Posts Tagged ‘Sicily’

Woo! Life is busy right now. I recently started a new job as Head of Advertising and Promotion at the University of Hartford Art School MFA in Illustration Program, and I just got back from New York Comic Con! Now, I will be on the road again this Thursday to hang my next show.

This Saturday (Oct 20th) is the Opening reception for a Student and Alumni Study Abroad Show in the Silpe Gallery at the University Campus. This past Spring, two separate groups of students traveled abroad with the Hartford Art School. Now, artwork inspired by our journey will be on display for the public to view. The Opening will begin at 5pm and end at 7pm, and will feature paintings, photography, prints, fiber-works and ceramics, informed by these two exotic locations. Many of the work will be for sale and light refreshments will be served.

The show runs from October 19th through November 1st. Gallery hours are M-F: 9-4pm, and S-S: 12-4pm

I myself will have three finished watercolor paintings in the show: a series about the relationship between Sicilians and their beautiful land. I will also have on display several field watercolors, done one site in various parts of Sicily, as well as my sketch book from the trip available to look through. Again, these original works will be available for sale.

Bring your friends!

Hartford Art School
200 Bloomfield Ave
West Hartford, CT 06117

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After spending Spring break 2012 in Sicily as part of a travel & art class at University of Hartford, I came back to the United States ready to make artwork about what struck me most during my time abroad. I am extremely proud of these three paintings. They can be viewed larger in the color illustration gallery.

My work is about the relationship between the Island of Sicily and the inhabitants that have shaped and changed the face of the island overtime in order to live, grow, and worship there. Sicily is a land of abundant natural beauty that spills over the hills and cliffs in the form of brightly colored volcanic stone and sedimentation, and densely textured, luscious foliage that springs from the fertile soil. With so much potential in the ground, the Island has passed through the hands of many cultures over the millennia, all of which have shaped and tamed the Island to fit their needs without ever covering up the Island’s natural beauty.

In other parts of the modern world, the United States included, too much is done to pave over nature and replace it with sterile modern comforts. In these places the dialogue with the earth is lost. In Sicily, they use the earth without ever losing sight of it, and there is a respect for the permanence, strength, and life-giving qualities of stone. It is the delicate influence of man over nature that produces some of the most beautiful sites on the island, where man attempts to manicure the land’s raw potential, and turn it into something that will feed his stomach, nourish his soul, and shield him from the elements.

This series of watercolors is a depiction of those three basic and universal human needs which are met through collaboration with the earth. The pursuit to feed oneself and ones family is seen in the farms and orchards that blanket the volcanic hills which make this growth possible. The quest to live comfortably, shielded from the wind, rain, and cold can be seen in the stone apartments that rise out of the ground. The need to worship and feel apart of a community is literally carved from the Island in the form of temples that span the ages.

The physical earth of Sicily is a connective tissue that links and satisfies all of man’s needs; it links individuals to communities, past to present, and mortals to their gods. When all aspects of life are tied together through a connection to the earth, that is when life is most beautiful, and it is a feeling that I would like to remember.

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I addition to keeping a sketch book while in Sicily, I also did a lot of sketching in watercolor. Sometimes a camera just doesn’t capture the full experience. When a camera takes a picture, the lighting is always a little different from what the eye is seeing. A camera focuses on everything instead of letting one focal point really come out. The camera doesn’t take into account the air and the wind and the smells of a beautiful scene. The camera is a tool that captures an image without any sense of awe or emotion. This is why we paint!

A painting may not represent every minute detail to the finest degree of accuracy, especially if it was sketched out in a matter of minutes, but a painting talks about all of the things that a raw photo does not. A painting points out what is most important in a scene, and what made the biggest impact on the artist. A painting captures colors in low light the a camera would turn into muddy grain. A painting captures an emotion ambiance that the camera is not sensitive to, and a painting preserves the physical conditions that took place on site in the way that the brush laid down the paint on paper. You can see the energy, delight, pain and discomfort of the artist’s hand in the brushwork. Whereas the camera removes the physical prescience of the artist in her work.

In this post are the field watercolor paintings that I did on-site in Sicily. Balancing my block and pallet on one arm and my brush in the other, I painted standing, perched on rocks, sitting on hillsides, crouched on a curb, and all sorts of other less than comfortable places. Some paintings took only five mints, while others I worked on for an hour. Each sketch only took up half or a third of my block so that I could paint multiple sketches a day without having to remove the paper and worry about storing and protecting the loose sheets. A the beginning of each day I would prepare a fresh piece of paper on my watercolor block, sectioning it off with tape, and at the end of the day I would remove the finished paintings and tuck them away in the hotel rooms so that I wouldn’t have to take any finished paintings back out into the field.

The sunrises and sunsets in Sicily were gorgeous, and a favorite subject for all of the painters and photographers on the trip. The trick to painting the moving sun is to do it quickly. The light of a sunset can change in a matter of minutes.

Speed painting is great practice because it keeps the paintings loose and decisive. There was no time to mess around over-working or over-thinking.

You can view these and all of my other sketches from Sicily in the sketchbook gallery.

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So, as my frequent readers know, I went to Sicily over my last spring break as part of a course at the University of Hartford. But because my semester was so crazy, I never got a chance to post my sketch book from the trip.

Here, finally, are my best sketch book pages from my time in Sicily.

Pen and Watercolor Washes of a hillside

Mt. Etna spewing smoke from its summit.

Meat in the market at Catania

Ink and Watercolor washes of mountains and hills in the distance.

