Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Steven playing with the cat
black marker on scrap paper from the studio
7 x 9 inches
Barbara Muir © 2010
( Steven is wearing the glow in the dark necklaces
we gave out to our guests on his head like
a halo!)
I did a little sketch of Steven playing with our
cat Timbah after our New Year's Eve party was
over tonight (well actually this morning).
Friends dropped over and we shared wine,
food, delicious deserts and champagne at
midnight. We had so much fun with everyone.

It was a lovely evening. Happy New Year
one and all. It's time for bed.

Have an enjoying-the-promise-of-a-new-year day!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don't want to let this one go!

New Year's Day at the New Year's Café
black marker on bond
8 x 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

You know the feeling -- I have it almost every
day -- when you don't want the party to end,
can't go home. I don't even need a party --
I just don't want to go to sleep in case I miss
something, just like when I was a wide eyed
child. I guess I stayed that way. But I feel
that way about this year. 2009 you were
a beauty -- grace in motion. I'm not saying
that there was no pain or sadness, but wowee
what great times we had together.

Flowers and candles for New Year's Eve
black marker on bond
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Promise me that you'll stay in my thoughts,
my heart and memory, even after the new year starts.

Flowers, and Champagne -- preparing
for New Year's Eve

We're getting ready to have a little New Year's
Eve get together tomorrow. For us that means
flowers, friends, champagne and good food,
happy music, maybe even some singing in
the wee hours. Here's hoping you are
welcoming the new year with people you
love, and here's to another super year!

Have an I-love-New-Year's-Eve day.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Moving on

First stage in a portrait of a little boy
acrylic on canvas
6 x 6 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Next! I've talked about President Bartlett on
the American TV program West Wing before.
Who knew when the show was on that Americans
would eventually get a sane, and reasonable man
in that office. I know everything isn't changing overnight.
But some things definitely have improved. But back
to the West Wing Television President, "Next?" was he'd
say when a crisis was over. I say it when it's time to think
about the next thing. In painting that's almost every day.

This has been a fabulous year, and I hope it has been
for you too. Not a crisis year, like the year before, but
a year full of magnificent, wondrous, mind blowing
opportunity for me. Through it all, I felt that you,
the blogging artists held my hand, cheered me on,
heard what I had to say, and supported my artistic
efforts. Thanks so much. To you and to the universe.
As much as possible when time allowed I hope
I did the same for you.

Happy, Happy New Year to us all. I hope we will
all meet soon at a great art show like the Florence Biennale,
that we'll go out to dinner together and laugh and
talk and maybe even sing. I can just see such a joyous
reunion of supportive friends. It would be lovely.

Happy New Year to you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Draw Everything

Dreaming of Florence charcoal on bond 18 x 24 inches Barbara Muir © 2009
I'm writing this on my husband's old laptop in the studio, which is almost the same as being in the computer store in Florence on Borgo La Croce street. I'll have to figure out how to move the computer and its chords over to my table, but for now... I've been thinking about the first "real" young artist I ever knew -- a boy I dated for one summer in university. I was, I thought, deeply in love with that boy. He was tall, dark and handsome, which turned out to be my type. In retrospect I think I was really in love with his productivity but didn't recognize my affliction at the time. That boy was an obsessive sketcher. He drew everything, drew every day, drew all day, when he wasn't painting. At the time, I'd abandoned art college, and had dreams of being a writer. I took art courses in university only because I thought I could get my degree faster because I would get credits from the art college I attended before university. Plus I was an art snob at university. I'm embarrassed to think of it now, and I understand how frustrating it must have been to teach a little idiot like me, but I felt that art schools had a much better programs than my university, so I refused to do the projects the way the professor wanted them done. I hated painting abstracts. Back then I knew I was a portrait painter. It took me a good decade in painting to rediscover my original direction. But the boy --he certainly had it together. He barely had time to have a girlfriend at all, because he was so busy drawing and painting. Visiting his parents' house I saw that his bedroom cupboard was filled with sketchbooks from floor to ceiling. I'd forgotten all about that painter until Edward B. Gordon took a couple of days off. I realized that part of my present day motivation and drive comes from seeing the work of other painters in the blog world. There are a lot of artists out there doing what my summer boyfriend was doing back when I was in university -- putting something on canvas, or paper every day and doing so with skill and grace. And one of the reigning leaders of this level of diligence for me in the past year has been Edward B. Gordon. He's painted and posted a painting for more than 1,000 days in a row. Just posting every day as I have done now for almost 700 days straight, is a huge task. But painting something every day for that post I find intensely admirable. I know exactly how intrusive the rest of life is, and I am so impressed by people who successfully juggle their commission work, gallery show preparation plus creating a daily piece of art for the blog, seven days a week. And Edward's work like many of the artists I enjoy, has been 100% magnificent. So when he stopped -- I noticed. I'm happy to see that he's back today. You should know that whenever I have time I am paying attention to your work. If there is a down side to the blog, and I don't believe there really is, it might be that the people who do enjoy your work, miss it when it doesn't appear. In my case I feel that way about everyone whose work I comment on. I want to see that work. Lately what with Italy, and Christmas I know I haven't kept up, but I can see a little window opening up, so please, all of you -- keep on painting. And as much as possible, I intend to draw everything. Have a drawing-what-you-see day.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Architecture shock

