Artnotes Italy Daily

Saturday, May 26, 2018



 Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm
 ​Trees Panaro Spring   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  23.5 x 15.5"  60 x 40"
 Dovecote  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 13"  41 x 33cm 
​Trees at the River  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 13"  41 x 33 cm  

​Oratorio Monteorsello  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  13 x 18"  33 x 46cm 

My Dad, “Foxie”, passed away this week.  I had just been there to see him alive, and talked to him only 24 hours before he left us.  It’s a remarkable thing, after 63 years together, he isn’t there anymore.  He was the first person that loved me; he was a witness to all I did, good and bad.   He was my sounding board, and I decided at an early age, if I couldn’t tell him what I was doing, I probably shouldn’t be doing it.  I trusted him.

I feel grief, but I feel more relieved he won’t be stuck in his bed any longer.  He used to run seven miles a day, three times a week.  When he couldn’t do that anymore, at age 70, he walked (“I see so much more,” he admitted).  And he walked up until a few weeks before his death, when he broke his pelvis.  Being in bed just wasn’t something he could tolerate.

Anyway, services are taking place without me being there.  I can’t face, physically nor financially, another trip to the USA with our annual summer pilgrimage looming on 26 June.   The actual burial will be “put on ice” until I arrive, end of June.

Back in April, I made an earlier reservation than usual for our American summer trip.  It also puts us in the Northeast USA in time to be at the Brimfield Antiques and Art Fair in Brimfield, Massachusetts.  We’re sharing a “double” booth with an artist friend, Michael Ince.  He makes prints and wood sculpture and it will be a good fit alongside us.  We are selling our Baseball Show, my Newspaper Paintings, and our usual collection of Fine Art Paintings on canvas.  I have made a couple of catalogs: ;

I am under pressure now to divest the paintings in our storage locker in the USA; without my Dad I have no real place from which to maintain what’s there.   So, we’re “selling out to the walls”.  There may be an art bonfire on the beach at Highland Lake on the 24 July.  I hope not.

I am looking forward to our artshow.  It’s terrifically nerve-wracking but standing face to face with interested buyers satisfies my gambling gene (from my mother, Shorty).  All this week I have been painting, promoting, and eating and drinking ferociously.  I am overwhelmed with an urge to live.   And, when we get back here in August, we’re showing our Italian work in Zocca.   Anything can happen. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

On the Wing

In New England last week, I saw a Pileated Woodpecker.  He was enormous, maybe one foot tall, and I can only think of Woody Woodpecker when I see him.  That dates me, for certain.   I was in Connecticut for five days to visit my aging father, and to boost my sisters’ spirits, who spend so much time taking care of him.

It was a short jaunt, with numerous delays on Air Canada, one of the few airlines providing service from Rome to Hartford, Connecticut.   The leg of our journey from Toronto to Hartford had no lights in the cabin of the dash-8, the flight attendant using her cell phone to decipher coca cola from ginger ale in the beverage cart.   She had that wonderful lilting French Canadian voice which announced “we’ll be flying in the dark.”

I made dinners, drank wine with my sister, shopped at the thrift store, and spent many hours sitting in the rest home.  I thought about building Monet’s painting boat, and the importance of fulfilling all I want to do in life.  I recalled traveling along the Tiber (Tevere) in the train from my house to the airport:  a middle-aged woman embarking and bursting into a loving smile as she encountered a man she’d not seen in an awfully long time.  His harsh demeanor melted and the two were so happy I could feel their warmth.  It’s so important to connect with people, in person.

I returned to Rome, four hours late, to guests from America.  We had a jolly time touring the Sabina countryside for four days.   We visited one of the two best rose gardens in the world, located just 20 minutes from our house, if one knew where one was going.  It had over 3,400 varieties of roses, most of which were in bloom, among 6,000 plants.  We were the only people in the garden wandering about the grounds, on account of the kind, handsome gentleman who let us in without a “reservation”.   The garden experience was intoxicating, visually and olfactorally.  We drove on to lunch at Casperia, on the recommendation of the rose man.

On the drive we saw, for the very first time, one of my most coveted birds, the European Kingfisher.  They are a tiny bird, mostly beak, adorned in blue and orange feathers.  The entire bird is the size of the Pileated Woodpecker’s head.    He was sitting in the middle of the road, looking brilliant, before he flew off.  

