Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Garden In October Sun

I often get asked if I would like to have a greenhouse, so that I would be able to garden throughout the year.  When I see greenhouses kept by other gardeners I must admit in the cold of February it is nice to enter and see things growing.

I like the notion of a greenhouse, but I have to say no, I really do not want a greenhouse.
James and I both agree that we enjoy gardening in spring, summer and into the fall, but then it is over for a year.
Benches and pots get put away or covered. Hoses are coiled and stored away with tools in the shed. The gardens get cleaned up and cut back once the plants have spent all their energy for the season.

This year October has been beautiful and there has not been a frost yet, so I am still able to cut small bouquets for the house. Extending the garden season this late into October is a treat, but soon a frost will bring an end to the nasturtiums, and the other tender plants.
The lemon trees have returned to their sunny place in the house and the figs will find a dark place in the basement to spend the winter. 

Most of the geraniums and begonias are inside, and will be repotted and put back in the garden next season.

There are still a variety of herbs, parsley, sage, chives, thyme and tarragon, in the garden, and one or another get used on a daily basis in our kitchen.  An omelette  we made for lunch today made good use of the chives and tarragon. The rosemary came back into the atrium yesterday. Pots of herbs are kept in our kitchen window to use over the winter and I will plant paper whites and amaryllis......thats about the extend of our winter gardening.
But, if we did have a greenhouse, think of the guilt factor, we would spend far too much time in there and our studios would be vacant!

With winter coming closer and the days growing shorter and darker here in New Hampshire it is time to close up the garden and spend more time in our studios
This is the view from my studio window.....not a bad place to spend the winter.

 Our days will now be spent in our studios and when early darkness falls we will be in the kitchen cooking and yes we will think about next seasons garden.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Last evening, as the sun was setting the top of the Shagbark Hickory was highlighted by the sun.
It is quite a grand tree, it reminds me of a tree in a George Inness painting.
Well, anyways, just a look at some of the autumn color here in New Hampshire on this Columbus Day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


James and I had been wanting to make a trip up to Anghiari (Tuscany) to the Busatti Factory for several years, and, at last this past spring we set out on a day trip from Panicale, after cappuccini at Bar Gallo, with our visiting friends Debbie and Jim.

Busatti tessuti

Here it is, the Busatti factory, a destination that we finally reached, OH ! What a glorious sight it was to see the BUSATTI sign. A thought crossed my mind.....Yikes, what if it is closed? Which can happen in Italy.  But, to our good fortune they were open!!


 Walking through the door you find a shop that is filled, and I do mean filled with Busatti fabric, bolts stacked proud, shelf upon shelf.

Throughout the shop there are tables set with fine Busatti  tablecloths and napkins. There are also "rooms" with beds draped and pillowed with beautiful duvet covers, coverlets, shams, and of course,  I wanted to buy it all!!!

But we came on a mission. Our goal was to buy enough of a particular fabric for our dining room window panels. It is a golden cloth we purchased about ten years ago at the Busatti shop in Arezzo. James has used many times in his paintings, but the piece he has, and continues to use, does have its share of paint stains on it!

North Wind Clearing
James Aponovich
oil on canvas

Here is the cloth that we are hoping Busatti still makes....that is why we are here.
Easy to forget our mission when surrounded by so many beautiful fabrics.

And then there was a subtle noise that grew louder in another show room.
Debbie and I wondered, Hmmmm, was that the sound of the factory looms?


There was a kind woman helping us in our quest. As luck would have it, Debbie had an image on her phone of one of the paintings James did that included the fabric. YAY!
Yes, they still made the fabric. The thing about Busatti fabric is it very wide. We ordered what we needed and we had it shipped.

Still curious about the factory, I asked , and our kind sales person  who then offered us a tour.

The fabric, wool, linen, hemp and cotton are woven on shuttle looms that are over  a century old.
Busatti / Sassolini families have been making fabrics here since 1847.

One of the weavers carefully tying ends of this blue and white cloth.

We all found this fascinating, the way the threads were being fed to the loom. Jim noticed the brown paper like thing hanging on the right of the loom and asked about them. Seems these rolls have a series of punctures which are a "pattern code" for the particular fabric that is being created on the shuttle loom. Each Busatti fabric has one of these pattern code rolls. Think about a player piano and the rolls that make the music, and you will understand how these pattern codes work.

There was a hallway filled with boxes of these colorful spools of thread for weaving these incredible woven fabrics.

Still life with spools!
If they had these for sale in the store I would have bought a few!

James and I couldn't get enough of these. The colors were so pure and fanciful.

The part of the factory was small, basement like, at least the part we visited. We imagined a much larger operation. We were glad to have seen these remarkable looms and watch a person passing the shuttle through the threads to create the patterns.

As we were leaving the factory we passed a room with bolts of tagged fabrics.
I just liked the way all of these bolts looked.

Back upstairs to the quiet to the shop, those shuttle looms do make quite a rumble, might even say thunderous!

One of the tablecloths in the shop, that was part of a table setting.

I stopped to buy a few napkins, how could I resist?

We said goodbye and headed out for a quick look at Anghiari and for some lunch.


Anghiari is also known because of Leonardo Da Vinci. There was a battle fought  here in 1440.
There are several drawing by Leonardo ( 1505) of this battle, and it is thought by some that he did a painting of it. "The Lost Leonard" of The Battle of Anghiari, might be in the Palazzo Vecchio, on Florence, on a wall that was covered over and a fresco then painted in 1563 by Vasari.
It remains an art mystery.

