I’ve painted outdoors and I’ve painted indoors… on location and in studios all over the world. People often ask me: Which do I prefer? Is one more authentic? Is the other easier? Over the years I’m thinking it is all up to the individual, what gets you stoked as a painter, what inspires your process.
Izmir to Berlin in three hours… flying across time and cultures to meet John and Renzo… why not?
While we were off in Turkey, John spent September in Berlin, working on the final edit of our film Terroir at studios in Prenzlauer Berg.
It was Sandra’s first trip to Berlin, but certainly not my first.
At the age of 17, my mother escaped from the former East Germany through Berlin. Leaving her family and friends behind, she embarked on a daring journey with only a suitcase and fled on a ship to Canada.
I traveled with my mother to visit relatives in East Germany several times over the years and was in East Berlin in October of 1989, just days before the wall came down. I returned twenty years later and finally made my peace with all the heartache and trauma that tormented my mother’s side of the family.
It was only fitting that now, on this trip and with my mother in mind, I would return again with a bittersweet joy.
My mother would have marveled at the nature of the city’s renaissance. Berlin is a tribute to the re-generative spirit of human kind – to be able to rise out of the rubble of destruction and boldly live again.
Creativity abounds here… the city itself is an open-air exhibition of ideas and innovation, truly anything goes.
Our days were spent perusing galleries and museums in Kreutzberg and Mitte…
Johnny dragging us all across Berlin…
…but pausing often for kaffee.
A highlight for us when in Berlin is visiting with our dear friend and truly local artist Bernhard “Vinz” Steuernthal.
His home/studio in Charlottenburg is a work of art in itself and is nothing less than fabulous.
He is currently working towards shows in Hannover and in China, and having a very successful year.
It was Vinz who years ago introduced us, through friends, to Molino, our home in Tuscany.
Always a treat to have a “Helles” with him, good conversation about his life and art in what is truly a “world city”.
Leaving Berlin, our BMW packed full!
Visit the Website of Bernhard Steuernthal.
It was the first weekend in July and for the last 23 years I’ve been in Laguna Beach for the opening of the Festival of Arts. This weekend was a bit of a departure for me: not only was I not in California, but still in Tuscany and still filming the last scenes for our indie film Terroir.
We found ourselves back in Borro… that is the Il Borro Estate owned by the Ferragamo Family. John had asked Salvatore Ferragamo to do a cameo role for Terroir, and he kindly agreed.
The medieval hamlet of Il Borro and its gorgeous Villa originally brought us to Tuscany and the Val d’Arno area. John was filming at the estate in the summer of 1999, where met and filmed with the young Salvatore Ferragamo, who manages the Estate. After several conversations, dinners, wine and grappa, John informed me that we were going to rent one of the Borro village apartments… Salvatore generously included a studio for me to paint.
We lived in Borro for over two years, had our wedding party there. I had numerous workshops and painted prolifically while we were there. Living there was a dream, and until our old mill house aka Molino found us, we were quite content.
Now fast forward 10 years and our return. Salvatore did a fantastic job, playing a character not far from himself – a premiere winemaker.
We filmed early mornings on the estate and were fortunate to have another guest appearance: his Polo Pony, Azul, who was by the way, a natural in front of the camera!
The cantinas are fabulous and make a marvelous set! The Borro Estate Winery has over 45 hectares of vineyards that produce varietals such as Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot. And we have the prviledge of introducing the estate’s next wine in “Terroir” – a 100% Syrah with a very unique label!
If you are considering a memorable vacation in Tuscany, do look up Il Borro. Words alone cannot give a full description to the beauty and majesty of this Tuscan Estate. You will simply have to see for yourself.
Ten years at our Tuscan Molino (mill house).
It was ten years ago that we took The Leap and became owners of Molino Le Gualchiere.
Living in a 500-year-old stone house has been a profound experience. Lying in bed, under an ancient roof, I often think of what was transpiring on the planet at the time the first stones were laid to make the foundations for this house. All the events of human history that have passed over the years. The souls that have lived here, have come and have gone…. fortunately, left nothing but good vibrations all through the house.
