and then a few people came up to ask me questions  (in Italian) about my process and about my inspiration, or to give some words of encouragement. It was quite challenging to answer their art questions about my process using only the few Italian words and phrases that I know, and they helped to fill in some of the proper art terms in Italian. My parents were beaming with pride and smiling at me throughout the evening, helping me with their encouragement and their very presence here, and I was grateful for their support and love.


The evening flew by and finished up around 8pm and then Alfio’s wife drove my parents and I to the train station to catch the train back to Roma Termini, where we then took a cab back to the restaurant. We arrived back to the hotel and then went up to the rooftop deck for a glass of wine and some cheese for a late dinner, since the reception actually didn’t have any refreshments as we thought maybe they might. We laughed and debriefed about our experiences at the art opening. There was live music happening in the Piazza Spagna that we could hear up on the rooftop deck which gave a really nice ambience to finish off the night before we headed to bed.

 

Italy Trip 2019: Day 2 Thursday

After the tumultuous day that we had travelling yesterday, it was really good to get a good sleep last night. The bed was quite comfortable and the room was quiet. We started our morning with breakfast up on the roof of the hotel, on the fourth floor. There’s a terraced patio area surrounded by potted lemon, orange and lime trees along with many plants and flowers. There were many little birds that occupied the area, even jumping right onto the table to try to steal crumbs directly from our plate until we waved them away. The breakfast bar itself had a pretty broad selection of cheeses, meats, eggs, fruit, pastries, toast, croissant, juice, and Nutella. We got coffee and tea and just enjoyed the coolness of the morning and the chatter of the many birds. The view from this rooftop terrance of the city skyline is beautiful.


I got a taxi driver to give me a ride for about an hour’s transit to the town of Frosinone, where I would have my solo art exhibition for this month. I needed to be at the gallery for 10am in order to check in with the curator, probably about what paintings needed to go where, and to confer on the curatorial vision for the exhibition. When I arrived, curator Alfio Borghese greeted me and we viewed the four large rooms of wallspace for the show. Shortly after, the cargo delivery driver arrived with the four large crates of my 50 paintings. I paid the driver the remaining amount of cash needed to pay the taxes and delivery fees, and then he used a palette jack to lift and roll the crates, and then he had to use his shoulder and brute strength to move them once they were inside the space. Each crate measured about 6ft x 2-3ft x 3ft, and each weighed about 200lbs and there were 4 crates total.


Alfio and I then took the next couple hours just to open and unpack the paintings from the crates. We needed a Phillips screwdriver to be able to open and unscrew the tops of the crates, but we only had a flathead screwdriver. We tried using the flathead on the Philips screws, but to no avail. So we took a break to run an errand to the local hardware store to purchase two Phillips screwdrivers and an electric power drill (where’s the local Benny’s when ya need one?). After that, we stopped at the local printshop to order banners and posters for my art show, and to give hi-res photo files of some of my artwork to the designer. Then we returned and continued the tedium of opening the crates, this time with the proper tools. Then we unwrapped the paintings carefully so that we could reuse the packing materials for return shipping.


By this time it was around 2 or 3pm so we took a lunch break to go to a local caffetteria, where we ordered some flat pasta in a red wine sauce, some caprese salad, and then wine. We chatted a bit about some logistics for the exhibition and about our different cultures. Then we returned to the gallery to continue our work on the exhibition. It was at this point that I realized that Alfio didn’t have any other staff to help him install the exhibition, so I stayed a long time with the expectation that I would help hang the show and we would be done by evening with time enough for me to still have dinner with my parents back in Rome.

We moved the paintings from the ground floor holding area to the actual gallery space upstairs on the 1st. Then I noticed that the previous artist’s artwork was still up on the wall, so I asked Alfio if we had to take down that artwork, but he said not to touch it because only the artist could take them down when he came this afternoon. Because of this, our ability to put my paintings up right away in the right spots on the right walls was compromised.


We first put up some paintings by other US artists in the small room I the back, moving some of the existing paintings. It took us 2 hours just to hang 6 paintings, so I was beginning to worry if we would have all the paintings hung in time for the exhibition opening reception, which was happening tomorrow. The hanging system is not one I’ve seen before, a structure of scaffolding holding up the lights and a white canvas backdrop. In order to physically hang the paintings, we had to tie a line from the top of scaffolding and then tie it on the back of the painting’s hook, making the hanging process of each individual canvas even more tedious than the hanging of paintings in a gallery already is.


The gallery closed at 8pm so we were rushing to try to hang paintings. The other artist finally cleared out all of his artwork from one room only about an hour before closing time, so at least then we could start to hang my own work on the walls in this room. I wish the other artist had instead just removed all his paintings at once and consolidated them to another space of the gallery that wasn’t crucial to hanging mine, and then he could wrap them each there. But no, instead he took each down from the wall, carefully and tediously measured bubble wrap to tape and fold every bubble wrap package around his frames perfectly. I would normally understand this in any other situation, but we were only crammed for time to hang my exhibition because he was taking his sweet time to take down his — and my opening reception is only tomorrow night!


It was getting down towards the end of the night with only one hour left and we still had only hung 3 of my own paintings, out of fifty! Alfio advised me to go around the remaining gallery space and lean my paintings against the wall in the order and spacing that I would like to see them. He assured me that he would come back tomorrow morning with a friend to finish hanging them, while I had existing reservations for tours and activities in the Vatican City with my parents. I just hoped that he would have enough time tomorrow to hang the remaining paintings before the reception started at 6pm.


Once 8:00pm arrived, we put the crates and packing away and we left the gallery. On the way to drop me off at the train station to catch the commuter rail back to Rome, we stopped to get a gelato to cool off after doing all the hard work today in the gallery. Then he dropped me at the train station and I waited for the 9:15pm train back to Rome, about an hour and a half trip. On the way to the car, Alfio and I put up the signs and banners up advertising my exhibition.


The train ride itself felt like riding any double-decker commuter train between Providence and Boston, but the announcements for each stop were in Italian. At one point in the train ride there was a group of teenagers that were clapping and singing and stomping. If I wasn’t so exhausted and hot then I would have enjoyed the music, but I only felt that it was pounding into my headache, so I moved my seat to another train car where it was much quieter.


I arrived at Termini Roma, where I was going to find the Metro stop back to the Spanish Steps, but I couldn’t locate the right platform, so I got in line to wait for a taxi cab back to the hotel by the Spanish Steps. All together I didn’t get back to the hotel until around 11:30pm. I was tired and exhausted and went right to sleep after letting my parents know that I had made it back safe and sound.

Italy Trip 2019: Day 1 (Wednesday)

I started my journey to Italy on a Tuesday morning, arriving at Boston Logan Airport around 11am to ensure that I would have plenty of time for my flight out at 4pm. Going through security went without incident and then I found my way to the Sky Lounge in the B wing where my flight to NYC/JFK would depart. I knew I’d have a while so I just watched people, had lunch from the offerings, and got a glass of wine. I typed up a couple things and checked some of my reservations and plans for Italy.

