Archives for category: Fine art

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We spent each day in Montréal, Canada, between Old Town and the city’s Place des Arts. Place des Arts–a very large culture-and-the-arts-plus-social venue–is where the now-celebrated opera Les Feluettes by Kevin March and Michel Marc Bouchard is playing, specifically at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on May 24, 26, and 28. We attended the sold-out opening night last Saturday!

We lucked out by booking a boutique accommodation at L’Auberge de la Place Royale, in Old Town, that truly was a home away from home–clean, tasteful, affordable, convenient, secure, and amidst many visitor attractions and amenities. If you click on the link, be sure to watch the video! The yellow front entry to this hidden gem is very unassuming.

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The walk between the two places was about 30 minutes on average, depending on how long we stopped to admire the old architecture, shop windows, eating places, galleries, etc., along the way. For most of the route, there is an “underground” shopping mall that is flat, clean, and bright. Selecting the underground, one misses Chinatown, a hill, tour buses, taxis, and well, everything that isn’t a mall!

Particularly special was the Notre-Dame Basilica where we listened to an awe-inspiring pipe organ.

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But back to Place des Arts. So much to see, so much to do. It is the heart of a hub called Quatier des Spectacles: 80 cultural venues including 30 performance halls with nearly 28,000 seats in approximately one square kilometer, according to the website above. For starters, the grand-opera venue is a 2,996-seat performance hall (the largest in Quebec). Wow! 😮

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The plaza of Place des Arts itself is bordered by St. Catherine, Jeanne-Mance, Maisonneuve, and Saint-Urbain streets. Indoors. Outdoors. Diverse. The entertainment was continuous, and mostly it was free. Something was always happening.

One day we saw the Mary Poppins cast sing and dance in the intersection. A large art installation of logs extending down the street provided sitting space. It is where we bought our tickets to see Cirque du Soleil. (We didn’t realize the big top was only two piers away from our auberge, so conveniently located that we could walk to the circus.)

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Friends stayed in the Hyatt Regency hotel on the plaza. When I bought flowers for opening night and needed a place to keep them until curtain time, the concierge offered to hold them for our friends and even provided a beautiful vase for them. The lobby is readily accessible, and the hotel is a convenient place to get a taxi. Several good restaurants make it hard to choose where to dine.

Next door is the Musée d’Art Contemporain with a permanent collection of 7,600 works. Sadly, we didn’t go inside. The building faces a large stretch of street-level fountains.

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On the roof is a photographic work entitled “La voice lactée” by artist Geneviève Cadieux.

In Old Town and Old Port, we were steps away from the best patisserie (almond croissants to die for) Maison Christian Faure, ethnic restaurants, cool bars and art galleries.

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Two museums. Cirque du Soleil as mentioned, bicycle paths by the river, everything very enjoyable. At nighttime there is an multimedia installation called Cité Mémoire at various outdoor spots in Old Town. Interesting, giant, images are projected onto walls and alleyways, and if you load an app to your phone, there is historical information about each place. It is a very creative, and an option for date night! It happens to be co-produced by the librettist Michel Marc Bouchard.

When it was time to leave this fine city, that reminds me of Paris, a taxi arrived at the curb in one minute and the fare was a flat rate to the airport. It was the only time we rode a taxi in Montréal except to go to the opera in our fancy clothes!

Please enjoy Montréal! It may be a while before I return. In the meantime, I’ll see you back at the studio. Thanks for coming with me to Canada! ~ Rebekah (Popo)

 

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20151029-112346.jpgThe garden in Giverny, France, originally designed and planted by the Impressionist painter Claude Monet, enchants with its autumn foliage color and scent-filled air. I spent a little time there yesterday and began to understand “the light” that artists relish. Now I am inspired to create a garden with intentional lines, shapes, textures, and hues for me to paint and to invite people to come and enjoy.

While it feels like home when I’m at Villa Minghetti where I’ve stayed with family and friends twice in one year—in Spicchio village outside the small Tuscan town of Lamporecchio—there is no place like Hawai‘i, my real home.

I write from my studio in Ka‘a‘awa before daylight. Paint and prepare for an art show planned for November after sunrise. I have time to reflect on the recent journey to Italy and the beautiful extended family we all got to know.

My friend Debbie sums it up: “Over there, they adopt you.”

The experience designed for my painting students is unforgettable:  the keys from Federica to the three-story house, garden, and swimming pool for two weeks; five days of oil painting lessons by her husband Agostino Veroni; Tuscan cooking lessons by Franco Mazzei, chef; meeting their children and parents; free time to take the train to the glorious city of Florence and elsewhere; and the chance to enjoy Italian hospitality and experience the culture.

I want to return the hospitality in Hawai‘i. When would be a good time?

Federica, Agostino, and baby Giulio

Federica, Agostino, and baby Giulio

Our painting teacher Agostino Veroni showed us how he paints from start to finish in about two and a half hours. Amazing!

Our painting teacher Agostino Veroni showed us how he paints from start to finish in about two and a half hours. Amazing!

This family works hard to run a cottage industry, literally. The villa is on an olive farm where Federica’s grandfather had grapes planted once, but wine making is more labor intensive than getting oil from olives, so now it’s just olives. In a back room we watch Agostino bottle the olive oil as it runs out of the spigot of a big vat, one of five. The oil is from last November’s harvest; we were there when they shook the olives from the trees last year! Federica caps and puts on the labels.

