Sunday, December 12, 2010


i am not certain that bounceability is a really good thing and am not sure if i caught it in italy or if it was always dormant in me and just started to take me over.

i have been noticing it in the last few years and this weekend was a classic example.

i was " doing the pisticci market" . that is spending two days in the piazza trying to sell pictures( and there it is , the bouceability bug) because immediately i wrote that into my head popped " you werent just trying to sell pictures ! you were having a wonderful time in gorgeous surroundings -true- being complimented on your work- true- doing something that people , including yourself , would only dream of-true so what's your problem?

but i was trying to sell pictures because i need the money and this is my main outlet. its where i meet people and get known and get commissions.

( and there it goes again byoing! , but you sold 6 pictures, hurray and got commissions for 4 more . brilliant!)

hope this is not too confusing but there is a point.

but i only made 120 euros , not counting another 60 for 3 small commissions. (byoing! thats great, you re getting known and getting more work and if you had just painted more paintings of pisticci you would have sold more.)

but i gave away two paintings. one to someone who asked , its complicated, this is italy, odd things happen here. the other one was to help clinch a deal for someone else. it worked

( byiong! karma, give and you will receive ........)

but actually i felt like a complete twit. i cant afford to give away pictures.

byoing! but you got lots of goodwill and possible free advertising and other things. its marketing!

then it rained and i went home early and i didnt sell the big one i wanted to and i got annoyed with my partner cause he sold more than me and it was his first time.

byiong ! but you never know what will happen next and you might get lots more commissions and the people who you gave the painting to as part of a deal have invited you for lunch any time and they are really nice people . and your painting s didnt get very wet did they?

so that s the problem, the bounceability. what actually happened this weekend?

did i have a wonderful time in a gorgeous place, meet lovely people and sell 6 paintings and get 4 commissions or did i spend 27 hours (6 of them really cold) and the last 3 in the rain to earn 120 euros selling work that took me probably at least 2 full weeks to create and finish up by falling out with blank blank because he sold one thing for three times as much. and not forgetting the 2 paintings i gave away ( worth 70 euros) . am i nuts!!!!!!

byiong!! or am i just beautifully crazy, very lucky to be here and it ll all work out eventually.

any helpful comments will be considered. ( sold this painting)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


staying in my studio tonight. its another feste. and i have just come back from the fireworks, round the corner. the feste is something to do with the little church above me.

i didnt know i liked fireworks so much till i moved to italy. but there is just something so completely fun about fireworks. its like burning money in a spectacular fashion.

i think that in italy fun and enjoyment are what life is about.

you dont have to earn it first.

i am not very italian in that respect but i am learning that quite often if i go for a coffee and chat i get more work done than if i say i must work first to earn coffee and a chat. i think i am still missing something but maybe if i stay here long enough i will get it.

the fireworks were gorgeous. i stood at the back of the crowd with my hands over my ears and despite the fog it was just so uplifting. ( even more than the glass of wine i had previously)

dirupo, which is part of pisticci, where i have my studio is beautiful even in the fog. its full of little narrow streets and little white houses.( you can find it on the internet if you are interested) it doesnt feel real, but it is. i know a lot of the people who live here and they are real. even if they are dressed all in black.

walking back from town tonight lots of people have christmas lights hung on balconies and someone has a christmas tree outside. it looks like fairyland in the dark. and if you should think that i am exagerating than then look for yourself on the internet or better still come and see.

so glass of wine, fireworks and dirupo. hard to beat.

Monday, December 6, 2010

farewell to the ape'

driving up to pisticci this morning i really tried to enjoy what would probably be my last trip in my ape'. but it was impossible. it was a lovely morning and way back in time i can vaguely remember going home singing at the top of my voice( ape's are loud) " i am driving my happy sappy ape', i am so happy in my ape' hurray hurry hurray!!!" sometimes i would sing flower of scotland but i dont really know the words, or westering home seemed to be good but again i could only remember the first line. but there i was racketing up the hills, tearing round corners and shouting /singing very loudly with enthusiasm and feeling!

