Monday, December 22, 2008

From End to Beginning

CASEY is here!  She got in two Saturdays ago and since then we have been exploring Florence while I finished my classes and said my goodbyes to some good friends. 

Here we are on the top of Piazzale Michelangelo.  Finally!   We saw that it was finally sunny outside and had to go.  Little did we know that the rest of the week would be sunny!  Regardless, the sight of the city was still breathtaking.  Between sightseeing and museum visiting I had my final critiques and exams.  

And finally, here is my semester's painting body of work.  The idea I explored this semester (and hopefully beyond this semester) was the relationship between the individual and their secret and also the secrets relationship with its owner.  Hope you like it!  

All the pieces are acrylic and oil on canvas... and for sale. 

After my last final on Thursday, Casey and I went out for some drinks and a bite to eat with my friends.  
Gusta Pizza.  My first time there and their last.  These kids were a great group of friends and really made my semester what it was.  I can't wait to meet up with them again in North Carolina!

What's next?  Roma tomorrow!  Then Siena, Cinque Terre and Venice!  Happy holidays everyone!  

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Final Days of School

Not much to report.  I am in the process of finishing all of my final projects and am in finals stress-out mode.  I spent this past weekend in the studio and got two paintings in good shape.  It took a lot out of me and I was quite antisocial outside of studio, but it puts me in a good position for this upcoming week.  I still have to do a final piece for pastel and finish my sculpture (hopefully tomorrow!)  Then I get to study for a written and practical final for my cooking class (piece of cake ;) and my Italian final.  BUT, in the process of it all I get some company from ....CASEY!!!  She's coming up THIS Saturday.  Crazy.  I'm super stoked and am trying to get most of my work done before then because I know my motivation for school is going to nonexistent.  

On another note, today is December 8th.  It is the day Buddha reached enlightenment and ironically also Immaculata Concezione (immaculate conception) of Mary.  Immaculate because it is believed that Mary was born without original sin.  Anyway, it was a holiday today which means shopping for all!  The city center was packed today and all the piazzas were full of cool handmade crafts, foods and goods.  

Italian word of the day: stanco - tired

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week of food

This past week has marked the beginning of the holiday weight gain.  It was filled with food, friends and a lot of laughing.  

On Wednesday some friends and I went to St. James Church for an American thanksgiving dinner.  It was 5 Euro and completely worth it.  We got there to find antipasti of salame, brie, bread, olives and some spreads.  After a bit of snacking we headed into the chapel for a dance performance by the Florence Dance Troop.  They put on a great show and I, having never seen ballet in person, was blow away.  After the performance it was time to chow down!

Look at this awesome dinner.  Delicious!  This was followed by an apple tart and pumpkin pie.  Then a swing/jazz band, Petralana,  played for the small crowd that remained.  It didn't take long for us to get off our bums and watch the band.  The band had drums, a guitar, a stand up bass and a violin and they played upbeat music that just makes you want to dance/jog in place in a circle.  

The next day was the real thanksgiving.  After a long day of classes I headed over to my friend Alina's place for dinner.  We spent about 4 hours cooking and snacking and didn't eat until 11 PM.  We made an amazing feast.  Turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, biscuits, pesto mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, cranberry sauce, two pies, and apple cider - all made from scratch, even the cranberry sauce and cream of mushroom soup for the casserole.  

Here was the delicious pies that we basically forced ourselves to eat.  I really haven't eaten like that since probably last semester at an Indian buffet.  

This is my bud Enrique passed out after dinner.  I followed suit and passed out on the couch.  

Of course the next day we all got together and had cold left overs.  I really like cold left overs.  It is equally delicious but in such a different way.  

Even the birds got a feast this week.  I took this picture yesterday on my way to studio.  This guy was just throwing bread into the air and the birds would just swoop and catch it in the air.  He was having a blast!

Last night I had everyone over for dinner.  I made rosemary focaccia and linguine with arugola in a marscapone cream sauce.   They brought over wince and three types of chocolate ice cream for dessert.  We ended the night by watching The Grinch and Rudolph.  Tonight... turkey curry!

The moral of the story is that I'm going to do some yoga now and go for a run after!  Happy Thanksgiving and I hope that those brave enough to show on Black Friday made it out alive!

Italian phrase of the day: C'é solomente tre settimani piu di corsi quindi devo andare a lavolare! - There is only three more weeks of class so I need to get to work!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day Trip to Siena & Work Update

This past weekend was pretty mellow.  On Friday I went to the opening of a student show I was apart of.  I had two pieces in the show and got some pretty nice compliments on it.  Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the event.  On Saturday a few friends came over for some Thai food.  I attempted to make Pad Thai, but didn't really have the ingredients, and also made yellow curry.  We filled ourselves and watched a movie.  Sorry again - no pics. 