I would have liked to paint him at once, but my brain was still someplace over the Atlantic.  I’ve neglected artnotes for two solid weeks.  I can’t let go of the string long enough to let my spirit soar.
On Wednesday we drove up to Rocca Malatina, hopefully this time for most of the summer.    Just as we pulled in the drive a brightly marked pied-wagtail (or ballerina bird) welcomed us.   She jumped with her long spindly legs, and flew on to more adventure.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Where you grew up

 ​Il Casale   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  15 x 18"  38  46cm

 ​Civita Castellano  Blair Pessemier  Acryic/canvas  15 x 18"  38 x 46 cm 

 Fuschia Geranium  Laurie Fox Pessemier ​Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   43 x 61cm 
 Pansy   Laurie Fox Pessemier ​Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   43 x 61cm  
 Laurie Fox Pessemier ​Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   43 x 61cm 

 Laurie Fox Pessemier ​Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   43 x 61cm 
 Laurie Fox Pessemier ​Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   43 x 61cm 

 Laurie Fox Pessemier ​Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   43 x 61cm 
 Across the Street to Vescovia  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 24  40 x 60cm

​Grape Vines  ​Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acryic/canvas  15 x 18"  38 x 46 cm  

“If Italy could get its tourism act together, it would be the most visited country in the world,”  a friend expounded over drinks on Friday night.  We all have the best tourist experiences here.  We were recounting to him our visit to Tarquinia, which externally had all the romance of visiting a series of cow sheds, but the Etruscan tombs beneath the ground were extraordinary.

We drove to Tarquinia via Viterbo, with friends, and onto Cerveteri, with a lunch outdoors, all a stone’s through from the Tyrrhenian Sea.  An unpopulated beach, with a couple of charming Sengalese selling whatever you might need, was a perfect respite from the hot, sunny necropolis’.  Our guest and I bought flower-lined umbrellas from a Bangladeshi confined to the restaurant.   A perfect day, all within an hour of here.  We dropped our friends off at Fiumicino airport. 

Blair and I enjoy the area, with or without visitors.  Yesterday we went to Orte to paint.  The sun was in the wrong position.  I forget, I admire it from the highway coming from Florence, which means it is at least after 1PM when I see it.  So we pressed on, looking for other painting sites.  On the way, we passed near a local streetfood truck, serving sausage and broccolini sandwiches, and we couldn’t resist.    In the end, we painted quite close to our own town.

We visited the peony garden on Saturday.  There were more than 600 varieties of peonies and 200,000 plantings over about 40 acres.  We were almost the only car of people there, because unless you were in the know, you’d never find the place by the directions on the internet.  It claimed to be in Vitorchiano, near Viterbo, but in fact it was four miles away.   The delightful fragrance announced the place.  The preponderance of bused-in older folk made me feel like a teen-ager.

We’ve been sitting on the benches in Stimigliano, drawing pictures of the locals, something they seem to enjoy as they sit around rehashing local events.  We visit while drawing (I’ll include some pictures next artnotes).  A local, 68 years old, tells us how his son works in Chicago, USA.  “And he says Americans never stop:  they’re always working, always earning money”. 

I guess it all depends where you grew up.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Artnotes: Just Dandy

Church at Farfa  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  24 x 16"  60 x 40cm 

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

At San Faniamo  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  15 x 18"  38 x 46cm

​Geraniums  Laurie Fox Pessemier  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm

​The Saxophone Group  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 24"  30 x 60cm