I am overflowing with gratitude for the experience of owning a home in Tuscany. What I really have come to discover is, that we don’t really own this house…. we have bought the privilege of taking care of this house for at best 30 years. I have given my heart over to this house of stone, and as I like to say about my Muse, Bird the crow, I don’t really have a house in Tuscany… a house in Tuscany has me.
I suppose one could write a book about our adventures in Tuscany, as each day presents new challenges, joys and frustrations. It would be too easy, and certainly has been done before. Our family and friends have heard or witnessed them all, so perhaps its best to let my paintings and photographs tell the story. A little Salute to Molino and of course, our Cari Amici, those friends of kindness who have been there and helped us over the years. Grazie Mille.
Prego, have a look through the slideshow…
Related: Tuscany paintings
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The most beautiful Tuscan November in memory and Villa Petrolo in all her autumnal beauty. An ideal backdrop for my husband John Charles Jopson’s new movie “Terroir”, an independent film based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” – on which I am serving as Art Director as well as Producer along with Carlo Dusi.
Actor Keith Carradine (in the role of wine producer Jonathan Bragg) – and his lovely wife Hayley DuMond – arrived for a costume fitting and went right into filming as inclement weather was imminent. Completion of filming happily coincided with (American) Thanksgiving Day, so we held our wrap party for the nearly year-long production there at the villa.
Villa Petrolo resides on the eastern foothills of Chianti with spectacular views of the Valdarno and Pratomagno mountains.
…the perfect Villa to spend your Tuscan holiday or shoot a film. I held a painting workshop here 9 years ago and it was most inspirational. Autumn light here is exquisite, the surrounding forests, vineyards and olive groves paint a picture of their own. We were warmly welcomed by owners Luca and Sabina Sanjust, and Petrolo staff Nada and Marco, and felt an energy of creative freedom throughout the property.
It’s not surprising to find out that Villa Petrolo has become a favorite destination for British Prime Minister David Cameron and super star chef Jamie Oliver.
Sets needed to be dressed and of course feeding a hungry cast and crew took priority for my role as Producer.
Our “gorilla” film-making friends Toni and Guido were infinitely helpful. Toni worked intensely as script supervisor, and Guido as gaffer… as well as expert Tuscan chef… complimenti Tonia e Guido!
Over half the film was shot in the ancient wine cellars of the Petrolo cantina – a fitting location for this Edgar Allan Poe story. The original short story on which “Terroir” is based was also set in the cantina of an Italian villa.
Our friend and photographer Federico Caponi captured every moment and shared these images with us:
On the 22nd, after a long day filming in the wine cellars, Jamie Oliver and his “Fifteen” team invited the entire cast and crew of Terroir to join them for dinner…
Jo Cooke organized a wine tasting for one of the scenes in the Petrolo salon featuring wines from the Jo Cooke Wine Selections. Great wines were poured, with Luca Sanjust generously pouring several more bottles of Petrolo’s precious “Galatrona”. Naturally a great scene ensued…
The November Tuscan Sunshine played a major role as well…..
Keith and Gaetano performed marvelously, each scene meticulously crafted by John.
Keith Carradine on a spectacular Thanksgiving afternoon, 24 November 2011
Renzo, “Prince of the Villa” and Petrolo Landscape, photos by Hayley DuMond
”King Oak” on set of “Terroir” in Jonathan Bragg’s sitting room.
It’s a Wrap” Thanksgiving Dinner… our bellissimi cast and crew, staff and family of Villa Petrolo
we give thanks to you all!
Photos by Federico Caponi
With the 23rd of September, Summer 2011 was officially over, but here in Tuscany we are experiencing an unusually warm and dry autumn… making for perfect conditions to harvest the wine grapes, or as the Italians call it: Vendemmia. John, Renzo and I returned to Tuscany after a long working summer in California, and were able to take some pleasure in an additional summer here. We resumed production on John’s latest independent – and wine themed – movie “Terroir” which stars Keith Carradine and Gaetano Guarino along with members of John’s Florentine acting ensemble . Naturally such a film requires footage of the vendemmia, so off to San Gimignano, where the grape harvest was well underway…
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