Things are finally rolling in fresno. We just got internet in the studio at Chinatown Gallery. My new Art Studio. It’t quite an awesome place! Be excited because I am…
Holland is a wonderful country. A bit crowded, but still awesome. I plan on going to Den Haag tomorrow morning to go visit the Maruitshuis. The girl with the pearl lives there. Im excited to see what all the fuss is about. I think it’s a pretty decent painting from what I have seen from the reproductions. The anatomy lesson by Rembrandt is also there. I am extremely excited to see this painting, even with the flaws in the perspective. I don’t know what else to do in the Nederlands other than going to the museums. It should be boring. I have my sketchbook handy though.
The Maruitshuis in Den Haag (The Hague) has a fantastic collection of about 800 paintings. Im not sure exactly how many are on display but its the perfect size museum with am extremely high quality collection of paintings. I love the dutch 17th century for a number of reasons. The paint application and technique, and the meanings behind the paintings. I especially love the paintings based on old dutch proverbs. I love that they loved paintings so much in holland that many normal middle class people bought artwork for their homes. The dutch made lots of artwork just for the sake of making it, where as far as I have noticed other countries weren’t so interested in just making art for the sake of making art. Most other countries stuck to religious art, or mythological scenes. I have seen so much of the religious and mythological genre’s that I rarely get excited about one of those paintings.
I think the last religious painting I got excited about was “Le Christ” by Bonnat. It’s truly incredible. I was blown away by it. It happened to be hanging in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris. I saw this wonderful painting by Rembrandt. It’s absolutely breath-taking in person. Each face is so naturalistic that I felt as if they would blink or say something. Other parts of the painting aren’t perfect, like the drawing of the cadaver for example. It’s too short. The head is also too big. Also in a dissection they would never ever start with the arm. They would have gone through the torso and abdomen first. Rembrandt chose to dissect the arm first because it works better for the painting. It all comes down to intentions in my opinion.
Holland is quite amazing. I found a hostel for 14 euros a night. It provides a sketchy internet connection and the other basics. People in hostels a weird. Really weird. There was one musician type fellow dubbed “That American Bloke” by one of the British kids that was there ended up urinating in the room by my bed. How charming. Thank you American Bloke… Thats the funny thing about all of this. A drunk guy peeing in the corner is something you would see in a 17th century dutch painting. They embrace humanity and accept that people are weird and flawed. At least that’s the vibe I get from it all. The dutch seem to understand that people are weird, and will always be weird, and do weird things, and many people wont accept these weird behaviors. The mentality it seems is “We are going to let the weird be, but we will definitely learn from the weird.” Is this what tolerance is? It seems like it to me, but what do I know. In egypt they freak out if a man kisses a woman in public. It’s sad to me, because I think kissing is a beautiful thing, and when someone gets pissed off at a couple kissing in public it usually seems to be because they are envious of the couple. I have always learned from other people’s examples it seems.
Jan Steen did a great job of illustrating what example’s parents shouldn’t be setting for their children:
I love this painting because everyone and everything has meaning to it. Notice its obviously daytime and the parents are drinking, and the father figure (which is supposed to be a self portrait of Jan Steen himeself) teaches his son to smoke tobacco, and a nice young age. The wealthier dutch folk loved these sorts of paintings because of they showed a clear example of how not to raise children. Maybe these themes need to be revived. At least thats my opinion. I am very interested in re-visiting some of these themes in the near future. I can’t wait in fact. I studied the frames extremely closely as well, making sure to study every frame that caught my eye. I have become very interested in frames that are more linear but still very complex and elegant. I made quite a few drawings of moulding that was derived from the frames that I appreciated. I want to attempt to make my own in the style of these particular frames.
I made it to three museums while I was in Amsterdam, ate good good, and had good drink. Its nice that I was so familiar with the place. I didn’t use a map all that much. I didn’t need a map when I walked to the Rijks Museum. That felt like an accomplishment. I also got an audio tour if the Rijks. The day before at the Maruitshuis I had a free audio tour and it really made a difference on what I had noticed. I really appreciated the commentary, and it helped me realize the consistency of the dutch themes. After a while the dutch proverb paintings began to really make a lot more sense to me. I think they are themes that would definitely hold true today and would be executable in a contemporary sense.
