Saturday, September 24, 2016

Between Now and Then

Apples on the tree (with supports)  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  9 x 12"  24 x 30cm

Sassi with Geraniums   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   16 x 16"  40 x 40cm

Last red geraniums   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   10 x 20   25 x 50 cm

Gold decorations   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas 12 x 16   30 x40cm

Sassuolo   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 24"  30 x 60cm

Between Now and Then

In my heart, I know I shouldn’t focus on the future, but all I can think of right now is winter when Blair and I are left to our own devices… we’re talking about a few weeks in the city of Bologna, and some time at the beach.  I love the beach in winter, when no one is there, and the sand is open for running and playing with Harika.    I make up games, and Blair and I throw rocks at targets.  Blair skips rocks on the ever-flat Adriatic.   The sky is all turquoise and pink, reflecting colors of the sea and evaporation.  The Mediterranean has more waves, but is still a far cry from the giant Atlantic and Pacific.  We used to go to the Pacific year-round when we lived in Seattle:  world’s largest ocean, right there.

I’ve been thinking about Christmas (no advertising yet, I just thought it on my own), and I added gold decorations to four Christmas trees I painted last winter.  I am trying to remember the words to carols.  We’re planning to get a big tree.

I know that fall is a favorite season for many, but it’s never been so for me.  I like the angle of the sun, finally we can paint again during the day; but the shortening days send me into a panic.  We painted yesterday with two new friends.  We all headed up to the Sassi, our BIG ROCKS, and painted from the deck of the closed-up restaurant.   The geraniums were still in raging red bloom, and we arranged ourselves so they figured in the paintings.

Fall is a worrying time for me, with the disappearance of flowers and butterflies.  All I feel is the END of things.  Even though the coloring of leaves is lovely, I feel happier when we’ve transitioned to winter, and the trees show their limbs.  Then, I keep an eye peeled for pussy-willows.  Light abounds once more.

Fall smacks of new leather shoes and sharp pencils, the aromas of school.   Our yards smells of ripe fruit; I paint the apples.  The tree is assisted with more props than limbs, thanks to Ludovico.  He collects errant branches all year long and turns them into tree-crutches.    I’ve made plum jam and roasted pears.  The grapes are ripe, and the chickens jump in the air to capture them.

The sun is out today, despite our cold nights.   Camilla, at the café, says the snails have burrowed underground already, a sure sign of a cold, snowy winter.   We ate lunch at the backyard table yesterday, with the world’s most delicious tomatoes I “canned” from a friend’s garden.

Grasshoppers with pink and green skirts fly among the dying grasses, living up that last little bit of summer.   

Saturday, September 17, 2016


​Venice from Arsenale/Giardini    Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 18"  30 x 45cm 

Tuesday we went to Venice for the day…our guests, Blair and I, and Harika.  We’d all been to Venice before, but who can resist a spontaneous visit to that beautiful city?   We drove in air conditioned comfort (our friend’s rental car) and parked just outside the city.   We could have left Harika in the cool, shady garage, but she seemed to know at once where she was.

It was a flurry of trips with guests this week:   on Monday we toured Bologna.   I was so impressed by these visits, I decided to include them in my painting workshops.   In fact, this week, we set up a workshop totake place 17 -24 June in Cortona (Tuscany) Italy!  

​Montalbano from Verucchia  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 18  30 x 45cm

We hopped on the vaporetto and headed toward Accademia.  These waterbuses are one of my favorite things about Venice – one can just ride around looking at the most beautiful, decorative facades in the world.  It is almost unbelievable how wonderful it is.

We got a seat on the vaporetto, but soon succumbed to standing out on the deck…   Harika travels in a sack on the boat, and had a muzzle (a requirement).   Dogs are king in Venice, where there are no cars or bicycles.  

House near the Giardini in Venice  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas 12 x 16"  30 x 40cm

At the Accadamia stop we took a right toward a sandwich shop we ate at when we spent a month there in 2015.   We ordered a large collection of sandwiches and cold white wine.  It was about 90 degrees outside and the airconditioning was struggling to keep it below 80.   Harika sat in the wood booth, trying to steal my prosciutto.  Usually she is more restrained, but Venice brings something out in her.  A smaller white dog barked and took a snap at her on our departure.

