Thursday, July 25, 2013


Sweet Cherries
Elizabeth Johansson
Oil on panel, 8" x 10", 2013

James and I  food shop nearly everyday. Small markets are our favorite places to shop by far.
This being high summer the local fruit and vegetable stands and farmer's markets are rich with selection. The stone fruits, greens, herbs, and now the corn and tomatoes are filling the shelves
and bushel baskets of the markets. All these things and more to cook with making each day in the kitchen a mystery until we enter the market to see what is fresh.

On a recent outing to fabulous farm stand, Lull Farm in Hollis, New Hampshire, I found this basket of sweet red cherries. I kept looking at them. I have painted cherries in the past, so I suppose they are just something that I am visually drawn to. They came home with me. 
James had bought a small, gold framed blank panel for me awhile back. I had been waiting for the right thing to paint, and I had just found it, the cherries.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Rome Walk.....Via Margutta

It is official, here in New England we are in a heat wave. We have had three consecutive days of 90 degree temperatures. And as people say," it's not the heat it's the humidity", we have plenty of humidity as well.

As I often do, I checked the New York Times to see what the weather is in Rome today.
It is hotter in New England than it is in Rome........unbelievable. Even coastal Maine is hot.

All of this got me thinking about a cool walk James and I love in Rome, a walk on the Via Margutta.

Rome is beautiful.....the colors of the buildings glow with warmth. The colors must fill the Roman people, because they too are very warm and lovely.... well most anyways!!
The Via Margutta is a small  and quiet street, just off the Via Babuino, not far from Piazza Popolo in the heart of Rome. It is not far from the Northern Gate of Rome, where in ancient times Roman Emperors would enter through to the city. It is in a neighborhood that James and I really find irresistible, but then we could say that about almost every neighborhood in Rome. It is fair to say that we adore Rome.

The narrow street provides welcome after shade on a hot day, and a respite from the Rome traffic.
Pots of tress and vines cover building  that makes us think of hanging gardens.

Via Margutta is now home to restaurants, small hotels, galleries and upscale shops. It is also home to artists and artisans continuing a long tradition dating back to the Renaissance.

Here are a couple of trivia facts..........
In the Fellini film, Roman Holiday, the character played by Gregory Peck had a flat on
the Via Margutta, and Federico Fellini actually lived on this street.

A delivery of flowers to a restaurant. Once again it's impossible not to feel good surrounded by all of these warm ochres, pinks, reds and yellows of Rome......not to mention all the fragrant vines and flowers.. Italians respond to the aesthetic in life.

This is a neighborhood that has always housed artisans. There were also stables here, and saddle makers. This was an enclave of  marble cutters, wood workers, frame makers, leatherworkers, and artists. Many remain, but with rising costs, many have given way to pricer shops and galleries, which often happens to artist quarters!
I read that Picasso spent time painting somewhere on this street. I don't know, but perhaps.

Rome and water just go together.
The fountains of Rome have been immortalized in movies, art and music.
The grand fountains, like the Four Rivers, or Trevi, are icons.
But, there are many small fountains all around Rome that you can actually drink from, and believe us that after walking for miles on a hot day it is a blessing to come upon one of these water fountains!
Rome water is very good water, and always has been.

Above this fountain are the letters SPQR.
SPQR means  Senatus Populusque Romanus, or The Senate and People of Rome.

The bucket of brushes on the top are to represent the artists and artistans. The two masks adorn the fountain, one with frown the other with a smile are said to represent the two moods of artists......... or so the story was told to us.

It is easy to see why artists have always been drawn to this narrow intimate place with it's vine covered buildings and dark cobble stone street. With the Pincio, a grand park, just behind and the bustle of the city only a street away, it seems a perfect place to be at an easel.

Now it's on to Piazza Popolo !

(In the meantime the heat wave continues here in New England)