but that was then. i can remember the first time i used my ape to take all my stuff to the market in pisticci and how there was a feste on and i had to drive through literally hundreds of cars in the dark and i was scared stiff that i would stall, or have to reverse, but i did it and i felt like a heroine when i got home. i also remember leaving that market loaded up and doing a very bad start up, jumping forward in gear at least twice and then just belting out of the piazza praying that i would not have to stop on the way home.

i have been embarrassed a lot in italy but never more so than when in my ape.

the last time i got it fixed before the summer ( that was the big fix of 2010) i had been threatening it and being very rude about it and decided that maybe it would go better if i spoke nicely to it. so i would drive up the road and pat it saying "good little ape" or "well done" or " that was a good gear change" ( maybe that was to me that time) and i even washed it. but sadly it was the beginning of the end.

i stopped enjoying driving because i was just waiting for the next thing to go wrong. i realise that old vehicles break down but who out there has had a window just fall out? or their window wipers go on fire? the accelerator sticking was nasty too, then the engine wouldnt turn off and then i got to working out what i would do if all the brakes failed at once, and i was lucky the last time the lights failed that i had my torch as i once had to drive up the main road with no lights as i thought i would be marginally safer on the side road than have something run into me while parked on the hill.

so i tried to enjoy it this morning but it was fixed with a bit of wire, instead of string , and every time it slowed down i wondered if it would stop . i was glad to arrive safely at my studio , i have given the keys to someone who thinks they can sell it AND I NEVER WANT TO GET IN IT AGAIN.
sold this painting in taranto also.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

lingerie and seduction department

i didnt actually go into the lingerie and seduction department in the co in store in taranto. but i did go back to make sure i had read it right. i felt that being in a relationship perhaps i had better not be tempted by some seductive tall dark gorgeous italian.

or have i perhaps got that the wrong way round mmmm!! i was supposed to be doing the seducing??

changing the subject quickly.

what a lovely way to spend a day, sitting outside in the sun shine waiting for people to roll up and buy paintings .

getting up at 5.30am and then setting up a display is ok when its not raining, or when everything is damp cause it was put away wet the previous day . then its just a matter of hanging about and occasionaly refusing to sell things for a quarter of the marked price. out of about 80 paintings i have sold this summer about 2 were sold for the marked price ( and i was so touched by being offered the full price that i had to stop myself offering a discount out of pure gratitude.)

a big part of the reason i am writing this blog is because i need to earn more money. i have worked out that i need around 450 euros a month to survive, that is pay normal bills and eat. so that would equate to selling 2 paintings a week for 50 euros each and a bonus one once a month. i am well capable of creating 9 paintings a month, in fact over the summer i was doing more than that. but on average i was getting 30 euros each painting.

realistically i need to either put my prices up but i think i would then not sell at all, or find a supplementary income. so have decided to go with the second option.

i would be quite happy to teach english as a second language or conversational, but not not ever in a school with a class full of children. italian children are lovely but so confident and talkative that having been in a classroom on several occasions with a teacher there, i would be terrified on my own. ( or alternatively my allotted amount of bravery is all used up by driving and trying to speak italian)

and so my other option is to write riveting blogs , which will also inspire me to get out there and make things happen so i can write about them.

so back to my life as a story . the plot, is will i manage to stay in italy and make a living, how will i do it, will it be fun, will i get a job, will i ever paint something i think is good enough, will i be rescued at the last minute or plod on slowly earning more until i am solvent. will my macchinuccia ever pass its mot, and will i ever go back to taranto and check out the lingerie and seduction department?
( one of the paintings i sold yesterday)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

driving me round the bend !!!!

my difficulty is not being able to drive round the bend- or up up a hill or anywhere. this has been a week of transport disasters( which were not really that bad) recoveries (temporary till the next problem) and faulty communication( my italian is cosi cosi but my technical language in relation to cars is negligible)

i can say " i fixed it with string" but that s about it.

i bought a dear little 3 wheeler car about 2 months ago and was assured over coffee in the kitchen of the vendor that it would only cost me 30 euros for the libretto( log book i think) and then id be on the road.

i cant believe i did it again. i think part of me knew, its italy, it cant possibly be that straight forward but it was such a cute colour and it was called an amica ( which means friend) and it had two proper seats and i could still get my art stuff in the back and it was an automatic ( am not too good with gears) and it didnt cost much . huh!!!!

