Friday, July 31, 2015

After The Borgo - Goodbye by North Carolina Painter, Sue Scoggins

Blurred is sometimes better

It’s Friday.  Was it worth it?  An absolute, “YES!” 

Goodbye Borgo.
Goodbye gardens and gardeners.
Goodbye eggs florentine, waiters and drivers everywhere. 

Goodbye open windows, fire flies and horses grazing in the night.
Goodbye scorching days and dusty roads, icy rivers and muddy trails.
Goodbye cold showers, baby scorpions and lizards in my bed.
Goodbye Mr. Rooster and Georgio, the peacock.
Goodbye, huge black wolves of Tuscany.

And to the staff….
Goodbye florist Rosie from UK.
Goodbye concierge Anika from Finland.
Goodbye reception Lucrezia and Louisa.
You know who you are.

Goodbye to Caterine who smiles with each dish she washes.
The housekeepers…..and to the beautiful Stephanie who irons…. 
You are the gold nuggets of the Borgo. 

Goodbye artist residency Borgo Santo Pietro, Palazetto, Chiusdino, Italy, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


It's my birthday today!  How lucky to spend a birthday here at the Borgo. (Actually, it's tomorrow but I didn't have the heart to tell my breakfast friends.)  How exciting to be sung to!  These breakfast buddies are so speeeeecial.  They make me smile every single day!

Could not stop laughing at Carlos singing the birthday song.
So fortunate!
It's been three weeks and the time is almost gone. To be honest, I’m a little “painted out”. But I’ve discovered the whole wax and wane thing must be true and I’m sure a new surge will come in a day or two. I guess this is what an addiction is like.  I want to quit but can’t!  Sort of like some people and chocolate cake….but mine is paint!   


Walk to San Galgano

Winding down, means cleaning up the studio, throwing away near empty tubes of paint, “spent” canvases and old disposable pallets. Let’s smear this with a pallet knife. Can’t waste that paint on the pallet. NEVER WASTE PAINT!  Maybe a little dab here or a little dab there.  OH KNOW.  It’s happening.  Abstracts! The next one was painted over a dining scene I had painted of the Borgo.  I didn't like it.  SO........what a great place to put the leftover paint!

After the Borgo

Friday is my last day. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Time For Some Abstracts

It’ hard to believe that it’s been three weeks. Lessons this week have been slow so the time has been spent working on paintings for an October show at The Little Art Gallery in Raleigh, NC. Interesting how the gallery wants a series of wildflower paintings.  My home this month has been in the midst of a sea of almost paradise gardens, complete with it's own peacocks and alpacas. 

To be honest, I’m a little “painted out”. Will be ready to be a “real” tourist staring next Friday. In the meantime, painting is the best way to stay productive and the best way to keep practicing. Kind of want to get a tad more expressive and abstract.  This actually was inspired from the underside of my pallet. I had used a piece of velum for my pallet and this is how the colors just happened to appear from underneath. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Art of Making Art - by Sue Scoggins, North Carolina Painter

Enough of talking about my days off….it’s time to get back to the artist in residency part. I had the most delightful student today.  Besides the fact that she was 50 and I thought she was 26….I was tempted to throw black paint all over her canvas….but…I restrained myself. 

The studio is open all day.  From 7:30 to 7:30.  Georgio, the peacock, quite often waits by the door. The weather is so beautiful in the wee hours of the morning and late evening. That’s when I paint. I read, write and nap in the middle of the day.  Getting this European life style down pretty good. Even getting the hairpin turns down pretty good, but we won’t  talk about that. 

Haley, from the UK, was the perfect student. She approached me yesterday for a lesson, saying she wanted to learn about color and oils.  She loves abstract!  YAY!  Just the right person to share art with. She had a degree in photography, already had the eye, knew about focal points,  light and darks. She wanted to learn how to layer.  I was ecstatic!

The first thing we did was wipe magenta all over the canvas.  Then orange.  Then yellow.  We could hardly contain ourselves when unimaginable colors came to light  and set the tone for a beautiful sunset.  Shapes occurred out of nothing.  Then I gave her some terped phalo blue and magenta…she added drips…moved her canvas from side to side..…before she knew it there were mountain ranges. Then we laid it aside to dry for the day. 

SO COOL!!!!!!!

For the rest of the time we experimented with making colors.  New colors out of only 5 basic white.  Dominant, complimentary and spice colors…every color in the rainbow could be made out of those colors. There ya have it.  Our time was finished. Boo!

Now she knew the basics to go home with.  Buy just those 5 colors, two brushes, a pallet knife and finish up her masterpiece.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  Bellisimo!!!!  New art.  Better than that…a new friend. 

Ponytail hair for 26m days

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Power of Pink

Does anyone know why sunflowers turn a certain way Just asking. 

