Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A little blip of real joy........

I was sitting in the Cafe Malena having my second coffee of the day when it happened....... just a happy , bursting out feeling  that made me want to laugh out loud or sing or hug someone for no reason......but I just grinned like an idiot at nothing , finished my coffee and left.
It has been all go since yesterday morning- the first of August- the start of the holiday month.
As usual was woken up by fireworks and the sound of a brass band in the distance. It was a lovely morning and 6am is a good time to get up in summer in Pisticci.
Then the day charged on.
I was expecting a delivery of new canvases so I was out early scootering round to the supermarket to pick up something for lunch so that there was no chance I would miss the delivery.
Back home I had the final part of a large scene of Pisticci to finish , which was looking good.
So I was busy working away at that when the phone rang- and it wasn't the delivery man but someone  who I had done work for  invited me to an evening of tasting lots of local (Basilicata) produce  somewhere near Potenza- and I could get a lift. So I happily accepted it as a little adventure. My italian is worse on the phone and times and dates are about my limit.
Back to painting -and when I had just given up on the delivery and was wondering how I could stop my precious canvases being delivered back to England  there was a  knock at the door. The delivery man is also an artist so we had a bit of a look round my little gallery after he had brought me a very large box. (16 box canvases).
Getting on with the large painting I decided to eat lunch at my easel as I would be stopping early to go out.
I managed to get it finished and put on facebook before, donning my best artist's boho outfit I set out to meet my lift. ( This lady and her son produce olive oil- I am a bit short on details but I am hoping to sell some in my little artists house soon.)
So we "zoomed" (safely) to our destination. It was a real treat for me as I have not been past Potenza except on a train so I saw some new and pretty countryside.  The event was held in a restored convent and the surroundings were as beautiful as it sounds. I met some lovely people, drank some great wine and ate some good food. I was pretty pleased with myself  as I am reasonably comfortable arriving at things where I know only the organisers and the people I arrived with. They obviously had to do a bit of networking but looked out for me when they could but I am now so blase' that I can actually go up to strangers and speak to them in my less than perfect Italian. So I had a lot of fun. It appears to me that it is true that communication is more to do with body language ( you can go for it in Italy!) than merely words. I can  wave my hands about and be expressive  with glee - especially after some of the very nice wine.  (It turned out that I was in Barile which is famous for wine making.)
After another speedy journey  where I mostly dozed and the two in front had an animated conversation for most of the time ,I was dropped off in the Piazza where there was a jazz trio performing. Bliss!!
They were wonderful, it was out of doors, the setting was gorgeous and I stayed until the end. It felt like a beautiful beginning  to the holiday season.
And returning to 120 likes on facebook for my latest painting  finished the evening off nicely.
But that was yesterday and this morning was another lovely day. I had some work planned but decided to go out for a coffee on my scooter to get me started- and because I love going out on my scooter in the summer. But  my front tyre was as flat as a pancake.  So , in my new, "it's not a ******* disaster Anne, you can cope" mode, I got my foot pump , pumped it up , stuck the pump in my rucksack and set off for the "gommista". I had to stop at the bus station and pump it up again but I made it,  and he was there. That felt like a minor acheivement. Only took half an hour and I was on my way to Fata Morgana's for a coffee .
I had to head into town after this as I have ordered some larger canvases from the nice lady in the art shop. They were not there, but it was nice to chat and they may arrive next week. (Or i have a problem.)
I decided to go get a timetable for the festa in the library which has moved from some tiny rooms to a large space ,where I got my timetable and a guided tour. ( plan to take up reading Italian books in autumn.)
I was just getting on my scooter when I noticed that the cafe which is usaully shut on Wednesdays was open. "That's great " I thought" I will have another coffee." It was then I realised it was Tuesday
So I had my little moment of "joy" in there .
And I still haven't stopped.
Decided to be brave and contact several people re things I might be doing but wasn't sure of the details and in the middle of this was contacted by someone  giving me details about something I had forgotten about.  Luckily I didn't think it was one of the people I had contacted or that would have been "interesting and possibly farcical." (It wouldn't be the first time)
That led to me spending time time bringing one of my older paintings up to date.
Then put finishing touches to  the big scene of Pisticci  , unpacked my new canvases ( yummy) and  to conclude this dissertation on little things which make me happy, my latest portrait client arrived to pick up her portrait  and very kindly gave me a bonus.
After that I had to go have a little rest..................................
Nothing amazing happened: but living here I feel so much more awake and aware of what is happening around me, that my life sometimes feels full and overflowing and , well, amazing!
(And there was much more, but I am exhausted and need a glass of wine.)
latest portrait

latest scene of pisticci
apologies for quality of photo. older painting reworked a little