My flight got delayed from the original 3:58pm departure time to 5pm and then finally again to 6pm. Originally I would have had a roomy 4-hour layover in JFK, which I had intended to use the lounge there to get some work done, but suddenly my 4-hour layover was now only a 2 hour layover, which would be just barely enough time. But then after we landed, our plane remained on the tarmac for one more hour waiting, for a gate to clear. Now my 2-hour layover was now only a 1 hour layover, with boarding started a half-hour into that, giving me only 30 minutes to get from gate to terminal on time to not miss my flight, I’d be cutting it very close.

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The second we pulled up to the gate and were allowed to leave the plane, I grabbed my carry on and ran as fast as I could. I asked a gate agent where I would find my Alitalia flight to Rome at Terminal 1 and they told me that I’d have to leave the checked airport area, claim my baggage, and re-enter through security check all over again. This aggravated me for the inconvenience, but I had no choice, so I ran in the direction of the baggage claim and exit as fast as my feet would carry me. This involved running by about 20 gates along the way after coming in at B42.

Midway through my sprint to the baggage claim, my parents called to confirm that they had just landed from Buffalo to JFK and that we did NOT need to claim baggage all over and that there’s a shuttle to Terminal 1 at Exit 53. With this knowledge I turned around and sprinted by the 20-or-so gates that I had already passed, backtracking ground I wouldn’t have needed to cover had I seen any sign saying “Shuttle to Terminal 1 at Gate B53.” I made it to the shuttle just as it was ready to leave. I took the second stop and followed signs to Terminal 1, then asked an agent who directed me to exit the outside door, walk along a shady alley at nighttime, and then re-enter the terminal where other people were dropping off friends and family at Departures.

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I had to go through security again, but the “boarding pass” that I had printed at Logan didn’t include a seating assignment for Alitalia, just a voucher that said I needed to get seat assignment at the gate. But in order to get to the gate through security, I needed a seat assignment — what a double bind! They directed me to the Alitalia desk about 500 feet away, and the agent very quickly went through providing me with a seat assignment and more legitimate boarding pass. Then I still had to wait in the security line, and then I was one of the lucky few to be chosen for a light pat-down, for which I may had had a few “colorful metaphors” that I expressed to the TSA agent because I was so frustrated/anxious I was so very close to missing our flight.

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At this point I only had 5 minutes until they closed the gate to the jetway! Once I got my bag, I grabbed my sandals and belt and phone and ran down the terminal, barefoot, just trying to use every extra second to get closer to the gate.

I ran in the direction looking for the right gate number, Number 9. Then my dad called saying that they were up ahead trying to delay the closing of the door, and directing me to the right way to find the gate. The sign to the gate was obscured so it was not easy to see, so I missed it the first time and then backtracked until I saw it and booked it full-speed to the gate. The gate agent smiled and scanned my boarding pass and it felt like I had finally, finally crossed the ribbon of the finish line to the Boston Marathon. I boarded the plane barefoot, looking beet red in the face, panting and sweating from exhaustion, and with a severe side-stitch starting. I found my seat and sat, and asked the flight attendant for as much water as she could muster! One lady across the row from my mother asked my mom if I had gotten sunburnt!

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The four cups of water that I very quickly gulped after boarding brought by the flight attendant.

Before we officially took off and while I was still cooling off from my run, I went into the airplane restroom (since I didn’t have a chance this whole time after running through the airport), and just as I closed the door behind me, the knob to open/lock the door popped off and landed in the sink, locking me into the restroom! This was just too much of the last straw on the camel’s back, so I had to calm myself down from a pending anxiety/panic attack and focused on trying to manipulate the the knob to go back onto the door and thankfully so I could escape and return to my seat to calm down.

The rest of the 8-9 hour transatlantic flight New York to Rome was relatively uneventful compared to my previously harrowing airport adventure. Shortly after departure we were served dinner in several small courses along with wine. I chatted a bit with each of my parents before both of them folded down their seat to sleep for the “night” of the flight. I watched part of a movie and a couple episodes of Netflix shows that I had downloaded to my tablet, and was only able to sleep 1 or 2 hours total when I attempted to nap.

We finally arrived to Rome’s DaVinci-Fiumicino Airport, and we went through passport control, where my parents went right through the automated passport scanners, whereas I was rerouted to check my passport with an actual agent because I was using the replacement passport from my last trip to Italy (in order to get my full money’s worth for paying the full-price of replacement at $150-200 for a temporary passport, expires in 1 year). We claimed our baggage and found our taxi driver to bring us to the airport. It was about a 40-minute drive from airport to the Spanish Steps section of Rome. After we arrived at the airport we settled into our adjacent rooms, showered and freshened up.

My father and I went across the Piazza Spagna to a 100-year old tea shop by the name of Babbingtons to get lunch. It is a cozy boutique tea parlor with a broad selection of teas and also a good selection of sandwiches and pastries. We each ordered a tea and sandwich and one to take back to the hotel for my mother.

Then I called the Rome UPS because I had gotten an email saying there were some issues with dropping off the 4 crates of paintings because they didn’t accept credit/debit card to pay for the import taxes and fees, only bank transfer.

So then I spent another half-hour on the phone with my bank in the USA, only to have them tell me that they can’t authenticate a wire transfer remotely, only in-person at a bank branch. This left me with the only option in order to have UPS paid for the import taxes in order to have the paintings delivered to the gallery tomorrow, when installation is scheduled, is to pay them in cash. This meant that I had to go to several ATMS to pull the amount required.

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Then I hailed a taxi that took me back in the direction of the airport and arrived at the UPS Rome office. They almost didn’t let me into the building until I mentioned the name of my contact person there. We conversed in a mix of Italian and English, and they counted the cash I had brought. I knew that I didn’t have enough to pay the total amount tonight because of ATM withdrawal limits, but I wanted to better arrive with a partial payment to let them know that I am serious about getting the shipment delivery initiated. I asked when they opened the next morning so that I could come by first thing to pay the rest with a new batch of ATM cash cache. The UPS guy said he respected my efforts to make the payment any way that was possible, and when I mentioned I would be at the gallery tomorrow morning, he told me that I could just bring the cash with me in the morning and pay the delivery driver when he arrives. This simplified my next morning by not having to make an extra stop at UPS on the way to Frosinone, since it’s not really along the way.

Once all these issues were settled, I took the same taxi back to my hotel, and I joined up with my parents and walked around the neighborhood in the evening until we found a pizzeria nearby and had dinner there. We each got some pasta and wine, and toasted to our first night here in Italy! After dinner we walked around a bit more, as it was a beautiful night (they call it Bella Note) until we stopped into a gelateria to so that my parents could try their first gelato in Italy. It was as creamy and delicious as I remember from my first trip to Italy last December. We walked back to our hotel while finishing up cones of gelato, then we settled in for the night and slept after our long trip and first day in Italy.

Two new paintings for Italy exhibition

During the Memorial Day weekend, rather than spend time with friends and family at various cookouts and barbecues, I spent quality time getting to know two new canvases of my Abstracted Rainy Moments series about to head to Italy. With a two-person show suddenly becoming my one-person solo show, I felt I needed to include a few more large paintings, so I got started on the first one of two.

 

After adding all of the background points of paint, I used stand oil and a progressive smattering of brushwork to help the painting to “rain” on the scene.

Then I set up another canvas on the adjacent easel and started applying colored dots of thick paint daubs to evoke the sensation of mountains and pine trees and a field.

Then I got out the stand oil and my broad brush to “rain” out the paint daubs into drips that I then let continue to drip overnight, only retouching the drips every few hours until nightfall. The next morning I touched them up a bit more.

