Thursday, 18 November 2010

I Love Dinosaurs

Aia! Last night we went to see our new landlord to sign the contract for the new house. The man can talk. He told me in English that he likes to "chatter" and certainly he does. After about an hour there it was about 10pm and he had only just asked us if we would like to see the contract.
Would we?
Yes we would!
We didn't get home until 1am.

He's been very kind actually, despite his verbosity he seems like a nice chap; thorough to the extreme but perhaps that's not such a bad thing when we're looking at contracts.  He took a shine to A and I when we went to look around and so he's holding the flat for us for a month so that we don't have to pay two rents.

Fortunately we signed the contract before he discovered I'm not free at the moment to teach private lessons. He wants me to teach his daughter and her friends after school. This week I organised my first one and it finishes at 9pm. I don't think I want too many more. Socialising is difficult this year!
(Sorry peeps. You are all just going to have to stop working mornings like me and we can have some fun.)

Obviously all these mornings free are very nice for lie ins and a good compensation for working evenings but on my own I seem to be watching far too much America's Next Top Model. I think I'm addicted (especially after watching them get helplessly lost in Milan - come on guys the metro's not that complicated!). I need help because there are 15 seasons and I've still got.... 13 and a half seasons left to watch...

If only it would stop raining. Still that's not preventing me from exercising. I have been learning and choreographing some wicked new songs to use with the students. The Octopus one gets us all out of breath (a lot of wiggling and squiggling) but I have a feeling it's nothing compared to the new Dinosaur song that is brewing.

As I stood in my empty classroom at 2pm, bored, I decided to work out the moves for it and learn the tune. Was so busy working out how to work in "The dinosaurs were big and fast" with some amazing T Rex style moves (to be done in a circle with preferably at least 8 kids) that I forgot the windows are big.

Outside there was a middle aged lady waiting for someone. She was watching me. She was not amused. It took the wind out of my sails. Briefly.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Madonna with Cat


This week I have been reading The Story of Art and I particularly liked this picture. It made me want to paint a golden madonna of my own with awkward perspective.

The inspiration was found in a picture of A's sister with (deceased) cat Micky.

The cat was so hard to draw I had to grid it up to get it right. I thought the sheer quantity of cat paintings by amateur artists meant cats are easy to paint. I was wrong!


I chose my colours.

I painted in my tones to check the balance (but forgot the floor).

I wanted gold...

...and light.

But the cat's eyes were too scary.

That's better!

Disclaimer: This blogpost has nothing to do with Italy other than the fact that the painting that inspired me was by an Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi and you can find it in the Uffizi in Florence.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Painting for Nonno G

Nonno G likes his bike, his vegetables and his allotment.


I started drawing this painting of an old guy A snapped in Monza in the park with his bike, but as I painted I thought more and more of Nonno G. So in a way this painting has become a tribute, if you will, to him and if you can dedicate paintings like films i would dedicate it to Nonno G.

Truth is, Nonno G isn't doing so well. For some time now he's had brain cancer. He was still out biking to the allotment but recently his lack of motor capacity has kept him in bed.

We've been going to visit him, we sit in there and ask him a few questions and try and answer them for him. He can't really talk any more other than 'si' or 'no' so whatever small talk I had is fairly useless. His dialect was always difficult to understand and it hasn't got any easier.


This time I complimented him on his shiny new hospital bed in the dining room, with it's clever raising and lowering mechanisms.
Turns out I'm not the only one to admire it. Sophia, his Granddaughter, has also got her covetous eye on it.

 "When you die Grandad can I have your bed?"

Sophia is six.

Where would he be without his women? His family are taking great care of him. His daughter is round with the three grand-kids all the time. Granddaughter II (Elena) is a comfort to him. She's always cuddling him and trying to help and making him eat. Since he has been declared terminally ill he's been very depressed and so it's great to see him smile with her.

Nonna B's got a great sense of humour and  incredible strength, literally and figuratively. She's a woman of a different world, you can see she's as tough as old boots and no stranger to hard work. She's also uncompromisingly straightforward and realistic.

Example 1) "Laura, sei ingrassata, ti sta bene."
Example 2) "MANGIA! MANGIA! MANGIA!"
Example 3) When Zio (uncle) had his book launch he brought back the floral table centre piece for Nonna. Unfortunately it looked a bit like something you would lay on top of a coffin. She chuckled and said she would go and put it at the head of Grandad's bed. We laughed nervously, in a "well you said it first" kind of way.

Aunty R hasn't stopped teasing him either. He kissed A's hand good bye the other day as he couldn't kiss his cheeks and Aunty R was laughing at him for pretending to be the Godfather. Poor chap. We said "see you next week" and he waved at Aunty R dramatically.

 "He wants to say 'he'll see you again if the great lord doesn't open the gates of heaven before then,'" she said with such a funny tone that even that was a lighter moment in a sad situation.


When Nonna B and Nonno G got married they were so poor that the car in the wedding photograph that they are posing with isn't even theirs. They grew up in Veneto and so Nonna B is an expert in cooking "poor people's food" as she calls it. (Nonna B was talking about feeding Germans polenta the other day while she did their washing. In my naivety I thought she meant tourists!) They often marvel to me that nowadays you can eat this kind of food in fancy restaurants. They emigrated from Veneto to Piedmont in search of work in the fields and for eventually for FIAT. They managed to get enough money and stability so that two generations on A. is the first of the family to get university educated.

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