i realise that stuff like this happens in britain too but its more scary and disconcerting when you dont understand the enormous amount of legislation, documentation, etc etc and are obliged to rely on peoples honesty as half the time you dont understand the language and the other half you dont know the rules.

so all this week and part of last i have been paying for this and for that and the next thing. some times i understood, sometimes i just said yes and hoped for the best and eventually my little car went off on the back of a truck to get sort of mot d. it failed.

so now the guy who was going out of his way big style to help us with no payment for himself, has handed me and my car over to be someone elses problem and so it goes on.

i should have known it would not be that easy.

when we went to get our id cards renewed we were prepared for it to take a few weeks and several trips here and there to get other documents . actually what happened was someone stamped a new date on them and that was it. that was a big surprise!

i went to renew my scooter licence last night. so i had a medical.( lasted 3 mins), signed at least six forms( so much for not signing anything without reading it first!), had to go to the tabbachie to get a tax stamp, then get photo taken and i have to go back on monday to sign another form and then i think, wait 20 days for my new licence. we ll see.

most people here have been very kind and have gone out of their way to be helpful. far more than i would have expected.

both mechanics i have dealt with have done some stuff for nothing and tried to explain (over and over until i finally got it) what they were doing. my driving may not have made their job easier but i am extremely grateful for all their help.

so am trying not to get to excited about maybe driving my own little car next year.( fingers crossed) maybe i will go further afield, maybe i will like it so much i will learn to drive a real car and then travel the world - or at least improve my chances of getting a job! and to conclude my little car is called a machinucha in italian. cute or what. if it ever gets on the road i will paint it so having to put a photo up for now.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

life may be a little boring without my ape'

yesterday was a flattening sort of day. got my ego a little bruised. maybe artists are just a bit more easily cast down
so was feeling a bit flat. set off for home in my ape telling my self that tomorrow would be better and after a glass of wine everything will be better. it was before dark ( lights not working again. so there i am rattling along, literally , up and down and round the hair pin bends when i began to notice that the engine was losing power. my usual reaction to that sort of thing happening is to think i must be imagining it but as i was at the bottom of a very steep and winding hill i pulled in to a layby just to check it out. ( last week i got stuck half way up the hill in a violent rainstorm and couldnt get out because i wasnt sure the brakes would hold and i would run backwards into the middle of the road.)

so i went back and forwards in the layby and sure enough there was something wrong. i considered getting out and kicking it and and then thought about just sitting there and crying cause someone didnt like my painting and now my ape was broken again. but decided against these options , as one i once kicked someTHING out of frustration and got an ingrown toenail and bruised foot, and crying in an ape just didnt seem very intrepid.

so having phoned my personal rescue service, to whom i am well known, i got out to see if anything obvious had fallen off this time. i considered that maybe i had run out of petrol, so filled the tank up from my spare can. no, no change.

then i looked underneath and this time i noticed a hose thingy had come off its connection. this had happened about a year ago and been fixed.

aha!! so rubbing my hands in a suitably mechanichy, i know what i am doing manner , i pulled out all the stuff in the back till i found a bit of string. and then i tied the two bits together as tight as i could, got in and hurray power returned.

the funny little moral of this story was it wasnt just the ape that got its power back , but me too.

so onwards and upwards.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

drat that fly!

you wouldnt think that you would get flies here in november but as angela was standing in the doorway telling me the latest gossip about her family ( which i am sorry to say i only understand part of- like the part where she makes a gun with her hand, points it at me and goes "bang". ) a big black fly flew in the door. all summer everyone has net curtains hanging across the doorways to keep flies out , but now my one is tied in a large knot out of the way and so that it doesnt get tangled up with the electric cables in high winds.

so now having chased this fly all over the studio, after taking ten mins to find my fly swatter i am hiding in my office with the door shut.

just opened the door to peer out and its in here again. can flies be suicidal ? or am i just attractive to them?

now i am trying to ignore it. but its hard to ignore that nasty buzzing noise.