Thursday, July 28, 2016

a sunny morning in Pisticci- perfect scootering weather.....

It's nearly the end of July and such a lot has happened worldwide and personally since I last wrote. It's like the outside world has intruded on my little  fairytale life................
However  there are still many lovely things happening here and one of the nicest things to do in this gorgeous weather is to get on my scooter about 8.30am and dawdle off  to the nearest cafe. It's a different experience scootering in the summer when I can zoom around with tee shirt , shorts and sandals .
Work and leisure are very mixed here. I often get commissions from meeting people in cafes and yesterday I took a photo when I was dawdling about, reluctant to go home and its now drawn on a large canvas and ready to paint.
So am just going to look for some summery, relaxed photos which only give a glimpse of the experience that is living in Pisticci.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My life, mostly, as a story continues........

It's been ages since I wrote on this blog because I always think it has to be perfect and fascinating, brilliant and witty, entertaining and knowledgeable etc etc.......
It's a wonder I do anything with an attitude like that.....being a perfectionist is dumb ( though it does keep me trying ...)
On the other hand it could just be that I am lazy and boring and illiterate........
So now that I have got that out of the way,  how is my "fairytale" life going?
Well , more than once recently I have pondered on the fact that I appear on the surface to have become  someone I would have liked to have been and am mostly living a life that I could not have dreamed of because it's way beyond anything I thought I could ever do.
Before I go any further , to add a reality check, am still only eating softtish food as I can't afford to go back to the dentist, will probably still have a roof leaking in new places and an alarming bulge in the ceiling under upstairs plumbing this winter as I need to eat before fixing the roof, I won't be turning the hot water on now till I go back to once a week in October (It'll be lukewarm all summer- who needs hot water when its 30c outside.) and I will likely be back to wearing 3 jumpers and a hat inside from about november till march.
But mostly it's worth it.
I get to live as an artist. I paint portraits which people buy to give as gifts. ( that seems such a big thing to me- , to make something that is for a gift.) My studio despite its failings is so pretty - and in summer it's perfect. The weather is miles better than that in the uk. The local people are spectacularly kind and friendly. I get to practice speaking another language- and am mostly proud of my efforts. I get to drink great coffee and I can afford to buy good wine and eat (well, sort of......)delicious food. I can wear anything I like and never be overdressed. I walk up town and greet people and they greet me back . I go to concerts and plays and hear musicians in both small venues and out of doors and enjoy theatre completely different from anything I was ever used to. Recently I have worked alongside other artists which is a great treat.
But mostly I get to live in another culture where despite my lack of language I have felt at home.
Today , as I was passing the nearest restaurant I was given a copy of a new guidebook made by some of the people of Pisticci  showing some of the local attractions and traditions and I am in it too. That makes me mostly very, very happy indeed.
 I am including some photos which I will probably turn into paintings at some point ,including my new little arbour and winetable.
Today am off to meet a friend for coffee and prosecco because it's Thursday, finish a portrait, write another blog post, pay a bill in the commune and then sit on my doorstep with a glass of wine- at least that is the plan. I got up at 6.30am so that I could have time off for coffee, but as I am sitting at the table with the door open and the sun streaming in, it's not exactly been a hardship . I am looking over at my new summer fireplace which always makes me smile.
Hurray for summer and Pisticci.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Back to Pisticci..................

