There is a little stream with a levy build around it that is down the street from my AirBnB. This morning, I intended to find a Piazza or some obvious public place in which to paint but was arrested by the view of the apartments buildings that sit along the banks of the stream.
The stream is the Mugnone. Originally, Florence was founded at the convergence of the Arno and Mugnone Rivers. But, apparently, the Mugnone was redirected when the city walls were erected in the 1200’s. It’s funny because I almost didn’t even take the trouble to look up the name of the stream. It could very well have been a drainage ditch from the looks of it. I’m glad I did.
When I set out to paint this morning, I thought about going to the historic center because it seemed a bit silly to me to be in Florence and not to paint things that are iconically Florentine – the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, etc. But, as I set out, it struck me how much I feel as though I were at home in Washington, DC, setting out to paint in Mount Pleasant, my neighborhood. In DC, I don’t paint the Washington Monument. I paint, mostly, my immediate surroundings. So, why should I act differently in Florence?
In my blogs during these Sept and Oct travels, my intention is to flesh out, both for myself and anyone else who is interested, what I make and why it matters. So, on the topic of “what I make:” I make plein air paintings of my everyday environment. I’m interested in the beauty that is present in my immediate surroundings and everyday life. I’m interested in the abstract qualities of those scenes, and I represent them realistically because I want people to know what I’m looking at.
Fun story about today’s painting too: A motherly, gregarious Italian lady walked up to me while I was painting. She was carrying a tray with a full espresso cup and fixings. She introduced herself as Paola and pointed out to me her home on the bank of the Mugnone (not shown in my painting) and her cat in the window. And she *offered me the coffee*. This is how it should be everywhere. Citizens of the world take note. In Italy they do it right. They see an artist and bring her coffee.