Tag Archives: Michigan

Join me on an Italian adventure

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Painting near Florence in the Tuscan hills

The calendar has turned to April. Spring feels like hope, even when it’s cold. All those hours of daylight feel like a gift after a long winter. You can hear the song of the birds and everything is golden. The grasses turn the most beautiful gold color when they die, and spring is filled with these monochromatic landscapes. It is always, always beautiful in the woods.

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Plein air painting is on my mind. The British say there is no such thing as bad weather, just ill-prepared clothing. I agree, except when it comes to plein air painting. I’m a wimp about rain and wind whipping at me while my fingers and toes freeze. I’ve yet to find gloves that allow me the movement to paint and warmth at the same time. But some artists do it even in winter. I’ve determined that they are just sturdier than me.  Still, my mindset is starting to lean in that direction, dreaming of time “Up North” with days spent in nature and a happy fur baby by my side. In preparation, I’m doing a lot of drawing — figures and trees — and thinking about the rules: perspective, proportion, light, shadow, gestures, all the things that figure drawing and nature teach you.

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Studying from life

I’m also preparing to leave for Italy in a few weeks. I’ll be in Florence the first week, studying from a live model every morning and in the afternoons visiting the gorgeous art the city holds with an art historian as my guide. The following week, I’ll be in the rolling hills of Tuscany near Lucca. Here, we will spend our mornings painting from life, and our afternoons landscape painting.

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The relationship between these two art forms becomes clearer and clearer to me with time. The undraped human body forces you to be accurate when you’re off: The mistakes jump off the page at you, and nature makes you at least attempt to pay tribute to the rules of art, even if your plan is to break the rules. One must know them to break them.

Florence is a Mecca of classical art, and art schools that teach the classical way. When you’re the birthplace of the Renaissance, I suppose it’s hard to move past that. It’s as if Italy in general watches the striving of the rest the world and sits back in its chair, takes a sip of wine, and says, “You know, we are good. We did, after all, give you the Renaissance and oh so much more. Yup, we are good,” with another sip of wine.

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All that mind-blowing art can make one feel faint!

I hope you’ll join me this month in my preparation and exploration. We will first be traveling without ever leaving home, and then packing our bags for an adventure — an Italian adventure!

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A perfect place to plein air paint

What are the places that have taught you the most? And what places do you think you can learn from? I love hearing your thoughts. Join me on Facebook and Instagram where we can continue the conversation and adventure.

Cheers!

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Two years ago, I spent a month studying in Florence. It was so good, I had to come back for more!

Project 24: Something Old, Something New

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Bernie Rink of Boskydel Vineyards and me

It was a day for the old and the new, starting my day at Brengman Brothers and ending at the legendary and first winery in Leelanau, Boskydel!

Brengman Brothers is a beautiful property; it’s only a few years old, but growing leaps and bounds. I had the pleasure of speaking with the events manager, Lauren, and Doug, who was manning the bar. Both were knowledgeable, fun and informative. I love a staff that knows how to inform.

We talked of a passion for the land and a desire to be a good steward of that land, whether hosting events, making wine or educating the wine lovers who consume the product. And it’s a common thread among all of the wineries I’ve experienced up here. It strikes a chord with me as travel along through Project 24, wanting to be a good steward of the land and these people in my work!

And ending the day with the legendary Bernie Rink of Boskydel Winery. Please, just promise me, that you’ll come here if you’re on a wine tour — if for no other reason than to tip your hat to tradition. But you must bring an open mind and heart. This place is not fancy, they will not try to woo you. What they will do is grow good wine at a price that people can afford, which has been Bernie’s model since he planted his first vineyards in 1964. He was born a farmer and, at around 88 now, he still is. Salt of the earth, with a pioneering spirit. If you go on Sundays or Mondays between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., you just might be lucky enough to meet Bernie. If you do this, bring cash and your patience and you will be rewarded.

Stopping by any day is fine during their open hours; you’ll often find his son Jim in the tasting room. Ask questions and be steeped in history. I happened to be in tasting room when two loyal Boskydel fans stopped in. They said they come up every year and love the “down home” experience at Boskydel. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Go see for yourself, and don’t miss the views of the vines with Lake Leelanau as a backdrop — it’s simply stunning! This will not be a hard property to paint …

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