Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Plein air in Southern California ~ Lake Casitas

The artist a a receptacle 
for emotions that come
from all over the place:
from the sky,
from the earth, from a scrap of paper,
from a passing shape,
from a spider's web.
~Pablo Picasso

Lake Casitas, is not far from my parents place in Ojai, and while many people go there to fish and camp, Lori and I met for a beautiful day of plein air painting. Lori is also a member of the Pastel Society of the Gold Coast. I started a blog for them, and will be passing that on to you guys, a little later.

Anyway, it the last day of January, and as you can see, it was an absolutely gorgeous. Doing plein air work, you have a limited time, to get the information down on your paper or canvas. Because light and shadow change quickly outside, often, depending on how long you stay out there, you may start two or three different pieces. 

Of course, one of the most important decisions, is the location you choose and what you decide to incorporate into your composition, and what you decide to edit out.

Here is piece #1 ... "The morning piece." Here, you can see I have done an under-painting. Actually, I used hard pastels and a special liquid, called SpectraFix, and spread the pastel with a brush. (Sometimes, I use watercolors paints.) At this point, I now have some values (darks and lights) in place, to play off, with the soft pastels.

Here is Lori Corradi, getting started on her piece.

Every human is an artist.
The dream of your life
is to make beautiful art.
~Miguel Angel Ruiz

So here is the view I picked ...

my set-up ...

I got pretty far on this piece the, below ("the morning piece")  ... but the light started to change, and I was also loosing some of the reflections, of the hills on the water.

So, off I went to the little café, across the lake, to get a sandwich. I brought it back and ate at these picnic tables, you see below. Lori and I were loving the weather, and the view, and were feeling very lucky to be there that day! We also had a very informative conversation about the best ways to meet men. (Not a great number of available, straight men, doing pastels, as it turns out.)

In the following photo, you can see that the reflections of the mountains, on the lake, (to the left side) are pretty much gone. It was time to begin a new piece.

I put in the big shapes, with a dark nupastel (which is a harder pastel stick,) keeping pretty much the same composition, as the morning piece, and trying to stay extra loose, and notice the changes in light and color that happen in afternoon.

Then, a very loose under-painting ...

Below, I have just begun to use soft pastels. You can see the vibrant blue and green ... toward the upper-center, at the base of the hills.

Afternoon painting, (#2, for the day )
The light went behind the mountains so this is as far as I got, on the second piece. I took photos throughout the day, and with what I had gotten on paper, I had enough information to go back and resolve the paintings in the studio.

Back in the studio, Painting #1, the "morning painting"  ... almost done.

And here are the finished pieces. You can see how different they are from each other, and what a different feel and color palette they have. 

Morning on the Lake  
Ojai, California

Afternoon on Lake Casitas 
Ojai, California

Painting is just another way
of keeping a diary.
~Pablo Picasso

If you want to check out the blog that I started for the Pastel Society of the Gold Coast, click here.
It's really just getting started!

I am working on a post, with my photos of the Baths of Caracalla, in Rome. It was so amazing but I actually need to do a little research, because my knowledge of the place is very limited. (Outside of "There was a Roman dude named Caracalla and he built some baths.")  My main objective in going there, to the ruins, was actually to find images to paint! And, boy did I! The place is incredible! Anyway, I will get to that later!

Hope you are all enjoying spring and getting some good weather. And for goodness sake, let's all pray for the crazy weather to stop in the Midwest and elsewhere. 

Blessings and light!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Keats in Rome and the "Protestant Cemetery"

Heard melodies are sweet,
but those unheard are sweeter.
~John Keats

Cimitero Acattolico
(Non-Catholic Cemetery)
founded 1734

Also called
Cimitero degli Inglesi
(Englishment's Cemetery)

On December 3rd, I looked at the weather channel app, on my iPhone, and it was going to be a perfectly clear day! Cold, but clear! The plan was to meet up with my new friend, Dawn. She's the American I'd met up with, and who had taken me to the amazing murals, at the monastery, at Trinità dei Monti.

We were supposed to meet at the Piramide Metro stop, in the morning. Turns out her husband's co-op does the landscape work at the famous Protestant Cemetery, in Rome, where poets Keats and Shelley are buried.

It was a crisp, gorgeous morning. Everything was lush and beautiful from the rain, and the lady who runs the place (an English woman) Amanda Thursfield, couldn't have been more lovely, explaining the cemetery and it's ... residents? 

 On the lovely stone, below...

Weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.
~Psalm 30:5

It seems like a small, intimate, space but there are about 4,000 graves, at the cemetery, including many artists, diplomats from around the world, well known writers, architects, scientists, composers, and the Bulgari family. Although, it was originally created as a place to bury foreign Protestants and people of Eastern Orthodox faiths, it was broadened to include other faiths, from Buddhism to Islam.

Grave, below, of Clara Woolson Benedict, her sister Constance Fenimore Woolson and her Daughter Clare Rathbone Benedict.