Agostino uses a power rake to harvest the olives last November.

Agostino uses a power rake to harvest the olives last November.

The olive oil is stored in stainless steel vats and bottled by hand to the customer's order (our order).

Olive oil is stored in stainless steel vats and bottled by hand to the customer’s (our) order.

Federica carefully applies the labels.

Federica carefully applies the labels.

Every day he can, when he isn’t personally marketing his work on weekends or helping out with the property, Agostino paints. The land inspires his original oil paintings en plein air. Sunflowers, poppy fields, olive groves, mountains and the sea. His gallery agent has arranged to show his art in Naples, Florida, in February. Would I come? Federica asks. How far is it from Hawai‘i? She has little idea it is half a world away, only that it is “paradise.”

Agostino paints while daughter Giorgia, 7, watches

Daughter Giorgia, 7, watches Agostino paint sunflowers.

The artist's working studio

The artist’s working studio

And, of course, Federica manages and cares for Villa Minghetti, part of a family real estate business. A private wing that is a former servants’ quarters now houses the painter’s studio, viewing room, and kitchen. We have great fun baking pizza from scratch in the old, old olive-wood-burning oven!

Agostino selected the exterior of his studio, formerly servants' quarters, to demonstrate how to paint a textured rock wall. It looks plain in real life, so he decides to add wisteria flowers.

Agostino selects the exterior of his studio, formerly the servants’ quarters, to show how to paint a textured rock wall. It looks plain in life, so he decides to add wisteria flowers.

This is the finished oil painting by Agostino Veroni of the wisteria. He liked this one a lot.

This is the finished oil painting by Agostino Veroni of the wisteria. He likes this one a lot.

View from the kitchen into the viewing room.

View from the kitchen into the viewing room.

Agostino makes pizza

Agostino gets ready to shove his pizza into the hot oven behind him.

Aloha, ciao ciao, until we meet again. Your friend,

Rebekah

P. S. I’m still trying to duplicate chef Franco’s recipes. They may not be exact, but they’re close. I’ll post them soon.

Now, one of the attractions at Villa Minghetti that I rented for two weeks for my group of painting students is the beautiful swimming pool with a view of Spicchio village and beyond in Tuscany. Last year in late October it was empty—too cold to swim. Federica suggested we come in September to enjoy it.

I decided to make an oil painting inspired by the pool, trying to follow her husband Agostino Veroni’s technique. His underpainting is a strong mid-value ochre in fast-drying acrylic. He paints or dots wet-in-wet, top to bottom of the canvas. He organizes his color and sections of the canvas by a design that he has in his mind before he begins. And he puts lots of contrast and interesting color in the foreground.

The swimming pool has meaning for our Italian friends because it is where Federica and Agostino first met each other, when he came to Villa Minghetti to repair the pool five years ago.

In my painting attempt, several more things were new to me, even though I have painted for about 20 years: a smaller canvas, a much smaller brush, and painting with fast and juicy strokes without a painting medium to make the paint flow (It wasn’t available. On our second paintings—this was my first one—my students and I tried the mixture of 30% cobalt drier and 70% linseed oil to use as a medium. Much better.); speeding it up. Veroni painted a large canvas in each of his daily demonstrations in 2-1/2 hours!

When you see the images below, please keep in mind that a photograph is a photograph, and a painting is a painting.

I am happy that our teacher in Italy pronounced my work “Good” and that I have my souvenir of this lovely place.

"Pool at Villa Minghetti," oil, 30 cm x 40 cm, by Rebekah Luke

“Pool at Villa Minghetti,” oil, 30 cm x 40 cm, by Rebekah Luke

In the garden

In the garden

Poolside

Poolside

Nighttime skinny dip, anyone?

Nighttime skinny dip, anyone?

One morning this was the view from my upstairs room of the pool and the village of Spicchio and the Tuscany beyond.

One morning this was the view from my upstairs room of the pool and the village of Spicchio and the Tuscany beyond.

Agostino Veroni demonstrates his style of plein air oil painting to students in the olive grove. Please see the finished painting below.

Agostino Veroni demonstrates his style of plein air oil painting to students in the olive grove. Please see the finished painting below.

Agostino Veroni has painted for us three days now, one painting a day. The first was of sunflowers in the Tuscan landscape, the second one of a poppy field, and the third of the olive grove. Friday’s will be of the stone façade of his studio that adjoins the portion of villa where our group is staying.

I am here with my oil painting students from Hawaii in the hills above Lamporecchio. We watch the master paint in the morning, and in the afternoon we paint our own canvases. We’re learning his efficient, time-saving technique, as we communicate with the help of Julia, our delightful interpreter.

My photo album today shows our painting experience.

Veroni and "Padaveri in Toscana"

Veroni and “Padaveri in Toscana”

Detail of the oil painting of flowers in Toscana by Agostino Veroni

Detail of an oil painting of flowers in Toscana by Agostino Veroni

The artist made this painting as a demonstration for students in 2-1/2 hours, from start to finish

The artist made this painting as a demonstration for students in 2-1/2 hours, from start to finish

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