Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BIMPE Mini Print Goodies

Water St Time, Linocut w watercolour
Image 4x6 Paper 8x10

Mt Pleasant Time, Linocut w watercolour
Image 4x6 Paper 8x10caption
 These may look like regular grown up prints, but they're just little guys.  The images are 4x6".  I did them to submit to  BIMPE (Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition).  It was tricky working small! But fun.

The top one is the steam clock in Gastown.  I have such clear memories of field trips here when I was in elementary school, learning about Gassy Jack and the birth of our city.  We thought it was so cool to go to "Blood Alley"  Livin' on the edge.  One of my first jobs downtown, answering phones at the Jerry Lodge Model and Talent Agency, was a stones throw from this clock, and Zientte, where my black and white prints are sold, is about a block from here.  There is always at least one tourist standing under the clock having their picture taken.  I had to jostle for position to get this angle.

The other clock is in my hood, just a short walk from the house.  I drive past it every day, and have been eyeing it for subject matter for a while.  It sits right in a nest of some of our fave local restaurants.  I wrote a little guide for the people who come and stay in our house about all the cool little spots within walking distance.  The list is LONG!  People love it, and always rave about the restaurant/pub/cafe selection included in it.

After all the traveling and drawing strange and interesting locations I've been doing lately it's kind of fun to settle in and capture a couple of scenes that are so much a part of my real life.  My bags are all unpacked and put away, the jet lag is long gone, and I've stopped saying the word "here" after I ask people what time it is.  Guess that means I'm back.
Water St Time, Linocut
Image 4x6 Paper 8x10

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Arrivederci Amalfi

My week on the Amalfi Coast is over. In fact my month in Italy is coming to a close. I'm writing this on the train to Rome, where I'll spend one last night with my friend Jim and his family before catching the plane for Vancouver in the morning.  After 31 consecutive days of pasta I'll be eating sushi in my favourite spot with my family before my head hits a pillow tomorrow night. 

There are so many stories from my time here on the coast that every day I found myself thinking  'I have to write this down. I want to remember every detail!'.  Somehow now it's just too much. Hence the blank page above. 

But here are some of the highlights: 
-hiking through the valley of the old paper mills above Amalfi, 
-joining in discussions with the Youth in Action group in a convent in Tramonti, hearing about their projects and their lives in their home countries; places like Belarus, Greece, Georgia (no, not that Georgia, although shamefully I am singing it in my head every time she says the word) and Albania
-walking in the hills above Cetara with Senem where she shows me the old abandoned stone swimming pools, still filling with fresh water that flows through aqueducts from one to the other all the way down to the sea, eating fresh asparagus sprigs that she hands me after spotting and picking them on the hillside as we go
-listening to Gian Pietro tell beautiful stories about food and culture, experiences and traditions, with all his passion and enthusiasm, Senem providing the odd word that he doesn't know in English and I can't figure out in italian, all while he makes bread or rolls out pasta dough for dinner

The sketch above is the old tower on the beach in Erchie; a magical place that is twice as beautiful at night with a million stars overhead. I did this sketch sitting on the beach yesterday, right before I entered the scene myself for a head-clearing swim. I'll never forget this place. 

I will tell you all about these things and more over a Peroni, those of you who are interested, and if you're planning a trip there I'd love to give you some references. But, half the fun of a trip is the serendipity of it all.  So the best advice I could give anyone is just to go, wherever your Italy happens to be. I'm glad I did. 

Thanks mom, for thinking this didn't sound like a crazy idea.  And a big thanks to all of you who pre-bought artwork from this trip. I couldn't have done it without you. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Amalfi Coast

I really almost didn't make this last leg of my journey. I was so happy and comfy at Ginestrelle I found myself half-wishing that a spot would open up for me to stay on until the end of the month. And then wouldn't you know it; exactly that happened. Someone left ahead of schedule. It was like a test of my resolve to follow through with my original plan. I pondered, then thought of my own little 'ABC's of Life' (Adventure, Bravery, Creativity), put my bags in Marina's car and headed to the train station.  

The landscape of this country changes pretty quickly as you head south. It becomes looser, more colorful. I was trying to read one of the books I bought at the train station in Rome, but I couldn't keep my eyes on the page.  Once I switched from train to bus in Salerno I was just flat out staring at the view, jaw dropped, nose against the window. The one and only road clings to the coast, teetering in and out with the rock formations high above the Mediterranean.  Grove upon grove of terraced lemon trees are interspersed with wild jumbles of vegetation; fig and olive trees, cacti, flowering bushes. Ancient buildings cling to the rock face like barnacles. Every so often a bay opens up below revealing a beach, boats and a cluster of rooftops below. The road is so narrow that we honk as we head into each curve, and many times cars are forced to stop and reverse carefully along the narrow road to let us pass.  We're like goats on a mountain trail. I'm anxious for the driver to call out my stop. There's no actual bus stop where I'm going, I know you can't see the town from the road (too steep) and I have a giant suitcase to retrieve from under the bus. Finally he calls our Erchie (air-key-eh). I step off to find beautiful Senem, smiling, ready to help me haul my bag onto the narrow shoulder and wind our way down the hillside to my new home away from home. 
Senem and her man Gian Pietro live in a sweet little apartment above Federico's Restaurant, 50 metres clear shot to the sea.  Within 20 minutes we are lifelong friends, sharing food, wine, music and stories. They're both passionate about food production; growing and sourcing, preparing and eating. They make their pasta by hand with flour ground from wheat grown from their own seeds of ancient origin. It's an education and a complete pleasure to sit at their table.  And the food, oh my god. It's good. I can't believe it's only been four days that I've been here. We've been on many adventures, which I will write about later, but today is all about resting up. It's three thirty in the afternoon and I've done nothing but sit in the sunshine and play my guitar, nap, and write this post. Might be time to wander out and see what's cookin'.
More stories to come...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Arte Studio Ginestrelle

