Goodness we’ve been on a tear, now finally hurtled back to New York, to the same shambolic apartment I left three weeks ago. Never mind that. There is lots to show and tell.
As you recall the accomplished watercolorist and Professional Fabulous Person Mita Corsini Bland hosted a weeklong painting workshop at her charming family farmhouse in Tuscany. I imagine it was the shortest six months of her life.
Sometimes her dining room looked like you put it in a blender without a top.*
This summer’s Corsini royal academy included Renaissance woman Carolyne Roehm (aka Principessa), designer Adrienne Vittadini, a darling English rose and her equally rosy mother, two frisky fillies from Louisville, a Millbrook maven, a creative spirit from Florida, a glamourous European, and our wonderful, tolerant teacher Tish Seligman.
I loved the days we painted on the water.
I went recently spaghetti-os over the exhibit of Sargent watercolors at the Brooklyn Museum (here). His bold strokes and brave color gave me courage.
Here is another seascape by the prolific Millbrook Maven. She painted 72 pictures a minute. Possessed, she was. Judy Unchained. Bursting at the paintbrushes. Brava.
As the weather was not always bright, we brought in vegetables from the market in Uliveto and painted those.
Principessa is especially good at botanicals. It sort of goes without saying the girl is good at details… Have you seen her website for heaven’s sake?
We are tough. We eat what we paint.
I also loved CR’s olive tree.
Shoot I loved them all. Some were beginners and some more experienced, but everyone’s work had passion and joy.
The most exciting thing happened when we were put to the challenge of painting a picture in 15 minutes. No pencil drawing beforehand. Just go for it.
It’s amazing what happens when you get out of your own way.
Keeps you from thinking too much. The point is to capture the essence of the subject, and merely to suggest details which the mind will complete on its own.
Here are two of mine.
I did a third of a statue of the Virgin Mary that looked like Ernest Borgnine in a bathrobe.
That day we were in the lush tropical gardens of the family estate. The Corsinis are one of the most venerable noble families in Italy. Sadly their villa was destroyed in World War II. Older relatives recall at war’s end returning to these gardens to discover dead bodies of German soldiers. Mita remembers as a child playing “horsey” on what turned out to be an undetonated bomb. Lord.
On a happy note, as fellow painter Weasy Blodgett reminded me (see Comments), Puccini wrote part of the opera Turandot in these gardens during more tranquil times in the 1920s.
All this painting and storytelling works up an appetite. Have you ever seen such zucchini blossoms?
And now to have his way with these blossoms, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Roberto! A man for all seasonings and the most delicious lunches imaginable.
Adrienne has promised to send us Robert’s recipes translated from the Italian. No pressure Adrienne, whenever it suits you, really, it’s fine, no really, if it’s no trouble, okay then.
One thing he did was chuck an anchovy into just about anything and let it dissolve into it. You have no idea how it gives a sauce a certain non conosco che cosa. You also have no idea it’s in there. Even if you hate anchovies, try it. Belissima, I promissima.
Sadly Roberto went home after lunch.
That’s when things got blurry in the kitchen. Mamma-mia…
Back at it the next day, until it was time to go…
Ciao, Porto Ercole!
I had to say that sooner or later.
* With thanks to Jerry Seinfield’s saying, “A 2-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”