It was only a few days after we arrived home to New Hampshire that a box arrived from Busatti.

Our fabric arrived. It is perfectly beautiful. Now, we must have it made into curtains for our dining room.

Via Mazzini 14

Busatti has shops throughout Italy and around the world.

Friday, September 5, 2014


James on the Juliet Balcony In Panicale
( photo: S. Vreeland)

I have been after James to begin a new blog, and now he has.
He linked in to the idea that where we live in  Peterborough, New Hampshire and where we "live" in Panicale, Umbria are both on the 43rd Parallel, the same latitude.

His blog starts with both places, Peterborough, NH and Panicale, Italy, where he will explore the similarities and differences living and painting in two towns and ocean apart.

Here is the link:
Aponovich 43 / Parallel Lives : A Transatlantic Journal

Follow along and see where he takes us all!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Siena, Il Duomo.... a Thin Place

Lately I have been thinking and writing about 'thin places' and
 have come to recognize these more and more in life.

A thin place is  said to be  a place where heaven and earth meet, there are no boundaries.
Although a thin place does not have to be a sacred place yet when in Siena, James and I always
visit Il Duomo ( Santa Maria Assunta) and for for each of us it is a place where heaven and earth come together.

The Cathedral (1245) is built on the highest point in Siena over what was an early church dedicated to  the goddess Minerva. The facade of the Duomo is dazzling, but it is when I enter through the doors, in from the sunlight and suddenly find myself standing in  the low lit interior that I am captivated by the scale and space of it all.

The 13th Century Pulpit by Nicola Pisano is a masterpiece . Walking into the side chapels and alters there are words of art by the later Renaissance artists, Michelangelo, Donatello, Bernini, Pisano and Pinturiccio that should be taken note of as they add to the complexity of the Cathedral.

The alternating black and white horizontal  pattern of the interior has such magnificence and ones eyes are carried  far upward to the golden stars on the blue ceiling. Light passes softly through the
window, the radiance pulls our eyes and  feet forward while the Duomo wraps around you, time collapses and you become absorbed in the power of the place.
It is humbling.

A Gian Lorenzo Bernini gold gilded lantern tops the star filled dome .
James wondered how many children must have looked up and thought that God was really up there. Right there.
But,  they must have wondered,"how can you swim in air, how can you get there?"
It seems so frustratingly impossible....I guess that was "the churches point", they will provide the "ladders".

Vasari, in referring to the mind boggling Duomo floor said, " the most beautiful, largest and most magnificent that was ever made."
The marble intarsia and graffito that covers the floor was created from the 24th-16th Centuries by the hands of 40 artists.
I  get absorbed in looking I often forget to take photos, so you will just have to go see this for yourself, it is a remarkable piece of artwork that you will find yourself walking upon.

A visit here requires time. Time just to walk through the rising black and white columns, time to walk into  the side chapels and to light a candle as you thin about someone you love. Sit back where it is quiet and feel the calm and the place.

The Cathedral was meant to be larger, as a matter of fact the plan was for it to be the largest Cathedral ever built.  However, in 1348 The Black Death's toll on the population of Siena was devastating, it is thought that 75% of the population died from the plague. How did they ever recover to become once again a vibrant city?
Work on the Cathedral stopped when the plaque swept the city and was never restarted although what was started still stands, almost as a memorial.

Siena is Medieval, you see it in the architecture and you feel it to the bone as you walk through its narrow streets.

Siena has endured the misery of battles, financial troubles and plague.
The Duomo rises high up from Siena looking illustrious and strong.


For information  click on :  Siena Duomo

The magnificent floor of the Duomo often has sections roped off of covered
But from August 18 -October 27 2014
the entire floor will be uncovered.

More on Siena's Duomo in future blog posts.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Adding Some Color To the Garden

The outdoor benches and chairs were looking bleak, and only wasps were attracted to them.
There must be something about the old grey weathered wood that wasps like.

I like bees  hanging around the garden, but the sting of a wasp and I 
end up in the Emergency Room.

In Italy painted furniture on a terrace or in a garden always looks so welcoming that James and I thought it would add color as well as give us back our benches and chairs!

Blue was our choice for the pair of chairs in walled garden, which is largely perennials.

  A tint of cobalt green was selected for the benches in what we call the courtyard garden.
The plan for this garden is still on the drawing board. but the benches call out as a welcoming place to sit and enjoy the garden as well as to think about it's future.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Is Here, Bring on the Cherries!

Sweet Cherries in Wooden Box
Elizabeth Johansson Aponovich
oil on panel

Summer brings on an array of fruits, but cherries always become not only something to eat or cook with, they also end up as subject matter for paintings.
The color, the shine of the fresh cherries and the stems are eye catching and they continually  grab my attention.

Plate of Rainier Cherries
Elizabeth Johansson Aponovich
Oil on panel

One of the most challenging things about painting fruit  is the urge to overcome eating least on the first day, when the plate is set out and the fruit is perfect. After a day or two it gets less appealing, as the struggle to get the still life on to the canvas is foremost on my mind.

I feel fortunate to have such delicious fruits and vegetables to bring to the table and to my studio.
Cherry sauce for ice cream anyone?