On Sunday I went to Siena for a day trip.  I've been feeli
ng kind of "city locked" and wanted to go somewhere less crowded.  I woke up early and headed for the station.  I was going to take a bus directly there, but couldn't find the ticket office, so I caught a train to Empoli and a bus to Siena.  On the bus ride, the driver side swiped a parked car!  From what I could pick up, the car was illegally parked and the bus driver tried to avoid it, but someone walked in front of us (not uncommon in Italy) and he had to avoid him too.  Anyway, during the "break" I spoke with an Italian kid and let him listen to my ipod.  

Anyway, we finally got to Siena, about 4 hours after leaving Florence.  I found my way from the station to the city center via a trail through a little wooded area and lots of steep streets.  The city is beautiful!  Very old with appropriate modernization.  

Here's their Duomo.  Talk about decorative and decked out.  Inside was way more extravagant that the exterior.   After walking around for a bit I stopped to get a giant slice of pizza and ate in the sun at the Piazza del Campo.  This piazza was massive with a slanted ground.  It basically looked like a giant basin.  
Of course when there are people eating in public there are pigeons.  This kid was doing his duty and chasing them away. 

Siena.  It was a good day to clear my mind and a nice reminder that I'm in Italy and not just in a city.  

Ok, here's a little update of work.
We started drawing the figure in my pastel class.  This class is starting to reveal my pallet as I tend to go for the same colors in a lot of my drawings.  
This was my midterm for my pastel class.  My teacher likes to make ridiculous still lifes for us to draw, and the midterm was no exception.  Its not great, but I'm happy with it considering the amount of time we had.  

And now...Sculpture.  I know I've been kind of keeping it a secret.  Its not because I think its good (actually the opposite).  It just takes so long that I didn't want to post with pictures of a piece of marble with dents in it.  But its finally in what its final form (for the most part), so heres' a little catch up. 

Next week I'm going to start on the texture of the wood and work on making a few branches a bit thinner.  

Italian phrase of the day: Domani ho un quiz per il mio corso Italiano, quindi adesso devo andare e studiare.  - Tomorrow I have a quiz for my Italian class so I now I have to go and study.  

Sunday, November 9, 2008

When in Rome . . . hang out with the French

Here's the second leg of my fall break: Rome.

I was in Rome from October 30-November 2.  I was fortunate to have made a friend, Reinaldo, in Florence.  Reinaldo, who's portrait I painted (a couple posts ago), is from France and used to live the my room before I moved in.   I've gotten to know him as he was using our apartment as a base while he was searching for an apartment in Rome.  He found one and let me crash there while I was in Rome.

The first night I went to a halloween party with a bunch of French students.  No pics since I didn't have my camera, but it was a lot of fun and I got to practice my Italian.

The next day I spent the whole day in the Vatican city.  
Here's a priest gazing at St. Peter's Basilica.  I don't blame him, its magnificent.  

The columns of the piazza were huge!  It baffles me how they first made these columns and then erected them in the 1500s.  Amazing.

I mainly spent the whole day there because it started raining.  It was a pretty rainy week, but there was so much to see inside the Vatican Museums that I probably would have stayed there for that long anyway.  Besides a whole lot of Renaissance art, I got to see a few Dali's, a Francis Bacon, a Matisse, and a bunch of modern, relatively contemporary art.  

I also got to see Rafael's School of Athens.  This large fresco is absolutely beautiful and impressive.  I was so excited to see it in person after learning about it in art history.  In the front, resting his head on his fist is Michelangelo.  Speaking of which...

The Sistine Chapel.  HOW???  Everyone knows about the Sistine Chapel and it is more amazing than you think.  I snuck this picture.  It was just breathtaking.  I wish I could have laid down on the floor and gazed for an hour.  Too bad there was an obscene amount of tourists.  

Since were going with the Michelangelo theme...
Here's the Pietá.  Its not the real one but a plaster copy of it.  I couldn't get a good picture of the real one, which is inside St. Peter's Basilica.  He did this when he was 24.  24!!  It is just incredible and I can see why no one believed he had made it.  The Pietá is the definition of perfection.

After a long day I took headed back to Reinaldo's place and took a shower.  When I got out his friends, Max, the one in the middle and David (I think that his name) the one with big hair, were there.  We soon got a game of poker going that ended up going until 4 am!  If you know me, you know Im not much of a poker player, but I was that night!  Anyway, these guys are really cool it was a lot of fun.