Constance, was an american writer, of poetry, fiction and travel narratives, died in Venice, in 1894. Her sister, Clara Benedict, wrote in a letter in 1908 ...

"... I wish I could describe to you the beauty of my sister's grave - the whole top, one purple mass of sweet violets, and the runic cross lying flat on this lovely bed of violets! The cemetery is the only joyous cemetery I know of - there, the flowers always bloom; the birds always sing ...When I think of our cold snowy cemeteries at home, I wish that all I loved rested just there - where Connie sleeps .. " - Clara Woolson Benedict (1844-1923)

On the edge of the cemetery, you can see why the metro stop is called Piramide.

Pyramid of Cestius
Piramide di Caio Cestio 
Built 18 BC-12 BC

Here is Dawn, with one of the many feline residents of the place!

As you can see, they were doing excavations, next to the pyramid. Excavations are going on continually, in Rome. After all, Rome is a big layer cake of different centuries and millennia of building.

The pyramid, was built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a Roman Magistrate and member of the Septemviri Epulonum. (Religious corporation) Apparently, there is a burial chamber inside. It was rediscovered in 1660. You have to get permission to enter, and unless you are a scholar, it's unlikely to happen.

You are always new, 
the last of your kisses was ever the sweetest.
~John Keats

Here lies John Keats, in the photos, above and below. He died, in Rome, of tuberculosis in 1821, at the age of 25. Below, he is buried next to his friend, artist, Joseph Severn. The small grave between the two men, is that if Severn's infant son, Henry.

I have been astonished
that men could die martyrs for religion -
I have shuddered at it.
I shudder no more-
I could martyred for my religion-
Love is my religion-
I could die for that.
~John Keats

Three little kitties ...

Below, left, the tomb of Rosa Bathurst, by Richard Westmacott, Jr. (1825)

Angel of Grief
by American Sculptor W.W. Story 
for the grave of his wife, Emelyn
Story, was laid to rest here, with his wife 18 moths later.

This beautiful grave has been copied dozens of times, mostly in American cemeteries, and even put on album covers. The lady, in charge, said that teenagers come to pose with it, and they have to keep them from climbing on it.

The grave of Percy B. Shelley, with the words from Shakespeare ...

Nothing of him that doth fade.
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange
~The Tempest, by William Shakespeare

Shelley, died in 1822, drowning while sailing off the Italian Riviera. He was found with a copy of Keats poetry in his pocket. 

Here is a portion of Anonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats written by Shelley

Go thou to Rome -- at once the Paradise,
The Grave, the city, and the wilderness;
And where its wrecks like shatter'd mountains rise,
And flowering weeds, and fragrant copses dress
The bones of Desolation's nakedness
Pass, till the spirit of the spot shall lead
They footsteps to a slope of green access
Where, like an infant's smile, over the dead
A light of laughing flowers along the grass is spread;

And gray walls moulder round, on which dull Time
Feeds, like slow fire upon a hoary brand;
And one keen pyramid with wedge sublime,
Pavilioning the dust of him who plann'd
This refuge for his memory, doth stand
Like flame transform'd to marble; and beneath
A field is spread, on which a newer band
Have pitch'd in Heaven's smile their camp of death,
Welcoming him we lose with scarce extinguish'd breath.

... The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments. -Die,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!
Follow where all is fled! - Rome's azure sky,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

The graves of the Bulgari family, with red flowers brought in, from the family.

One of the newer graves, Nicole Bulgari, 1939-2011 

Sculpture, below, by Ivar Jonsson. 
It sits atop the grave of Lars Leksell (1907-1986,) who was reunited, in burial, with his wife Ludmila.

The large grave, in the center, in the following photo, is that of Russian painter Karl Pavlovich Brullov (1799-1852.) He was the first Russian painter to become well known in the west.

Below, the grave and family tomb of Thomas Jefferson Page (1808-1899,) American explorer and commander of U.S. Navy expeditions that mapped Argentina and Paraguay. The grave was created by Italian sculptor Ettore Ximenes.

Several years before his death, Shelley wrote of this cemetery ...

It might make one in love with death,
to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.
~Percy B. Shelley

After a few busy days in Rome, going around the city, it was nice to be around all the trees and on such a beautiful day! It was the perfect day to visit.

Here is the video, from the cemetery's website. It has lot of history, and great views of not only the cemetery, but the Keats Shelley House on Piazza di Spagna, as well.

Via Caio Cestio, 6
00153 Roma

Monday-Saturday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm 
Sundays and public holidays 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

In 2006, The Non-Catholic Cemetery, was nominated, by the World Monument Fund, to its list of the world's 100 most endangered sites. Click here, for the link to Friends of the Cemetery, for more information.

Please click on the following links for more information

Back in 2009, I went to a screening of the film, Bright Star, and heard its lovely director, Jane Campion, speak. I thought of this film, about Keats, as I wandered through this cemetery. If you haven't seen it, it's very romantic and visually ... so beautiful!

A thing of beauty is a joy forever: 
its loveliness increases; 
it will never pass into nothingness.
~ John Keats