Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brightly Colored Fall Harvest

Our local farm stand, Rosaly's, created a colorful still life with their harvest of pumpkins, squash and gourds.

James and I were coming off a few days in Manhattan so this very seasonal practice of selecting a pumpkin ( or two, or three) for the porch along with a number of squash for the pantry was just the right thing to do.

The first big frost hit  two nights ago so it is bye- bye to all the annuals, basil and cherry tomatoes until next year.  It was already dusk when we heard a report of the pending frost we moved quickly and  the pots of rosemary and figs made it indoors. With the days  shorter and colder 
the thought of a warm fire in the fireplace offers us a remedy to the cold and dark.
The brightly colored pumpkins on he front steps are a joyous greeting for us and guests alike.

I find comfort in having a variety of winter squash around the kitchen.
  I feel like there is always something to eat.  "Not to worry" I think, "we can cut a squash in half and roast it, or make a pasta with squash, sage and butter, or a soup, or just puree it. Plus winter squash are just so attractive.
While James loaded pumpkins into the car I  filled a basket with squash. The red Kabocha squash into the basket first, then Delicata, four of those, the Sweet Dumplings are perfect for roasting so a few of them are added to the mix. The ever heavier basket still had room for a Buttercup and Butternut....I always get those two names confused, so I just buy both. Enough, no, a Turban squash, just so pretty it cannot be left behind. I am happy. 

Well, anyways, enjoy the harvest  stock up and don't forget all the root vegetables besides.

Happy Halloween !!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Evolution of a Painting : in more pictures than words

As I was preparing to write this post it occurred to me that it would be good to have James contribute or write this post about how a painting comes to life.
After some discussion we came to the conclusion that I would post images and write briefly about them here and that James would return to blog Aponovich52 and tell the more complete story of the Evolution of a Painting.

The concept sketch is the seeing, thinking and drawing all coming together on paper.

 The Underpainting
was created by James in one sitting, a very long day! It was vital for him to capture the energy of the moment. The warmth of the Burnt Sienna offers a balance to all the greens and cool colors that James used to paint the landscape and Agapanthus.
The Burnt Sienna will dry quickly allowing him to paint over it in a day or so. Time is of the essence!

Adding color
 James began with painting the flowers ( he complained a lot about them) since there is no telling how long the blooms will last. As he paints the blue of the flowers, he begins to paint the distant fogged in landscape of the island in order for him to balance value and color while creating the atmosphere he is seeking.

He begins to see the entire painting.

Almost there.
The painting is coming together. James lightens, darkens to push the distant landscape back and pull the terra cotta pot with agapanthus and the ivy covered wall  forward.                

 Agapanthus, Appledore
oil on canvas, 40" x 50", 2013
James Aponovich


To read about the Evolution of a Painting in James' words click on Aponovich52.

The painting is complete and will be included in James's upcoming exhibition at
Hirschl and Adler Modern
730 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY

all images copyright James Aponovich 2013
and cannot be printed or used in any manner without permission of the artist, James Aponovich

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FIGS..........Sensual and exotic

The first time I had a fresh fig was on our inaugural trip to Tuscany about twenty years ago.
James was sent over to paint and I, along with our daughter Ana, joined him.

We were staying in a villa in the hill town of Barga which is in northern Tuscany. The landscape there is different than that of Siena crete region or Maremma area of Tuscany, but all are stunningly gorgeous! Barga was quite mountainous as it is in the Apennines.

 Behind the villa was a very large orto,vegetable garden . Often in the morning the gardener would come by to work in the garden and many times his young grandson would be at his side.
It was on one of these mornings when I was out hanging laundry that I went over to say hello.
The extent of my Italian was an embarrassing five words which left me with only to say buongiorno.

The young boy handed me a fruit that he had just picked from the big leafed tree that I had wondered about.

The boy said,"figgy". Ah! a fresh fig. I recall being a bit hesitant, but the first bit was astounding.
I had never tasted something so unique and wonderful.
Later that same day, wouldn't you know it, I had my second "figgy", it was a white (or green) fig pulled right from the tree in a friends garden in Barga.

Back at home some 20 years later.....

This fig  is one of two in our garden. They are potted and come indoors each winter. This is their third season and they are bearing a quantity of fruit this year.

We eat them fresh from the tree but we also cook them which brings out a deep  exotic flavor, a sensual experience either way. This will be dessert tonight!

Sauteed Figs

Fresh figs cut in half  lengthwise
Good Balsamic vinegar or better yet balsamic condimento

Heat saute pan, add a tablespoon of butter, when melted and hot add figs cut side down.
Let cook without moving, after about 10 min. turn to skin side and let cook for about 10 min.
Remove fro heat and turn figs back to cut side and drizzle a little honey.
Before serving drizzle with balsamic. serve warm alone, with Mascarpone cream or with ice cream

On that first trip to Italy we learned many things including:
1. about eating figs
2. to wear comfortable shoes
3. that white truffles are divine
4. that great art is everywhere
5. To learn some Italian before we return to Italy
6. That we MUST return to Italy   ( we do, as often as possible)

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Clock is Ticking......Work Continues In the Studio

Coming upon this photo was like meeting an old friend.
This picture of Sunflowers was taken in  James' studio in our old house.
My studio was in the room through the door way at back of the photo.

This room, James' studio, and the things in it feel all so familiar to me and the memory of taking this photo of the in progress painting with the sunflowers is vivid.
 I was interested due to the fact that both the canvas and subject matter could share the scene. On the canvas is an under painting put down relatively quickly in earth colors like Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber. So here the "process" of creating is captured.

