Monday, May 03, 2021

Artnotes: Idiosyncrasies

Red Admirals take Flight at Villa Loris Blair Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  18 x 24 "  46  x 61 cm  725.00
Marvelous things transpired this week.  The temperature rose, and the muguet (lily-of-the-valley) bloomed, as if on cue for the 1 May.    The first of May is “labor day” all over Europe, and people have the day off.  Most of Italy “opened up” and we could drive to the beach.  We did.
Buttercups from the Yard   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/paper  25 x 17"  63 x 41cm  320.00
It’s a dicey thing, removing restrictions here in Italy.  We still have about 10,000 new cases a day and 300-ish deaths.  I laid in a new supply of masks, in shades of sky blue camo.  Almost everyone I speak to thinks the opening is folly, but the government is receiving so many complaints from restaurants and cinemas, they felt compelled to do something.  We still have a 10 PM curfew.
Our Field of Buttercups
We have been having more Italian conversation this week, simply because more people are out.  I find myself bursting into speech, and understanding more.  T can tell us about her even-more-pampered-than-Harika dog, Pancho.  He is just two months older than Harika, but as a purebred (west highland terrier), he’s got more maladies.   Harika, on the other hand, has him on idiosyncrasies.
Flowers and Ivy on an Orange Field   Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 12 x 16"  30 x 40cm   450.00
We drove to the dog beach, Porto Garibaldi, on Friday.  It was bright and sunny.  At the edge of the water, there were dogs of all shapes and sizes, amazingly well behaved.  We did not see one fight, and the only growler seemed to be Harika, who insisted on her return to the car after she dipped her toes in the Adriatic.  The water was cold, and I tasted it as a standard for how much to salt my pasta water (it should taste like the sea).  The only people in the water were two Indian kids, who were having a bang up time.   We brought a blanket and umbrella for Harika.   It’s a problem putting the dog in the car on a sunny day, not because it’s hot – we have window shades all around and leave the windows open so she can stick her whole head out – but because she barks for us to sit in the car with her.  I endured icy stares as I walked away from the car, Harika barking.  We sat on the beach, not too far away.  “We are not punishing her,” I explained to Sammy’s owner, who was having a hard time keeping track of the seven month old retriever, “she wants me to sit in the car with her.”  This made Sammy seem the ideal dog.
Sketches from the Beach   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/paper  17 x 25"  41 x 63"  250.00
Our nemesis, the itinerant peddler, was at the beach.  I am from Bangladesh, he told us.  I have the Covid vaccine – my friend is a doctor.  We doubted that; everyone at the beach had masks on anyway (except the Indians).   “These are all new designs, take the elephant.”  In fact, we bought two, large batiks, enough to cover our beds for summer, or as a backdrop to use as in a still life painting.  They were not elephants, but geometric design batik, hand-dyed on all cotton materials.  I had been reading about the women of Indonesia (and India and Bangladesh) and their micro-businesses of making batik, and this made me want to participate.

We wound up the day at a cheesy fish stand, where we at French fries and cod.  Harika had a pork cutlet, the only meat on the menu.
White Flower (star of bethlehem?)   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10.5 x 9"  27 x 23cm  350.00


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Artnotes: Maybe you'd like to Join Us


Flutter   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Terra Cotta   4-6" 10 - 15 cm
Per the suggestion of an artnotes reader, I am reading the biography of Stanley Ann Dunham, the mother of Barack Obama.  It has almost nothing to say about the former president, but looks at Stanley Ann as “A Singular Woman” (the title of the book).  She lived in Indonesia for a great part of her life, and for that I enjoy her point of view.
Ranunculas and Geraniums  Blair Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 18 x 15"  46 x 38cm   450.00

As Americans living abroad, we have a completely different reality than most people we know.  I can never tell if that is because of who we are, or because we live in Italy.   I will never be Italian, or French, or African, but I thoroughly enjoy my vantage point from the outside.  I can be quiet and respectful, and enjoy life from the periphery of another culture.
Not From Here  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Terra Cotta   4-6" 10 - 15 cm
I am not really part of the American expat community that craves tacos and hangs around with one another until they go back to America (there are other expats who inspire me).  I really don’t miss very much from the old country, and I still haven’t tried everything I want to experience here in Italy, much less the next place we go to.