OCAD's extension, Toronto, Canada
 Josephine paying for parking with OCAD's addition in the background

I met a woman who teaches school in Florence, on the plane coming home from Italy
who explained that part of the reason Florence is so well preserved is because the 
people there are still living in the 14th century. Watching people stride around in their
slick poufy down coats and super leather bags I didn't get that impression. I've never seen 
so many scooters. But I suppose she means in an ideological way. In that case I said, deep
 in the throes of my missing the place I'd just left, I'm glad.
 The Duomo, Siena, Italy
Back home in this really wonderful city, which is politically correct almost to a fault, 
I find the main problem I face is that we rarely respect our older (and that is not that old my friend) architecture, and frequently add weird and bad onto old and not that great. Every time I
see this strange addition to the Ontario College of Art I feel surprised. I can't say I don't like
 it, because how can new things happen, and they have to, if change isn't given expression? 
 But the contrast between quattro centro Italy, and present day Toronto is dramatic. To say
 the least, and I admit it, one a half weeks later, it's still giving me pause. 

  Have a learning-to-love-change day.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A super show

Friends Waiting
One of my paintings in the Arta Gallery show

My friend Timbah the cat stayed home
mesmerized by the tree

While I was in Florence, a wonderful artist friend of mine,
Carolyn Megill put together a show Light of Winter at the
Arta Gallery in the Distillery area in Toronto. The Distillery was
just that and was falling into disrepair until the city decided to
redevelop and renovate it in 2001. Now the former factory
area is a prestigious shopping, gallery and tourist destination,
with a lovely 19th century feel, cobbled paths between the buildings,
and warm old, red brick exteriors.

One of Carolyn Megill's magnificent abstracts

I saw pictures of the show on the gallery website, but today my
friend and photographer Josephine Pica and I went down
to the gallery so I could see what I'd been missing while I was
in Florence. I was blown away. Arta Gallery is a spectacular
gallery space, and every piece of work in the show is fabulous.
I just walked around going "Wow, wow, wow!" Carolyn Megill,
herself, has two large glorious abstracts in the exhibition. My
artist friends, Josephine, Jennifer Hinrichs, who had work in
the Florence Biennale, and Gill Cameron all had work in the show.

Josephine Pica exhibited three black and white
photos of frozen waves on the Toronto shoreline

One of Jennifer Hinrich's series of
children at play

Gill Cameron's watercolors -- Tuscany
and northern Ontario

Forgive the quality of my photos. I wanted to record my friends' work, but
I was dazzled by all the work, and not really concentrating when I took these
shots. I think there were 30 artists in the show -- so it's huge. The show
comes down tomorrow, so I'm so delighted that I got to see it complete.
I felt extremely proud to be showing with this group of artists.

Have a happy-to-be-included day

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry, Merry Christmas

Hi Everyone,

I'm not sure if I'll get any art done today, but it
seems unlikely. So Merry, Merry Christmas,
and if you don't celebrate Christmas, Happy
Day to you. It is cold and raining, but my
family is in a bee hive of activity. So much

Have a wonderful day.