The next morning I woke up and headed straight back to the Vatican City.  The day before I missed seeing the real Pietá, so I went to see it.  It was finally sunny!  

I waited for 45 minutes to get it, but who can complain when your view in line is this?

I was determined to fit everything in because it was my last day in the Rome, so after the the Vatican I went to the Trevi Fountain. 

This is the famous fountain you always see in movies where people thrown in change and make a wish.  What you don't see is how packed the place is.  I'm not sure if the piazza it was in was actually small or if it just felt like it because of this grand fountain.  

After the fountain I walked a bit to the Pantheon!
Don't let the picture deceive you, the columns are gigantic!  If you were on one side and I was on the other and we hugged one column, our hands wouldn't even come close to touching.  In this piazza was a cool band with a standup bass, a guitar an accordion, and a xylophone playing music that made you feel like you were in Europe.  

After the Pantheon I wandered around for bit and found some cool ruins.
Just imagine what life was like when these things were new!  If you're having trouble, picture what life was like when the Colosseum was new!

It's weird to think of what when on in here a few centuries ago.  

In my way back to the apartment I saw this lovely graffiti.  

Berlusconi is Italy's Georgo W. Bush, but with hair plugs and mafia connections.  Recently Berlusconi visited the US and said that George W will go down as the United States best president.  I think that alone tells you what kind of man is running Italy.  

The next day I woke up early to see Michelangelo's Moses at St. Peter in Chains Basilica.  

Absolutely incredible.  It was originally supposed to be one of 40 (I think) sculptures for Pope  's tomb, but it never got completed.  I'm almost glad it wasn't because this sculpture deserves its own attention. 

So, after a week of traveling I saw amazing art, met and hung out with some really cool people and ate more kebabs than I would ever have wanted to.  It was an awesome week and now I'm back into the swing of classes again.  Something tells me the rest of the semester is going to go by in a flash.

Italian word of the day: motorino - moped

Wednesday, November 5, 2008




Monday, November 3, 2008


This past week was my fall break.  A whole week to travel and not think about school.  I spent half of my week in Barcelona, Spain and the other half in Rome, but I'll write about that a little later.  So, here's what I did...

To start, here are the kids I went to Barcelona with:
Alina and Enrique - two super cool kids from North Carolina.  We caught the bus from Florence to Pisa and hung out at the airport for a while because we were eager beavers and got there ridiculously early.  We flew Ryanair (gotta love the cheap flights) to Giorna, just outside of Barcelona and cause a shuttle into the city.  We took it easy the first night, just eating some cheap Kebabs for dinner and wandering around the port area.  

The next day we found a free exhibit so we checked it out.  The room full of metal sculptures was by far the coolest thing in the exhibit.  
Here's Alina and Enrique getting some cool shots.  I guess I did as well!  After tthat we found a weird studio that did paintings as a tribute to Dali.  It was pretty much a bunch of nude paintings with Dali's face in most of them.  We had planned to go to the beach, but it started raining, so we decided to go to the Picasso Museum.  After about two hours of searching for the place though, we found a long line in the rain and decided to go back to the hostel to make a better plan.

There I found that there was a free Alfonse Mucha exhibit in town!  For those of you that don't know, he is my #1 favorite artist, so it was a real treat for me, especially since I wasn't going to Prague and  to his museum there.  So we caught the metro to the exhibit and I got to experience Mucha in real life! 

I had this poster on my wall all last year.  The show was amazing.  It was more than amazing, it was mind boggling, life affirming, close to a spiritual awakening-ly amazing.  There were a bunch of his works including many of his lithographs, sketches and oil paintings.  Why he isn't more well known I'll never know.  

On Wednesday we filled up our day with sightseeing.  I don't have much pictures because I was either in a gallery or they came out lame.  We started it off with the Picasso Museum.  It was mainly his early work, but it was really great to see that he started off  like every one else and painted portraits and landscapes.  There were a lot of prints he did, which I did not even know he did.  He did A LOT of work and the museum was packed with his art. 

After the museum we headed to the beach.  We didn't care that it was cold and rainy, we just wanted to see a large body of water.
Turned out that the water was warmer than outside.  So we walked about, looked for cool stuff from the beach, and then tried to warm up.   

After the beach we went to see Gaudí's La Sagrada Familia.  Incredible.  I have a bunch of photos of it but it is so big that it just doesn't make sense to look at it.  I still need to stitch some phoots together and maybe post it later.  After that we went to the Joan Miró museum to see his and a lot of modernists' work.  Not all of it was my taste, but it was pretty interesting. 

On the way back we stopped by the Mercat de la Boqueria, a large market with ton of delicious looking fresh produce, seafood and meats.