We walked from there to the Seguso, a pensione where Blair and his friend stayed 40 years ago when they were in their “year abroad” program with Notre Dame’s architectural school.    They took pictures.  The small white dog was sitting out front with her owner.  After the picture, Blair walked by and the dog tried to bite his ankle.  Hence the muzzle law.

​View from Verruchia and the cheese store   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 24"  30 x 60cm 

Harika tried to lead us back to the house where we once stayed on via Piscina.  Instead, we took the vaporetto from Zattere to Giardini, where our friends wanted to see an architecture show.  Blair and I painted.  It was a hazy day.  Harika and I sat in the grass (I had to spray mosquito repellant on me – I am a mosquito magnet).  Just sitting was so hot, we eventually retired to a café and I ordered a liter of water.  Blair had lemonade.  Harika was served water in a large bowl before we got our things.  See what I mean?  Venice is for dogs, or is that doges?

​End of the Island   Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/canvas  16 x 32"  30 x 80cm    

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Artnotes: If the shoe doesn't fit...

Dancing Shoes (with gold)   Laurie Fox Pessemier  12 x 16"    30 x 40cm   

These shoes won’t fit.   Every few days I try them on again – if my feet were really, really cold they might slip in.  I trim my toenails very close. 

Sometimes no matter how hard I try I can’t be the person I think I should be.   I am not always the painter I want to be, the salesperson, the hostess.  I wish I were thinner, didn’t drink so much, didn’t let people get on my nerves.  I want to speak Italian right now, laugh more, see the bright side.  I want to know the answer (and it better be good).

Grape Vines in the Back Yard  Laurie Fox Pessemier 12 x 18"  30 x 45cm  

My friend Y and I visit every Wednesday morning on Skype.  I look forward to it.   We try to improve ourselves.  We are suckers for self-help, and we spend a certain number of minutes every day trying to reach our goals.   I know that works, because I have two musically gifted nephews who learned multiple instruments, under the eye of my sister, practicing 15 minutes a day.  If they can do it, I can master Italian, write, paint, and promote our artwork -- and, oh yeah, exercise.    Y sells calendars for her 3 and 30 day goal materials on Etsy.  I use them.

Grape Vines at Castello di Serravalle   Laurie Fox Pessemier   12 x 24"   30 x 60cm  

But, no, the shoes really don’t fit.  I can’t even get them on, much less walk in them.  I got the shoes at the flea market at Savigno.  I didn’t pay too much.   They are Italian shoes, beautifully made, with little rubber divots in the heels to make them last.   So I there’s still time to figure it all out.

View from Castello di Serravalle  Blair Pessemier  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm

I can paint the shoes…maybe someone will come along who likes them as much as I do and they will fit (a man’s size 8).  Or, I can plant posies in them, carnations maybe.   I have thought of constructing a “dancing” mobile.  I have terrifically high ceilings here, and a mobile could be just right.   Top hat, gloves, shoes, a record hung from a shiny black cane…a swoopy chiffon scarf?   Just don’t step on my toes.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Artnotes: Touched to the Heart

 Montepulciano   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   8 x 20"  2 x 50cm
 Montepulciano in the distance   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   12 x 20    30 x 50cm
 Cortona Italia   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  18 x 14    45 x 35cm
Lucky Gypsy Plants   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/antique ship log   8 x 14  20 x 35cm
 Harika in the Yard    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood   7 x 9.5"   18 x 24cm
Sunrise with Ludovico's house   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   14 x 18"  35 x 45cm

Artnotes:   Touched to the Heart

As we pulled up to park at our Italian lessons on Friday, there was a horse on the sidewalk adjacent.  She was a beautiful white horse, with a whiskery chin and delicate spots.  She had  three or four extra long eyelashes around her eyes.  The man, who looked like he had been with her a long time, stroked her head, reassuring her.  He kissed her on the nose.   I sat in the car while Blair made a run up the street to the Centro di Frutta, to buy juice.

