Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day In San Gimignano

Set Up at My Easel in San Gimignano, Italy
On Thursday, early, we headed off to San Gimignano, Italy – via bus from Florence. The idea of a bus navigating those cobblestoned, narrow, people, scooter and motorcycle-filled streets is daunting. How the heck do they do it?

Randy and I have been off on an art tour led by Rob Liberace – and today is sort of a break from museums, art history, facts – to enjoy the glorious countryside of Tuscany.

I’ve never been to San Gimignano – though the landscapes of former studiomate Michela Mansuino made them familiar prior to this visit. She’d spent many summers painting the scenes right outside her mom’s villa there.

I chose to bring my paints – painting vs. shopping. A cost-saving measure, for sure – as all the shops and market held wonderful wares.  Picked a spot that was quiet and contained – though after finishing my first oil, I thought the scene might have been anywhere. (Except wisteria is beautiful here in Italy -- thriving for some reason everywhere we look.) There will be more works created from our one-day visit – of the scenes (including the markets, flower displays, cafes) I’d love to paint that didn’t afford room for my easel. So, more to come in the weeks and months to follow.

"Italian Garden," oil, approx. 11"h x 7"w, copyright Jill Banks 2014
Late afternoon was spent in Monteriggioni, an extremely small walled village. No paints this time – nor drawing supplies – but I do, fortunately, have better-equipped friends. We drew, purchasing a glass of wine to secure a seat (and rights to a rare restroom) while the wind blew and we froze our fingers off.  Well, not quite – but conditions weren’t quite ideal.  Thanks, Terry O’Day and Susan O’Neill for micron pens and red pencils and sharing in the freezing fun.

For this trip, I have managed to neaten up/condense my oil painting gear. It travels with a small, carry-on size rolling suitcase with the zipper done to expand it. Only one piece sticks out the top and that is an umbrella and the compact panel carrier that goes with my new Art Box and Panel (Coulter Painting System). It's pretty nifty -- and received compliments the whole trip ... including from a visitor interested in my painting from yesterday's post. The big challenge here is that there is not a smooth rolling surface to be found. Lots of cobblestones, bumps in the road.

And thanks to YOU for reading!

Happy Easter!

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April 5 - April 27: Fine Art Professionals of Northern Virginia at Delaplaine, Frederick, MD  Reception on Saturday, April 5, 3 to 5pm at the Delaplaine Art Center, 40 Carroll Street, Frederick, MD. On exhibit: "Main Street USA," "Tony" and "Ice Cold Lemonade."

May 3 & 4: Fairfax Fine Art Festival  I'll be under a tent in Fairfax Corners ... surrounded by artwork. Come visit/shop for original art. More details to come on my web site's Events page.

May 27-May 31: Mountain Maryland Plein Air I join 29 other artists juried from around the country to capture Cumberland MD and surrounding areas in this plein air competition and exhibition. Second time around.

May 31 & June 1: Fairfax Great Falls Studios Spring Outdoor Art Festival  Two days with my work under a tent in the Great Falls Village Centre, corner of Georgetown Pike and Walker Road,  Great Falls, VA. Husband Randy will hold down “the Fort” on Saturday while I finish up at Mountain Maryland and then I hope to see you on Sunday, June 1!

March 5 - December: Richeson75 Still Life and Floral 2014  Two of my paintings: "Honey Bunny" and "Garden Girl" were chosen as finalists in this online competition and exhibition. 75 total works were selected for this exhibition from entries/artists worldwide. See the exhibit at

Paint with Me in Italy: August 3 to 10, 2014.
For more info, itinerary and links to register, see the classes page on my web site. Great folks are signing up to join me on this wonderful adventure. I hope you can, too!

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