Thanks so much for making every day this
year a present.

All the best to you and yours!

Have a toasting-the-good-things-in-life day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas baby

Friday's flowers
black marker on bond paper
8 1/2 x 11 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Merry Christmas to you, and Happy Holidays, and
Happy whatever festival of lights you celebrate.
We've been in the stores today trying to catch
up with ourselves and make sure Christmas is
the way we like it. The baaaad colds we picked
up in Italy, slowed us down this week. I feel
like writing Cold FX a thank you letter. That
stuff works and we're on our feet again.

Thank you for giving me a very special present
all year round -- your kind encouragement and
comments. You more than keep me going, you
make me downright happy, and confirm my
faith daily that the world is a good place. My
thoughts go out tonight to the many people
on the planet who don't live in a good place,
and I hope that together bit, by bit, we can
change that.

My drawing tonight is of the Christmas
bouquet I was making for our kitchen table.
There are roses, a flower I don't know but like
very much, leaves with red berries that smell like
Christmas, and now a few pine boughs.

The title of the post refers to the song --
Merry Christmas baby, you sure do treat me

Have a loving-the-way-you-celebrate day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The art of warm

If the halo fits
black marker on bond paper
8 x 10 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

I've been really cold for the past two weeks, one in Florence
(sorry) and the other here. In fact although our house is
heated in theory, and our apartment in Florence did not
have central heat -- in our bedroom where I write to you,
it is as cold as it was in Florence.

Which is why (I can hear the English teachers -- never start
a sentence with which), I went to Ikea today (didn't get to the
one in Florence) and bought a new ultra thick duvet. So how
does this connect to art? As my mother keeps asking me about
my blog. Sitting in Ikea with my friend eating a delicious
inexpensive lunch and reminiscing about the visit Steven and
I made to Stockholm in 2006, I thought about Fra Angelico's
halos. What was cool about them was that when he painted
haloed beings from behind, the halo didn't circle the back
of their heads, but disappeared in front of the person.
My friend and I talked about how to do lettering
on a halo, and she was thinking maybe acetate letters over
gold leaf. Aha we said together. Cool. Deep art in Ikea.

My drawing tonight is of one of my favorite models,
Shaneice. If there was a word in her halo, it would
be reading, an almost saintly activity.

Still much to do before Christmas.

Have a thinking-about-reading day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Loving the world

Poinsettias for Christmas
graphite, watercolour and watercolour crayon
on bond paper
Barbara Muir © 2009

I am a person who loves the world I live in, with all its
flaws. Tonight in the supermarket, I caught myself spinning
about Florence, comparing the food, and being negative.
A voice in my head (my better self) said, "Try loving
everything you see." Then I did. I noticed the incredible
shine on the big bottles of juice, the sloppy knitted black
toques (or maybe you call them tams) that girls shopping
were wearing. I remembered buying my hat in Florence
at a market stall, but I swiftly came back to where I was
and saw a young couple kissing behind his hat held
over their faces for privacy. This is in the grocery
store! I turned my head and stared at the shoe polish
on a shelf, noticing the gorgeous lettering on the container.

Downstairs the flower lady, Noreen, walked to the other end of
the floor trying to fine me a poinsettia in perfect
condition. We talked about Christmas in a chummy way.
She's not religious and neither am I. But I enjoy the
festivity. And I am 100% behind the return of the light.

My little sketch tonight is of the poinsettias we bought
today for the front hallway. I'm sure I'll paint them
again before the season's out with more punch and verve.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year
to everyone.

Have a loving-everything-you-see day.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thinking about art

Girl thinking
black marker on bond paper
10 x 12 inches
Barbara Muir © 2009

Words crop up in the paintings of several
artists I admire. I love how Bob Burridge
places words on some of his paintings,
and Larry Rivers, used words in interesting
ways. In Florence we saw the work of
Fra Angelico, and some of this paintings
had words trailing across the sky, hundreds
of years before the invention of the airplane
made that an actual possibility, but he also
put the names of saints in their halos, and I
liked that. I've long been a fan of gold leaf,
and wanted to put halos on everyone, but
now I am thinking about putting words in
the halos. Not religious words, just
the words that struck my fancy at the time.

