November 30th – the end of the month and the end of many hours of work, sittings, and polishing my little Italian!
This year I chose not to make a case study of a person I know but of one I have only seen in town: a friendly local chef working a door down the gallery. His name is not Mr. Blok, neither his first name is Jozef. Yet, you must wonder why I’ve called this piece “Another Mr. Blok,” and the answer to this question is the story behind this painting.
It was about 4 years ago when I became obsessed with the works of Van Gogh, one of my favorite painters. I remembered I used to know only his later work: the starry night, wheat fields, and sunflowers (dead and alive), and his self portraits – the famous Van Gogh’s ear.
Though Van Gogh’s work wasn’t always colorful. In fact, his early work was gloomy, earthy toned, and on the dark side. The first transitional – from dark to color- work, is a portrait not many of us know, yet of great significant: Mr. Blok. It is a portrait of a black bearded street book seller Van Gogh knew in The Hague.
It was 3 years ago when I discovered my own Mr. Blok here in Ascona: a bearded local chef who used to pass by my window on his way to work. I always wanted to ask him to sit for me but never really had the “nerve”to ask a stranger for such a strange request. This year I finally did. I was lucky he didn’t find it unusual to have an artist beg to paint a portrait of his. He agreed.
“Another Mr. Blok” isn’t a study of my subject or sitter, but of Van Gogh’s philosophy. In his eyes, everyone – the postman, the bookseller, the doctor, the prostitute – were of equal value. With this study, I too stand by this belief. Not matter where one comes from, what title one holds, what one does…there is always a special story behind a face.
There she was. At last I had found the one. Although she was not my soul-mate, she was simply, my ultimate and most desirable “subject.” And what a subject she was!
I have heard her bell not far from the medieval arched bridge, exiting Puntid, in the Calnegia valley. I felt absurd, chasing the sound of cow bells. Like the hide and seek game, I was obsessed with trying to figure out where the sound came from. After all, I was already there, on top of the Foroglio Falls. My mission was clear. I had to capture in pencil the biggest oxymoron ever created by me: a cute beast…a live cow!
I slowly moved in to sit as close as I could to the one cow that caught my eye. As she chewed her never ending meal, I quickly grabbed my acrylics and started painting. It was all good till the beast decided she had had enough. “I’ve been hit, something hurts!” My body sprang into action. In a split of a second, I saw myself jump behind a boulder, paints and paper in hand. I was bleeding and feeling like I had just walked into a nightmare!
Once the bruises and shock subsided, I came down the mountain a happy woman.
To say that “the mucca al pascolo,” is my most special piece of art is an under statement! Nevertheless, I think I will stick to painting landscapes over moving, live, subjects.
It is time to say goodbye to yet another piece of art created by my very own hands.
The sale of “Morning Coffee” brings joy and sadness all at the same time. This funny feeling does not end at the shaking of hands/dried ink sort of speak. Next week I’m putting the series down and I’m preparing myself to experience both joy and sadness simultaneously.
The memories of hot summer afternoons, overlooking the tranquil waters of Lake Maggiore, sitting under the shade of trees older than history…all those things is what “Morning coffee” is to me. The three, 1m x 0.70m canvases covered with all sort of patterns recreate the most beloved and visited spot of Ticino: The piazza of Ascona. To call the piazza of Ascona “popular” is an understatement. Every sort of gathering happens in this piazza. In the past, women are said to have come to the piazza’s shore to do some laundry, but I personally believe there was more chatting and little washing. It’s in the nature of this spectacular piazza. It seduces you to leave all shores behind you. You can’t help but feel the need to love life as you see the peace and the beauty of the lake and its surrounding mountains.
This magical aspect, the one I discovered while sipping the so many latte macchiatos I’ve had at the piazza, is what I hoped to capture in my 3 paintings. I seem not to be alone thinking I have succeeded in recreating a “happy feel” as soon as one lays eyes on these 3 paintings.
Here is a „last look“ at Morning coffee. What is the end to long hours of work is a new beginning for yet other amazing paintings of this piazza. And that’s the joyful part of selling art. Thank you client!
I looked through my journal today, to try to find again, the how’s and the why’s,that gave rise to creation of “Red boat.” This is what I found:
“Red Boat” will be part of my collection, “Ticino through my window.“ Today I discovered a small red boat in the port of Gandria, Ticino. Its beautiful red color wasn’t the only thing that demanded my attention, but also the gentle motion by which it rocked backwards and forward. A motion that made a squeaky sound to the touch of a tree branch just resting next to the boat. “It looks as if they’re playing,“ I heard my inner voice saying. “Perhaps the boat likes to be tickled by the arm of the tree, and that squeaky sound is the sound of the boat’s laugh!“ I smiled big. I walked down to the water, grabbed my glass from my backpack, grabbed my watercolors, and started sketching these funny playmates.
I unhooked my painting, took one last look at it, and said: “So long!”
“Red boat is going to Australia to be appreciated and pampered by two happy new owners. I couldn’t have asked for more!
I had just to make my last hair stroke on my new portrait painting to count the work as officially finished. As imagined by friends and family alike, my portrait painting is not a self portrait, but a personal study of someone else’s life. It’s a painting I’ve named: ephemerality. This word can describe every stage of the work, as with each brush stroke the image was transformed to a new “being,” or a more recognizable being.
The work itself is my own interpretation of the moment I was lucky to caught on my sitter. The white background for me, represents her innocence and the purity of the image. The white egg hanging from her ear lobe represents her fertility. There is a ticking clock behind, in the background. Unlike any other kid, this one is serious. She’s aware, like myself, that time has tremendous powers and I, as an artist, am just an observant of ephemeral moments.
On my way home from town, I looked up and noticed the fresh snow on Bogorno. Something down my feet caught my eye eventually. I quickly came off the spell of the mountain’s beauty, There, about to be squashed by my own foot, a brown leaf covered by newly formed water drops was my source of inspiration today! I quickly grabbed my watercolors to catch on paper, something so simple yet fascinating.
There are a few good runners and the competition is heated! So far, a lady from Ascona is winning the race! I give it away at end of this month. You have about 2 weeks to catch up so I hope you join in!