Sunday, July 31, 2011

two markets, a thunder storm and a portrait in rice

Going brunette by accident is not recommended. It wasn't even that I had misunderstood the directions on the box( in italian), but after happpily being reddish for the last two or three years it is a shock . And I am in the process of changing back, I hope , as I write this.

So , it was a dark haired person who staggered out of bed ,oops, jumped out of bed, at 5am yesterday morning. And after putting on twice the normal amount of make up to somehow counteract the dark effect , it was off to market .

The first market was in Ostuni. It is lovely and on the way you drive past hundreds of trullis. They are so odd. What with all the stone dykes and little pointy houses it is easy to believe you are in some strange fairy tale land.

The market is in the park today. It's a pretty setting but a little bit distant from the centre of town. My little ray of darkness who drives to markets assures me it will be a "blank "waste of time. However I like the social aspect ; meeting people and chatting to the other stallholders.

So far no one has looked at me with a "what has she done to her hair look". I may have inadvertently forgotten to mention that the brunette is not completely er evenly coloured.

Passing swiftly on.

So all is going fine , sun shining , people strolling past, someone buys one of my prints, some of my market friends are here and the time passes. I even manage to fit in a walk to the historic centre and an ice cream.

Then clouds start to appear. This is not Scotland, this is the south of Italy in July! I never even considered bad weather. Eventually when It looks like it really will rain I pack up and get ready to leave for the art market in Martina Franca. By the time we are half way there it is raining, there is a torrent of water running down the road and it turns into a full blown storm with thunder and lightening. So arriving in Martina we just go for lunch and listen to the rain outside.

I have been looking forward to doing this market all month. It is the only one I do which is arts and crafts. But it stops raining about the same time we finish lunch.

5 stall holders have turned up. Oh dear! But being sturdy, determined and desperate the market sets up in the "centro storico". There is a man selling furniture made out of antique wood, a girl next to me selling jewelry which she makes, another guy has pottery with flowers and another some sort of ceramics. Gradually more people arrive and set but but there are probably only 15 stands at most.

(Must take a break here to check hair. mmm! well I am now a very dark auburn . It is my son's wedding on Saturday so it does matter a bit. At my daughter's wedding I had blonde hair and I was trying to straighten it and make it loook all glossy and nice and a chunk of hair frizzled up, stuck straight in the air and I had to cut it off. I have a photo to prove it. Possibly I should go to a hairdresser but I always think I 'll just go for the natural look! whatever that is!)

Back to the market. What a let down after the last art market! But I was there and I had gone to a lot of effort to have as many paintings of the area as possible and as many prints, so I was looking good.

The nice smiley man who had been next to me at the last market turned up having a stand round the corner this time but came over to say hello. Then an older man came by and got talking , disappeared and then returned with a small picture of a trulli made using rice and a photo of his daughter (beautiful girl) hugging someone famous. He wanted me to make a portrait from this photo using rice. I was obliged to tell him that would be too difficult for me but he should try it. I look forward to seeing it next time.

Then there was a procession with hundreds of people, two bands and lots of people in uniforms and a statue of Jesus on the cross lit from below, which made it look uncomfortably real.

Lots of people stopped by and looked , took cards and walked on.

A woman stopped to talk and told me she had been a model for an artist from Naples. It was a long time ago she said, when she was young and beautiful.

I got talking to one of the stall holders who used to fix pianos and then was a florist. Market people are interesting, I know one who is a poet, several are artists and musicians. I get a chance to practise using italian so everything I am told is subject to me actually understanding correctly.

By this time I had drunk 4 coffees to keep me going and was missing my chair which I had left under a tree in the park in Ostuni.

Gradually it got darker and not having any lights with me I packed up a lot of my stuff and waited to get picked up. I am often scared in the car as we drive round impossibly narrow streets full of people who are very casual about getting out of the way, so we got lost and ended up driving the wrong way through a street market further on.

Arriving home at about 1am , having earned a whole 4 euros over about 15 hours it wasn't too good. (But not as bad as my hair!)

Then I got woken up this morning by fireworks about 6 am and when I drove up to my studio the sun was shining and there was a brass band playing. And I did sell 4 paintings from my studio last week. And now my hair is respectable, (more or less) and I am off to Scotland on wednesday to see all my family and go to the wedding and then the Feste is on when I get back.

AndI did do two markets!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adventure in Bernalda

I think it is going to rain today, which after several weeks of constant sunshine , you might think would be welcome, but apparently after 40 years of Scottish weather I have not the slightest desire to experience any more rain - ever! Besides everything looks prettier in the sunshine and more welcoming.

But last night it was gorgeous when we went to Bernalda to do a few errands and sit and watch the world go by for an hour or so.

Bernalda is bigger and seems more cosmopolitan than Pisticci. It has a long wide main street with large trees all along it and a large variety of small shops and a lot of cafes.

I needed mounts for my prints so went to Maria Grazia Tarulli 's shop where she sells her own paintings, prints and other related objects and also does framing. I love going in there because its so colourful and friendly. As she was not busy we sat and chatted for a while . She has just started an art organisation of which I am a member. There are a lot of local artists and it is nice to belong somewhere, even if I don't understand exactly what is going on some of the time.

I had already been to the chemist (farmacia) and was feeling good because I didn't have to repeat myself . Don't think that just knowing the right word will be enough. I have had to write down things like "paracetamolo" because no one understood my pronunciation. Even though the person repeating it back to me seemed to be saying just what I had said.