After my cheap trip to Malta, then Scotland and home via Florence - fueled by peanut butter sandwiches ( and wine and chocolate) and free meals from my loving family , I arrived back in Pisticci by ten hour train journey ( surprisingly pleasant).
I was worried that my house would look very scruffy and damp after the lovely places I had stayed, but apart from being a bit cold it looked pretty friendly and full of character and ..... home. Poor house , it has had a hard winter being insulted and battered but  after a few touch ups with white paint it looked ok and fingers crossed that there will be no more heavy rain so the boxes spread along the gutter where the new leaks are won't be needed until I have saved up enough money to have it put back to how it was before the builders. When summer is on the way it's easier to be optimistic.
I got straight to work on several commissions and have been trying to paint two paintings at a time to make up the time when I couldn't work. It has been an interesting process and I may carry on as it is quite a helpful way to work.
Going away helped me relax after the stress of the previous few months and I am beginning to feel more like myself again - and not a scared, angry, stressed , helpless idiot. (thank goodness)
So has been lovely to be back and enjoying going for coffee, going for walks, taking part in the digital invasion in Tursi,  yoga in Marconia, chatting to people, taking photos, painting, and having my home back. And getting my "happy" back.
happy artists in tursi

having a wonderful time in tursi

double flower painting

more flowers
my scooter getting ready for summer with new red seat.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


What a gorgeous place to sit.I seem to like boats. Especially wooden ones. Old ones. Colourful ones.
There is a beautiful turquoise one with  yellow red and green mouldings in front of me. Must be traditional.  I can now see another one similar.
It's  kind of wondrous.
The water is blue , green and yellow. There are some lovely old buildings squeezed in between big modern hotels.
Now that I look again there are a lot of these colourful boats and one is heading out  of the bay. I wonder where it's going...
As a tourist I am a bit of a disappointment . I am living on peanut butter and banana sandwiches  so restaurants don't make any money from me. I can't  afford any organised trips  or the entry price to old buildings and even in coffee shops buying only an espresso elicits a slightly weary look from behind the bar .all the cakes and pastries stay where they are.
However as a person I am having  a wonderful time. So many beautiful things to look at .the weather is lovely. My accommodation exceeds anything I expected by miles.  I have walked miles and enjoyed going on local buses when I got tired.
It's possible I could come back when I have caught up with my lost earnings as my flight from bari was less than 20 euros.
Tomorrow I think I may just get on a local bus and supplied with peanut butter and banana sandwiches  will see where it takes me. I will have my writing book but probably not my sketch book - too chicken!
But I wonder if thus will be one of the most memorable moments of my trip, just sitting here enjoying being alive........and the shadows on the water are kind of entrancing too.......

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mini Malta blog

Have not tried blogging using my phone before. Could really do with a screen twice this size.
Anyways, I am in Malta doing a detour on way to Scotland as it was a very cheap flight.
I am staying in a gorgeous house in a lovely Street and my airbnb host could not be nicer.
Today I went to Valletta on the local bus and wandered around for while. I made sure to keep the  main street in view as didn't want to get lost. It was very pretty.I would go back.
After coming back to the house and falling asleep I thought going for a walk before dark would be good so I strode off purposefully  and got lost. I retraced my steps and was still lost so managed to find a bus with a name I recognised on it and found my way back.I still  don't understand  how I got so confused.
So sitting having a glass of wine writing this and feeling very lucky.
Can't quite work out how to add photos from my phone.......

Sunday, March 6, 2016

discovering the calanche......

Although I have lived here for more than ten years and I knew the calanche were important I had never really seen them up close. Now I think I may have to explore them further and maybe  that is where i will start painting from life......................................so many things to learn................
think these shapes were made by the sea, the wind and the sun

weird landscape

this is spectacular when you are actually there.