Fish at Catania Market

Scenes from Catania Market

Pen & Ink and watercolor washes of stones and flowers outside an old church.

People from the market.

Pen sketch of theatre at Taormina

View of Mt. Etna

Temple of Hera

Sketches of the Aphrodite

Another Sketch of the Aphrodite

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These old men outside of the Market in Catania, Sicily who decided to sing for our tour group.

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I just got back from an Amazing ten day working vacation in Sicily. I went on this trip as part of a Travel & Art class here at the University of Hartford Art school. Students could apply for the course for a chance to learn about field sketching while traveling across a breath-taking mediterranean landscape. Sicily is an extremely diverse place in terms of landscape, culture, agriculture, language, and even climate. The island has been shaped by volcanoes, earthquakes, and invading peoples for centuries, leaving layer upon layer of visual interest for us to explore. I will upload my sketches and paintings from the trip shortly, but first, here are some of the notable photographs that I took while in Sicily.

Click Here to View the Slideshow of Sicily Photos!

I experienced so much on this trip that it is a daunting task to even put anything into words. This trip was full of firsts for me: my first 9 hour plane ride, my first time in Europe, my first time seeing ancient Greek and Roman ruins, my first time eating octopus, my first 10 day vacation without my family, my first time conversing in Italian, MY FIRST TIME ON A VOLCANO. Etc.

During my trip I woke up several days before the sun around 5:30 am in order to paint the sunrise from either the beach, the hotel roof, or my window. You will notice right away the mountains in the distance. Sicily, especially the area around Palermo, the capital city where we stayed at the beginning of the trip is a very mountainous area. There are many sheer cliffs and deep valleys. The highways are a real thrill to drive on because they often cut straight through a mountain and pass over huge gorges hundreds of feet deep. The winding and narrow cliff roads of Sicily are not recommended for anyone afraid of heights or prone to motion sickness.

Food was a major part of this trip. We were fed very well, with most of our meals included in our hotel packages. Often times we couldn’t even finish what was brought to us! A typical Sicilian breakfast consisted of ham, cheese, bread, yogurt, cereal, fruit, jams, nutella, coffee and tea. Breakfast was light and healthy. A typical lunch or dinner however consisted of bread, several antipasti courses, a pasta course, an entree and finally dessert. Lunch and dinner was ENORMOUS compared to what I am used to in the United States and many of the women on the trip would make the mistake of filling up on the antipasti and being totally unable to eat the entree. Somehow it took us half way into the trip to figure out that there was always more food coming, so don’t finish you’re plate. One really interesting meal that we had was the “seafood extravaganza,” in which we were served 14 courses! They were as follows:

  1. anchovies in a red sauce
  2. fried calamari
  3. baby shrimp in a sweet cream sauce
  4. a white butterflied fish
  5. swordfish caponata
  6. cold octopus salad
  7. whole fried shrimp
  8. steamed muscles
  9. pasta consarde
  10. risotto with shrimp
  11. spagetti with clams
  12. breaded swordfish
  13. half a rock lobster
  14. and a strawberry sorbet dessert
And that was only one dinner!!

My two favorite places to photograph on the trip were the town of Castelbuono, and the Valley of the temples at Agrigento. Castelbuono is a small hill town in the northern part of Sicily. It is filled with narrow streets, terraces, and lots of friendly people. They also use donkeys to help collect trash but I heard a rumor that it was mostly to please tourists. I had my picture taken with one of these donkeys–see below.

At first the man tending the donkey couldn’t get my camera to work, but he spoke no english and I didn’t know enough Italian to tell him that he had to hold the button down half-way, then all the way. He was just pushing it and nothing was happening. Then he handed it off to some other guy on the street who knew how to use it….. This picture is the result. I am the one on the left awkwardly standing right in front of that donkey’s face. He was a very docile donkey, but I think I still look kind of scared….oops.

The valley of the temples was the other location that I absolutely loved photographing and sketching. It was an ancient complex of temples and catacombs all along an ancient greek road. There was a temple for Hera, The Temple of Zues, the Concordia, and a few unknown temples. The temple of Hera was the most beautiful in my opinion.

Another major highlight of my trip was getting to stand on Mt Etna, Europe’s most active volcano! She erupted only two days before we headed up the slopes, and was smoking white puffs the day after our visit. We had perfect weather when we were up there and it wasn’t even that cold! I have been fascinated by volcanoes since I was little and I know all about them. Having the opportunity to actually stand on an active volcano where this was lava actually moving beneath my feet was incredible! We were only on mount Etna for an hour, so I didn’t have much time to sketch or paint. In fact I was so overwhelmed by my location that really all I did was yell and break rocks to take home with me.

The summit in the background there is not the main summit or the active crater. That is a secondary crater which is no loner active. The much bigger, active crater is up the slope on the left, maybe another thousand feet up. As you can see, there is a little town up on Mount Etna, with a ski-lift and everything. Etna is an effusive volcano which means she erupts fairly frequently with viscous liquid lava flows. Etna does not explode, so there are no pyroclastic flows or deadly ash to worry about. When Etna erupts, the people do not run; they wait to see where the lava is heading, and then simply get out of its way.

I have so much more to say about my trip to Sicily, but I can hardly cram it all into one post here. I need more time to digest my experience and maybe then I will be better able to break my experience down into more manageable posts. I have a zillion more pictures, a whole sketchbook filled with journalling and notes, and several paintings to show you, so you’ll have to check back soon!

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