The rider told me he never used a car.  “I am horse” he told me, in an oddly accented English.  I asked if she were an appaloosa.  My friend in Montecorone has appaloosas and I imagined she could be related.  “No” he answered, “she is part Romanian and part Andalusian.  I leave her free on my land.”  We chatted a bit about the area, animals.     I felt the luckiness of the horse and the man, and could faintly smell her grassi-ness.   He started singing a song to her about a “cavallo” (horse, in Italian).

Blair returned and I wished them Buona Sera, proceeding into the community center at Zocca for the lesson.   It was too hot to use the conference room so we sat in the entry way, with an assortment of tables and chairs.  Students trickled in.

Kone arrived and handed me a plastic bag.  Kone is a tailor, looking for work, living in Zocca, hoping someday to bring his wife from Mali.   We copy off one another's’ papers from time to time.   He speaks and understands Italian better than I do, but I am a better writer.

I looked into the bag.  He made me a shirt/dress!   It was of green flowered fabric with a deep purple-red striped lining.  I held it up.  It fit!  Thank you, thank you I told him: a million times thank you.  It was such a surprise, and I was touched to the heart with his kindness.  I honestly don’t know when anyone ever made me such a nice present.

Sometimes, at school, I have the impression these young people think of us as parents.   I am so honored by their respect and friendliness.   I think we all go to class as much to see each other as to learn Italian.

We missed class on Monday, when we drove to Cortona (south of Florence) to talk to someone about tutoring a painting workshop.  It was a wonderful trip, and made me sure we would be teaching painting workshops once again, here or there, or a variety of places in Italy.   Our video and a link to our painting workshop site follow. 

This morning after coffee we ran into Piero, one of our early friends here.  “Do you think you’ll stay much longer?” he asks.  At least seven more years, we tell him.

Pessemier Workshops - ITALY

Laurie and Blair Pessemier

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Artnotes: Persimmon, Mustard, Cantaloupe, Rose
In the Mountains   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm   

All week went by without me writing a single word.    Well, that isn’t exactly true, as I wrote to many people who were worried we were affected by the earthquake in Italy.   We live more than 200 miles away, and while it is possible Harika felt the shake (she got up from bed about that time), we didn’t feel a thing.  It was quite a disaster, all those stone houses crumbling like sand castles, to the ground. 

​ The Tree out Front   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas 16 x 12"  40 x 30cm   

We went to our landlady’s house for dinner that evening.   Our Italian teacher came, too.   It was an Italian language dinner, always a bit challenging for Blair and I.  We understand a lot, but at a dinner table of six people, it is daunting to chime in.   It was a table of stories -- life stories, and everyone found it delightful.  It was very different from the subject-oriented French table, where the man at the head would have been responsible for guiding the conversation.  Here, women predominated and the table talk was pleasing (and a great pasta dish – a la confit d’onion).

​Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm   195.00

We visited Modena twice this week, once to film a bit for our upcoming video, then to see a friend/look for a gallery space.   Modena is still in the throes of summer, and one of our destinations was closed, both times:  on vacation, no firm dates set.   Rolling metal grills close up the shops, so sometimes we can’t even tell if we made it to the right place.  We consoled ourselves with an Aperol-Spritz (Aperol, that delightful Italian drink – made from a secret recipe).

The weather has been incredible here: providing those dark blue skies one hardly ever sees.  It is a strange phenomenon one associates with van Gogh paintings, but I am witnessing that sky-darker-than-the-trees image frequently.  

When I think of color, I think of Bologna (persimmon, mustard, cantaloupe, rose) where we also went this week.  I I bought new gold paint there – not as good as the Lascaux brand I used to get in Paris, but it is still fun to have.    I had a “Pimm’s Cup” at a sidewalk café, and it was delivered with three small sandwiches, potato chips and olives.  
Tophat  (with Gold)   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 12"  40 x 30cm  

When we lived in Tunisia, certainly the hottest clime we ever experienced, women used to walk as slow as snails.  Wrapped up in white, sheet-like coverings, the edge of the cloth held in their teeth, they would proceed along the sidewalk at a pace I could never match.   Really, very sensible, protected from the sun, not breaking a sweat.   But then, what about the burkini?   