I made a huge mistake the second day of going to the Rijks again, but I made the best of it with the audio guide. I should have went to the Hermitage Museum, but it dawned on me too late. I was about 3:30 when I realized that Maureen told me to go. I guess I am just going to have to come back. I would like to bring a friend along.
I have been in Florence since the 18th of November just visiting friends, getting all my things together to ship back to the states. It’s one of those tasks that you just don’t want to deal with. It means that things are changing, scenery is changing, once again, euros are being spent on shipping costs, energy is being spent. After the whole Cairo thing I have been physically exhausted and haven’t been doing to much but working on my internet obligations. (like this site for example)
I made the horrible mistake of locking my bike up on the street to a pole on the sidewalk for too long. I am guessing the building owner or one of the residents of the building felt that my bicycle was in the way, so they called the police to have the bike removed. which I admit it may very well have been in the way, but not to the point of needing to call the police to cut the locks. A lot of people have nothing better to do other than inconvenience people they don’t know. Its a shame how often people do this to eachother.
I looked up and down the street for the bike thinking I locked it in some other spot, and forgot about it, but soon I realized that the bike was nowhere to be found. I figured out which pole the bike was locked at, and stood there wondering what happened to my bike. There was a wine shop next to the pole where I locked the bike, and I asked the italians that were hanging out drinking wine at 1:00pm “Did you guys see what happened to a green bike that was locked up right here?” They told me the police had cut the lock, and it shouldn’t have been locked up there. Im guessing they may have been the ones to have called the polizia. Rats.
I soon found the foot police who write tickets for improperly parked cars and scooters and asked them where to recover it. He gave me a phone number to call. I called right away but my italian is bad and thats all the police speak. Luckily my friend Joachim speaks great italian and we figured out where to get the bike. Monday ill go pick it up.
I had a feeling that I might not ever see the bike again when I was locking it up that last time. The bike is full of bad memories of Bekkah. I originally built the bike for her from the ground up. She even picked the color out custom from the automotive paint shop in downtown Fresno. I had collected all the parts for over a year to build one of the lightest fastest bikes possble. When it was complete it weight 14.7 pounds and it was Bekkahs christmas present.
Bekkah and I were at Woodward Park in Fresno just the first day ever riding the freshly built single speed bicycle. We had a good time riding around the park on this cool Fresno overcast day, until she decides to quickly ride ahead out of my sight. Next thing you know she wrecks into a center divider in a parking lot. She had a nice case of road rash, and she appeared to have really messed up her right pinky finger. We soon got her all patched up with first aid supplies from Walgreens. She never rode the bike again. I ended up taking it to Florence. Poor Bekkah…
She just seems doomed to me…
I have been feeling a little bit under the weather, and aggressively trying to get better.
I felt I should write this because many Florence Academy students frequent my blog, and any FAA student knows that Florence beats your immune system down when it starts getting cold. The place turns into a giant freezer box because Florence is made of all concrete, bricks, and stone. The humidity makes winter bone chilling cold. So if you are a sick Florence academy student, or an Angel or Cecil student you may find these remedies useful.
I use a plethora of remedies to get better after catching something in Florence:
- One of the most effective remedies for beating a cold is eating a bunch of raw garlic. I also drink lots of orange juice and eat lots of oranges. A mild fast helps as well. I especially try to cut out all sugars because I read somewhere that the cold viruses grow stronger when they are fed sugar. I don’t remember where I read it but it sounds logical to me.
- A remedy I like that I learned from a British girl at school is to boil water, and put rosemary in it, and then inhale the steam with a towel over your head. Breathe that steam until there is no more steam coming off the water. Blowing on the water encourages more steam to rise. This works as an expectorant. This remedy seems to really work great for that.
- Hot and Spicy ramen noodles also seem to help speed up the recovery of a cold. In Florence you can find very tasty hot and spicy ramen from the Asain Markets. There is one very close to Santa Spirito, and theres another near the Lion’s Fountain on Saint Egidio. The hot and spicy ramen has tons of salt and the spicy stuff will make you sweat, which is good for fighting the cold as well…
- Gargle a bunch of warm salt water. Lots and lots of it. This will help kill the things in your throat that make you feel so terrible.
- Drink lots of green tea with ginger, mint and orange juice. Avoid sugar. Use honey if you absolutely need to sweeten it. Leave the green tea out at night so you can sleep better.
- The pharmacy sells cold medicine, and most of the pharmacists speak english. It helps especially supplemented with these more holistic remedies.
