Lunch on Sunday


2016-02-27-2417Potted Plants   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood  8 x 16″  20 x 40cm

In our backyard on Sunday , a guest recited Andrew Marvell’s poem, “To his Coy Mistress”,  in the period pronunciation in which it was written.  He spoke to illustrate the point of how pronunciation changes over time, and that can be suggested by the rhyming of poems.   In the back yard in the sunshine, it was a perfect digestif.    It seemed most timely to me as France is about to eliminate the circumflex, the little hat which sits above certain French vowels to insure their clear pronunciation.  What will future generations think when they see that?    I was touched by this guest’s giving of himself to all of us, and was speechless with joy.

​ First Cherry Blossoms   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/wood   16 x 24″  40 x 60cm

Another guest, a nurse, listened to my never ending lament about how we can’t go to the doctor here.  It has been a real catch-22:  we have private medical benefits, but only a few doctors, in the city, an hour away, have the mechanism to accept payment for services.  The doctor in our town will not see us because we don’t have a health card.  The next day, S, the nurse from the party, got in contact with us and researched a way we might get our card.  Sure enough, on Monday, 22 February, we got a health card, and were assigned a doctor in Monteombrara, just a couple miles from here.   This came at just the right moment, when we were due to pay 9,600.00 USDollars for another year of medical cover.

​ Deep purple primrose   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood  16 x 8″  40 x 20cm

Immediately, I found a way to use part of that savings:  primroses.  As an English friend, an occasional Sunday guest, says, “Miani is a proper garden shop!”  It has the most wonderful potted flowers, and trees, and tubs, and bulbs – I feel as happy there as I did in Monet’s garden!   I got out my paints at once.

​Violettas  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood    8 x 16″  20 x 40cm

I went to the doctor this week, seeing as I could.  He spoke English and asked, “who will the candidates be in the next US election?”  We each told him what we thought, and he said, “I always wanted to go to America, you were the greatest nation.”    He is from Nigeria, educated in Italian and French medical schools, had a practice in England, and now works just 5 kilometers from our house.  He made me wax pensively over the USA and this current, disturbing presidential race.  I worry about education, loving our neighbor, being fair.

I reflect on what I can do:  VOTE, keep on with my own convictions and encourage others.   Meanwhile, in our little country here in the Apennines we welcome all nationalities for lunch on Sunday.

​Branch with yellow Blossoms   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood  16 x 12″  40 x 30cm

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER


2016-02-20-2409Spring Snow   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/wood  24 x 16″  60 x 40 cm

I woke up on Wednesday morning to the sound of SNOWPLOWS!  I hoped the lily-of-the-valley I put in the ground two days before could stand it.    I wasn’t altogether disappointed, however, because I felt a bit cheated of the opportunity to paint snow in February.    We ran up the hill (after Harika, who LOVES snow), built a snowman and I slipped and slid back down the hill laughing hilariously.  I am not laughing now, as my sciatica is intense, and I am seeking a witch doctor (acupuncturist) here.

We brought our paints to the Italian teacher’s house.  She has great views from her windows, and she is an artist herself.  The three of us set up and painted nearly the same scene, with drastically different results.

​Snow from Antonella’s Window   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  13 x 16   33 x 41cm

We stuck with our plan to go to Florence on Thursday – and we were rewarded with sunshine and warmer temperatures.   It seems we are in a rainy season, and as our trips to Florence are mainly for painting, we have been limited.

This time, we went for the Oltrarno side of Florence – across the Arno from the Duomo, Uffizi, etc. and up on the hill looking down.  We both painted there amid the tourists:  from all nations, really, and surprisingly uninterested in what we were doing.  My approach was like that of a bird, seeing the monuments of the city, and the snow covered Apennines behind.

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​Bird’s view of the Duomo   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood  16 x 24″  40 x 60cm

Those deep reds and yellowy stuccoes predominate, like a Renaissance painting.  I kept having to pinch myself – yes, we’re really painting Florence!  It was thrilling.   We made a small detour to San Miniato afterward, but the church was closed.  The outside is really impressive, though, with bands of green and white marble,  and a gold mosaic over the portal.

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​View of Florence   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/wood  16 x 24   40 x 60cm

Now it is time to sell paintings, and I spent the other days of the week making posters for our show (25,6,7,8 March), and brochures to give to furniture stores.  If you have any show ideas for this summer in the USA, send them along.

Nearer to home, we planted red gladioli after the snow, and windowsill herbs.  We’re hoping the weather holds now, but as the days get longer, spring can’t be far away.

​Quince Blossoms  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/wood  24 x 16″  60 x 40cm  300.00

Blair and Laurie Pessemier

If this is Friday, it must be Florence

2016-02-06-2391Monte Cimone February   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  8 x 10″  20 x 25cm


It was a week of catching up, and getting done those things we’d been meaning to do for ever so long.  We each got library cards; we introduced ourselves and our artwork to the local furnishings store; bought wood to paint on at a nearby lumberyard.   It sounds like nothing, but as we learn Italian, each task is a major hurdle.