I did the drawing tonight from a photo of
a lovely model I've used for quite a few
paintings. I was just playing around
thinking about what I want to start to
paint. But I'd like to put a halo around
her head and write the word "thinking"
on it. That would be a secular halo,
like the one around the moon.

Have a thinking-it-through day

Sunday, December 20, 2009

By the book

An illuminated 14th century choir book
in the Duomo cathedral in Siena.

I promise there will be more of my art on the blog
very soon. Maybe even tomorrow. But believe
me when I say there hasn't been a second to
produce any since we arrived home from Florence.
I am very tired tonight, and struggling with a very
bad cold, so I'm going to sleep.

I thought you might enjoy this photo of a
1340's or thereabouts manuscript from the
Duomo in Siena. I hope you are enjoying the holiday spirit.
We got our tree tonight, but still don't have
lights up, or a wreathe on the door.

Have a getting-a-holiday-together day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Vivid dreams

The Duomo in Siena
(The equipment belongs to people cleaning
her facade.)

We've come back from Italy with a serious cold. I don't know
whether it's the cold medicines, or just the sheer fact of air travel not
allowing us to actually feel where we are physically, the way
car travel does, but my reaction to the huge cultural shift
of leaving Europe has been to dream intensely about
what I'm missing. Yesterday morning after a short sleep that
of course was way off schedule for our recent time zone,
I woke up and remembered what I'd been dreaming.
It was amazing really. In my dreams I had been walking
around an astounding cathedral that I'd never actually seen,
either in real life or in pictures. I was making up a new one!

Then this morning I dreamt that I'd left something behind
somewhere in Florence, and we had to retrace our steps
through those gorgeous art packed streets to find it.
In my dream my husband was insisting that we couldn't
go back, the place would be closed, we'd have to go
back tomorrow. And then I woke up as they say. And
realized with great sadness that I couldn't walk back
down those streets because I was here, not there.

Steven brought me a coffee, and I said, "I'm having a
hard time getting to positive." I asked him to tell me
three great things about being here, and he said
"Number one -- we're home." I was a tough sell, and
I said that's not working for me, but sometimes that
man is so right, and he replied, "No but it will."
By tonight after a lovely dinner with friends, and with
excellent cold medicine, I feel that my soul has come
back to Canada. I'm a bit like a teenager newly in love,
and the love is for a place. But I feel sanity, happiness,
and peace of mind returning.

Now we must get some Christmas going here. We don't
have so much as a wreathe.

Have a being-content-where-you-are day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Give me more colour please!

The ceiling in a protected room in the Siena's Duomo,
in Italy -- painted at the height of the Renaissance

It turns out that every time you think you understand
everything, there is always more to know. One of the
only odd conversations I had in Florence was with
an artist who wanted to tell me that my colours were too
bright, and that I should tone them down. This it turned
out was based on a hypothetical European ideal, which
favours a more subtle colour range, based on the paintings
of the old masters, particularly the soft colours of the
frescoes found in the Tuscany region. Except for one thing. The
dull browns that used to be Michelangelo, have been cleaned
to reveal surprisingly bright colours and that's not all.

On our last day we took a tour of three Tuscan cities. In
the overwhelmingly magnificent Duomo cathedral in Siena, we were
privileged to be allowed into a room that was closed off for
many years. The surprise in there was the colour -- not the
subtle hues we think of as typical of that era's frescoes, but
pure, bright colour almost pure pigment, heavily adorned
with gold, and our guide told us that this is what all of the
art of the Renaissance would have looked like before people
breathed on it. We were ushered in and out quickly because
just our breath could affect the temperature in the room,
and "dull" the brilliant original colour. So I will continue for
the most part to paint in the vibrant colours that are a fine
old tradition in Europe.

Every time you look at a large 600 year old painting in a
14th or 15th century church and think that it's dark, you
just have to consider what happens to your kitchen floors
if you don't clean them for a week or two (yes I'm thinking
of mine when I say that). Now imagine that they hadn't been
touched for 600 years. Yes! Cleaned up, every single one of
those paintings would reveal unimaginable
brilliance and luminosity.