- Avoid pizza. Its difficult in Florence. I’m guilty.
I thought this was a good idea to post for the FAA students because when you are in the Florence Academy because you simply just do not have time to be sick. You are attending a very high pressure, expensive school, and you just cannot afford to be sick during school, and you don’t want others to get sick. Don’t be one of those people who spreads sickness around.
If you are going to get sick, try to hold it off until winter break, or spring break. When you get sick its just your body telling you that you need a break.
Until next time…
Yesterday was such a rediculously long day. Bekkah woke me up at 7:00 to say our last goodbye ever. That was sweet of her. After she and Sophia left I had fun in her apartment after she left for work. It was like time stopped those few hours.
I went a little crazy…
I was picked up from the airport shuttle around 11:45am and began the excruciatingly long journey back to Italy. I first flew to Zurich, Switzerland, Again. I have been there at least three times in the past three months. Im getting too familiar with the airport. I even know where all the bathrooms are, and everyhing. From Zurich I fly to Rome Fiumacino. I ride the Leonardo express to Roma Termini. I had an old ticket that I didn’t time stamp, and once again, there was no man that came through to check tickets. Another free ride.
I arrive at Roma Termini, the main train station in Rome, after this freakishly long day to find that I missed all the trains back to Florence. Luckily this nice I english speaking Italian girl helped me with that. She even said that if she was staying tonight she would bring me back and I could sleep there for the night, but she was staying at a friends house, so I couldn’t come with her. I thought that was still super sweet. We say our goodbyes and I start heading toward a hostel I stayed at before when this guy asks me if I needed a hotel, and of course I reply “Actually yes… I am looking for a place to stay for the night.” The hotel is super nice and its only 50 euros, comes with a bathroom and shower in the room and internet. I lucked out. Thank you god.
In I slept marvelously, and took my time getting up. I pack my things and head across the street to the train staion, and grab a coffee and a sandwich. My ticket back to Florence is 45 euros. Ow. But at least its the fast train. It only takes an hour and twenty minutes. Im feeling pretty good at this point. The italian landscape always makes me happy to see. THe whole ride from Rome to Florence is pretty nice. Old Roman architecture is sprinked about, along with Italian Farm houses and cyprus trees. Its quite marvelous. I wish I could stop the train and paint.
Im glad to leave bekkah behind. She had some great properties about her, but also some really bad properties as well. Her health for example. She thinks she takes good care of her self, but she doesn’t. I haven’t got sick in almost a year and a half because I take good care of myself. Bekkah on the otherhand always feels bad. Always is sick. Always coughing. And her mental health is bad as well. I was often the victim of moodswings and anger management issues. She brought out the worst in me. I could compare her to some sort of bad whiskey. You have a couple shots, you feel good, you have a couple more you feel drunk, a couple more you get crazy and silly, and a couple more you get angry and destructive. And then the next day you end up hung over and you have to drink more to feel better. This is the effect Bekkah has on me anyway, and I do not like it. Im no longer setting for just okay. Im so glad to have left my baggage with her in egypt, and it was worth spending the money to do so. I also got a camel ride out of it all. But nothing more.
Here are some photos from the Journey from the Maadi, to the Cairo Airport:
We arise from our wonderful night’s sleep, and have Traditional Swiss Breakfast, which is simialr to Traditional Dutch breakfast. Toast, with different types of cheeses, an egg, various yummy things to spread on the bread. Coffee and juice too.
Lots of FAA conversation. Breakfast lasted until about 1:00pm because we kept going off on crazy tangents about art and materials, and FAA. Finally we agreed that we need to get out and paint.
My plein air kit is ready and so is Chantelle’s, I ask “so where are we going?” She replies to my question with a “Do you drive?” I reply “I have never driven in europe, but yes I can drive very well.” When I was 18 or so, I bought my first car with selling painted miniatures on ebay.
The first car I ever bought was a Honda Civic Hatchback CX. One of the lightest civics ever made. The older ones were lighter, but this one was the lightest out of the early 90′s Civics. I soon got into fixing it up, as all young guys do in fresno that buy a Honda.
We load up the car with the painting supplies, and I hop into the drivers seat. Its a stick shift. I overflow with joy, and say “STICK-SHIFT! I love driving manual!” Its been at least four years since I have had the opportunity to drive stick. Im ecstatic once again. Its all these small things in life that make me truly happy. We take off, and its like I never stopped driving stick-shift. Its like butter. Her car has a nice soft responsive clutch too. Japanese cars are always a joy to drive.
