Susan's sketchbook log: Tuscany


Under the Tuscan Spell

Another highlight of my hotel room is that there's a view to paint from dawn to gaudy sunsets.

In fact, there seems to be a paintable view pretty much everywhere. Day trips to Montepulciano and Pienza and Perugia and Arezzo provide new scenes, but Cortona, despite it's overexposure (there's now a "Tuscan Sun" festival) and Universities of Georgia and Alberta programs, keeps pleasing me and is a pretty good base.

pigmentsIn Arezzo, I go into an art supply store. Up on the shelf are big old bottles of pigment. I have a sense of stepping into Vermeer's world ("Girl with a Pearl Earring"), where the girl gets sent down to the apothecary to buy lapis lazuli, which then has to be ground and mixed.

The woman in the store tells me its sold by 100 grams and can be mixed with either water or oil. When I ask to take a photo, the look on her face says my Italian has gone bezerk: I can't really be asking to take a picture? But in the end, she even turns a few labels around for me!

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