Luckily art historians and restorers in Florence understand this,
and are constantly restoring and cleaning everything that they
possibly can. So it's entirely possible that when we revere their
magnificent rich, moody, browns, and cloudy hues, what we're
actually often admiring is centuries of dirt.

Have a cleaning-up-and-getting-colourful day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Goodbye to Florence

My friends in Canada told me that Italians don't
eat sweets. Nothing could be farther from
the truth. These lovely pastry stores are
everywhere, and terribly tempting.

Inside the Duomo the votive candles are arranged like
little trees.

The famous Duomo is getting her face washed

An ordinary house on our street.

This morning very early we began our long flight back
to Toronto, with stops in Frankfurt, Germany and
Ottawa, Ontario. We will be tired when we arrive,
but happy to see our children, friends in Toronto, our
cats and our dog again. The other day we visited the
Boboli gardens and saw about six very fat cats being
fed by an Italian woman, who also puts out a litter pan for
them under the trees and empties that out. When I
called one of the cats (gatto), he came and rubbed
against my legs and I realized that I miss my own two
kitties and the dog a lot.

What will we miss about Florence? First the new friends we met
at the art show and in the city, then the astounding
beauty of Florence -- every single day there was
mind blowing and inspiring. Gorgeous, centuries
old art is everywhere, and the city has a pride about
how things are done that permeated our experience
on every level. Our apartment was perfectly located,
and our street was filled with shops, bakeries and the
super computer place where I wrote to you every day.

I'm sure I'm not finished talking about it.

Have a flying-home-happily day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Going day tripping

Sweets for afternoon tea in our apartment La Terrazza

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico in the museum at the
Church of San Marco in Florence

Jesus rises from the dead in the garden
which looks decidedly Florentine, a fresco
by Fra Angelico in the Museum of San Marco

Today my blog will be short because we're taking a bus
trip a few of my friends here have recommended that
starts bright and early at 8:30 in the morning, and gets
home at about the same time tonight. We're visiting three
towns in Tuscany Sienna, Pisa and one other that I can't
remember, and we'll have lunch in a Tuscan farmhouse.
Everyone said it was the smartest move they'd made
on their visit to Florence, so we've signed up.

It's cold here and we both bought toques the other day.
Steven's says Firenze and it's a shock to see him wearing it
after the warm weather we'd been enjoying. Yesterday
we went to see the Fra Angelicos in the monastery
at the Museo de San Marco. It was quite amazing. Each
monk's cell there is decorated with a fresco by Fra Angelico,
who was called Beato Angelico because he was such a
wonderful person.

So I'll tell you more about our trip when we're back in

Have a blessed-with-artistic-talent day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The end of a lovely time

Henriette (blurry in toque) packs up with the
help of Steven and Tamara

Rolling up Henriette's beautiful paintings
Steven (left), Tamara and Henriette

The Biennale space emptying out.
The sculpture stands are stacked and wrapped.

Yesterday morning I set the alarm to head over to
the Biennale to make sure my work was going to
be shipped without any problems, and to see whether
I had to sign anything. I was delighted to find Tamara
and Henrietta packing up their work. I watched Tamara
finish taping her bubble wrap, then Steven and Tamara
and I helped Henrietta with her very complicated packaging.

What a woman! She has a baby girl six months old, and
a one and a half year old boy, and here she is lugging her
work and a friend's work back to Norway where she

It was strangely exciting to see the space we'd all been
showing in, pulled apart, and stripped of the evidence of
a magnificent show. The crates used to pack the work
again were scattered here and there. Fork lifts came
to hoist up the sculptures and move the heavy
crates. It was the flip side of set up. But unlike in
Canada the very nice cafe in the middle of the Biennale
space stayed open and we could get very nice panini
and espressos to make the work a bit lighter.

Tomorrow we go to three Tuscan cities on a magnificent
tour. And yesterday we walked home past the church
of San Lorenzo, an absolutely gorgeous building. At the
market I bought a few small gifts for my family and then
we walked and walked sporting our new toques, a
complete necessity in the cold wind Florence is experiencing

I've been trying to speak in Italian (very badly -- but my
minuscule vocabulary is growing and I sometimes understand
people's conversations). Then at the show I spoke French and
German. I felt like I was very fluent in French, although that's
far from true at home.