Now we are on the open swiss road. I dont know the driving laws in switzerland, but I manage to go with the flow. Chantelle reminds me of the speed limits constantly, which I am thankful for, because at first I was being a little too cautious and driving too slow. Chantelle guides me to one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. Swiss rolling hills, combined with fall colors. Its magnificent. The best part is the patchy clouds on this day allowing beams of light show through and illuminate chunks of trees and farmland. I’m in painting heaven. I wasn’t incredibly happy with my composition on the first day. Its all a bit too centered, but its only the first one of the trip. I have plenty of time to do give it another shot.
We painted for a while, somewhere aroud 4 hours until it was almost dark, working on the atmospheric perspective. Exploiting the properties of the the sun going down. Sunset is an all day process. For me the sunset is the most important part of the day for me. Its one of the most beautiful parts of the day.
I have not got into the habit to see the sunrise, but I find that incredibly beautiful as well, I enjoy slow mornings, and would rather work into the night rather than start working early in the morning. I know other landscape painters like Marc Dalessio get up around 6:00 to go painting. I would like to do that but I am not a fan of rushing at this point, maybe in the future Ill give it a try, but not now. I like going slow and taking my time with everything. Its a luxury that few get to enjoy.
After packing up and hopping in the car we hit the Migros, and Lidl. Both are pretty awesome grocery stores. I got my favorite things: Garlic, Bel peppers, Onions, Tomatoes, Avacados Feta, Mozzarella, a couple baguettes and a few other odds and ends. Bruchetta, and Greek Salad was in the near future.
The next day had the same morning routine, coffee, Swiss breakfast, conversation, laughs. Every day we painted Chantelle made the best Chai Tea and put it in a thermos for us. It was fairly cold the whole time I was there, so the Chai really helped keep me going. We hit the road around 12:00 to explore. The clouds are low and patchy today which makes for the most epic of moments. Another spectacle of a day. Its once again unreal. We worked on out paintings until the light effect in nature is completely lost, packed up and headed to the house. Each day I was happier and happier with my results. The night finished up with dinner and a movie. It was another perfect day in Switzerland.
We continued this routine of driving out, painting spots, drinking chai for the rest of the trip. I’m not going to lie… Its the good life here in switzerland, and going to to cairo from switzerland is going to be like going from heaven to hell in 24 hours. Chantelle and I had a great time painting. We get along well. I realize that some people are compatible and some people arent. Bekkah and I are in no way compatible. I don’t get along with people that have bitchy attitudes. On top of that she has no respect for painting. Therefore she has no respect for me and my life. Its a shame because she used to. I guess getting her bachelor’s from state was such a big deal for her that now for some reason she thinks her cause is superior to mine, and that she is above me. I bring beauty into the world. She educates people in english. I think that is great. Education is good, In my experiences with europe. It doesn’t make someone less of a person if they don’t know english. I think what matters is that people can communicate. Eloquence is possible in all languages.
-Traditional Swiss Dinner-
After the short walk to Chantelle’s house, I set my things down in the basement, and begin the tour of the house. There are paintings everywhere. Its a relief to see. Most poeople I know have bare walls with no art anywhere. This is not the case here. Almost every wall has a painting on it, and they are all pretty awesome. Chantelle spent four years at the Florence Academy of Art, and we have plenty of fun things to talk about. Its nice to meet someone who I can relate to, and talk to about so many things. Bekkah and I don’t relate at all any more. The more time passes the more we grow apart, and the more short her replies to me get. Unless its on skype or facebook chat. Somehow she can only communicate through a computer screen. I think that many people have this problem. Allora.