After the main surface of the two paintings had stopped dripping then I touched up the each of the side panels, and then I let the paintings air out for a week. To help hopefully speed up their drying, I placed an oscillating fan directly in front of them. Then the day came that I had to pack them up for shipment to Italy along with the other 40+ paintings I was sending for a solo exhibition outside of Rome.

 

 

Painting Commission Complete

A family’s painting commission of three panels of one large rainy triptych has now been completed and installed! Check out the photos below to see its process!

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The first stage of applying the first layers of paint to the final large canvases, inspired by the view of sunset seen filtering through the trees of the clients’ backyard

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Side by side comparison of the 8×10″ sketches (foreground) and the final painting (background)

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Finished painting drying on easel after dripping

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Final paintings installed in clients’ living room!

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 12 (Fri)

Today is my last full day here at my Edgewood Farm art residency in Truro, MA. While I had previously thought that I should be able to start raining one last painting today, which would have been my 6th, I realized that it was impractical. Because we have to check out by 11am and I have a whale watch scheduled for this afternoon, I have to be realistic with my remaining timeframes today. I used the morning to start breaking down my studio setup, putting away my paints, cleaning brushes, washing off the jenga blocks so that they can be reused for other paintings. I started packing the big stuff into the blue suitcase that they all came in, which I’ve now dubbed my art res suitcase, since it makes transporting art supplies all in one suitcase much easier. I was actually able to clear off the whole center table off during the morning packing session, leaving one more table to clear. While I was cleaning and packing the studio this morning, I also put through one final load of laundry, realizing that I was just one day short of a final clean outfit to travel in tomorrow morning.

 

I took the remaining paintings that were still on easels and turned them upside-down on a strip of paper so that the canvases were resting partially against the wall. I left out just one can of Gamsol so that I can thin down the paint drips on the bottom of the canvas so that it can be used to cover any white spots of the bottom of the canvas. I’ll have to just touch up the one blank spot on the tops of each canvas after I return to my home studio. I touched up the edges of what I could take care of today, and left them leaning against the wall to dry this afternoon. Once those were all set, I got myself together to get ready to head to my whale watch from the Provincetown pier. I have never been on a whale watch before, and I am very much looking forward to it, especially since I’ve heard that there have been a lot of whale and dolphin sightings this week.

Just before I checked into the whale watch dock, I swung into Stop & Shop (now back to normal and fully stocked) to buy some Dramamine to fight any possibility of seasickness, along with some gloves to keep my hands warm from the sea spray. As I pulled into the pier’s parking lot, I got an email from the whale watch company indicating that today’s tour had been cancelled due to the weather forecasting rainstorms along with thunder and lightning. I was bummed out that it had been cancelled, but I’m sure that it was for the better. The tour originally would have departed at 1:30pm and returned around 4:30 or 5:30pm, so now I had this big chunk of afternoon time to work with. I decided I would still make something of it, rather than just returning to campus dejected from an afternoon cancellation.

The first order of business was to get some lunch, as I hadn’t eaten lunch because I didn’t want to have a big meal digesting while we were going over some gnarly waves in the boat. I walked around Commercial Street a bit, evaluating my options. As I was walking I passed Womencraft, a place that had been closed the day before. I stopped in to see what they have, some quirky crafts and cards and buttons. I found a section of published and artfully illustrated poems by Kate Wallace-Rogers and located “Surrender,” the poem that she had read to us on our first day of the residency and again at the open-mic night. I found a canvas panel painted and hand-written with the poem and purchased it so that I have it to inspire me at all times. It’s going in my studio so that I can see it every day.

I walked around a bit and came to the Post Office Cafe, what seemed to be a funky take on a postal office themed diner. I went in and saw a few small tables and a bar, with a red and blue postal stripe all the way around the wall. I just ordered a small wedge salad as an appetizer, as I was still curious to try some other place for a full lunch, but a small side salad would be a good starter and ensure that I got in a serving of green veggies for today.

I walked around Commercial Street’s East End walking toward the West End, evaluating worthy lunch options. I came to the Crown & Anchor, right next to the cabaret, a restaurant and inn with an open-air patio that we had passed many times. I had always been curious to see what it was all about, so I decided to get my lunch here. The waiter brought me to a table on the indoors section of the space, but I requested to sit on the patio (which now had clear panels instead of open walls because of the windy day), so that I could do some people-watching as I was eating lunch. The host complied, adding that there was a private wine-tasting happening in the same space so that I would hopefully not be bothered by their event. I said I’d stay quiet in the corner enjoying my lunch.

I ordered the mac and cheese, which was served on a hot skillet, oozing with melted cheeses. Pairing mac and cheese with a white wine, it was a perfectly cozy lunch, and a nice reprieve from the rainy, cold and windy weather that I was earlier walking around town in. After I finished my mac and cheese, the waiter suggested a flourless chocolate cake with vanilla gelato. Since today was really my last full day to try this place, I figured, “Why not?” The cake was served warm and was very rich and perfect comfort food for this dismal weather day.

After lunch I went walked back towards my car from the West End towards the East End, where I had parked in a toll parking lot, but it was thankfully free parking until May 1st. On the way in I stopped at Cabbot’s Candy, wondering what it was since I had heard the name elsewhere. The gentleman working the register was wearing a classic brown felt top hat, reminiscent of another friend who daily wears a black top hat in Rhode Island. He generously allowed me to sample small bits of different flavored fudge. I found it interesting that they had a lemon fudge, which I had never seen as a fudge flavor before. I had seen vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, etc. before, but never lemon. The flavor of the lemon was subtle but very good, so I bought just a small sample to take with me.

I continued walking until I got back to my car, nearly blowing the car door into me as I boarded my SUV. I drove away and thought to stop in North Truro again on my way back to the Edgewood Farm campus, in order to stop at Chequessett Chocolates to order a coffee. I ordered a Thai coffee, flavored with the slightest hint of vanilla and sweetened condensed milk. From there I thought I’d explore Atlantic Spice Co., if they were open. I followed my GPS and signs towards the big blue building of the Atlantic Spice Company. Upon walking in each shelf was filled with a plethora of kitchen caboodle, gadgets, teas, spices, jams and other culinary cookery. I immediately found my way to the mugs and teapots, finding a cute one that really spoke to my tea aesthetic.

Then I stumbled upon their loose-leaf tea section, which was a full wall of large packages of loose-leaf teas at wholesale prices. There must have been over 36 different types of tea leaves represented. I threw a few bags of English Breakfast and Earl Grey and Masala Chai tea leaves into my little grocery hand-cart. I went over to where there were also tons of packages spices and extracts, all at wholesale prices so everything was really cheap for a good quantity. I loaded up on garlic, ground cinnamon, and basil. As we were walking the shelves, a giant BOOM thundered through the store, feeling like something had fallen on the roof. All the other customers, including me, were quickly started to hear the crack of thunder sounding so very close to us, without even a pre-rumbling to warn us. Just as I was about to check out, the sky opened up and tons of rain just came flooding to the ground in a total deluge of rain. While it’s great to inspire my paintings, it wasn’t so great to have to walk out to my car in this, without my rain cape or umbrella. I braced myself and then braved my way into the downpour to my car. While I survived, the brown paper bag containing my spoils didn’t fare quite as well. When I get home I’ll have to just put them all into an extra plastic bag.