Have an art-is-its-own-language day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Show has come down

Andrew MacPherson shows off his room
key which looks a bit like a golden
Biennale award, while his friends at
the goodbye dinner snap photos and
congratulate him. Everyone was in a joyous mood.

A couple of days ago we visited the Porcelain Museum
which is on the grounds of the Boboli Gardens in Florence

Crossing the Arno on a long walk.

Last night we went out to dinner with our friends
from he group of artists in the little area of the
Biennale where my paintings were hanging.
What a super group of people. First we climbed the
narrow steps to my friend Tamara van den Berg's
place. Her mother Hettie came to Florence for
the Biennale, and they hosted a little get together
before dinner, with cheese and crackers and wine.

Their apartment was very pretty, and close
to the Fortezza da Basso. One of the artists,
Henrietta Sonne came back for the last day from
Norway, and we watched the awards ceremony
together. A few of the friends we'd made at the
Biennale won awards and they were beautiful --
gold disks of a head set in lovely red velvet

So the mood was very happy last night. We ate
in a Trattoria near Tamara's apartment. Our
friend Andrew McPherson's mother had travelled
all the way from a town near Syracuse, New York
to see her son's work, and the two of them joined
us for dinner. Then there was the sculptor Heleen
from Holland, and her husband Hans.

We parted with many hugs and kisses at the end
of a great time together, and Steven and I took
a cab home through the freezing night.

Have a dining-with-good-friends day

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Feeling right at home

Some of the pastries at one of the bakeries on our street

My friend Tamara van den Berg at the Biennale
who I will miss very much
It is Sunday, and the day begins like every day
with espresso made by Steven and served in
white cups. We drink two coffees and eat breakfast
in our incredibly sunny apartment. The difference
today is the bells that tell us it's time to get
up and get moving. Lots of bells, beautiful bells
on Sunday, from all the churches all over town.
Then the discussion turns to the plan. Now we have a
feeling that time is running out, and we have
to see more, and more quicky before it's
time to jump on a plane.

But first a walk, and lunch -- a simple panino.
We are starting to feel at home. This feeling
is definitely helped by being part of the
Biennale and feeling like we are with friends
every day. Tonight we'll eat supper with some
of our new friends, like we did last night and
the night before. It feels like a never ending
party with short breaks for seeing more museums,
shopping in the market and of course ...eating.

Have a listening-to-beautiful-music day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Gala

Detail of one o the patterns in the marble
floor in the 11th century Baptistery building
at the Duomo

People riding bicycles on one of the rare
completely flat places in the
city -- the square behind the Nazione
(Nation) newspaper offices

One of the artists at the Biennale drawing
while I drew him

Tonight is the big gala at the Florence Biennale. For
people like me who live in blue jeans and sweaters,
a gala -- meaning dressy and in Italy very dressy --
is a challenge. So we started the day trying to figure
out which of my very plain black dresses I should wear. I would
gladly throw on a gold edged shawl like any of the
100s I have seen in gorgeous paintings of the virgin
Mary. When you're here you realize she was just wearing
the fashion of the time. Gold, gold and more gold on the
edges of rich blue and red fabric, and don't forget around
the neck and over the head. Love both the colour and
the gold, expect more gold leaf on my work when I get home.
I have been completely and happily corrupted.

Have a loving-every-gala-occasion day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dinner with new friends

The church of San Marco
Align Center

Steven with the anemones we bought
at the market today

My friend Tamara van den Berg
at the Biennale
Barbara Muir 2009

Hi there everyone,

I'm sitting in a gorgeous apartment with new friends
who we've just had dinner with. It's so late that
I couldn't get into our internet computer place here
on our street. So forgive me if it's a short one
tonight, and I don't know about pictures.

We went to the Academia today and saw Michelangelo's
David. There are a couple of imitations here and there
is no comparison. Whew! I wish you all were here
so more tomorrow.