So its dinner time at Chantelle’s with Tina and I. They both speak Swiss German, and its very entertaining to listen to them converse with each other. We are having a Traditional Swiss Dinner for my welcoming to switzerland. There is lots of swiss cheese involved in this, but more specifically a plug in electric stove that has a flat grill on top for grilling bacon (yes bacon) and underneath the grill there are electric stove type deal. What you do is a slice of quality swiss cheese is placed into a small 4×4 inch tray, and you can doll up your piece of swiss cheese with vatious things like salk, pepper, paprika, onions, bacon which is cooked on the top level first. After getting the cheese all hooked up the tray is placed in the oven to melt. You can slightly melt it, or you can brown it, or blacken your cheese. It was lots of fun to try different cheeses, and different combinations of ingredients. Served with dinner was also mini potatoes, miniature pickles and mini onions. Quite tasty stuff! I came up with the combination of a layer of potatoes with bacon, onions, pepper, swiss over the top, pepper and paprika over the swiss. Super tasty. And very healthy. It was a blast to say the least. After dinner we talked about Art, and the Florence Academy, and people from school, rumours, gossip, and all that fun entertaining stuff that FAA students constantly talk about to eachother. Things in related to FAA spread like wildfire extremely quickly for this reason. Its a very tight knit school, and everyone knows everything about everything. That was fun. We talked till about two in the morning, and then hit the hay. Chantelle gave me my own room downstairs. No sleeping bag necessary, for the next ten days.
I grab my luggage from baggage claim in the Florence Airport, and I enjoy this familiar feeling. I’m ecstatic. Thrilled! Taxi cab is waiting for me outside pronto. The driver is a beautiful thin italian woman, who is very nice, and very strong. She throws my 25 kilo bag in the trunk like its nothing. I was impressed, and continued to be impressed my her swift driving skills. She was fast and efficient. I never felt scared during this ride. I felt I was in the hands of an angel. I have her drop me off near the Duomo, and leave her with a nice tip. I had to compliment the nice driving. She also charged me 10 euros less than most cab drivers in Florence. It felt as if I never left, only for some reason I had a 25 kilos of my home rolling behind me.
I take the scenic route to my old apartment in the palace on 10 Saint Egidio. Basilio, my spanish friend who lives there isn’t home, but our new friend Per Elof Ricklund is there. There are no buzzers to the apartment so I have to press all the buzzers to the other apartments to get in. Luckily he’s there, and I end up staying for over a month. I love that place and I hate it at the same time. Its not a place one should live in for very long. Its got one window, the layout is like one long hall way. All the rooms are in a row. No light but these terrible looking energy efficient bulbs, that I just recently found out give off a very ugly sine wave. You see, normal bulbs put off a clean smooth sine wave, which has no effects on humans really. These energy efficient bulbs are full of mercury, and give off a very bad sine wave. It has the form of a regular sine wave except there are these jagged edges that cause all sorts of problems in humans. I should have stayed in a better place. But what the hell… The whole month and a half was free, and since Basilio was in school from 8:00 on I had the place to myself until around 5:00pm. I shared Basilio’s room while Per Was in my old room on my old narrow uncomfortable bed. I got the Futon under Basilio’s loft, which was wider and more comfortable than my old bed. And it turned into a couch. Hell yes. I slept great there. For some reason (Bekkah) I could not sleep well at all in Fresno.
We broke up 10 days before I got back to California from Florence. What a un-compassionate terrible thing to do. Needless to say my heart was shat on, into a billion pieces, after that. I ran around Fresno and Clovis searching for her. Badly wanting to try and mend things. I wasted so much money on gas looking for her. It was crushing. I would get excited if I saw a Silver Volkswagen New Beetle, immediately checking the wheels to see if they were chrome. She avoided me for over a week and a half. Never responding to my text messages, facebook messages. Just a straight up cold tony fuck you. I hate this. It turns me into someone that I don’t want to be. My Dad was happy we broke up because he never liked her, and he thought she was ugly on the inside and out. Perhaps he was right. Because now as I sit in her living room in cairo smelling the burning trash, and I look at her. The sight of her is sickening.
I have only been here in cairo for three days and two nights, and when I look at her, I wonder what I found so attractive about her. Her butt looks like its permanantly clenched, not bulbous or heart shaped, but strangly upsidedown triangular. She has the strangest arms. Her biceps triceps are kinda large with a layer of fat underneath, and her forearms are skinny, which lead to her even skinnier hands. Strange indeed, especially in comparison to all the beautiful Italian women I have drawn in Florence while studying at FAA. I saw all these characteristics as perfections, because thats what happens when you are in love with someone. and Her personality wasn’t great when I met her, but I found her behavior quite sexy. And her interests as well. She’s a book worm with obsessive compulsive disdorder. Even with the OCD she is still quite an efficient person. We connected on many levels. She was the best kisser I have ever kissed, hands down. No one competes with the way she kissed. She was incredible… Just the right kind of crazy. I was whipped. I’ll admit it. It happens to the best of us. What can I say… I prefer quality. For the next three years we had a great relationship. We got along well for the most part. I liked her parents alot. They were really cool. Especially her dad John. He is really great. Her Mom was pretty cool as well. We got along. A total character. She Reminds me of one of Robert Amador’s drawings of strange touristy looking eureka ladies that you see in Vegas. She has these crazy bulging eyes. She seemed to like me more than her own daughter. I like her alot needless to say. Bekkah is an only-child like my self. It could explain her was. I have no bias against only children because I am one. I acquired my brothers and sisters. Bekkah and I spent three really nice years together. The fourth I will get into later. It was some of the best times of my life with her. I was at peace with her, but I always felt something dark was brewing. I never thought it would lead me to cairo.
