Reflecting on Italy and some older works


2008 piece, View from La Rondanai, plein air. Learned some difficult things on this one.

2008 piece, Taking Leave, plein air with Dawn's encouragement.

2008 piece, Paolo's Bano, plein air with Toni Hooper while Paolo skinny dipped (some of you know this story.)

2008 piece,


Greens, plein air following our move to the tiny borgo of Eggi near



Three years ago today, Mark and I began our 8-month stay in Italy. (Follow this link to stories about our trip.) We started by spending 2 months in a little town on the Adriatic coast called Peschici.  It is right on the spur before you head down into the heel of the boot, and our lovely home, La Rondinaia, sat on cliff's edge with views of both sunrise and sunset over the sea. Sometimes we still cannot believe we did it. I've been thinking a lot about Peschici lately and missing the wonderful people we met there. We never dreamed we would go so many years without returning.

As most of you probably know by now, we sold our house in Tennessee and all of our belongings to make the trip. It was to be a trip of a life-time, with the sole intention of my painting purely for artistic growth (as opposed to producing works for exhibits and galleries). It was a lot of pressure to put on myself, knowing that we were investing everything we had in "me." But in such economic times, it seemed as good a thing to invest in as any.

Taking this work very seriously, I painted day after day in the Puglian sun... experimenting, failing, and falling flat on every piece. It was terribly frustrating. We had given so much and come so far and I was constantly disappointing myself at every turn. Looking back on it, of course, I can see that it was difficult artistic growth (the very thing I had come for) that was making my life so difficult in this paradise.

About this time, my friend Dawn Whitelaw came over for a visit. Any of you who have ever met her know that giving up is simply not an option. Her encouragement and determination was exactly the fuel I needed.

Dawn's visit along with other visits from artist friends Toni Hooper and, once we moved to Umbria, Cynthia Vowell, inspired me beyond expression. So, was it the location and setting of Italy that prompted growth? Was it the fact that I had less pressure to "produce a specific product?" Or was it the help and advice of great friends? Probably a combination of all of these things (plus some really great food and wine)! I am still growing from that experience and the hundreds of others that have happened since. That's the thing about this job. As long as we are open to challenges and willing to work hard, we will never grow tired or bored or complacent.

Set yourself a goal. Do what it takes to reach it!

Looking to visit Peschici? I am currently planning a workshop there for 2013! Let me know if you are interested.