mixed landscape

only 20 mins from my studio

one of many beautiful wild flowers

close up of the earth with orange and blue shadows

Saturday, February 27, 2016

My "palace" in Pisticci

It has been such a joy to have my house back. No more flinching when I hear a particularly loud bang, no more plaster dropping from my roof into my studio, no more  wondering whether my house would survive - or indeed myself , and no more opening the door and being confronted by scaffolding
I can relax again........
I decided that I need to be nice to my little house and give it some TLC after its distressing experience.
So , I am never going to refer to it in a derogatory fashion again- no more apologising for it being an unrenovated house with a few defects.
Now it's an old and well loved building with a lot of history - which can be seen if you look closely.  It has been here , I think , for hundreds of years and lots of people have lived in it before me and hopefully more will after me.
I am lucky that it is not perfect because then I can be as imaginative as I like with it and I have some crazy plans for future decoration. No limits.
If the walls were perfect then I probably couldn't hang as many paintings on them- but I love living in a gallery and being surrounded by works of arts, portraits of family, old bedspreads. I love lots of colour!
I have so much space to play with and almost every part of the house I have painted or worked on myself or james has fixed is special. My painted fireplace with the roaring fire still makes me smile every time I look at it. The lovely yellow wall in my new sleeping chamber ( sounds more fun than a bed room.)  is a colour I mixed myself after I had been to Florence and seen it in an old cafe with crumbly walls and great atmosphere.
My gallery was painted a sort of orangey terracotta colour one night when I was in the mood for a change and fed up of white.  
The green door was symbolic- not just because it is a traditional colour here, but because I always used to want to blend in and not stand out  and was a bit timid so I changed it from brown to bright green in the hope that my personality would brighten up as well. ( worked a bit...)
Nearly everything in my house has a story.  The crazy tiling in my roman style shower room was decorated with sequins after I had seen a totally weird bathroom in a cafe in Matera.  Or the fridge freezer that a friend gave me several years ago which transformed my shopping life (I can buy ice cream.) and makes me think of her every time I open it.
There are 2 little soft chairs which came with the house, I re-covered them and sometimes I wonder who has sat on them before. They were the first chairs I had ever covered myself. And when I look round I see stories everywhere.
And outside my flowers are back at my door. I have bought some more to celebrate and I managed to save the plant that is growing round my door and  am very proud of it. My first yellow rose is out.(thanks Hans) my fig tree is not dead and quite a few of my plants are getting quite big. I was never a gardener so anything that survives me is a surprise. 
So apologies to my delightful little house/studio/palace and I will  never again refer to it as a shed. I will love the tinkling of raindrops into plastic boxes until I repair the roof again,  I will love the crumbly plaster because it lets me cover it with paintings and bright colours.
And found this old poem
let me grow lovely growing old
so many old things do
laces and ivory and gold
and silks need not be new
and there is healing in old trees
old streets a glamour hold,
why may not I as well as these,grow lovely growing old?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Half a Carnevale.......

I should have known better..............
The Carnevale was to start at 16.00. And I can't help it but be on time..................
So first of all went for a coffee and then after 45mins..... went for a walk.... and then another walk.......and then a prosecco in a circolo.......and then another walk and hey presto only 30 minutes later the carnevale arrived. I found myself a doorstep to stand on from which to take photos and all was going well.... I love  the whole feeling of carnevale, the sheer fun, and exuberance............but I can't cope with the noise- the bass!
So I was happily taking photos until a large lorry thing arrived, bass blasting and I thought I might well die if I didn't get out of the way.
So, unable to find the friends I was with I went home - resolving next year to  not to go on time!!!!
It is such a pity as now I think there is a party- but I am going to bed............must learn to get my timing better...............
However I did get some photos- one of which is really special.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Very Good Day in Pisticci