Sunflowers, Appledore
James Aponovich
oil on canvas

As paintings progress they take on a life of their own. Comparing this image of the completed "Sunflower" painting it can be noted that James changed the shape of the vase. In terms of color he stayed within the same color family  as the flowers; he chose to use the yellow Busatti fabric. The landscape is coastal New England and in particular Appledore Island, one of the group of islands known as the
Isles of Shoals. The Shoals are interesting and somewhat mysterious or even could be said a haunting place that has attracted artists and writers for centuries. The landscape of the islands captured James' imagination.

James in his new studio.

The new studio is working out very well for James. Moving took some time away from painting and preparing for his upcoming show at Hirschl and Adler Modern, but he has settled in and has been painting up a storm!
The ceilings are high and the large windows supply good light, although the days have been rapidly getting shorter on light as they do this time of year. He is pushing through with his Kolinsky sable brushes, which by the way are getting impossible to find any more. Why?

The work he is creating is very exciting. He continues to use the inspiration provided by our garden and our trips  to Italy. The landscape of Umbria and Tuscany are very ordered. Looking at the paintings of artists like Perugino, Raphael and Lippi also leave their mark in his memory.
Many of the paintings are strongly American and influenced by the rugged coastline paired with the history of painters that have worked here before, Hassam, Marin, Harley and Kensett to point to a few.

Always carrying a sketch book and pencils, James works from sketches he draws on site, whether it be Appledore Island, Down East  Maine, Panicale Italy, Rome or our own garden. The drawings are the vision that fuels the painting.

Sometimes things just do not work out the way it was planned!
While James was sitting back and just looking he knew what he had sketched in with paint was not working. Too heavy. The bottom was not relating to the top. It was not at all what he envisioned for this painting. A long mornings worked wiped out in minutes. He knew immediately that the painting felt better, lighter.....more air to it.

I will keep you posted and let you know how this story goes.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Destination Cambridge

James has been busy at work in his studio preparing for his upcoming show at
  Hirschl and Adler Modern  that opens later this month. He has not taken a break. So about a week ago, on a Saturday we decided we REALLY needed to get out. 

We jumped into the car and headed southeast, destination Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The first quick stop was to Utrecht Art Supply for a few tubes of paint and some badly needed brushes.
This was the "work" part of our adventure.

We saved the fun part until last.

Our pantry was looking dreadfully empty, all that was left of the parmesan cheese was a heel destined for a minestrone soup and worst of all we had to ration what was left of the olive oil.

One of our favorite places to stock up on specialty foods and almost feel like we are in Italy, is Formaggio Kitchen.

Look at all of this!  I always have this urge to buy everything, James kept filling the basket, it is so incredibly tempting here. Cheeses from around the world piled high on the counter. There are always a few good pecorino cheeses from Pienza, Rome and Sardinia. We select a few to be wrapped us for us to take home. We also added  pancetta and  prosciutto to the basket, after all were are on the list. The guanciale, well I do not think that was on our list. But, who's to know?

Over in the pasta section there are wonderful pastas from Italy.  Italian pasta is the only dry pasta worth eating! We picked up  bucatini, strozzopreti,
tagliatelli and some great looking tubular pasta. 
Hmmmm, all the time thinking, "whats's for dinner?"
Plenty of time to talk about that on the ride home.

OLIVE OIL was at the top of our list, in large letters. This is where we buy good olive oil once we run out of the Umbrian olive oil that we get when we are in Panicale. The oil  we buy here is from Orvieto, which is not too far from Panicale.

 Our shopping list  included; carnaroli rice for risotto, anchovies, a jar of tonno/ tuna, smoked paprika,  pecorino cheeses, a good chunk of parmesan cheese, pancetta,  prosciutto, tuscan salami, large bottle of Umbrian olive oil, pasta and a bottle of wine, Dolcetto when they have it. We try something new each visit.  Capers in salt and a goat cheese from Vermont were not on the list but worthy of a go.
By the way, on weekdays they have a killer rotisserie chicken available.

Were we any closer to deciding what to make for dinner?

In another section of the store there is an area dedicated to fruits and vegetables. Everything looks beautiful and they carry items that are hard to find where we live like fresh fava beans in season,
 white / green figs,  and unusual mushrooms. Perfect little baskets of berries, Mandarin oranges, baby vegetables, colorful carrots, you just never know what you might find here.
Breads, all kinds of fresh breads, bagels, muffins arranged along a shelf. A window lined with honey...lavender honey, acacia honey, rosemary honey, any honey that bees can possibly create, are here. The varieties of preserves and jewel tone jams backlit by the window so colorful, call for your attention. Acacia is my overall favorite but the rosemary is perfect with sauteed carrots.

OK., one final temptation... just before reaching the check out counter is the flower vendor. Unfortunately, our baskets were too full and I had the overflow things in my hands , so we did not buy flowers. After all we do have flowers at home in the garden. BUT, the flowers here are superb.

Enough! Time to check out.
Time for one more stop before leaving Cambridge. I dash into Whole Foods to buy fresh fish for tomorrow's dinner. (We have a cooler and ice packs in the car).  James goes next door for a bottle of Amara ( Averno), and a bottle of Maraschino liqueur just to have on hand at home.

What did we make for dinner?
We made one of our best loved and simple meals, 
Spaghetti all' amatriciana , arugula salad  with a Chianti.
( it's a good thing we bought that guanciale!)
There were fresh white peaches for dessert.

A few tips before shopping at Formaggio Kitchen 
 First, be sure to have a shopping list! It is so easy to get carried away!
There is cool stuff everywhere....a treasure hunt.
The people  that work there are knowledgeable, so ask for help and advice.
The other thing I can tell you is at some point you must 
"Resist, resist," or your wallet could  readily be emptied!!!
Everything is just so delish!