Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Venetian love story from an artist's point of view...

Buon Giorno... well, we've made it to our final installment of My Venetian Adventure ... I hope that I've in some small way succeeded to convey just how awesome this encounter has truly been!  I set out with hopes of having a fulfilling artistic experience and it exceeded my expectations far more than I believed possible. I found myself in a magical wonderland where time had stood still, where the art of mosaic was still revered by all and continues to provide the obvious visual beauty needed to bring to life storytelling for the ages!

Venice has had an extraordinary effect on me since having visited on a previous trip... the minute I stepped out of the train station along the Grande Canal, something touched my heart and has never let up! I have planned this return journey from that very first moment and I feel blessed that no matter how long it took, it has happened!! I didn't think it possible but my love of this magnificent city has deepened beyond belief... dare I dream of returning again?

Below you will find pictures that reflect the "artistry" found in everyday life as you stroll the streets or float the canals of this truly one-of-a-kind city!

Love at first sight - Grande Canal in front of Train Station
Gondolas waiting to be taken out!
Work Boats resting after a busy morning of deliveries!
Dorsoduro Neighborhood - quiet beauty!
"Golden Arches" -Italian Style!
Come on in!
Carnavale - Handmade Ball Masks
Papier Mache Animal Masks
Venetian Ironwork Gate
Moorish Style Balcony
Canaregio Neighborhood Villa

Street Food Italian Style
Yum... simple ingredients, perfect flavor!!
Caprese -  aged balsamic as thick as fudge
Fresh Catch of the Day
What's not to like?
My Favorite - Fegato alla Veneziana - No, I won't tell you what it is!!
Heaven on a plate!!

Thank you for letting me share My Venetian Adventure... Arrividerci!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The "Adventure" continues (part 3)

Just a little Show & Tell for today... inside the walls of Orsoni Mosaici...
If it weren't for my love of great food (we all have our weaknesses),  I probably would never have ventured through the gates of this serene and magical place!! The surrounding neighborhood proved to be equally enchanting. Few tourists here...this is where the Venetians live!  

Below is a small sampling of works that represent historical styles for restoration projects that Orsoni has been a part of throughout the world. In the Domus Orsoni B&B, there are exquisite mosaics everywhere... you can imagine, sometimes I just found myself walking the halls to be surrounded by the beauty of them all... there weren't even any do not touch signs, I was in Heaven!!

copyright - Orsoni Mosaici - Venezia

copyright - Orsoni Mosaici - Venezia

copyright -  Orsoni Mosaici -Venezia

Mosaic Floor in Domus Orsoni B&B - copyright - Angelo Orsoni 1903

Even my room number was a mosaic!

Below are pictures inside the Orsoni Courtyard... 
it felt like my own personal secret garden lost in time!

Mosaic Pillar in courtyard at Studio entrance

View from my window - loved having a feline neighbor!
Ceramic melting pots for the glass - some have been used over 100 years
I think they are works of art just as they are...fabulous color!!
Orsoni Courtyard Door - you almost forget that there's everyday life on the other side!!
Neighborhood canal entrance to the foundry - green door on left
Palm trees in Venice?! -  for some reason this surprised me!!
Stop by tomorrow for our final look at My Venetian Adventure (part 4)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Continuing... " My Venetian Adventure" ( part 2 )

As I mention in the previous post, I had forgotten to pack my intended project design so I was left with my only option, to just wing it!! I'm used to working in a solitary environment, my comfort zone is breached when placed in a group situation like a class. I quickly felt performance anxiety after chatting with my fellow classmates and learning of their varied experience with mosaics. I had to remind myself that I was there for my own creative experience, not to compete or impress anyone else!!  How silly, the things we do in our own little heads!?! 

Our instructor, Antonella Gallenda, did not waste time with pleasantries... she came to each one of us individually to find out what our expectations for the course was & how she could help us achieve the results we wanted! That was just what I needed to get out of my own head and back to why I chose to go there! She handed me a brand new, freshly sanded board and a pencil with instructions we create a design that reflected my unique style, not someone else's. After quickly sketching a design that I felt was achievable under the time restraints of the next few days, I realized that I was being observed. The Maestro himself, Lucio Orsoni, was watching me... he began to explain to me that the lines I made to follow must not dictate the end results, that as I began laying down the colors that I would undoubtedly make changes. "To make mosaics you must feel mosaics"... those few words set the tone for my creativity, my piece was ready to be started! With Antonella's counsel, my beginning color palette was chosen, my tools were at the ready and the glass cutting began!!

Learning to use a hammer and hardy was the first hurdle to get over. In the past, I had only used the wheeled hand cutters. Antonella made using the hammer look quite easy, but she is a master mosaic artist, in actuality it was very difficult!! My scrap pile was growing by the minute and I was relying on my wheel cutter to see me through! Throughout the next few days and vowing to succeed, I finally became comfortable with hammer cutting... my scrap pile was even reflecting my new found skill! Cutting and laying down your design is very time consuming, haste will definitely show in the quality of your work! One of the benefits of staying at the Orsoni B&B while attending the course is that the studio is available for your use 24 hrs a day. For this reason I chose to stay at the B&B, I knew that I would take full advantage of this benefit and I most definitely did! I loved the solitude of working in the middle of the night, free of the constant chatter of others... my creative comfort zone was restored! I accomplished more in the few hours I worked each night than others did during the 8 hours of class time. It also allowed me the luxury of time in class to ask questions & learn more techniques from Antonella's time with us! I wanted to get the most out of this experience as possible and in the end, I feel that I did!