Sunday, August 21, 2016


 ​Procession   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic on canvas   27 x 39"     69 x 100cm

 ​Fig Tree    Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on canvas  12 x 20"   30 x 50cm
​Cosmos  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  20 x 8"   50 x 20cm 

“ …the essential element for the human condition of joy is community”  Viktor Car, a friend, wrote me in an email this week.  

He’s convinced, like me, that Italy is all about community and communication.   As Harika and I sat on the bench waiting for Blair at the grocery store (one of the few places she’s not welcome), a man came and asked if he could share my bench.  He started in about who used to live in our house.  Before we knew it, a lady came to sit on the other side.  

That kind of casualness doesn’t always come naturally;   I am from the land of “fences make the best neighbors”.   But when I cast New England aside, I can be quite happy sitting on a sunny bench, and later, getting up.

I called G in Modena this week when I was feeling rather blue.   He is someone I can talk to without receiving unsolicited advice, comment, et cetera.  Of course, the conversation began with the blues, but as I talked and talked I realized just how fantastic and positive my life is. 

We show our artwork (did I tell you we had a lawn show last weekend?).  We meet amazing people.  I actually talk to them and understand them speaking to me in Italian.   Artists find us, and say, you are Van Gogh!  It is too wonderful.  M makes me a new coffee drink.  C, such a deep character, likes me.   I feel loved in Rocca Malatina.  

But feeling loved is realizing you are separate, and that love lasts only as long as you connect, maybe just a brief laugh, a hug.   One must get out there and participate.   It  isn’t always perfect, either.  E, our neighbor’s 80-something-year-old aunt, says, “when are you going to start speaking Italian?”  I am crestfallen.  But the next day she plucks at my skirt, asking, “are you going dancing tonight?  Tango?”  She tango-ed several numbers at the Ferragosto festivities, dancing with a contemporary to polkas, waltzes and mazurkas.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not keen on communal living   I need to feel separate once in a while, especially to do my artwork.  The painting workshops are ok, because I am with other artists for a short time; but a clear road, free of social obligation, is essential for creativity.   That’s what winter is for.

Here is another thing I’ve been working on:

Monday, August 15, 2016


Oleander on the patio   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm

 Plums Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm
Keeping cool in the shade  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 20"  30 x 25cm

 It’s been a rocky landy here in Italy.   We had to drive ourselves from Milan to Rocca Malatina (3.5 hours after our overnight flight (9 hours)) in our un-airconditioned car on Tuesday, and the house, while intact, was not the way we left it.   I actually had to use the anger-management app on the Internet to settle myself down.  A healthy dose of scotch whiskey didn’t hurt, either.

It’s the weekend of Ferragosto, a big Italian holiday – last year we met new friends on this day, and are forever thankful.  This year, we’ve dragged all of our paintings onto the front lawn (how many people do you know with 16 easels?) and have hung our ArT flag.  We have met artists from Naples and Rome, a sculptress from just 5 miles away, and a few other curious souls.   I love doing this – do you remember Hitchcock’s “The Trouble with Harry” (Shirley McClaine’s first role)   We’re about to be discovered.

Last evening we went to a picnic at our Italian teacher’s house, with all our fellow students.  We’re the boring ones – they come from places like Mali and Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Morocco… they played drums and danced, and I felt like I was far, far away.

There will be fireworks tonight.  I wonder if they will be the new silent kind, meant to not disturb animals?  My animal doesn’t care for them, but is not as traumatized as some.  Our Jack Russell, 30 years ago, required sedatives.  

We had a new dog over here yesterday, Blanca.  She’s a white German shepherd, a “Swiss” shepherd from Serbia.  I think she weighs about 30 pounds.  Our friend dropped her into my arms, and she had that soft puppy feel and smell. I am happy to be part of her early life – we’ll always be friends now.