Here are a few images of our surroundings at Arte Studio Ginestrelle. Marina and her family have taken wonderful care of us. They've provided this beautiful space, fed us fantastic breakfasts every morning, stoked the fires and created an environment perfect for contemplating and creating.  Tonight we have feasted once again on local cingiale, chickory and wine, this time for my farewell dinner. I'm all packed up and will head to the train station in the morning. This has been such a rich time that it feels both like it couldn't possibly have been just two weeks, and like it went by too quickly.  A huge thanks to Marina and family, and to my fellow artists here, for making this an experience I'll never forget. I hope to see you all (and Ginestrelle) again someday. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Media Break

I've been on this Italian adventure for 22 days now.  Since I left Rome I've applied mascara exactly once and a little lip gloss on two separate occasions. I haven't used a hairbrush or any kind of hot tool yet. For someone in the hair and beauty biz this has been a beautiful break.  

The other thing I've taken a break from is North American media. No news, no netflix, no nothing. I hear a plane went down somewhere. I hear the Canucks are not doing well, and the Luongo has been traded. And that the Italian film La Grande Belleza won an Oscar. That is the sum total of information that's made it's way through. 

So what have we been doing for entertainment? We've been creating our own little subtitled film fest, and it's been great.  

First up - Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna (Brother Sun, Sister Moon). It's an oldie, depicting the lives of Saint Francis and Saint Claire. It's a 'must watch' if you're spending time in Assisi. It made all the site-seeing more relevant for me, and it's just a good watch. 

Next - La Grande Belleza. I was buying a Fellini movie in a little store in the bottom of a church in Perugia and the nun pulled out a copy, said 'Oscar', handed it to me and gave me a smile that said I was buying this, no matter what other ideas I had about the subject. I'm not Catholic, but I know enough not to tangle with a smiling nun. We watched it one of my first nights at Ginestrelle and we couldn't stop talking about it. We've watched it a second time already, and I'll be watching it again as soon as I get home. The cinematography is stunning. No wonder it's winning awards. 

Next was Fellini's La Strada, an old b/w about a strange couple living on the road, surviving on a circus act and their charm, neither of which are in large supply. It is bleak and beautiful, ugly and tender. If you or someone you love is considering running away with the circus it'd be a wise thing to watch. 

And last night Sarah pulled out a copy of Pina, a documentary on the German modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch. In my man-filled house back home a documentary, in German, subtitled in French, about modern dance?  Not happening. Ever. But it was beautiful. Glad I saw it while I had the chance. 

Tonight, though, was the entertainment highlight of the trip. Marina took Sarah and I in to Assisi to attend a concert at the Basilica San Francesco. Eight monks sang sacred music a capella in beautiful harmony under the vaulted and frescoed altar. The combination of the sounds, the colours in the painted imagery, all the intricate textures and marble inlay around us, the night falling in shades of indigo through the beautiful church windows as we listened to the music; the combined effect was magical. 

So in 10 days I'll be back to the land of non-stop news with other news scrolling along the bottom in case the stuff I'm watching isn't fulfilling my need to know; hockey games, golf games, shows that talk about hockey games and golf games, and marathon sessions of whatever is hot on netflix.  I'll be ready for it, under my fur blanket on my sofa with my man and my dog within arm's reach, pizza arriving at the door with one phone call. But I'll always be so grateful that this trip has been possible, filling up my culture cup, napping at willhaving quiet space to create and think, working late into the night when the mood strikes. 

I have one more day here, then I head south on the train to the Amalfi Coast. I'm off to a town so small that not only does it not have a bus station, it doesn't have a bus stop.  I'm guessing that my media break is going to continue. I have no idea what will fill the gap here, but I'll keep you posted. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ready For Some Colour - Italy

  My first prints are dry enough to paint today. Here they are:

Hanging Out In Trastevere 

Perugian Slivers I 

Perugian Slivers II

Glass Ceiling Rome 

Le Petit Prince Of Lyon


Bernini's River Gods

Coloseum In The Rain

Rooftops Of Montmartre

They're not this blue in real life. I'll get some better pics sometime soon. Don't forget you can pre-order the finished prints in my website at www.carolmcquaidart.com/italy-2014.html

I was working on carving some new images when these guys cruised by the studio to say hello. 
Lovely, no?  

Perugian Slivers

These four images came from a page in my sketchbook titled 'Perugian Slivers'. Text says:
Walking around Perugia I find my eye keeps getting drawn up along these fantastic little sliver views. They're everywhere, around every corner, rising and dropping with the hillside. These four, all leading off Piazza IV Novembre, look like doorways but they're actually skinny little streets. Al Mangiar Bene is through that arched door you see on the right. It's where I had my first meal here (fantastic). But the street doesn't end there. All of these streets buck and twist their way down the hillside in a maze of stairs, tunnels and archways. Each day I let myself fall a little deeper into it, finding the food gets better (and cheaper) the further I let myself go. No fear of getting lost. If I get totally disoriented I just head upward and I know at the top of the hill these four archways will appear again and I can find my way home. It's better than breadcrumbs.