When we first bought our house, we were told the apartment upstairs was unoccupied.  We later found out that in fact, in the 70 square meters (700 sf) above us, a family raised 7 children in the 1950s and 60s.  Now that the parents are passed, nobody knows what to do with the place.  For the last six months, someone has come by about every month to brush off the balcony and check on things. 
In any case, Harika has been barking wildly at a new presence on high.   I saw someone leaving with a suitcase, but in fact they were back later, same suitcase.  I tried to tell myself, maybe they’ll be wonderful, like Olivier with the piano on rue d’Assas in Paris.  But today, while I was painting a picture of my recently purchased geraniums, a man in a decidedly black suit passed by.  Harika barked her “don’t bother my mother” bark, and he went into our building.  At first, I thought he was a dandy.  Then, an undertaker.  No, I thought, with that van dyke beard he could be a devil-worshiper.  I made a mental note never to let Harika out alone – he might see her as a sacrifice.  I tried not to panic.  “He could possibly be a Jehovah’s witness, or a Mormon,” Blair pointed out, citing the black suit.
It’s really turned to summer here in Stimigliano.  The heat is OFF and I actually had a mosquito buzz my ear two nights ago.  I must get screens.  We don’t really plan on being here much in the summer, with the Apennine house and a trip to the USA in the offing.  We have managed a few local paintings this week, and I felt oh so happy in the sunshine.
​A notice had been posted there would be no parking or driving in our little town last Sunday. It went on about some event in the Piazza Orsini.  Not wanting to miss out, we joined the congregation in front of the castello.  The castello is a lovely late medieval building I had hoped at one time to incorporate in a renovation workshop.  On Sunday, there were chairs, and lots of folks we’d never seen before.
There were several saxophones set out on the steps, and a group of young players filed out to deliver their recital.  When I see the saxophone, I think of my nephew, Marshall, who plays.  He has his own sax, and I heard play him with a contemporary group at Connecticut College in December.  I’ve reached an age and realization when I can feel like I am watching my own family when I see people of similar age and talent to them.  My own “family” takes on the family of man, as if I am deeply woven in the fabric, and this or that thread is pulled closer to me. 
The music concluded, we all applauded, at which time the students retired and the instructor, and four other musicians appeared.  The star:  Emiliano Rodriguez, the “dandy” who was living (in fact just staying overnight) upstairs.  I had a hard time disguising my laughter, and Harika can walk free again.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Artnotes: Hopping Around

 A Village   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

 Blair Pessemier  The Tiber in the Distance  Acrylic/canvas  15.5 x 19.5   40 x 50cm

 Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

                      Grasshopper  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

  Narcissus on Blue   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

 Narcissus on Violet  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

  Forsythia   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

 Seated Badger  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

Badger Turquoise   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

The Badger  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic on newspaper  17 x 24″    43 x 61cm

We made the jump from Rocca Malatina to Stimigliano again;  friends from America are visiting Rome, and we’ll take them on a tour of the Sabina region in the coming week. We will see olive trees and hill towns; churches and the Tiber.  It is as green as Ireland in Italy this spring.  It rains regularly.  It puts a crimp in our outdoor painting, but the paper pictures are thriving.

While we were in Rocca Malatina, we changed our doctor.  I was surprised how easy it was – I had practiced my explanation, in Italian, for leaving Dr. Damore, but it wasn’t asked for. I left him because he told me the reason for my burning stomach was the moon.  La luna.  I must have looked incredulous when he said it, because he repeated it in English:  the moon.  When I asked when the moon would get better, he said June. I couldn’t wait.

We drove up to Zocca (where the healthcare office and pharmacy are) several times.   On the way there was a dead badger in the road.  Coming from America and living most of my life in the city, I had never seen a badger in person until recently.  I liked “Badger” in The Wind in the Willows, and have been delighted to see them (well, the living ones) in Italy.  They are kind of like flying carpets, very hairy, with a big body and hidden legs. Their feet are quite human-like, with a sole.  I liked seeing this badger because I could really study his look.  He was lying at the curve of the road and we couldn’t really pick him up.  I sometimes collect specimens for the deep freeze in our basement, but most of my finds are limited to birds or insects.

Today, outside our door we saw the largest grasshopper I’ve seen (again, deceased).  I picked him up and placed him with the hawk-moth I found at the Farnese palazzo recently.  The grasshopper had all his wings and antenna; the most remarkable thing was the “hairy” back leg (only one remained) where he could play his music.  The saw blades protruded quite prominently.

I am really happy to be living in the country.  Me, who used to say, “three days in the countryside, maximum.”  I am thrilled to see the change in the trees, the arrival of the swallows, the rising and falling of the river.  I am never bored, as long as I can go outside. 

There are countless changing elements, in color, texture, size.  The tree isn’t the same in December as it is in June.  If you don’t like this picture, just hop across the road.