A friend came to dinner Thursday night and brought the BEST dessert I ever had, from the AC bakery in Bologna.  It was a cake, made like a Napoleon, layers of light, crunchy pastry, chocolate and cream, with the finest sheets of chocolate on top.   We are very lucky to have made friends here, especially ones who like to eat.


​Our house in the Hills   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  12 x 20   30 x 50 cm


Our ;longest  “meant to do” foray this week was a visit to Firenze, aka Florence.   It is a mere 2 hours from our house, and I have been thinking of the Ponte Vecchio for weeks.  In fact, I am thinking of doing a one-day-a-week painting workshop there.  “If this is Friday, I’m painting in Florence”.   I love Florence images, and maybe some people visiting the city of art will want to make their own?


We walked around – neither of us had been there for more than 35 years.   We were overwhelmed with just how wonderful it was – we’d both thought so years ago (Blair with Notre Dame’s Architecture program, me with Tom Brown), but it’s reassuring when you realize you were right.   When I visited Florence after college, I saved up from my summer job on Cape Cod.  I made 90 dollars a week, saved 50 from every paycheck, and somehow managed to buy an airplane ticket and travel around for three weeks (Europe on $5 a day).  Those days are gone forever, despite what the presidential candidates might promise.


Flowers on the table Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/panel 12 x12″  30 x 30 cm

Of course, there were many more tourists, this time mostly Asian.  I longed to see the Giotto frescoes in the Baptistry, but the 15 euro entry fee was daunting.  We settled for/reveled in standing beneath Brunelleschi’s dome in the cathedral.  David (the copy) stood outside the Palazzo Vecchio, and my heart did a little skip.  We went to the Boboli gardens, the target of my first trip, and wished we had days to walk through them. I don’t know if we looked “down at the heel”, but two French girls shared their wine with us at the restaurant, on the banks of the Arno (I can hear them now  “weren’t those cute little old people?”)


I am hoping to go back to Florence, now that we know how easy that is, and revisit the Laurentian library.  I had never actually gone into the Uffizi and the portrait of Federico da Montefeltro  and Bottticelli’s Venus are beckoning.  The Ponte Vecchio, was as beautiful as I hoped.  And who knows, if it’s Friday and you’re in Florence, maybe we’ll paint together?


Ponte Vecchio   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/wood   16 x 24″  40 x 60 cm


 Artnotes:  with Passion

​Fishing boat late day sun    Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  16 x 16″  40 x 40cm

“You better not have my dog in that picture”, a crone in Diano Marina charged across the beach and shouted at us.  I was taking pictures at the beach, and yes, dogs, many of them, were part of the picture.    Why would she care?  I wanted to ask.  Did the dog commit a crime?  Was the dog stolen? Is it supposed to be dead?  I was 100 yards away and it was a silly little Chihuahua in a black plastic coat.

Don’t worry, a friend says, crones bring good luck in Italy.   So, if you are looking for a lucky crone, this is the place.

Walking ​Dog at the beach   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  13 x 16″  33 x 41cm

I am trying to get around to the beach/dog picture, in fact.  Dogs are a major element here.  Blair and I have filled nearly all the canvases we brought, plus we found a roll of canvas we left here last year, on top of the armoire.   Painting in Cervo has made me feel passionate about painting again.  As I painted from the car, Harika in the back seat,  I felt transported, and as if my picture was the best I ever made.  It wasn’t [the best], but it is what one feels with a passion for something.

​Trees in Cervo   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  13 x 16″  27 x 41 cm

I feel passion for making food.  There were certain items I could get here that were interesting to work with:  20 artichokes, thorned and medium-sized, for 10 euros, for example.   And the citrus fruit is nearly free – a kilo of clementines for 99 cents. I brought a new cookbook I got for Christmas (thanks, T and family) and put some new ideas into motion.

​Fishing Boat Reflections Early Morning  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  18 x 23.5  45 x 60 cm

I like to be in the presence of other people’s passion, as well.  I remember how much certain people, especially the designers, loved the furniture they made, when I would go to the High Point Market in North Carolina – their enthusiasm was contagious, and they sold lots.  When we went to Genoa (Nervi, actually, the Modern Art Museum), we ate near the beach in an old, formal restaurant.   It was manned by two rather mature gentlemen, a waitress (a sister?) and a cook.   There were fabulous linens, and we ordered a first and second plate and dessert.  Each dish was proudly presented, and I could taste the good feelings of the kitchen in my food.  Passion, in an Italian restaurant.
​Fisherman House   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  16 x 12″  40 x 30 cm

I am surprised people who are older and afraid of death don’t show more passion in everything they do (I know a few, from 79 to 102, who are like that).  And I guess the crone felt passionfor her dog.  After being sick as a young person,  I was compelled to LIVE life as hard as I could, challenging myself, taking risks, living with the maximum amount of passion — before it was too late.