Fish... I just thought to colors on these guys were amazing.  I mean, it looks like someone spilled watercolors on them.  Beautiful.  

After eating a free dinner at our hostel (this was our third and final try at getting the food before it ran out) we went for dessert.  Now, when Richmond and Kristen got back from Spain last year they couldn't stop raving about the chocolate con churros, so naturally I had to try some for myself.  
Verdict - DELICIOUS!  Although, Richmond made some last semester and I think they were pretty comparable to these ones, if not better.  Bravo Richie.  Anyway, we enjoyed our warm snacks, had a beer and headed to bed early (relatively).

The next day, Thursday, Alina and Enrique left early to go to Prague.  My flight to Rome was a bit later so I explored the city a bit more.  

Here's Gaudí's Casa Batlló.  I'm thinking Dr. Seuss and Gaudí would have gotten along.  Gaudí seriously thought outside the box.  In fact, he jumped out of the box, ran a mile to the train station, traveled across Spain and thought there. 

After a bit of walking around I got to the hostel and packed.  Then I realized that the zipper on the big pocket of my backpack broke.  So I had to use some shoe laces (still attached to the shoes) to hold my stuff in the bag.  At this point I was running late for my shuttle to the airport.  Luckily though I got on the bus about a minute before it left and all was well. 

Here's just something funny I saw at the airport.  I hope everyone goes to the polls tomorrow and VOTES!  (or has already turned in the absentee ballots)

Ok, well that was Spain.  I'll be posting my Rome adventure in a bit.

Italian word of the day: malato - sick

Friday, October 24, 2008

Painting Work

Yesterday I had my critique for my painting class on my work for midterm.  This semester we are concentrating on one theme or idea and making a body of work.  MY theme is "Secrets" and how the individual interacts with and is affected by the secret.  For midterm, we had to have three pieces completed.  Here they are:

This is 60X80 cm, acrylic a oil on canvas.  None of them have titles yet.  I'm pretty happy with this one.  I am going to change the background.  At first I wanted all white backgrounds to isolate the scene or individual, but now its just kind of driving me crazy.  
This one has the same specs as the first.  The guy is my friend Reinaldo.  He was living in my room before I came.  Now he's moving down to Roma.  I'm also pretty happy with this one, but I am going to change the drips of his shirt and possibly add a scene to the background.  Not sure yet.

This one is 50x50 cm, acrylic on canvas.  I was happy with this one, but after the critique I'm going to change it.  Actually, I might change everything.  After finishing these paintings I wasn't "feeling it" as much as I usually do.  I think that was my gut telling me that I'm still not pushing myself to where I want to be.  The critique kind of drove that home for me.  

Anyway, on Monday I'm going to Barcelona with a couple friends and then I'm off to Roma by myself for a few days.  It's my fall break and I'm stoked that I get some time to travel

Italian word of the day: viaggiatore - traveler

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More painting and more pizza

It seems weird that my weekend posts happen on Wednesday.  Its not intentional, its just the only time since Sunday that I have time to sit down and blog for a bit.  Anyway, let start with 'students.'  A law was just passed in Italy to privatize public schools and currently the students are protesting. 

A lot of the schools in Florence look like this.  The students have taken over the school and locked the teachers out.  I think this has become a tradition over the years, but this years occupation of the school is more important because of the new law that was passed.  They are in there 24/7 and I even got to go inside one night.  Pretty chaotic as you can imagine. 

I did laundry this weekend.  
This isn't mine, but I thought it was a cool picture and it makes me feel like I'm out of a modern city and living in a more quaint area.  Cool picture, but of the clothes of our lame neighbors upstairs.  

Before the weekend I picked up my absentee ballot and got to fill it out on Saturday!
I am a dork and took a picture of me voting.  But this election is of great importance and I'm making sure my voice is heard (as loud as my rights lets me)  

After voting I took another attempt at making pizza.  The dough itself actually came out better this time and I'm think that when I get back to the States I will be able to open up a pizzeria.  Ah dreams...

But the rest of the pizza came out good too and I enjoyed my delicious veggie pizza.  This isn't very italian, but I just like to put a bunch of stuff on my pizza.  

So that was the "down time" from my weekend.  I had an Italian midterm on Monday so I was studying for that most of Sunday.  The exam went well and I'll find out how well in a few hours.  
Most of my weekend time though, was spent in the studio getting my painting midterm work in "fighting" condition.  I'm finished with three pieces so far and I will post pictures of it towards the end of this week.  I would tell you what the subject matter or idea is, but its a secret.  

Italian word of the day: Pensare - to think (because I'm starting to think in Italian ... weird!)