Below you will see a few pictures that reflect "my work in progress"... I wish that everyone could actually be a part of an experience similar to mine... no matter what your artistic passion is, to be completely submerged into an environment so focused on just that, is a memory worth making!!

Hammer & Hardy - feels like overkill at first, watch your fingers!!
Wheel Hand Cutter - snipping glass to fit in spaces is a must

 Yes, this really is a "selfie" of me ( a very rare sighting
Just wanted to prove that I was actually there, even to myself!!

Quiet studio in the middle of the night - Heaven!
Beginnings of my masterpiece - I like a tidy work space!
Work in progress... as you can see I have chosen abstract over traditional

"Venetian Fig" Smalti Mosaic (approx. 16X16)

So there you have it, my finished mosaic - of course, there were many more twists & turns along the way but I think in condensing my tale you can still feel the spirit of my creative experience... from start to finish, a wonderful and blessed adventure!!

I even had time to play in the end with another small project. Antonella showed me a technique in using large chunks of glass & hammering away to create shapes... harder than it sounds, just about the time you think you got it, the piece shatters into nothingness!! Here's what I came out with... don't you just love the texture?!

 "Viola Fiori" - Approx. 6X6
 My Venetian Adventure will continue with more tales to tell... Until then, Ciao!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Buon Giorno... join me on "My Venetian Adventure" (part one)

I must begin by first apologizing for being MIA for longer than expected... my intent was to do a few blog posts while in Venice but I honestly had no time to do so! As you know, I was there to attend a Master Mosaic Class at the renown Orsoni glass foundry. ( FYI... Orsoni is the only glass foundry left in Venice, all of the other furnaces, being much larger, were moved to the nearby island of Murano in an effort to protect the city from fires. ) The facility turned out to be so far beyond my expectations that I found myself in a constant state of awe! Yes, I knew of their wonderful and respected reputation in the "mosaic world" but to find myself actually there in person turned out to be transcendent. Everywhere I turned, I felt a part of history... stepping back in time, when mosaics artists and their works were revered by all and the evidence of that can still be experienced throughout this magnificent city today! As expected, the class was quite challenging... using Smalti to create mosaics is the ultimate reason that one goes to Orsoni. I felt like a kid in a candy store, everything is at your disposal, any color imaginable along with over 2000 varying shades and as much as you want! Mosaic 24K "gold" is their specialty in over 30 shades, their production techniques have remained a secret throughout the years. We were given a tour that allowed us to see part of the process but no photography was permitted. 
( If you are interested in knowing more about Orsoni Mosaici, click on the link that I have provided to the right! )

Having forgotten to pack my intended design, I found myself just jumping in and creating as I went... this actually was a blessing in disguise, it forced me to be more realistic about the time restraints for completing a project... the design I had planned would have been far too time consuming to accomplish successfully. Now the fun part begins... choosing the color palette... as I said previously, soooooo many choices, how do I choose???? 

In the next few "blog posts" my project will evolve from a work in progress until my finished work is revealed... hopefully you'll check back to see!!

Below are a few pictures of what is called the "Library" ... page after page of glass! There are several more walls, these are just a few... in the rest of the area are bins and bags of Smalti that were cut from the slabs you see on the walls!

 First step in making "Gold". As I said, the rest of the process is TOP SECRET!!

Stop by in the days to come as I share more of my Venetian Adventure... Ciao, Ciao for now!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Happy Autumn to All... jump in that pile of leaves, it's still fun!!

My favorite time of year...I love October & I love Autumn!!

Just checking in to say, "I'm back from the art free war zone that's commonly referred to as Everyday Life!" Don't get me wrong, a dear friend needed me to care for her before & after surgery and I was happy that I was in the position to do that for her. However, I did unknowingly learn a lot about myself along the way!! Never having been a mother (whoops, Blossom doesn't know that she's adopted) I came to realize that I don't have those natural comforting instincts that would have undoubtedly come in handy!! Thinking back, I never wanted to play nurse or doctor as a child, I wanted to be left alone with my crayons and paper... sooooo, the writing was on the wall... I'm not the best choice for a "caregiver"!! I'm not sure if I rose to the occasion but I do know that I managed to stretch myself far more than I ever thought possible. In spite of a very rocky beginning and some bouts of frustration from time to time, my friend has managed to heal nicely and today she happily boarded a plane for her home in Mexico!!

Speaking of planes...  only 2 days until I'm off on my much anticipated journey to Venice!! I do plan to make a few posts to my blog while I'm there. I'll only have my tablet with me so photos will be limited until my return home, at that time I will undoubtedly have many stories to tell. (Just thought I'd warn you!!) I am so ready to be creative... after this "art" hiatus that I've been on, it's going to be beyond wonderful to attend the mosaic workshop!!

Just thought I'd leave you with a couple of my favorite photos from a previous time in Venice to get things started... have a great day, Ciao!

Below:  I love the small canals that create the labyrinth to Venice's hidden treasures!
Also note the small sculpted faces at the top of the photo...that is the bottom section 
of the Bridge of Sighs!!  That's what I love about Italy, everywhere you turn there's ART!!!

Below:  This sculpture was one of my favorites...such intricate details in the metalwork 
and the 3 umbrellas are made from wonderful Venetian glass... duh, of course they are!!