A BIG Year For Dandelions  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 9.5 x 12"  24 x 30cm  350.00
I watched a silly little film recently called Emily.     It’s about a lady florist with apparently not much in her life, but she is happy.  The film really spoke to me because I am like that.
Ranunculas on a Yellow Field  Laurie Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  18 x 10"  45 x 25 cm  450.00
I have never really held a day-to-day job for a single employer.  Blair and I worked independently  to support ourselves until recently when we started collecting social security (we always paid our US taxes).  We still sell a fair number of paintings.  When Covid eventually lifts, we will start doing tours again, some painting tours, and other, simpler tours to places off the beaten track.
Castello di Serravalle    Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas 11.5 x 19.5"  30 x 50cm  450.00
We are going to start filming some sample tours.  At the moment I am researching the geology of the national park near our house.  It has the most unusual large stones I have ever seen.  They approach ten stories in height, and look like the rocks in the background of Leonardo’s Madonna of the Rocks, or an early Renaissance etching.   We’ll walk up to see the these rocks, observing surrounding flora and fauna  and continue on to a 10th century church nearby.  I have other tours planned, here in Emiglia-Romagna and also down around the Rome area.

Who knows? Maybe you’d like to join us?
Thoughts  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Terra Cotta  4-6" 10-15cm

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Artnotes: Hey, Nice Painting


Love is a Hat   BlairPessemier  acrylic/canvas 39.5 x 35.5"  100 x 90  cm arrives unstretched

An amazing thing happened.  Remember last week how I said if I stopped celebrating, or doing something, it never started again?  Well, it isn’t really true.  Back in January, a Skype friend and I stopped our weekly meeting to paint and visit.   The connection was shaky, I was crabby, and we decided to call it quits.  I was really sorry afterwards, and made it clear.   Well, this week, by hook or by crook, we tried it again.  It was as good as ever, maybe better, peppered with new ideas and less “tradition”.   Am I suggesting it’s ok to quit?  No.  But I am saying, give it another try.

Red Geraniums  Laurie Fox  Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 10.5 x 14"  27 x 35cm   450.00

It was the highlight for me in a cold week.  Snow and freezing temperatures killed my two large begonias, or at last diminished them severely.  I covered them, but it wasn’t enough.  I’ve covered myself, sorry to have removed the winter insulation upstairs.  Along with the temperature, my mood plunged into the doldrums.
Actually, Pasquetta, Easter Monday, was fine, with three guests and a leg of lamb that Harika polished off during the week.  We all got to sit outside in 70+ (20+) degree sunshine.  It seduced me into thinking, heck, it can’t freeze now.   Well, it did.

The Yesler Hotel  Blair Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 21.5 x 18"  55 x 46cm  650.00

Being shut in again, I am looking for happy books to read.   I don’t want to read about unhappy marriages, dogs dying, transgender experiences, grisly murders, doom nor gloom (not that there haven’t been super-duper books tackling those subjects).    I want to read “3 Men in a Boat”, or about Bertie Wooster.  I like books by John McPhee, or the history of the color Red.  Mahfouz.  Even Lawrence Durrell, although I like Gerard Durrell’s “My Family and Other Animals” better.   I read voraciously.  At least a book or two a week, and I’ve read 5 times that much while living where it rains frequently.  So I am asking you for recommendations. 

Begonia before the Frost  Laurie Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  14 x 10.5"  35 x 27 cm  450.00

I love to hold the book itself (kindle is never good for me), take it with me in the car, read on the sofa awaiting the bell to signal dinner’s done.  Biography is nice – I’ve read books about Richard Feynman, Peter Sellers, Alan Bennet, Catherine de Medici.  I like reading letters between people.  I adored Simone Beauvoir’s love letters to Nelson Algren; correspondence of Rebecca West and HG Wells; DH Lawrence; diaries of Sylvia Plath (up until the end)…  One of my favorite books was the Diary of Samuel Pepys. 

Forum in Pink  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  24  x 20"  60 x 50cm  580.00

Blair is sighing a lot.  We need a new project.  Maybe we’ll build a boat, or start a publishing company.  I am thinking of renting a shop with an apartment behind.  Just so people will stop in say, hey, nice painting.