I did have other plans to go drive to Long Nook Road, per the recommendation of one of the people that came through the open studios last night. But when the sky opened down and rained an ocean I decided to do otherwise and just head back to campus. I still had a bunch more cleaning and packing to do, and I hoped to be able to load the majority of my bags and art supplies into the car tonight so that there’s less to do tomorrow.

When I got back to Edgewood Farm, I ran into Patty and chatted pleasantries about our days for a bit. Then I put on my artist apron and went into breakdown and packing mode. I was able to finish up and zip the big blue art supplies suitcase and put several other loose ends into reusable grocery bags, then I brought all those things downstairs by the door to facilitate loading. I cleared off all the table surfaces and consolidated my remaining technology and laptop bag, since I’ll be using my computer and tablet later tonight. Once I felt good about most of my supplies from the studio all packed up, I went and spent some time downstairs packing up some of the items and accumulated goods in my bedroom. It didn’t take very long, and I left out a backpack and main clothing suitcase so that I can use them tonight and then I’ll load them up in the morning.

I brought my cart around to the main door to get ready for loading. I spent the next half hour moving things around in my car, loading up the big art suitcase, bags, boxes, and more. Then I finally took some time to carefully load my wet paintings into the slots of the custom canvas storage rack in the cargo hull of my SUV. It was a little difficult at first to get things slid in, but with a little bit of taps and pushing everything fit. I put in the three large canvases, and then followed shortly with the smaller two which could fit on the same rack slot. After loading all my art and bedroom stuff was all completed, I then emptied my trash bins and recycling and brought everything down to the designated bins behind the barn for trash and recycling. I finished up all this business with sweeping the floor of my studio.

Now that all the important stuff was loaded, now was time to unwind and debrief from the day, and to have dinner. I microwaved some of the leftover mac and cheese I had from lunch today, poured myself a glass of chardonnay, and sat at the living room table to eat dinner and watch the rain and lightning storm through the dining room windows. After I finished eating, I took my glass of wine and went upstairs to my studio to spend some last few moments in the space, writing my blog post from the day with some strawberries and wine. If I had extra time, I would sort through some of my photos from all the sunsets in the days before, in addition to the dune tour photos that I still had to sort through. I made a short list of photos that I had to send to either Martha or to Patty before I turned in and called it a night. I wrapped up my computer work, put my laptop and tablet and corresponding charger cords into the laptop bag and brought them to my bedroom so they’re ready to pack up and go in the morning.

Tomorrow morning I’ll aim to get on the road home probably around 10 or 11am for the two hour drive home, possibly stopping somewhere for lunch or coffee along the way. It’s hard to believe that this session of my art residency at Edgewood Farm in Truro is finally coming to a close. In evaluating my time here this year, I’d say that I still had a great time. This year, compared to last year, I completed about half less physical paintings, but I also had a lot more springtime distractions to be able to go out and research photos for later paintings to be completed at my home studio (and the paintings I did this year were twice the size of last year’s so they took a bit longer). The dynamic between all the artists this time was much different, but still fine: last year we three were all snowed in together so we really, really bonded through that experience and ended each night with a glass of wine and laughter and talking late; this time there were 4 artists and two of them had already been here for 2-3 weeks prior so there was no sense to really gel quite as cohesively, everybody just did their own thing and maybe ran into one another. While the former is true, at least I had a really fantastic series of adventures bonding with Martha, since both of us did the same 2-week term and were connected through our mutual friend, Nan. We went on the dune tour together along with a few day trips and meals out, which was really awesome, as Martha is a kindred and warmly energetic spirit. While we are a couple decades apart in age, Martha’s young spirit really spurred me to take advantage of the opportunities presented in the residency and in life. I hope that we can stay in contact and maybe bump into on another again at another residency here or elsewhere.

I was just one painting short of reaching my goal of painting 6 paintings during my time here, but I now have endless photographed research options for using as reference photos for paintings for another time. I really enjoyed coming back to Truro’s Edgewood Farm a second time. This time around I felt much more confident with knowing where things were in Provincetown (I only used my GPS once the whole 2 weeks I was out here!) and I felt like I got to experience more of the town itself because some seasonal galleries, restaurants, and experiences had just started opening as of last week, so to get to see everything in the early off-season was great because there wasn’t much traffic or waits to get to any of these places. I feel like I made some really genuine connections while here, and I would definitely do it again in another year or two. But I predict that the next time I do a residency at Edgewood Farm I will be working in wax (encaustic) instead of oil paint. That is my prediction because part of this residency (taking encaustic classes with Cherie) also helped to inspire me to really tackle encaustics in my home studio. While I have taken at least 2 weekend sessions of encaustic workshops over the last two years, it was this third series of sessions with Cherie (my first with Cherie) that really gave me some of the chutzpah to really pursue it once I get back. I have to rearrange my home studio a bit and purchase some of the encaustic equipment (a griddle, heat gun, materials, etc.) to really get started, but I think I will follow through this time around.

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 11 (Thur)

This morning I was up and in the studio by around 10am after taking a short part of the morning to add photos to yesterday’s blog post to publish it today. Once up in the studio, I got to work on coordinating what I would need to do to clean up and setup my studio space for the open studios event that we were having today 4-6pm. I made a list and surveyed my space to see what would be the most efficient way to start. I moved the table that was forming an L with my art supply table to the wall, so that I could access the wall without windows so that I could hang a few paintings up there. Fortunately my burned fingers were feeling much better today, no stinging just a little sensitivity, so I was able to have much more use of my hands for handling paintings today than I would have yesterday afternoon after the incident.

I took the first canvas off the wall and turned it upside down against the wall, so that I could paint the bottom edge of it. Once that was all set, I took my hammer and put a nail up in the wall to hang up the first painting. On a roll, I took the second big painting down off its easel and turned it upside down so that I could paint the bottom edge and seal it so it could start drying when back up on the wall. After painting it I used a paper towel to gently brush some of the extra paint off the back of the canvas, so it wouldn’t get on the wall, when I suddenly broke off a large splinter and it went right under the nail of my right hand’s index finger. I yelped and checked my finger for the splinter. I ran to my bathroom to find a pair of tweezers to remove the splinter and to wash it out. I put triple antibiotic ointment and a bandaid on space between the finger flesh and the nail. I was so flustered and frustrated that something so stupid and unplanned derailed my hands  (and my plans) again, I just needed to go for a drive to clear my head.

I went to my car and turned out of the driveway towards Provincetown, but I didn’t think I’d go straight to Commercial Street, but I also didn’t have any particular destination in mind. I pulled into the road with a sign pointing to Head of the Meadow Beach, where I parked my car at the corner of the parking lot overlooking the ocean. I was fuming with anger when I arrived, so I rolled down the windows and let the ocean breeze just blow away my frustrations. I got out and snapped a few photos from the comfort of my car. Once I had calmed down a bit, I pulled away to drive to wherever my next destination would take me. I passed the road towards North Truro, realizing that I hadn’t been down that road yet, so I gave it a try.