today was market day in the village so there were lots of people about and lots of noise. i have finished my present commissions so am trying to decide what to do next. do i make lots of little paintings and hope people will buy them for christmas presents or make a few bigger ones, more expensive , or do something completely different.

i find that plans are good for giving an illusion of control and industry but here they rarely work out in the way i expect. but must go create some illusions . ( got that fly!!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

friday and the ape' did it again

cold and damp here today , especially inside. i hate winter here. am wearing 5 layers of jumpers etc plus a hat and scarf and i am still chilly. i should say that is in my studio. it is normally warmer outside. i know there is snow and blizzards in britain but i have obviously got acclimatised here. but enough moaning about the cold and on with the story.
last night i went to the doctors here in the village. i had an appt. at 6.15. i went into the surgery eventually at 9pm. to be fair once i got in i could have as much time as i needed with the doc , which is one of the reasons for the long wait as so can everyone else and there were 15 people there before me.
its all very sociable and to be honest nobody looked very ill and the majority were very cheerful. i wish i could somehow video just a little of the time spent there. i think its maybe like a lot of italian life where every time people get together its a social event. all ages from teenage boys to old men wearing trilbies, old ladies dressed in black, young married couples and children. people come and go all the time but usually someone knows who s next in the queue. however i will be taking a book next time!!
so having spent three hours in a little room surrounded by people speaking dialect, so understood very little i was more than relieved to get out and get in my ape' to drive home.( an ape' is a little 50cc truck which i can drive without a licence) ten minutes later i was sitting in the pitch dark on a country road with no lights. they just went off and i ran into the edge. my ape' has a history of breaking down, bits falling off etc. so was obliged once my eyes had adjusted to the dark to drive in first gear about 100 metres to stop opp. a house with an outside light. for some reason i had put a small led torch on a head band( which i am wearing in profile pic) in my handbag. so feeling very intrepid i got it out. my first attempt at wearing it only lit up the cab so i got out, and managed to tye it on to the window wiper where it shone almost as brightly as the headlight had done. reached home 5 mins later without meeting any other cars and feeling more than a little fraught but rather pleased with my ingenuity.
i am planning to sell my ape' as i now have a cute little three wheeler car, which i earnestly hope will not cause me the amount of problems that i have had with this vehicle. but having driven it for about 3 years i have had a lot of adventures in it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

end of the summer

been way too busy to write here all summer as i surprisingly sold about 60 paintings averaging about 30 euros each. since then all my transport has broken down so after getting scooter fixed and ape' fixed am now penniless ( more or less again). thanks to my good neighbour angela i wouldnt starve as most days she delivers food from on high, ( her balcony above) by means of string and a carrier bag , but it would be comforting to have a regular income of some sort.
this week i am working on a portrait from a great photo of a really pretty girl with lots of swirly hair and what a treat that is being. am also painting a second larger painting of a view of the village which was commisioned so i will get paid.
once i work out how to put photos on this i will display what i have been painting as well as anything else i think might be interesting, but not portraits cause they are personal.
i spend a lot of time in my studio alone so am partly writing this so that i have to go out to find interesting things to write about and not turn into a strange lonely wild eyed artist, well perhaps not that bad, but have heard on the radio that if you dont get out and meet people on a regular basis then you may get ill. its something about hormones or similar that you cant get from a computer. and i would like to be healthy as far as possible. also have noticed that just walking up the street and saying ciao and buon giorno to people really makes me feel good. also to touch on "my life as a story" i love being called signora. its so very not scottish and rather romantic and interesting, which is what i have always dreamt of being but never really thought i would acheive. but now i must go finish these paintings so that i can get paid. it may be true that money does not buy you happiness but not having enough matters.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

making an identikit poster look real

it was obviously the first time i had ever done anything like that. there i was just heading for my studio in temperatures way over 30 degrees, planning to have a break from the market where i was selling paintings.
he showed me the poster and between my limited ialian and some hand signals , pointing and so on this was what he wanted me to do. to flesh out so to speak the black and white identikit poster. someone had stolen his son s car and the witness had come up with a rough desrciption.
so i tried, but it was weird. but then in this part of italy weird, unusual and funny are normal.
there was the time i passed a man standing in the middle of the road fixing a ladder with sellotape. real life here is like a story.