Friday, August 31, 2012

Hello, Italy!

Welcome to Italy, 
where they live out loud.

Let's drive through Liguria, the green heart of Italy, and hike down to the sea.

I think I am color-drunk.
The bold, vivid shades have me reeling with delight. 

The Italians' brazen use of saturated colors is as warm and winning as the Italian people themselves.

Where but in Italy would laundry and worn finishes be this drop dead beautiful?

I find myself a new connoisseur of the brilliant umbrella.
Really, they're irresistible sculptures, aren't they?

Let's hop on a little ferry along the coastline of Tuscany in the Cinque Terre...

chugging past charming villages that have no roads
but abundant terraced vineyards.

The grapes hang ripe and ready for picking.

In front of many homes you can see wine presses. Wouldn't it be amazing to watch the grapes squeezed? I had no idea the old worm-screw type presses were still in use, but they are.

Now we're in Riomaggiore...

What's that I spy on the window sill along the street?

All the makings for a simple but delicious bowl of pasta, and the scent coming out the window is mouthwatering...

There's the chef, working his magic. No wonder we are so tempted. 
It's delicious. Can't you almost taste it?

Now let's indulge in a little gelato, shall we?

Mr. Wonderful is having cioccolato, I've chosen the amaretto.
What are you going to order?

More wandering down lanes, my pencil busy in the little sketch book...

I'll check in again when I can.

There are so many stories to tell...

my shock at the unisex bathrooms (Dorothy, this is NOT Kansas!)
the story of true love and padlocks along the Via del Amore,
and so much more.

See you soon. 

Come with me to Italy...

Come with me to Italy!

Let's make a quick stop at the French Riviera first, shall we?

We're enjoying the sights of Nice's flower market...

We can stop at a street cafe to sip alongside the locals.
How is it French women always look so chic?

Now a wander down the lanes.
I am always captivated with the laundry hanging from European windows.
Not to mention the shutters and the patina on their elegantly shabby plaster.

Here I am, swooning again.
Are you just a tiny bit breathless, too?

I find myself again at Bernard Chauvin, my favorite art supply store. 
The charming lady in the store speaks no English and I know only a word or two of French but we are poring over the various shades of ochre and sienna inks. 

Mr. Wonderful is sitting out on the curb.
And waiting.


I come out with a new watercolor sketchbook and beautiful bottles of ink. 

Let's dip our toes in the Med, shall we?
Such lovely water!

I stopped in a patisserie and bought us a little picnic.

Oops again. One of us was slowly eating a baguette with ham and cheese while the other one devoured a little slice of fougasse and then suddenly the eclair and the tarte au citron completely disappeared!

We wander down the lanes and up the hill to the ancient castle and fortifications.

Along the way we'll stop into the old cemetery for a peek at the graves and monuments.
Oh, the angels!

Don't you love marble angels?

The view of the Promenade d'Anglaises is stunning and we have hiked off the calories (or so I am telling myself anyway!)

Time to rush back to the boat before we miss the last tender...
I will sneak you into Italy tomorrow!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Going back to the Old World again...

The suitcases are out again and the reservations checked and double checked.

I know, I know.
Not exactly hardship duty.

But I'm packing my bags full of art supplies for teaching and snipping portraits in the Mediterranean again...

and it's got me to thinking about the #100 bus that runs along the corniches of the French Riviera (I can't believe I get to visit there so often!)

...the little details I love to photograph and sketch

... the glorious street markets.
And the patisseries! Oh my!

It's got my eyes hungering for those vibrant hues that scream "Mediterranean!"

and that essence of history you feel everywhere you look.

And as anywhere else in the world, Europe is full of people I long to meet.

Who is she? What is her story?
Maybe she is underneath it all, not so different than I...

I am off again to teach and to gather inspiration for new collections of art for product. 

Can I ask your prayers, dear friends?

My voice has gotten so very weak and my struggle to speak has been a losing battle.
Will you pray that I will regain the health in my throat and be able to communicate well?

I will be sending you joy from France, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and Spain...

Let's all keep our eyes peeled for beauty, whether we are across the world or right on our own doorsteps.

God has His fingerprints everywhere. 
We need only open our eyes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Barn dance

"Come!" said my friend Barb. "You can be our official photographer!"

A barn dance.
And I was dancing with excitement at the prospect.


Friends gathered, and soon the farm rang with laughter...

The haying trucks were coming in from the long day of work
as early evening light turned the fields and farm golden.

There is more beauty on Barb & Dave's farm than I can tell you.
More grace.
More harmony.

While I wandered, the tune-ups began
and soon it happened.

The dance began!

It was country music and it was so good your toes just had to tap.

It was a whirlwind of joy
whether your feet were bare or in your favorite cowboy boots.

Let me tell you, it was irresistible!

The sun sank but the merriment continued.
I left with a smile.
So thankful I live outside a smallish town
in a little valley
where people still make jam and pickles in their kitchens
and call their friends up to say,

"Come to the farm!
We are having a barn dance!"

I snapped one last photo and drove toward home,
windows open to the summer breeze and a heart of contentment.

Thank you, Barb, for the best invitation of the year.