Faliscan Pitcher and Deer Skull 11″ x 14″ oil on linen panel
I’ve written a series of posts here about my wife, Leslie’s, death and how I’ve coped with her loss. I feel like I should conclude this somehow but am not sure how. July 3 marked the one year anniversary of her death. I marked it with family and friends over a few days then went off to Italy for a month. As I look back, it appears that I made a kind of project out of it in that, for the year following Les’ death, I did my best to experience that loss and everything that came along with it as deeply and in as many ways as I could. I did several types of therapy, personal growth seminars, healing ceremonies … whatever I could think of. I said yes to most things that came my way and tried to stay open to whatever came at me. I fell in and out of love and learned that relationships don’t have to have the boundaries I usually contain them with.
The second part of the project was to start having new experiences as a person who is in the world alone. Alone in that, although I have friends and family, my life is no longer shared. The month in Italy was the first step in that.
The year of grieving, as I wrote in earlier posts, was tumultuous and both painful and expansive. I grew and unconcealed parts of me that were buried inside for a long time. I think, in many ways, I realized that I’m the person Les always saw in me and have become better able to see that in myself.
Learning to be myself for myself is something I still grapple with and have been keeping in mind the question, can I be enough for myself? Can I find everything I need to be happy inside me? I get disappointed in my self when I feel a longing for something outside. I can usually let go of it and return to the present but longing for something, something I can’t quite describe, revisits me often. The solitude I hated earlier, I’ve learned to love at the same time that I crave connection with others.
I didn’t used to think I was much of a people person but I know that’s not true now. The reason I’m still alive is the people I love. My fondest memories of this past year and my time in Italy are of the beautiful and interesting people who’ve entered or passed through my life.
I’ve just returned from a month of painting as part of the Jerusalem Studio School Summer Program in Civita Castellana, Italy. It was very stimulating to spend so much time with people dedicated to painting, including modern masters, Israel Hershberg, Vincent Desiderio and Yael Scalia. They were very generous with their time and knowledge. Living and working among so many artists is a wonderful experience. I miss the daily immersion in painting and the camaraderie.
The month was packed with opportunities for artistic experiences. Every Thursday was a bus trip to another city with maps and lists of art treasures to visit. Sunday nights the guest artists showed slides and talked about their work. Two critiques a week led by Vince, Israel or Yael and on regular painting days, the instructors would wander the town and visit painters at work. Communal meals were served in the hotel or various other restaurants in the town and you could usually find some of our community at the Club Cafe either having a cappuccino or drinks late into the night.
Apertivos at Israel and Yael’s apartment
Although I went there with the intention of painting in oil, I started out wandering the town with my sketchbook and watercolors and really loved soaking in the experience that way so continued to work largely in watercolor. I did rent a studio for the last two weeks and did some oil painting there and plein air but the watercolors were the bulk of the work I produced.
Fountain in the Main Piazza from the Club Cafe
Monte Sarrote watercolor
Although I spent a lot of time painting, the largest impact on me, I think, will be from the time spent in conversation with the other painters and instructors. I came home with a lot to think about.
I’m in a small medieval town in Italy. I’ve been painting mostly watercolors so far and hope to also make some oil paintings.
Life is very slow here. It’s hot and humid and all the shops close down from 1PM tip 5PM and most things are closed on Sunday and some are closed again on Thursday. The internet is slow and not always available but I was able to upload these two sketches. Ciao.
I’ve been in Rome Italy for the past 2 days and really love this place. I have not tried to see any of the famous places, with the exception of the Coliseum, which I visited briefly. I’ve spent my time here wandering the maze of narrow streets eating, drinking and drawing.
A leisurely Sunday breakfast with my sketchbook.
While sitting on a wall of a church making this sketch, I witnessed an altercation between two men, one of whom was yelling at the other over a long period of time. Three police cars arrived and the police talked to the men separately for a while then the two men shook hands and embraced. If only life could always resolve so easily.
I’m off today to the small town of Civita Castellana for an immersive time painting.
“Lonely Day, Thinking Of You” 36″ x 36″ oil on linen
I have a show of urban landscape paintings coming up towards the end of next month at Brian Marki Fine Art in Portland, OR. I’ve been chained to the easel over the last several months painting for the show. As soon as I have all the details, I’ll post them here. I hope, if you’re in town, you’ll come by and have a look.