How does all this relationship stuff fit into florence? I had all this on my mind during the entire month and a half during my stay this Florence. Wondering what happened. Where did it all go wrong. What did I do. What was wrong with me. The answer is quite simple. The answer needs it’s own preface. In 2009 I applied and was accepted into the Florence Academy of Art. One of the most prestigious drawing and painting schools in the world. There is no way I was going to stay in Fresno even for Bekkah, who I thought I might want to marry. I decided I did want to at one point. Dad would have had a shit fit. Good for him it’s not going to happen. I told her that I was breaking up with her before I applied, because I knew I was getting into the school. She begged and pleaded “No!” “please!” “We can make this work!” “Don’t leave me!” “We will make this work!” And look how it turned out. Somehow I am now sitting in Cairo, Egypt, smelling burning trash. No longer together with her. She has become interested in two other guys since we split. One is in Fresno, one is in egypt. I can only imagine what he is like. Probably a sweet guy, that has no taste for the finer things in life. Like german beer for example. I can only speculate at this point. Especially about the beer. Beer is extremely expensive in cairo. One beer cost’s 24 egyptian pounds, which converts to about four to five egyptian dollars. Allora.
Now what was it that lead me here to this religiously enslaved third world hell hole? The combination of the painting program at the Florence Academy of Art, along with almost two decades of handling paint brushes. It begins with my return from my winter vacation in the Nederlands. I visited my Aunt Tanya, and Uncle Andy in Holland for christmas. It was a fantastic trip. They showed me the ropes for getting around Holland like a local. Like a pro, which made my return visit so much more awesome. I arrive in Florence just before New Years Eve, which was an absolute blast. January second I was back in the studio working away at my final white chalk on toned paper cast. I finished it the first week of school. Daniel Graves, the director of the Florence Academy of Art said himself that the drawing was “hairline accurate.” He could not find a single error, unlike my other instructors. I felt the other instructors were trying to keep me back in order to keep their favorite students ahead. Favoritism can be quite an obsticle in this school. Eventually in this case Justice prevailed. I didn’t get best cast drawing of the year for this one, but I should have, according to Bernhard Schmidt, who recieved two best drawing of the year awards for his long pose figure drawings. I am over it. Im more pissed off about being in cairo. This place is terrifying.
With my final Cast Drawing of the FAA Intensive Drawing Program completed I begin the painting program. Feeling confident with my painting skills I dive right in. Within a couple days of starting my first cast painting of Michaelangelo’s “David Eye” is coming along nicely. Except for some reason, I could not get the big shapes of this cast exactly perfect like I did with the previous white chalk cast. “hairline accurate” according to Dan. My instructors would step into the studio and get confused as to which was the actual cast, or the painting. I thought it was hillarious. I think it insulted them when I tricked their eye into believing that my painting was the real thing. So they would say awful things about my painting. Jordan Sokol for example said my painting was a “polished turd” even though he wasn’t able to nail down the exact problem. The same with Hege Elisabeth Haugen. It was close enough that she didn’t know what to do with it as well. I ended up screwing up the drawing on this painting more and more every day with each critigue I recieved, until one day I completely snapped, ended up sanding the whole painting down. to an unrepairable state. I still have the painting as a reminder of the loss of this battle. It was traumatic. It began a downward spiral of depression, suffering and failure. All I wanted to do was to do excellent in school, to meet the expectations of the teachers. To succeed. Michaelangelo said once “The danger for most of us is not to set our expecations too high and not reach them, it is setting our expectations too low and succeed. I read this quote after this all happened, and it made me feel much better.