It has been ages since I scootered all the way to Marconia but for some reason I decided to give it a go and drop in at the market. It was Saturday after all.
After checking the tyres (it has a slow puncture) I figured I had better go before I changed my mind.
I don't really like the road to marconia: its too narrow and the edges of a lot of the road are broken and full of holes which is quite dangerous for a scooter.
My scooter has in the past had a nasty habit of dying for no particular reason while going up hills and is making a sort of clicking noise at the minute.
However I set off and went relatively slowly  and avoided most of the pot holes, the tyre held out ,the engine kept going and I arrived . On the way I passed an elderly lady on a tricycle who I have seen often with an enormous amount of shopping- and even big heavy tiles on the back of her bike.  She was a bit of an inspiration.
It was a very nice day with a lovely blue sky- so after a coffee to recover from the journey it was great to have a look round the little market, have another coffee, miss the friends I thought I would see and then get back on the scooter and head for home.
It was so much more fun. on the way back  ...I stopped at one of my favourite shops and then at the little wine shop and dawdled back to Pisticci with fingers crossed that the engine would not die on the last hill.
What a wonderfully satisfying experience. May have to repeat it.....
Then the day got even better.
The IMBIANCHINI DI BELLEZZA are back  and painting Pisticci white - bits of it anyways. Was lovely to be part of something again and this time after some light wall painting  someone suggested we go for a walk in the calanche.
Even though I have been here for more than 10 years I didn't know that if I just went down a little road about 100mtrs from my house that it would lead into the calanche. I could attempt to describe what "calanche" are but I can't ,so there are photos. It was like another world.
But not only that .... to go with people who love this and were enthusiastic about their country and knew all about the reasons it was like this was beautiful. I have now realised that not understanding  some of what is said has probably made me more aware of how its said and  people's general attitudes. So I understood some things, didn't say much , but had a wonderful time. On the way back we sat down and waited for sunset.
And I saw fossils- lots of them.....Magical!
I arrived back at my house just as two ladies arrived who then bought a painting which meant a lot to them because of the people in it. It is such a privilege and pleasure to have made something that is special in that way.
Still smiling when I think about it all. It was a very good day indeed.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Bad Dream in Pisticci......

I haven't written here for several  months now and a big part of the reason is that people have bought the apartment above me and are having it done up and it's driving me to distraction.
there is no soundproofing and so drilling, hammering, banging, scraping etc etc sound at worst like they are in my house and at best like my ceiling may fall down. (I have gone to look on numerous occasions because that is what it sounded like.) And to add to this there is now scaffolding right across the front of my house- so my nice little garden of plant pots had to be moved and there are large planks of wood resting on the other part of my house which builders use to stand on to fix the end wall of the apartment.  So far they only made one tiny hole in my roof (which they fixed as soon as I pointed it out.) but  trying to work while people are walking about virtually on my roof ( 2 layers of tiles between them and me) is actually a bit scary.
They began work after some false starts in november.  It was supposed to be finished by end of December, then end of January........
Most days work starts around 8am. They dont normally work at weekends, but they did one sunday. So since work started there is no chance of a lie in, no siestas, no peace to dream up new ideas and since mid january an ugly great big bit of scaffolding is the first thing I see when I go out my door.
Sometimes they have a day off - and even a week once - but as no one told me - I still got up really early so I could at least have my breakfast in peace. (
If I didn't work from home then it would be better- but I do work from home. So to make matters worse I am finding it very difficult to concentrate and am already late with several commissions. I had a lot of plans for new work to start in January as I really need to earn more. I have not had the space to start anything new.
Not having my creative/safe space is the most difficult thing to cope with.  I can do practical stuff but my imagination seems mostly to be concentrated on revenge fantasies and arguments in my head with various people. I am used to thinking that I am relatively tough and can generally find something  or some way to get round a problem but this is too close to home.
My home/studio was my safe place where I could retreat to and relax and create. It was where I felt secure. When I got a bit down I could paint or draw something and that always made me feel better.
I suppose this work upstairs will end sometime - though it doesn't look like it will be soon. And the people who ordered the work will have a lovely apartment, and the builders will get paid and I will get my house back just the same as it was before and  have to work twice as hard to make up for all the time that I couldn't work.
(I have tried- earphones - doesn't work, considered plein air painting- I hate painting outside - writing in cafes- that was a bit better- deciding to not work - got enormous bills from dentist, etc, etc so that was no good

- decided I will ignore noise- expended so much energy ignoring it that there was little left for work- decided to stay up all night and work, then realised I couldn't sleep through the day- move to another country- not enough money.)
I am not happy.
Well., having said  all that, the rest of life in Pisticci is still pretty good. The weather has been on the whole lovely- I can sit outside and read. I managed to get my scooter started again after 3 weeks off the road- and discovering that my driving licence had expired. ( and my ID card) I am still trying to pay my house tax which I went to pay on the first of december. I am going to a play in Italian on friday night which I expect miraculously to somehow understand and I expect by the summer this  horrible time will just feel like a bad dream.......