As I drove, there was a little town square area that had a few little shops, including a chocolate store (!), a cafe, and a little marketplace. I first went into the Chequessett Chocolates shop, and found that it was more than just a chocolate shop, it was also a coffee shop, serving up espressos and cappuccinos too, along with some limited baked goods. The other part of the shop was a a bonafide craft chocolate shop and Cape Cod handmade souvenir and local gourmands.I ordered their Chocolatte, a hot chocolate with a half shot of espresso. They gave it to me in the cutest little cup and saucer, and I sat in one of the little bistro tables inside, sipping my hot chocolate.

Once I made it to the bottom of my hot chocolate, I wandered around the shop to see what they had there, then I went just down the street a little ways to the Salty Market. I walked into the small store with a maximum of 3 tall shelving units, and the rest were local wines and beers of Cape Cod, and the other section of store was a deli, making fresh sandwiches to-order. I realized that it was right around lunchtime (maybe why I was also so hangry) so I ordered their jerk-chicken salad, and Cape Cod chips (since we are on Cape Cod), and brought the sandwich to-go, along with today’s daily newspaper, the Provincetown Herald, in which I was included in a feature article along with the other 3 artists of the residency. The photo turned out the great and the article was well written, with good transitions and detailed enough quotes and information about each artist and their work.

I took the sandwich and drove back to Head of the Meadow Beach, where I ate my lunch overlooking the water. From there I started driving away head back to campus, now that I was much calmer. It was a nice day, so on the way I stopped at Savory to get a single scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream on a sugar cone. I returned to campus feeling refreshed and ready to take on my studio. I finished hanging the painting that had given me the original splinter, and then hung the third large painting. I moved the tables so that access to the space was better, and I straightened up the art supplies and tools that were sprawled all over both tables. I took a broom and sweeped the space, moving my remaining easels with paintings still dripping to select locations to blog some of the unsightly bags and boxes from unpacking. After the studio was all set up and clean, I had only about a half hour before it was officially start time (the afternoon just flew!), so I went to my room to rest just a little before all the busy started.

People trickled in pretty steadily starting around 4pm until around 6pm, with people answering questions and starting interesting conversations with me about my artwork and about their lives and experiences with art. The artist that I had chatted with a few days ago in the gallery came and brought a few friends! It was great to see Laura again and to meet her friends. A bunch of people connected with the Truro Center of the Arts Castle Hill also came out. Several people noted that they came to this event because they saw the article in today’s edition of Provincetown Banner. Over all it was a good event, with maybe about 15-30 people attending.

After the open studios, Martha and I went out to dinner in P-town. Before we made it to the restaurant, we noticed that the sunset was shaping up to be pretty awesome, so we went straight to Herring Cove (knowing the right place to go this time helped), and we got out of the car and onto the beach for the best view of the changing sunset. I snapped what felt like hundreds of photos and videos and selfies with one another. The sunset kept getting better as it went, finally peaking while peeking out from behind a big cloud for a great sunburst sunset.

We went to dinner at The Brewhouse, and noticed that the whole place was full of all men at tables, with only 1 female that we could see when we entered the place. We got a small table in the corner away from the hubbub and ordered some drinks on tap and our dinner. My burger was very good and Martha said that her shepherd’s pie was delicious. After we finished up and paid the bill, we started to drive back to town. But on the way we noticed that the sky was really clear tonight and that a lot of stars were visible. So I drove looking for dark spots away from all the “city” lights, so that we could get a good view of the stars outside of light pollution. I pulled again into Head of the Meadow Beach area (for my third time today), where we had the place to ourselves, and we were able to see the stars perfectly overhead. We even saw a shooting star a few minutes after arriving! It was a nice night for it, not too windy or cold, and before it was forecast to be cloudy and rainy the next few days.

We got back to the campus around 10 and I instantly started my bedtime routine.  I didn’t have any energy left to try to do anything in the studio today, as far as starting my last canvas, because today was all about getting ready for the open studio. I went to sleep fairly early tonight.

Truro Art Residency: Day 10 (Wed)

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This morning I wasn’t feeling great and I just woke up feeling like today just wasn’t going to be my day, I don’t really know why and I probably couldn’t articulate how I felt that way. Feeling this way, I wanted to avoid running into anything that would really make my day crazy, so I gave myself a long, slow morning to relax from the comfort of my bedroom. I finished up the two days of blog posts that were late, and updated my website and a few other things, so the morning was still productive, just not in the active painting sort of way. I aimed to start on a small canvas this evening, after I finished up my encaustic class. 

I made myself a small lunch and headed off to the last encaustic class that I would be taking from Cherie during my residency. I gathered up my encaustic supplies and arrived a few minutes early to set up. The other students arrived and class started. Cherie went over a few techniques for doing more involved photo transfers and charcoal transfers. I really connected with the charcoal and graphite transfers so I ended up incorporating more of thos into my encaustic piece over the course of the next 3 hours. I layered and layered wax and drawings and wax. It was fun and interesting to experiment and play around with the material to get a handle on these new methods I was learning.


Towards the end of class I started another small but quick encaustic piece, playing around more with the vertical lines and movement. While today was just playing around with the materials and techniques, it’s still another step closer to my exploring what I can do with encaustic to possibly extend my exploration and celebration of rainy days. At the end of class we started cleaning up, and I needed to do just one last step with my encaustic painting before I wrapped everything up. I reached for the heat gun (it looks like a hairdryer but is about 100 degrees hotter), and as I reached for the handle, my depth perception was off and I ended up grabbing the hot muzzle of the gun, instantly kicking in my reflexes to retract my burned fingers and run quickly to run them under cool water. It all happened so fast! The very tips of my fingers and thumb on my right hand (my painting hand!) were sore in a burn kind of way. One of the ladies in class happened to have some burn treatment gel in her bag, so she gave it to me to use on my poor digits. I lathered the burn gel all on the fingertips and then put a plastic glove on over them to keep my fingertips clean and the gel in contact with the burn area. Once I got my burn all situated we resumed cleaning up (me cleaning with one hand) and did a light review of everyone’s encaustic artwork created during this class in the last 2-3 weeks. I drove myself back as soon as we ended class, finding some band aids and cleaned up my burned fingertips. My studio mate and fell artist Patty was so kind as to help me wrap up my fingertips in bandages and then I sat for a bit with my fingertips in contact with an ice pack. I tried to get some website work done in that time, but realized just how hard it is to use a track pad with my left hand (I’m right-handed).

Some time passed and I managed to one handedly get myself some dinner and sat looking out the window of the living/dining room to see the sun was starting to get into position to assum its sunset position. I decided that I needed to get out of the house and get my mind off my stupid slightly-injured fingers, so I grabbed my camera with my left hand and drove over to Corn Hill Beach, an area in Truro that I have also heard is a good place to watch the sunset. A I pulled into the empty parking lot, I realized it’s not a beach where there’s a nice overlook to watch the sunset from my car. So I got out and spied a tall hill in the corner of the lot that I imagined would have an excellent unobscured view of the sunset. I started climbing up this sandy hill, realizing that it was indee more sand than hill, and the shoes I was wearing, some black flats, we’re not cut out for sand climbing. So I just kicked off my shoes and peds and climbed the hill barefoot. It was actually a really nice sensation to have my feet sink into the sand on the way up.