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Sunday, April 04, 2021

Artnotes: Celebrate BIG


Lavendar Geraniums  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  18 x 12 "  45 x 30 cm
Easter: limited to just a couple of friends, but exciting, nonetheless.  It makes me so glad I had all the Easter extravaganzas I did in the past.   In Easters past in Paris (and recently, in Rome), we would have elaborate brunches, and then go walking about in our Easter bonnets, whether that was locally acceptable or not.  I laugh at those people who worry about wearing a beret in Paris or drinking cappuccino in Italy in the afternoon – if you like it, and have confidence, enjoy!
Daffodils in the Yard  Blair  Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 18 x 21.5"  45 x 55cm   575.00
One year, we walked with C and M and family (from North Carolina) from our house on rue d’Assas to Napoleon’s Tomb.  We saw brilliant yellow birds along the way, and we visited Napoleon’s stuffed dog (died of the poison from his masters table).   We had a brunch at our house with a family from Seattle.  I had hats for all and we trekked across the Seine from 72, rue de Lille, to the Tuileries.  I painted a picture of Napoleon Bunnyparte. When we were working at the Petit Lux restaurant we met people with nowhere to go on Easter, so I made us all lunch at our apartment at rue d’Assas.  We got on like a house afire, and they became lifelong friends.   There were other equally lovely and fabulous times, usually a meal and a promenade.
Wild wildflowers  Laurie Fox Pessemier  mixed media/paper 17 x 25"  41 x 63cm   420.00
This Easter Monday, (Pasquetta) we are having melon and prosciutto, lamb and potatoes, lots of dessert.  Simple but festive.  We might walk up to the Sassi di Roccamalatina.  I have hats.  And umbrellas, just in case.
Cherry Tree at Ludovico's  Laurie Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12"  30 x 30 cm  375.00
I find it’s always best to live to the maximum.  I learned at an early age not to save myself for the future: it may never come, or not be quite like you imagined.  Relatives passed, life changed, Covid ensued.   Be happy and satisfied now.   People sacrificed so they could have money to travel later in life.  My boss at the Art Library had such a husband who died with a (then enormous) million dollar life insurance policy.  After a dozen years she still grieved.  And traveled for 20 years, alone.
Red and Yellow Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 9.5"  31 x 24cm  280.00
I’ve thought so much over this past year.  My feelings have changed on many subjects   I love the trees and birds and butterflies just for being there. They’ve become my friends over the last 12 months, and it’s wonderful to see them reborn.
In our Easter Bonnets at the Tuileries, Paris  2002
We’ll have our Salon (zoom) on Sunday, as usual.  I think it’s important to keep things like the Salon, or Easter, going, because once we stop doing something, it’s hard to get it going again.  After not going to the High Point Market one year, I never went again.  After I didn’t go to Connecticut for Christmas in 2010, it was over. I don’t quite know why it works that way, but stopping is like breaking a thread that doesn’t pick up again.  That said, it’s always possible to make a new celebration, whenever you like.
Celebrate BIG.

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Artnotes: Happy New Year


Daffs  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 16 x 13"  41 x 33cm
Well, it really is SPRING.  Happy Nowruz to all my Persian friends.  I have to say, it makes sense to think of the new year starting when the trees and flowers come back to life.  I guess I could make this my New Year.  Really, what difference would that make?
I read recently about a family that stayed on Daylight Savings time all year round.  Of course, they had to adjust for appointments and such, but really when I hear all the anguish friends go through, even retired ones, over the time change, that seemed like a sound idea.  Me, I just sleep when it’s dark, unless I have a more exciting engagement, which hasn’t happened for a year now.   This program works for Harika, too.
  Apricot Blossoms  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  22 x 15"  55 x 38cm  620.00
Which brings me to the new 3 minute art show we’re preparing:  April in Paris:  Chestnuts in Blossom.   It takes us about three weeks to put it together, selecting work, stretching it onto canvas.  Maybe we’ll add a piece or two to existing stock.  I fear April in (real) Paris might be a trifle bleak this year, with yet another lockdown there.   Life has changed forever.
Plum Blossoms  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 16 x 8"  40  x 20 cm   450.00
Blair and I have been painting flowers and trees around our yard.  It’s best to paint outside but it has been frigidly cold.  The sky is that very dark mountain blue, that makes it seem you can see all the way to heaven.
Cherry Blossoms in the Neighbor's Yard   Laurie Fox  Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 16 x 12"  40 x 30 cm   450.00
The idea of heaven above and hell below seem very remote to me. I am freaked out by Dante’s description of the levels of hell and despite a half-dozen tries, I have never made it through that entire section of the book.   As a child attending catholic school, I was fascinated by the idea of hell.  My best pal, Rita, and I tried digging a hole to hell in my back yard.  We added water to ease the excavation, executed with large spoons.  When we were not more than 5 inches down, I was stung on the arm by a wasp, no doubt dispatched by the devil.
Violets in the Wall  BlairPessemier  14 x 10.5"  35 x 27cm  375.00
The bees are barely out because it is so cold, so I have taken to pollinating my fruit trees myself.  It’s an alternate use for the paintbrush.  Happy New Year.

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