I hope this finds you all well, warm and creating. What a wonderful year it has been for us here at the farm studio in Shelton, and elsewhere in the world. Lots of improvements and adventures!
Paul & I spent several months in Mexico last winter and spring, first at our wonderful place by the sea near Sayulita and winding up with a month living in our new favorite place in Mexico – Patzcuaro, where I painted almost every day. It is high in the mountains, with beautiful plazas and light... I kept thinking I was in Italy - but when I spoke Italian they didn't quite understand me.
As soon as we returned home in early April, old friends from Sayulita who are professional remodelers came to visit in their motor home, and stayed for two months to turn the studio into a splendid place! We miraculously leveled the floor enough to lay beautiful tile, put in some new windows and lights, finished and painted and perfected everything. Pete and Sharon are good friends and meticulous craftsmen, so it was a pleasure working with them. And the result of all that work is a joy to behold - and work in!
The studio was finished just in time for the June figure workshop, which was attended by a nice mix of new and familiar students. Everyone worked hard on anatomical and figure studies, and did some good creative work as well. As always, the camaraderie and great food of Paul’s lunches were enjoyed by all.
Cataract surgery in August gave me back youthful eyesight. It seemed, afterwards, like the world had been washed clean…., brighter colors, crystalline light, sparkling edges – without glasses! My surgeon did a wonderful job and I am grateful.
Besides painting, sculpting and teaching, Paul and I thoroughly enjoyed planting, tending, and harvesting our vegetable garden last summer, and we put in some new flower beds as well. Gardening and art are my counterbalancing therapists… feet on the ground and head in the clouds!
In late October we travelled to Italy with my sister and a friend. My sis and I have November birthdays six days apart and we celebrated them together in Italy. It was her first opportunity to spend time there and after a few days on Lake Como, we travelled by train to Venice and Florence, visited Davide and a few other of my favorite things there, then explored Umbria and Tuscany in a car, ending up in Roma for a few days. On Nov. 8 we all took the train up to Venice and moved into our home for a month – a top floor apartment looking out on S. Giorgio, S. Maria della Salute, and the Grand Canal. Venice is perhaps my favorite place in the world, besides the farm, and Paul and I had dreamed for years of living there with a kitchen… and a daily life. It was fantastic! I didn’t do as much painting as I’d hoped, but took lots of photos for future reference while exploring the alleys, canals, vistas, homes and neighborhoods of Venice. We befriended sculptors, painters and maskmakers, and lived through the worst flooding in 25 years. For two weeks I attended 4-hour per day intensive Italian classes, hoping to learn how to speak like an educated adult native. It was challenging, and an experience I hope to repeat. After leaving Venice on December 6, Paul and I spent a few days in my old hometown of Pietrasanta, and then up to Milano for our flight home. Paul and I just returned to the farm in time for snowy winter. Looks like a winter wonderland here, with more snow on the way tonight.
I’ve just posted the schedule of workshops in 2009. We look forward to sharing with you again the camaraderie and excitement of our quest to excel in figurative sculpture. This summer we have added a marble carving session in July, and for those who live near enough to attend, an evening life-drawing class in the spring and the fall. Besides being very enjoyable, drawing is a great help in both understanding the figure, and training your eye to see more accurately.
I wish you love and simple pleasures during this holiday season and the year to come. Buon Anno Nuovo, buon lavoro, buona vita!!
Cristina Shelton, WA January 2009