THe view from the top was amazing, but the sky was looking pretty cloudy, so I wasn’t sure how the sunset would turn out, but I decided to stay and snap photos anyway, since I had already made the effort to climb this difficult sandy dune hill. What happened next with the sunset was pretty cool: the more time went on, the more the clouds shifted to allow more glowing sunset light to shine through, the cooler the photos I was able to take. In the end, it was a pretty spectacular sunset, with pink glowing orb at times, and some nice colors reflecting off of the bay water and off of the clouds.


After the sunset, I returned to campus, spent a little time talking with family via video phone and then watched an episode of something on my laptop before deciding that tonight would be a good night to get to bed early. So I turned into my bedroom early and said goodnight. Today was one day that I didn’t get to do any painting, but I also had this weird finger burn injury happen when I wasn’t planning to. By later in the night my fingertips were at least feeling a bit better. Tomorrow I’m hoping to be a bit more back to normal, to get my last painting of my goal of six paintings started, and hopefully enjoy having our open studios event tomorrow evening .

Turning Truro into a crossroads for the arts, Provincetown Banner April 24 2019

This article in the Provincetown Banner on April 24, 2019 published an excellent narrative about each of the four artists in residence at Edgewood Farm in late April 2019. Original article located online here:

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Truro Art Residency: Day 9 (Tue)

This morning I awoke late than I had planned, with Martha and I leaving for a Dune Tour at 10:30am I had hoped to get a painting started by then. I ended up having just barely enough time, after showering and getting ready, to swipe a paintbrush lightly and rushed over the surface of the waterfall and rocks rain. I gathered my good camera and multiple outer layers and we headed to take one of Art’s Dune Tours.

We arrived exactly at 11am, the time for our reserved tour. We were introduced to Rob, the owner and son of the original Art, who started Art’s Dune Tours in the 1940s. We loaded up in the Suburban along with a senior couple, with we three women in the back seat and Rob and the husband up front, so that nobody had to be relegated to the third row seat. As we drove to the entry point to the off-road section of the dunes, Rob filled us in on his own personal history, his father’s history with the the dunes, and the history of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is government-protected national treasure.

Even the brief drive to the dunes was scenic, and as soon as the tires spun into the first spit of sand, it was on! I took off the lens cap of my camera and snapped photos left and right, adjusting my shutter speed since we were taking photos while in motion. We rolled and spun and flew over the dunes, sometimes taking a slow climb up a steep dune with deep treads in the road. There were a few spots where there even appeared to be puddles, like mirages in the Sahara desert, but they were in fact aquifers from springs under the dunes, making their way up to the surface. As we rode along, Rob would point out some of the local flora and fauna, from reindeer lichen and Tom’s Beard Moss, to cormorants and whitetail-tailed deer. At one point we even drove almost right through a flock of cormorants on the beach, causing them all to fly up and away in slow motion. Driving through the dunes felt, at times, like we were driving some some kind of alien landscape on a sci-fi show, or like we were combing the Gobi desert on an episode of National Geographic.

We were even able to stop and get out the car a couple times to take photos, and to take it all in. The guide even offered to take photos of us and the other couple, having a great time! When we did get out the car, man was it cold! It was maybe 42 degrees (F) out, but with the ocean wind whipping over the dunes, it felt much, much colder! I could barely feel my hands after we finally got back into the warm vehicle. Next time I’ll wear gloves if we go out again at this time of year. We couldn’t tread very far from the vehicle because the lands were roped off beyond the dune trail in order to protect fragile sea grasses and lichens from being trampled underfoot. Apparently, according to history, the dunes used to be like any other wooded area in Provincetown, but the early settlers picked the land clean of wood for their homes and ships, leaving nothing to really anchor the dirt and sand underneath and subject to erosion, which made the sand dunes we see today. Over all we had a really great dune tour, with a Rob as an excellent and personable guide, and we are so very glad that we did decide to do the dune tour. My camera battery also had a good time, deciding to only shut down my camera in the last 10 minutes of the trip, so at least I didn’t miss snapping photos for most of the tour, but I do need to buy a camera battery charger because I left mine at home and didn’t remember to bring it for the residency.

After we recovered from the awesomeness of the dune tour, Martha and I walked across the way from the dune tour office to try out a little pub called The Squealing Pig for lunch. Since I was still a bit frosted from the dune tour, I ordered a small cup of tomato basil soup, and Martha ordered a hot coffee. The place had a cozy pub-like ambiance, but the menu was much broader than just pub food. I ordered the chicken pesto panini (have you noticed yet that I love pesto?) and Martha got a fish sandwich. Martha and I just spent half of our lunchtime fawning over the sheer amazingness of the dunes, the paint colors we would use to capture their majesty, and laughing over the dune jokes that our guy used often during the tour. The food was very good, and I would definitely return to this little spot again sometime.

After lunch we walked around Commercial Street a bit, looking to stop into the store Womencraft, a shop with art and craft objects for sale by women artists and writers. We wanted to find a poem published by Kate W-R, the hospitality coordinator for the residency and a very good poet. She had ready one poem to us on our first day, and again at the open mic last night, that was perfect for the art process, and I would love to have a copy of the poem. When we arrived at the shop, it was closed because it was Tuesday, and most places on Commercial Street were closed on Tuesdays, only to open again on Thursday through Sunday. We turned around and started walking back towards where we had parked before the dune tour, only to stop briefly into the Purple Feather to get one of their famou hot chocolates. It was very good and loaded with whipped cream, and a tiny little chocolate heart on top of the whipped cream. As I ate the whipped cream with the gelato spoon they provided, the little chocolate heart had nothing to float on, so it sunk to the bottom of my hot chocolate, to melt and be enjoyed later as I finished my beverage.

We returned to campus, and touched up the dripping waterfall rain painting for awhile, before I realized that I needed to go find a camera shop for my Canon Rebel T3i camera battery to get a charger for it. I recalled that my studio mate, Patty, had mentioned a camera shop she went to in Orleans to make prints. I asked her where it was, and realized that they close by 5pm. So I had to drop my paintbrush right then in order to make it to the camera shop in time before they closed. I got in my car and went, arriving just in the nick of time. The staffer there was very knowledgeable about cameras and their battery needs and recommended a multi-battery charger that would also accommodate mine. I bought it, thanked them, and got back on the road to Truro.

When I returned, I had  just a couple hours in which to work in the studio before I had planned to meet Maartha to try to catch the potential sunset over at Race Point or Herring Cove. I had asked the dune guy which beach to see for which best time of today, and he said Race Point. We got in the car around 6:45 to hopefully catch the beginning transition to sunset, which had the official sunset time of 7:28, but I think that’s when the sun officially dips below the horizon. I wanted to be there at least a half hour before that time. We followed signs to Race Point, taking a right long before I had remembered, thinking it was straight that I was supposed to go. But oh well, we were following signs so that should help us. We drove through dunes and hills, trying to keep a sense of which side the fading sunlight was coming from. There was a slow car ahead of us that we were getting frustrated that it was blocking our opportunity to catch the full spectrum of the sunset. We drove to what seemed to be the end of Race Point, with a big officially looking house nearby, a parking lot, and the ocean just beyond a short walking path. But this wasn’t the drive-up ledge that I remembered parking at last year to watch the sunset from the comfort, and warmth, of my own car. Something seemed off.