As  little girl, I never did like pink.  I guess because I thought of it as a sign of being weak. Don't know why, I thought I always had to be strong and independent.  I had a wonderful childhood with wonderful parents.  Who knows why we think what we think.  But, now that I'm all grown up, I suppose I don't feel like I have to prove anything.  And guess what... I love pink.  I’m writing this, while sitting at a table in a shady hillside garden in Montalcino. Its day two of my “holiday” and I just ordered a caprese salad.  It’s the size of a large hubcap! 

Speaking of hubcaps. With a wedding at the Borgo, it was suggested that I take a couple of days off,  a “holiday”.  Now, sometimes I get in a bit of trouble when I’m off my leash.  Yet, I’m thankful for friends and family who have realized that keeping me corralled, at this point in my life might make me very, very sad. In spite of the fact that it makes them worry, they’ve had to let me go.

Yesterday, my first day off, began with very good news.  Four paintings sold to a wonderful lawyer from Miami and her two daughters.  That was that!  Gratzi!  Gratzi! 

Next was the fact that I didn’t have to drive the Borgo “ferrari”.  I was the recipient of the Borgo VW Polo.  “Yay!  All is good!”  Uh oh! Trouble entered my mind when I opened the door and found a half empty bottle of motor oil in the back seat.  Hmmmm.  That's ok.  I'm strong and independent...remember.  What's a little car trouble. I'll just wear pink and act like a damsel in distress. 

My plan was to go to the beach and take my sketch book. A few wrong turns, scorching heat, crowds at the beach, closed cafes, and closed gas stations, I decided to just tootle my way back  home through a few local villages and find a cafe.  This last particular town was tiny and its roads ran very steep and narrow along stone wall drop offs.   Before I knew it, with the smell of a burning rubber clutch and brakes, my little Polo could not make it up the hill. “Oh God!  What do I do?” (Funny how religion comes into play when you’re about to die!)  I slowly backed down trying to make the hair pin turn in reverse, the clutch and breaks began to weaken…and there ya have it..gear in first, my entire body weight firmly planted on the brake and the emergency brake pulled tight ….I was teetering on the edge of that stone wall……disaster!   and it was the BORGO car!  WHAT WAS I TO DO???  Yell, “HELPO!!!”  

Thank you God!  Thank you for the 3 Australians who happened to appear out from under the archway of this deserted town. English speaking!  Desperate!  I had to put my faith in them to save me. They secured the back tires with mega large stones and I climbed out of the passenger side of the car. One brave Aussie got in and with dust flying, wheels screeching, brought little Polo to safety.  We were all sweating bullets! Mine were pink!  And, again, I could read another headline….STUPIDO AMERICANO ARTIST DIES OFF CLIFF AND TAKES AUSTRALIANS WITH HER!

Don't know why I shared this.  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Artist in Residency - Somewhere out here in Tuscany

My brain is so confused.  It doesn’t know what language to speak.  Today, I yelled out “Good Morno"…instead of Bonjourno!  I promise it was a total slip up.

Lest anyone think this is a luxury vacation and that I’m frolicking around sipping wine all day …here’s the way it is.  

The artist in resident’s duties are to be available for lessons twice a day, 3 hour sessions, 6 days a week.  Sundays are my day off. When not teaching, I have free reign of the Borgo, but they really prefer the artist to be painting on the grounds so guests can become educated/acquainted with art. 

The artist is given an artist flat for the duration, no internet, no TV, no AC.  But there is something magical about your windows open at night, feeling the cool Tuscan air breezing in and hearing nothing but silence. The lizards like it too.  The artist is provided 3 meals a day, two of which I eat with the staff.  (Sort of like Downton Abby)  Most of the staff is from somewhere else….Albania, Romania, Slovakia…one florist from Britain and a pastry chef from Canada.  Very few speak English. Now you can see why my brain is a jumbled mess of languages.  You don’t know how many times I’ve said, “Oui” instead of “Si”. By the end of the day, this is what I look like.

I am delighted be able to eat breakfast with the guests to become acquainted with them. Most are Americans, British or Australian.  Several have been from North Carolina…but they’ve been Duke grads.  Hopefully, they will want to sign up for lessons.  However, it is a record heat wave here in Tuscany..and that means HOT! (frankly, if I were a guest, I’d rather be touring vineyards and having “wine” lessons.)  

Guests are signing up for lessons though.  Every student is at a different level but most are beginners.  My trouble is trying to simplify the lesson so that they can be successful.  The most challenging is that I can’t just give a simple monochromatic light/dark lesson because the grounds are to beautiful that everyone wants to paint the gardens.  That is incredibly hard! So I try to have them focus a very small area that inspires them. I’ve never officially taught before so you might say this is “on the job training” Tuscany….not a bad thing, I’d say.

Every day I paint from almost sunup to sundown.  Accept for two days ago when, Rosie,  the florist and I escaped in the staff “Ferrari”  to a nearby icy river to swim.  Every artist has to be bit of renegade.  Without us the world would be a complete bore.  Besides, it was blistery hot!  Maybe the next entry will be about being chased by a wild boar.  Seriously. They are plentiful here, you know.