Harika remembers everyone from her early pack.  On our trip to the USA this year, we visited K and L, who were the first people Harika met in America.  She’s crazy about them, and we are too.  We were only in the DC area  for a day, but saw:  the new Immanuel Chapel in Alexandria, Virginia (fabulous! No expense spared, down to the candle holders); the National Cathedral in Washington, DC; and the Phillips collection, where, incidentally, the directors wore pinstripe suits.  

Each of those experiences deserves a full paragraph, at least.   At the Phillips Collection, we sat before Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”, feeling like we were there.   There is a Milton Avery room at this lovely little museum, an absolute delight.   Marjorie Phillips’ evening baseball scene (the Washington Senators) hangs in the stairwell.   A woman interviewed us, wondering if we would like to have a special “app” to better understand the museum:  NO NO NO we told her – nothing could improve the spark that Renoir left for us.

We have one foot in the USA and the other here in Italy, but we’re leaning into this side.   Benissimo!

Friday, August 05, 2016

Thinking of Modena

Modena   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  25 x 27"  

North American Vacation

Clouds over Highland Lake   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  11 x 14"

 Across the Lake   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 24"
 ​"Buffalo" on the Detroit River  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  11 x 14"
 Bulk Loader   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood  4.5 x 14"
Photo of Dalhousie Lighthouse(s) Lake Ontario

“Uh, oh…the GPS doesn’t work in Canada”.  So Blair and I began our bumbling vacation through the North American wilderness.   We were on our way to Detroit (Blair’s family reunion), and decided to make the break in the journey at Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls is one of my favorite places on earth (I guess I could skip “on earth”, because I haven’t made the moon trip yet).  We stayed at a hotel terribly far from the falls – no scale on the “bookings” map.   So that afternoon, instead of visiting the falls we went to the lighthouses on Lake Ontario.
I was surprised at the sandy beach with trees nearly up to the water’s edge.  The lake was shallow and Harika and I had a gander in our street wear.  Two wooden lighthouses illuminated the edge of the peninsula, just before you took your boat through the locks.  

The next morning, at 7 AM, we headed to Niagara – FABULOUS.  Nobody is there at 7:30 in the morning, save a very few Asian tourists.   We were able to feel the vapors:  for me, the energy of the moving water, the air, gravity infuse me with great motivation.  I feel, like Tesla, I could electrify the world.   We ate breakfast on a terrace overlooking the falls.

When I say we went to Detroit, it was really the greater Detroit area.  Hardly anyone lives in Detroit, and we were able to make an “unguided” tour of parts of the city.  Blair and I always thought it would be interesting to invest our time in a dilapidated house, which Detroit is famous for.   Instead, our trip “off the tourist route” was sobering – it was way beyond any project we could undertake.  

Architecturally, there were some beauties, sadly ruined from years of disuse and vandalism.
The reunion itself took place on the banks of the Detroit river.   Huge bulk-loaders passed by, allowing a quick brush at most.   We loved that.
Our route home took us to see dear friends in Toronto.   It was an easy jaunt from Detroit.  Our friends are art buyers of many styles, ages – a few Pessemiers hang on their walls.   He is now produces a terrific blog/newsletter about the Toronto Blue Jay’s games, in a sports writing style  (­ ).  We ate lunch, and planned a new route back.

We drove by the Thousand Lakes, and plan to spend a little longer there next year.   We passed over the metal bridge in the long golden rays of the late afternoon.   Our trip is in it’s final days, and we look forward to next year.   

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Paintings from the Porch SALE

All the paintings, shown below, are on sale now for $125.00 each, freight included USA (europeans, I'll carry them back for you; australia/asia subject to a small freight addition).  Some are framed, and frames are included.  Refer to number on painting when ordering, or copy image to your email.  The size is also listed.  

There are many more paintings on our porch. on Highland Lake in Winsted, CT.   We will be there most of the time from Thursday through Sunday -- if we happen to be out, climb up the hill across the street from the lake onto the porch on the house on the left  (there's a cigar box if you buy something. or you can mail us a check or pay with paypal).

I also have a bunch of paintings on wood which I'll be sending to you in the next day or two.