I thought then maybe the guide might have been off, and that we should have headed to Herring Cove to catch the best sunset over the bay and to live our best life. We got turned around and followed signs towards Herring Cove, with some sort of warning about beach construction. Up ahead by about 50 feet was a barrier blocking the road, Road Closed, said the sign amidst traffic cones. We couldn’t go any further so I turned the car around with a 3-point turn, and headed back to Route 6to get our bearings again. When we got to the red light, we turned right, to correct for where we should have gone straight initially. We followed a new set of signs for Herring Cove Beach, which brought us to a parking lot (which was open) of a bunch of road construction vehicles (plows, bucket trucks, dump trucks, etc) and another road block, which would have lead to that ledge over a the beach where we could watch the best sunset from our cars. After all this, we drove back to that little spot around Race Point and watched the remainder of the sunset from our car, but it wasn’t right over the beach and ocean water, but the sky was still pretty. It wasn’t an epic sunset like the intense reds of a few nights ago, but it was still pretty cool to see and to photograph. We stayed through the end of the sunset, sometimes getting out to stand on the nearby picnic tables in the window to get a. Better photograph. At one point we were joined by two other people also trying to photograph the sunset before they moved along to the other side of the parking lot.

We returned to campus shortly after which out much fanfare or additional adventures. I was totally drained from the exciting day and there wasn’t much more time left tonight to really get a good chunk of painting done (without staying up until 2am), so I just touched up the currently dripping rain painting, and then I went to the main building across the courtyard to get some laundry washed and dried, and then I was in bed by 11pm.

Truro Art Residency: Day 8 (Mon)

This morning I was up early and in the studio by 8:30am. I immediately went to the painting I started the night before to see how far the drips had fallen. Over all, the drips seemed to have moved quite nicely, so the touch-ups to the blending of dots and drips didn’t require very much in the first pass. I also set up a new big blank canvas on an easel, ready to be painted. And the shirt I wore today matched this painting.

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As far as what I was going to paint, I was at a loss. I knew that I wanted to again work and rework using Browns and Sienna’s and umbers, but I wasn’t sure what kind of composition or painting content would work best, without doing the same thing over and over, like the previous 2 brown-and-blue paintings I’ve done. I started first toning the canvas with Prussian blue, and hoped that some sort of idea would come to me if I started just working in this manner.

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I took a phone call from Tammy, the artist with whom I’m collaborating on these paintings for our June Italy show. We discussed various things related to her gallery’s grand opening happening the weekend of May 10th. I planned to fly down for the weekend to be present as one of the featured artists. I took a break from painting to make sure that my flight was booked before ticket prices went way up.

After talked to Tammy, I actually had an idea of what to paint: a waterfall amongst a rocky mountain landscape. The rocks would be assorted grays and browns, and the waterfall and pool below would have some blue to it. I immediately got to work plotting the lines for this painting, adding in the underpainting, and starting to apply dots in all the colors just described.

I reached a point in working on this painting that I needed to walk away and take a break from it for a little bit. I had recently heard that the employee strike of Stop & Shop was over as of last night, when both parties agreed to terms that satisfied the demands of the strike. I needed to go get some groceries and vegetables, so I drove to Provincetown to the Stop & Shop supermarket there. I didn’t realize just how strange it was to see a full contingent of cars in the parking lot, since it had been empty during the strike for almost 2 weeks. Walking into the store, seeing people going about their own shopping business was also a little surreal. People seemed to be happy it was open, and I think the the employees were also happy to be back at work under better conditions. Even though the store was open and the strike over,much of the produce shelves were still bare. Today was also the very first day after the strike, so the shipments must not have started just yet of replenishing the contents of the fresher items.

After Stop & Shop I drove around the scenic route, taking in some of the rainy ocean moods. It had been raining pretty much all day. I drove down Commercial Street, but didn’t park and get out so that I didn’t get distracted and not return to the studio in time to finish the painting. I did, however, drive around noting just how foggy it was out, so foggy that the top of the Pilgrim Monument couldn’t be seen through the mist. On the drive to the residency I stopped at Savory & Sweet to get a pesto turkey caprice panini for a late lunch, since I had painted straight through my usual launch time. I worked diligently on filling in more varied dots and daubs on my current plan for a waterfall on the rocks until around 5:30pm.

Around that time Martha and Patty and I all went to Mews, a coffee shop and restaurant in P-Town featuring an open mic night tonight, so we wanted to get there early to claim some bar seats, since some of the other ones required reservations. When we arrived (after walking in the rain), we saw that even the bar seating had been reserved by others.. I thought that bar seating was always open at most establishments. The host saw us awkwardly decide what to do, so he offered us the ability to sit at the reserved bar seats only until the reserved people arrived, at 7pm and it was around 6pm at this time. So we agreed to sit to get one cocktail and Mail see the opening act, and then head home, so we ordered our drinks and enjoyed this brief time at the bar before the open mix started.

Eventually, the people whose reserved seats we were in arrived, and we were displaced to a standing only section, with 2 bar seats stationed at a shelf instead of a table. We agreed that two of us could sit at a time and then we’d rotate who got to stand. The acts started assembling, and we were able to watch a couple good guitar and song acts perform.

One lady at table nearby saw us awkwardly in the corner and let us know that she and her husband would be leaving and that we should take their table. We gratefully obliged, taking the table and grateful for  a better surface to rest on. I ordered the pesto pasta for dinner, with the plan to take most of it home for later meals. There was one act by a couple of guys, one on guitar and one on mandolin in which the instrumental harmony sounded awesome, but the vocals were a little subpar. Then one of them stayed up for a standup comedy routine, which amounted to few laughs about his perception of backflips. Then a brief intermission ensued while the main act assembled their set. We stayed for their first song, which was a jazzy bit of trombone, saxophone and percussion and guitar. We left around 8:30 so that we could still get some late minute work done in the studio.

I worked a bit more on this painting upon returning home, and then rained the painting before going to sleep by midnight, which was a big achievement for me during this particular residency where my usual bedtime has been around 1pm.

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 7 (Sun)

I awoke early at 5am this morning, woken up by the need to use the restroom. Since I had gone to sleep much later than I wanted last night (because as I went to take my before-bedtime shower, I noticed some black stuff coming up through the shower drain, and then had to deal with that whole situation, throwing off my anticipated bedtime), so I went back to sleep until 9:30am. Then I sprung up realizing that I had to get ready and also touch up last night’s new painting before Martha and I headed off to Easter Sunday Brunch at 10:30. I knew I wouldn’t have time to start a whole new painting, but I did touch up my existing painting, after examining how the drips turned out from moving overnight. I was overall pleased with the outcome.

Martha and I met up and drove to PTown to have Easter brunch at Fanizzi’s Ristorante, an Italian place right on the water that apparently had a broad Sunday brunch every Sunday, but an especially extended gamut for the Easter holiday. When we arrived around 10:45 the hostess asked if we had a reservation (which we didn’t), and she said that all the tables were booked up, with no open reservations until 1:00pm. She said she could let us know if someone didn’t show up for their reservation or if we wanted to put our name down for the 1pm slot. We were disappointed, because we had both skipped a normal breakfast and coffee/tea to be able to save our appetite for brunch at this place. We conferred and said to hold our 1pm reservation here because we were both really looking forward to it. But since we were both still so hungry, we got in the car and decided to go to the Purple Feather (which would be my 3rd time this week) to see what they had for a light breakfast while we dallied our time before our 1pm reservation.

