Thursday, September 8, 2016

PANICALE (Spring)


Panicale (Spring)
James Aponovich
oil on panel,  20" x 16"





April is the cruelest month
                        - T.S. Eliot

For most of the year, we live in New England where Spring is defined by mud and black fly season, and the skiing is lousy. Cold, damp and dank. But in central Italy, by early March the fields are turning emerald green and the trees bud out. Although the typical Italian won't shed their parkas until June, the winds start to shift from the south bringing the smell of the Sahara. Life is good.




Benozzo Gozzoli
Journey of the Magi (detail)
fresco, 1459


In 1459 Benozzo Gozzoli landed a commission to paint the private chapel for the Medici Palazzo in Florence. It was a huge gig. The theme is the Journey of the Magi and the landscape is indeed magical.




This painting of Panicale was underpainted in earth tones during the spring of 2014 from the terrace of the ' Pink Palace'. At the time the house across the street was occupied by a man we were told was also the dogcatcher? It once had a beautiful garden tended by the man's wife, but tragically she died and the garden went to seed. Fortunately, an American has just purchased the property, so I have painted a fresh start. May she transform it once again.



I have signed the painting with my oft repeated peeled orange and it shows a woman giving one of Panicale's many dogs a bowl of water.





Sunday, September 4, 2016

SPECIAL DELIVERY.......A Box Arrived From Deruta (Umbria)




A box arrived today. A box sent from Deruta with ceramics. Last spring we went shopping with some friends at Sberna Ceramics. Having picked out a number of things from the enormous selection of pottery we decided that there was no way we could pack this to bring home to New Hampshire. So, we did the next best thing, we had it shipped.


James and I have admired Italian ceramics for years and  always hoped to get a set of dinner ware. When we finally went to Deruta we purchased dinner plates and pasta bowls.  The drive from Panicale to Deruta is beautiful, but on that first trip there we ended up lost more than once. Oh well, it was a good chance to view the Umbrian countryside,  at least for me since James was at the wheel.

The arrival of the box was like having a birthday in September, so much fun tearing open our packages to find the beautiful pieces inside. Everything arrived safely.



A platter we liked for our nearly completed  kitchen.




And here is everything else.



'SBERNA DERUTA ITALY
DIPINTO A MANO'
( painted by hand)




On my way back to the counter at Sberna, I saw this little bowl....I couldn't resist buying it.



The wine coasters are great for the table to avoid messy drips on a linen tablecloth and they make great gifts.


James immediately hung the charger on the kitchen wall. Perfect!


Now the corner of our kitchen has Deruta pottery and a sconce and iron shelf brackets from a Pienza forge, Ferro Battuto Biagiotti.


Here is the store front of Sberna in Deruta, Italy ( Umbria).
If you are in Umbria you must make a stop here.

You know, shopping tires you out and the four of us shoppers were getting hungry.  James suggested lunch in Montefalco at L'Alchimista. 



The restaurant / enoteca is on the lovely main piazza in Montefalco and the food here is excellent. Always seasonal , always delicious!


We selected a bottle of Grechetto to have with lunch. Then, since this is both restaurant and enoteca wine is available for purchase. James bought a bottle of Montefalco Rosso to take back to our Panicale apartment as a souvenir of the day.




Saturday, August 13, 2016

VINNIE AND ME

In this never ending series of cocktail paintings I've been doing  Pastis never crossed my mind.
Pastis is a French kissing cousin of the legendary drink de jour of French ( Post Impressionist) painters. Absinthe ( a killer drink..literally).
One spring day in Italy I had the pleasure of a studio visit from Peter B. and his wife, Sarah, who together own a house in Umbria. During their stay in Italy they often make a visit to Provence. After seeing an in-progress Martini painting leaning against the wall, he recommended Pastis as a subject matter. 
Who knew? And why not? But, what is it?


Pastis
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 10" x 8"


Naked, Pastisse is a clearish, golden color,,,,well, actually, it looks more like urine...albeit a really nice urine color. However, when water is added, it turns into a beautiful, pale aquamarine cloud that is the perfect refresher on these hot Provence summer days. So, since friends Jim, Debbie and Robbie were traveling to Provence, I requested they bring back some souvenir Pastis glasses, for as you know, each drink deserves it's own carrier. As I painted, a thought came into my mind of a one-time visitor to Provence who almost everyone knows.....

VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)



Vincent Van Gogh
Self Portrait 
Oil on canvas, 1889



CRAZY VINNIE


Vincent wasn't the type of guy you would like to have over for dinner, way too intense, manic, bipolar and epileptic. He was only 37 when he shot himself and only really painted for 17 of those years. During his life he only sold one painting, but he was supported by his normal art dealer brother, Theo, dear Theo. He desperately wanted  companionship, but he drove away everybody he ever got close to, the ultimate bad body language guy. His own mother couldn't take him for God's sake!


 Vincent Van Gogh
Cypresses
oil on canvas, 1889


So, to tell the story, I have placed the Pastis glasses( only his is full) and water pitcher in front of a landscape from his Arles period. It was there, in Provence, that Vincent wanted to establish an art colony, but only succeeded in driving Gaughin away and cutting off his ear in a drunken fit. Oy!



Vinnie and Me
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 15" x 12", 2016


Then, I attempted to translate Vinnie's vision into my own. After all, I've read all of his letter, know which paints were available, and painted a few Mediterranean landscapes myself. His painting sits on an outdoor easel in front of the French landscape he saw. His painting, palette and brushes sit as if he had just completed an afternoon's session. He has poured himself a glass os Pastis........
want to join him?





Friday, August 12, 2016

LE CELLE...... a place of reflection


James and I make a visit here each time we are in Italy. It was at this place on the side
of Mount Sant' Egido that St. Francis began building this Hermitage, known as Le Celle, with a few of his Franciscan followers.





The sign as you enter the sign asks for silence, but you understand this immediately upon your approach that this is a quiet place, a place of reflection.



The descent down takes you across a bridge that crosses a stream that has craved a waterfall through the rock. The entire hillside is rock which makes this place seem even more spiritual. This indeed is one of those places where heaven and the earth come together , a 'thin place'.





I did not take photos inside the cell of St. Francis, but I can tell you it is small and contains a plank for a bed and a table and chair. Very minimal. He was here to contemplate and write.
It was here in his cell that he wrote his will passing the Franciscan order's leadership to
Brother Elias of Cortona.



Respecting the quiet is essential to understand the uniqueness of place. The sound of water, birds and leaves rustling and your own footsteps become apparent. The view is across a valley with the near ground of cypress, the middle ground the valley with Holly Oaks and the far ground the Val d' Chiana.



The door frames the walkway that leads to the stairs which take you up to the cell of St. Francis.



Today, Le Celle is the residence of seven Franciscan Capucin Friars
that carry on the teachings of St. Francis.





Le Celle is just outside the Tuscan town of Cortona. On a clear day from Panicale, we can see Cortona  perched on a hillside that is beyond Lake Trasimeno.





Monday, August 1, 2016

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER PASTA



Cooked, leftover spaghetti with olive oil, pancetta, cheese with the addition of cultivated asparagus


I always cook too much pasta, so, when James found a Marcella Hazan recipe for Frittata with Pasta I was absolved from my need to add too much pasta to the boiling water.

In Marcella Hazan's recipe for Frittata with Pasta she uses spaghetti because , as she explains, it bonds with the egg mixture. She also says the cooked pasta must be sauced first and recommends pasta tossed with butter and cheese.


When James and I are in Panicale we are often recipients of fresh eggs from  either the nonna of Katia or from Ruth. In the spring Umbrians forage for asparagi selvatico ( wild asparagus) and when we receive a bunch from Katia or Daniela & Aldo, it is like receiving a beautiful edible bouquet. Here in Umbria, eggs and asparagus are a natural combination.

We have experimented with a variety of leftover spaghetti dishes and I agree that the cheese and butter works well. We have also used spaghetti with tomato sauce or spaghetti all'Amatriciana.
All are good, but  our favorite is when we find a bowl of pasta in the refrigerator from the previous night's dinner that is a simple spaghetti with olive oil, pancetta& pecorino cheese ( maybe a few hot pepper flakes). And, also in the refrigerator from the previous day is leftover asparagus! We' ve hit the jackpot knowing that yesterday we bought fresh eggs from the Farmer's Market!







