Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Painting like Vermeer (not)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What a gorgeous day today was! The weather was absolutely perfect and my whistling street sweeper, Paolo, and Signore Francesco who lives next door both agreed that it was indeed a beautiful day and that perhaps La Primavera had finally arrived. We spent a lazy day at home, doing some laundry, not going anywhere special and sitting in the yard, drinking a glass of wine after lunch and a cup of espresso later in the afternoon. There is a patio at the far end of the lower part of the garden where the tulips and geraniums are, a part of the garden that Giovanni, the gardener tends called the "Orto" - the vegetable garden - although there are as many flowers as vegetables. There is also a series of metal arches where the grape vines grow. We watched him one day clipping and trimming in such a casual way as only someone who has gardened for years can do. Bob took some wonderful shots of him that day that we should post to the blog. Anyway, I gathered up a bunch of my pens and pencils, watercolors, brushes and miscellaneous paraphernalia and situated myself on one of the chairs in that patio that sits on the edge of our world and sketched and painted and drew for a few hours today while Bob went off to find some things to photograph. It wasn't a particularly satisfying day as far as the end results are concerned ("I suck" I believe are the exact words I said to Bob) and I don't feel that I came away with anything I want to show you but the weather was so perfect it was wonderful just to be out there. I do feel that I am still shaking off the rust and need to just keep doing it and doing it and hopefully my skills will improve. I told a few of you a story about how when I first began to study painting one of our assignments was to copy an old master. I chose Johannes Vermeer, the Dutch master who I admired so much. I became really frustrated that my paintings did not look enough like his and it really discouraged me for a long time from attempting to paint. Imagine! I could not paint like Vermeer, two semesters out of the box! So now I have to remind myself that it takes many years of practice, that I have to keep at it and keep at it and maybe, maybe, eventually, I may feel that I have achieved some of what I want to achieve. But that probably, most likely, for darn certain, I will never paint like Vermeer and that I have to be satisfied with that and just keep trying to be the best I can be. I'm not there yet. But I'm working on it.

Wish me luck,

1945 - 2005 The Anniversary of the Liberation of Italy from Fascism

Yesterday was a holiday in Italy. All the stores (except for the restaurants, the little coffee shops called "bars," the pasty shops (pasticcerie), oh, and of course the gelateria! Where would we be without ice cream (not that gelato in any way should be confused with Baskin Robbins or even Breyer's but that's another story). We got up early to go wander around and see what the Italians do on this day of Independence, of Liberty and Freedom for all, of unity and solidarity, etc. etc. We found for starters that Italians do what Americans do on a holiday weekend. They gather up the kids and the assorted relatives, get on planes, trains and automobiles (and buses) and go on vacation. Some of them came to Perugia yesterday. You can tell the Italian tourists. They look like all the other tourists, with their digital cameras and camcorders, except they are the ones speaking Italian.

There was a wonderful display of antique cars from the 30s to the 50s (absent were any cars from the 40s because, we decided, they must have been too busy with the war and fighting fascism to be making cars. All the cars were tiny and shiny and really terrific looking in shades of green, brown, black and burgundy with a few drop dead gorgeous red ones. Some were convertibles. The Italians were having a good time posing in front of the cars pretending each beauty belonged to them. We did the same thing. And we noticed that the cars in Italy have gotten larger through the years. We have been amazed at some of the larger cars we see. Although most are smaller than American cars, the attraction for SUVs, albeit smaller than the ones in the U.S., is definitely part of the scenery here too. And with the price of gas, not to mention parking and driving on these narrow roads, it's really surprising.

Around 11:30 we walked over to the Memorial Ceremony, commemorating their liberation in 1945. It was a relatively simple affair with a small cadre of soldiers carrying flags, a few trumpet players wearing these amazing hats with a giant display of what looked like ostrich feathers and military people in their dress up clothes. There was a fair number of older men in attendance who I'm sure were there on the first liberation day, most likely as soldiers themselves. The mayor gave a speech and a woman spoke - a very heartfelt and impassioned talk. We understood some of the words and it was clear that it was a very patriotic theme That as Italians they must think of themselves as belonging to one country - not separate places, not North, South, East or West but one people, united. Flags were raised; a wreath placed on the wall next to a plaque with the names of those from this area who had died in the war and taps was played. The troops were put at ease and the ceremony ended. Everyone dispersed and the moment was over. We wondered if there would be fireworks and just what they would be doing later - gathering in their backyards, or balconies as the case may be, drinking beer and watching football (soccer)? We couldn't find anyone who knew anything about fireworks - not even the folks at the Information Office or the bellman at the Hotel La Rosetta on Corso Vannucci - but late last night we thought we heard the sound of explosions in the night air. I laid in bed thinking someone was dragging a suitcase down the stairs outside, bang, bang, bump, bump, bang, bang...then I thought perhaps the neighbors upstairs were hammering something. We eventually got up and decided that maybe there were fireworks after all but by the time we realized it, the noise had subsided and all was quiet. We decided to call Chris and enjoyed hearing about how Kyla is walking all by herself and leads him around by his finger and plays peek-a-boo with him. And how maybe she said "Daddy" the other day and isn't that cool. She turns One Year Old tomorrow, April 27 and he will be there to celebrate it with her. I can't believe she is one year old already. Where does the time go?

Happy 60 years of Liberation to Italy! Happy Birthday to Kyla!
Tanti aguri!

Rosemary & Bob

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