There was zero wait for a table at Purple Feather, since I guess everyone else in town was already in line at Fanizzi’s. We got a table right away, as we were only the second party to arrive in the whole place. We ordered coffee and tea and agreed on trying the pancakes, with Martha getting the blueberry and me getting the chocolate chip pancakes. I ordered a mimosa just for our trouble. The service was prompt, and the fare was delicious. The Purple Feather pancakes pass my quality standards of approval as far as pancakes go. While we were ordering our breakfast, I got a call from Fanizzi’s saying someone dropped their reservation and if we would like to take it, say around 11:30am. By then we had already ordered our coffee and were in process of ordering the pancakes, so we declined the sooner reservation and instead opted to keep the original 1pm later reservation.

We still had about an hour or two left after finishing first brunch (as we referred to it), so we went to the Artist Loft art supplies store in town, and I bought some 18×24 canvases, and Martha got some paint. I also was distracted by a couple of extra large bristle brushes, which would be perfect to upgrade the size brushes that I currently use on my rain painting smear technique. Then we walked around town a bit, stopping into a boho-chic shop, a souvenir shop, a jewelry shop.

To fill in the time, we also stopped over at the little jetty by the has-been Provincetown Inn, noticing that at this time the water was at high tide, and the marshes looked a bit different with water filling in the estuaries, rather than the mud and muck of low tide. We snapped photos of the marsh and water, and took a rainy selfie together, as it had just started to rain lightly.

By then it was around 12:45pm, so we started making our way towards Fanizzi’s to arrive in time not to lose our reservation. We parked and walked and made it in the doors right at 12:59. We could barely walk in the door and narrow waiting room hallway because there were so many people lined up, waiting for their turn at Easter brunch. The hostess asked if we wanted an immediate open table or to wait for a table for two by the window: by this point we had been waiting so long and were still digesting a bit from our first brunch that waiting wasn’t much of an issue this time around. We waited maybe an extra 20 minutes and then the hostess brought us to a quaint little table, right next to the window, which was literally overlooking the water! We both ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the incredible view, snapping photos and taking it all in. Our waitress came and gave us the low-down on the brunch buffet options.

We went up to the brunch buffet –which is up stairs, down a long corridor, and through another wing– and surveyed our options. They really make you work for your brunch! We each made our decisions to go with more egg-based protein options over the french toast and pancakes (although I took one triangle of french toast just to sample how it was). The selection was broad and it could be easy to be paralyzed by so many options. We each chose a few and brought our plates back to the table to eat. We conversed and laughed and observed the sea birds and ducks directly outside of our window’s view. Our waitress came over to ask if we wanted anything to drink, so we picked a pretty pink goblet looking drink that we saw people having a few tables down. As it turns out, the cocktail is simply sparkling prosecco and crushed strawberries. We gave a light toast to our first- and second-brunching experience. Side note: I tried eating Eggs Benedict for the first time ever — they were pretty good! What have I been missing out on? We each ended up going up after a little bit for half of a second plate that we ended up using take-out boxes to take home.

Before heading directly back to campus we stopped at Angel Foods Market, a small boutique market and bodega with organic and locally sourced speciality foods, along with a coffee bar and deli counter. We got what we needed and then was tempted by the amazing aroma of freshly ground coffee, so we each got a coffee to go. I almost forgot to mention that we also stopped into a couple of galleries that we open on this quiet Sunday morning, checking out some interesting contemporary artists’ work. We returned to the car and drove back to the residency campus, coffee and new art supplies in hand. I returned to my studio, where my studio mate still had not yet returned from visiting friends or family for the Easter holiday, so I blasted my own music to be played around the studio without the need for wired earphones or bluetooth earbuds. I looked around at the blank and in-progress canvases and got to work art-ing.

It was around 3:30/4pm by around the time we returned to the studio, so when I was tempted to start in on a large (30×40) canvas, my logic returned to remind me that starting and raining an 18×24 canvas this evening/night was much more practical and achievable. I wired up a canvas of that smaller size and placed it on the new H-frame easels that the program director had brought up to my studio the day before, adjusting the easel to make sure the canvas shelf was level and even, etc. I decided that I needed a brief break from working in neutral browns and umbers to take a color burst departure into blues and greens. I set up my computer on a stool so that I could view my reference image, inspired from a photo taken from the dock by where we had brunch this afternoon. I placed a clear vinyl tablecloth over the stool with my computer, so as to protect it from paint splatters as I began work on the painting. I also decided that it would be nifty if I could record a time-lapse photo of this painting process from beginning underpainting to the raining technique applied. I took my guerrilla tripod, a flexible three-prong cell phone tripod and affixed it to the top mast of a yet-unused easel and adjusted it to an angle so that the paint application, canvas, and artist could all easily be filmed from the jerry-rigged apparatus.

I first covered the canvas all over in green-blue tone before I applied the first paint strokes of a roughly smooth horizon line, much like how an open ocean horizon would look from shore or from a boat at the opening of the bay out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Then I mixed up a whole bunch of blues and greens and blue-greens to apply as thick paint daubs to the canvas, working vigorously over the next several hours to get all these variations of ocean colors and sky colors applied. Then in one fall swoop I started applying the “rain method” to m painting, drizzling it in stand oil followed by pressured vertical strokes from top to bottom of the painting, mixing the dragging the oil paint colors behind it on the canvas. Once I applied this rain method I used a big brush to help smooth out the initial drips so that they get a solid start before they drip all over the canvas. You can see the time-lapse video here (below):


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After applying this first phase of starting drips, I took some time to clean out some of the oil paint bristle and synthetic brushes that I’ve used over the last couple weeks, to ensure that the last week of my art residency would be accomplished using clean brushes without weeks’ worth of paint gunk still on them. After I washed my brushes I walked down to the print shop where artists Martha and Sarah were sharing studio space. We had agreed to gather to share chocolate and bread and wine to unwind from a long day, despite it being a holiday. We had a fun time just laughing and talking and exchanging stories of our adventures around Provincetown and Truro, including talking about baby squirrel rescues, coyote-wolf sightings, turkey troubles, and more. We sat and chatted and laughed for maybe an hour or two, then I returned to my studio to give this blue-green ocean-sky painting one last once-over feathering and blending of drips before heading to sleep. My goal tomorrow is to start a large (30×40) painting in the morning so that I’ll have all morning and afternoon to apply the meticulous paint daubs and dots, and then have the evening and night to apply the rain effect, so that I can hopefully get to bed before midnight (that’s my new goal).

Truro Art Residency 2019: Day 6 (Sat)

I can’t believe that it’s already Saturday! By my calculation I have just 6.5 days left here! This is right around my halfway point — this residency is already flying by!

This morning I woke up at 6am because I had to use the restroom, but that felt too early to officially get up, so I set my alarm for another 2 hours and got up to shower and start my day around 9am. I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to pursue today. I went to the studio to brush up the first two paintings and to wire up a third. Around 11am I decided I would go to PTown to get a few things at the hardware store. As I was working up in my studio everything felt really humid and clammy. When I walked outside it was breezy and cool, so I needed to pick up a studio fan just to keep air moving, along with a few supplies needed. Before I left I took a brief walk around some of the fields of the property, visiting in with the other studio in the print shop on campus.