Have a life-is-the-best-party-ever day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Duomo

The facade of the Duomo in Florence

The ceiling of the Baptistery at the Duomo
depicting God giving judgement -- with
one thumb up for those going to heaven,
and one down for the hell bound.

To the left Steven in front of Ghiberti's bronze
doors on the Baptistery, suddenly discontented with
our front door back in Canada.

It's another beautiful, sunny day in Florence, and we may go to the
Uffizi today. Yesterday curiosity got the better of us about the
gorgeous church the Duomo, which we see out of two of the windows
in our apartment. So... we grabbed a delicious panini at a nearby
little coffee bar and set off. First we went to see the Ghiberti bronze doors
on the Baptistery, a separate building -- the oldest in Florence, built
in the 11th century. I studied everything we're seeing in art history
in high school, and may I say the pictures do not begin to do any
of what we're seeing justice. And on the other hand, every corner,
every corner of every building, surprise spots above ordinary storefronts
is decorated either with sculptures, or ancient paintings. It is like
non-stop Christmas for an artist's eyes, and you get absolutely
exhausted from delight. Isn't that wonderful?

Then you have to eat. So we are stuffed all of the time -- with
art, and food.

On these sunny days it's deliciously warm in the city, but at night
the temperature drops down to something approaching Canadian
levels and we ate last night in an unheated Trattoria across the
street. We were so chilled that even though the food was excellent,
it was not that much fun eating it. So tonight we'll pull on all of our
sweaters before we head out.

The show continues to be fun, but like most of the other artists we
know we are spending more and more time out in the city, and
less and less time at the show. This weekend will be different.

Well I'm off now.

Have a filling-your-mind-with-art day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


People walking by the stores on the Ponte Vecchio
The old cemetery at the church of Santa Maria Novella where many Medicis are buried. We weren't allowed to take photos inside the church which has incredible frescoes by Ghirlandaio
A fruit market we passed walking to Santa Maria Novella
Yesterday Marina Abramovic won an award at the Biennale and relayed her artistic manifesto to the admiring crowd. She is a conceptual artist and filmaker. While she spoke I sat at the free internet computers at the side of the theatre, answering your comments. It was the first time I've been able to get on the two computers available now for 650 artists, and it felt like a conceptual art piece to be answering comments while Abramovic spoke of the importance of supportive artist friends. I am not spending too much time on the blog, and I feel badly when I can't answer your comments. We were coming to the internet place at night before supper, but that meant we were extremely hungry when we went for supper, after walking around all day. So now we're starting the day with the blog, and as I sit here the sun pours in from the little garden behind the computer station store. I thought I'd tell you what I had for dinner last night in the Napaloni, a wonderful restaurant a few blocks from our apartment. By the way everything that matters (almost) is a few blocks from our house. So here's what I had. The server, Elam became our friend the first time we ate there, and she brought us celebratory glasses of prosecco. Then instead of the white house wine I was given a gorgeous Sauvignon Bianco. People don't worry about glass size here, something I noticed in Europe the last time I was here. The wine (both white and red) is served in large, graceful glasses. My salad last night was fresh artichoke, thinly sliced, lightly drizzled with a dressing with a bit of lemon in it, with parmiggiano cheese in wide thin slices covering the artichoke. Then I had zucchini stuffed with a meat filling mixed with cheese, tomato, and mushrooms. (Mushrooms here are like nothing you've ever tasted in North America -- they are beyond delicious). For desert Steven had Tiramisu, (another surprise, completely different than at home) and after I'd eaten half of his Elam brought us a thin slice of the most delicious dark chocolate cake I've ever eaten. That was dinner! We keep saying we'll cook in our apartment, and so far have had exactly one dinner there. Silly us. The Biennale continues to be amazing and inspiring. For those looking for the downside. Okay. I've banged my head so many times in the laundry room just under the roof, low, low ceilings with huge beams, that it is more bump than brain, but even so I am happy. What a hardship our own laundry room with a modern, beautiful Italian washing machine! There I hope that makes you happy. Now it's time for lunch, museums, markets, sitting the show, laughing with friends, and dinner again. A very tough life. I do this for you my dear artist friends. Have a sunny-days-are-beautiful-in-Florence-and- everywhere day

Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!