This particular farmacia was like a gallery with bricked arches and curved ceilings. Sometimes I find that the shop itself is more interesting than the stock.

So I strolled along the street having one of those I can't believe I get to live here moments and sat down outside the "Tea Room".

I ordered a prosecco and it arrived with a long plate of various small snacks, and dishes of peanuts, crisps and olives. (3 euros). And then we sat there for the next hour or so watching people go by. It's so casual. People on cycles (often with one or 2 children in small seats) , scooters, (also with children, one in front and one behind), cars driving slowly past shouting greetings to friends ,and lots of people on the pavement in no hurry to get anywhere. We thought that perhaps the appeal of this kind of lifestyle was because we could both remember 40 years ago a similar style of living in Scotland where life seemed more friendly and not in such a hurry. ( Even the weather seemed to be better than now , but that might just be nostalgia.)

So eventually we strolled off to the car, where it was discovered that the car keys were missing. (notice I am not saying who was responsible!)

Oops! This was a bit of a problem as there were no spare keys and we could not walk home. Is difficult to maintain a relaxed attitude in these circumstances . As is usual no one is at home or answering their phones when you need them . So having retraced our steps and no sign of the keys we headed for the carabinieri. Only had to ask 4 or 5 people on the way and as no keys had been handed in there was nothing they could do anyways. Luckily I had the phone number of the only taxi that I knew of in the area so we would get home.(Unless he wasn't answering his phone too.)

On the way back to the car for another check, a woman stopped me to ask if we had found the carabinieri. (one of the 4 or 5 people we had asked for directions). Then we met the jeweller ,where sometimes we have had things repaired. He was on his cycle, but offered to give us a lift home so while J. went to have one last look at the car I went with the jeweller while he got his car keys.

Five minutes later J. arrived brandishing his car keys. He had reached the car where he said two women shouted down from balcony telling him that a man opposite had his keys. Then a man came running out and showed him the note ,on the window of the car ,he had written saying that he had found the keys in the door and had taken them into his house for safe keeping.

So after thanks all round we walked back to the car past lots of groups of people sitting outside their houses chatting .

(I have not emphasised the catastrophic , disastrous, end of the world, blah blah, feelings around the possible results of losing the keys and who was responsible, but it is enough to say we were very greatly relieved.)

We opened the car door and the smell of cooking garbage hit us! Looking around for a bin may have led to leaving the key in the door , but now we were just mortified as the kindly gentleman arrived to make sure all was smell, sorry well. After more thanks we headed straight for the bins at the end of town and were able to breathe again.

That's what I love about life here. It moves from bliss to disaster, from suspicion to great kindness, from beauty to bad smell, and from adventure to comedy all in the space of a few hours.

(couldn't find a good photo of the main street in Bernalda so just put one of my new paintings and a pic of my 3 euros worth up. Just sold 2 paintings which are to go in a "famous" restaurant in Rome called the Dai Toscani, via forli. If anyone goes there and sees my paintings, one of my studio (on this blog)and another of streets in Pisticci, will be happy to post them a free small painting. You would need to send me a photo.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

while watching varnish dry..........

It's hot and I have no patience. So I am trying to even out varnish on a painting which if I had had any patience I would not have needed to do. I think it is getting better but I want it fixed now!!!

Anyways it is much better to write this than stand over my poor painting and blow on it and fiddle with it until I make it worse again.

It is very hot. It was very hot on sunday when I took part in the first antiques (and me) market in Pisticci this year. I had forgotten how much fun it was to hang out in the piazza , chat to people and occasionally sell something.

I got set up around 8am in stages as I have sold my ape and so needed a help with delivering a table and umbrella. I brought paintings and prints from my studio in two trips on my scooter. (It would have been one trip but I forgot the mounts for some prints so went back for them, got some more paintings and then left the mounts on the table again!) Blame the heat!

By the time it finished I had sold 8 or 9 prints and been given some gorgeous cake, a free pair of earrings, a commission to paint someone's house , watched a small procession, had 2 caffe crema and a prosecco and spoken more italian than I normally do in a week.

Oops , just been touching that painting again.

It's good having my studio back after having guests in it for two weeks. It's so tidy and I am enjoying using the new taps. Previously I had unmatched taps set at different heights.

They worked but looked awful. I spent the last two months painting and tidying and rearranging stuff and buying things like wine glasses , pots and a new cooker and then not using them as I was keeping them just so for visitors. I even bought a new basin for the kitchen sink then painted a seascape to match it. (the one I am messing about with the varnish.)

Now I am getting the benefit of all the work. I have lovely new towels , and a gorgeous wooden cutting board and matching pots and a FAN!

Phew, it really is hot and I never used a fan here before but as people were to be sleeping in the loft space it was neccessary. It's now purring away beside me. Bliss!

Fourth coat of varnish on now. There must be a better way - oh yes, read the instructions, find out how to do it before starting , not half way through.

The painting is going ( If it ever gets fixed) to the cafe in the piazza to replace the one that was sold last night. I have been given a space on the wall and have sold several paintings from there. This one is supposed to be temporary till I do another scene of life in Pisticci.. Then it will be back, if it's not sold ,to hang on the wall and match the basin.

Fifth coat. I will not be beaten!!

Sixth coat!!!