My instructors during this time realized that I had so much painting experience, that they were extra hard on me. Their expectations rose even higher and higher. Hege and Jordan said that I should take it as a complement, but for me the pressure got in the way of my own progress. Making me more depressed. I was living in my cave at Basilio’s place at the time. The second year studio of FAA is also a cave. The two caves combined, plus the pressures of my instructor’s drove me mad. The weather had been getting warmer, and all I wanted to do is be outside. So I went outside whenever I got the chance. Florence is quite a rainy place for november through march even. Sometimes the sunlight gets scarce. All this time I wanted it all to end.
I wanted to be back with my beloved Bekkah. To be held and my imperfections to be accepted, and to hear “I love you.” I could never get a hold of her during these last few months of the painting program. And I couldn’t write to her because every time I did write something to her I thought it was stupid and would delete it, and start over. She is a now graduated english major from Fresno State University. She was finishing her bachelors at the time. She is very intimidating to write to, because she is such a brilliant writer. When three hours pass by and you are staring at a blank page it was just time for me to just call her. No answer. Almost ever. Something strange was happening. It was the end of our relationship. I could feel it. And it pushed me further into depression.
Feeling the need to get some fresh air I assembeled my Plein Air Painting kit. My escape route. I began to ride out on my bike, supplies on my back, to find a spot and paint it. Soon I got my friend max into plein air painting along with a few others at school. I gave him my wooden field easel and would let him borrow brushes and paints whatever he needed. Max has a Scooter, and we could ride out to any spot in Tuscany to paint it. I managed to get him to go out almost every weekend, twice a weekend sometimes even four sessions. I was happy when I was outside painting. Nothing mattered. It was the medititation that I needed. I got such a great rush out of painting outside that when it was time to go home I remained only temporarily happy, and soon would drift into sadness again. I didn’t want to do anything but paint outside. Which was the beginning of my Plein Air obsession.
Plein Air is wonderful for me because I spend hours outside observing nature, watching the sun move across the sky. Clouds shifting, colors changing, comparing shapes and edges, working toward the goal. My mind was at peace during this time. Riding the scooter around Tuscany was also a lot of fun; actually a big part of the fun. It was a rush. In the evenings after painting I turned to another hobby of mine which took alot of time up: playing music, and composing music. I have been into fiddling around with electronic music since I was a kid when my dad bought one of the first versions of REBIRTH, and Sonic Foundry Acid. Eventually we moved on to reason, and then to Ableton Live. I still enjoy producing music. Someday I’ll post some songs to sound cloud or something. But I have yet to do it.
Every day was just another few ticks on the clock of the time-bomb. I felt the relationship ending. I didn’t want it to, because I loved Bekkah with all my heart and soul. I saw her has perfect. My best friends thought I was crazy. Dad thought she was ugly. He even said that we would have ugly babies once. He didn’t know I was listening. Most of my friends didn’t like her at all after a while. And they thought I was stupid for being in a long distance relationship with this woman. People in Florence would ask me about my situation with her and they would scratch their heads, thinking I was completely crazy. First it was the David’s eye catastrophe, then the next cast painting was a catastrophe, and then the next cast my Saint Gerome cast painting (sold) was also a huge fight to over come. It took over a month to get finished. All my teachers seemed to steer me in the wrong direction for each project. This however taught me so much about painting and the art of observation. I took it to the mountains. And still do.
Roughly Twenty days before leaving back home to Florence I broke the news to the Florence Academy that I would not be returning to the school. I told Bekkah my decision. Ten days before leaving back to california from Florence she broke up with me. I was crushed. I was morbidly sick of all the shortcomings. It has been frustrating.
I have been sitting in Bekkah’s living room writing this since about lunch time, she was in her room grading papers for a while, and then she and her roomate went out to get lightbulbs and gelato. They just returned. I have been thinking all day that she looks like Pebbles from the flinstones. She has bright red hair now, and she wears her bun on the top of her head. I don’t find it the least bit attractive. Nor do I understand how OCD bekkah can live in a lawless third world country that burns its trash, feral dogs and cats run rampant eating rats and trash. The skies are so hazy that it looks like a foggy day in February in the central valley. Shit visibility. It can’t be good for anyone’s lungs. The vehicles around here constantly have plumes of smoke pouring from them. Its quite a spectacle. Don’t get me started on how they drive here. Its unreal. Ill continue this story later.