In a bowl beat the eggs (3-4) and salt & pepper, add the cooked spaghetti.  Turn on the broiler. In the meantime, heat a oven proof saute pan, add a tablespoon of butter , melt and add the egg/ pasta mixture when the butter is sizzling.
Cook for a minute or two without moving the pan and at this point add the asparagus (optional).
tip the pan gently allow the egg to cook around the edges. Cook for another few minutes and sneak a peek by lifting an edge to see if the bottom looks cooked.

Put pan under broiler until the top is beginning to brown.







Remove from broiler and slide frittata onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve.




Frittata can be served hot, cold or at room temperature which make it not only a good lunch or light dinner , but it is terrific picnic food.








WHAT TO DO WITH LEFT OVER PASTA



Cooked, leftover spaghetti with olive oil, pancetta, cheese with the addition of cultivated asparagus


I always cook too much pasta, so, when James found a Marcella Hazan recipe for Frittata with Pasta I was absolved from my need to add too much pasta to the boiling water.

In Marcella Hazan's recipe for Frittata with Pasta she uses spaghetti because , as she explains, it bonds with the egg mixture. She also says the cooked pasta must be sauced first and recommends pasta tossed with butter and cheese.

When James
 and I are in Panicale we are often recipients of fresh eggs from  either the nonna of Katia or from Ruth. In the spring Umbrians forage for asparagi selvatico ( wild asparagus) and when we receive a bunch from Katia or Daniela & Aldo, it is like receiving a beautiful edible bouquet. Here in Umbria, eggs and asparagus are a natural combination.

We have experimented with a variety of leftover spaghetti dishes and I agree that the cheese and butter works well. We have also used spaghetti with tomato sauce or spaghetti all'Amatriciana.
All are good, but  our favorite is when we find a bowl of pasta in the refrigerator from the previous night's dinner that is a simple spaghetti with olive oil, pancetta& pecorino cheese ( maybe a few hot pepper flakes). And, also in the refrigerator from the previous day is leftover asparagus! We' ve hit the jackpot knowing that yesterday we bought fresh eggs from the Farmer's Market!







In a bowl beat the eggs (3-4) and salt & pepper, add the cooked spaghetti.  Turn on the broiler. In the meantime, heat a oven proof saute pan, add a tablespoon of butter , melt and add the egg/ pasta mixture when the butter is sizzling.
Cook for a minute or two without moving the pan and at this point add the asparagus (optional).
tip the pan gently allow the egg to cook around the edges. Cook for another few minutes and sneak a peek by lifting an edge to see if the bottom looks cooked.

Put pan under broiler until the top is beginning to brown.







Remove from broiler and slide frittata onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve.




Frittata can be served hot, cold or at room temperature which make it not only a good lunch or light dinner , but it is terrific picnic food.








Monday, July 25, 2016

PINK PHLOX



I late July Julia's garden was filled with a backdrop of pink phlox.  Like her, they were tall and elegant. Pink phlox always return me of Julia's garden in Maine where, many years back, she taught me to be a gardener.
There are times when I step into the perennial garden here that I see Julia, of course not her but the influence and memories of her garden. I continue to use elements of repetition, scale and color combinations that I learned from  working  together with her in her garden.


In our late July garden  in New Hampshire the daylilies are in full swing and the violet of passing nepeta and salvia continue  to add notes of color to the border. There is white Phlox 'David', which has not yet flowered and the pink phlox that I have just added. To our dismay the woodchuck has once agin tunneled into the garden, so I am alarmed at the prospect of the damage he  (or she) may once again cause with his hearty appetite.



Julia introduced me to Rose Campion which always has a place in our garden. The pale cool green of it's leaves and the bright pink flowers add a delicate punctuation to the garden and I do hope this hydrangea hurries up and blooms because it will be a stunning combo these two beauties dancing together,


Nicotiana adds her bright stars to the front of the border.


James and I agree that this daylily, 'Elizabeth Salter' is our favorite. It is compact and carries many blooms with tightly held foliage. This is one of the flowers that we use to repeat to carry your eye up and down the border, again one of the elements that I carry into our garden from Julia's.



'Elizabeth Salter'




A look down the late July border where I hope the newly planted pink phlox will  grow to be tall and graceful in next year's garden.