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.
October has come and gone, and with it the last of Tuscany’s balmy weather… fall colors are slowly making their appearance. Now with November’s rains here in Tuscany I am able to immerse myself in the studio.. wistful, now, however for a little sunshine!
It was a glorious sunny day when we filmed out last scenes of Terroir earlier this summer at Il Borro’s Vin Cafe, an appropriate wine tasting scene which featured Salvatore Ferragamo, his friends and Terroir actor Gaetano Guarino.
We first met Azul in July, where she was a scene-stealer during our principal photography with Salvatore at the Borro.
I recently spent a happy afternoon taking photos of Azul that I will use for references. Within moments she began to reveal her character, what I truly hope to capture in her portrait.
Animals, and horses in particular, were my favorite subjects when I was oil painting as a kid.
To this day, I still paint animals whenever I can. Check out the animal and still life paintings in my Flora and Fauna Gallery on my website.
….and a private vernissage with Salvatore and his artist-to-be Wanda…
One of my fondest memories of living at Il Borro is the sight of the Chianina cattle grazing on the rolling hills of the estate’s countryside.
Salvatore Ferragamo first introduced me to the Chianine of Borro years ago. Alvaro, a farmer on the estate, had a beauty that he kept in one of the old farmhouses. When we were filming at the estate recently I asked Salvatore if I could have a private visit with the herd, and I was delighted to see them once again, now multiplied several-fold.
They are a gorgeous breed of cattle, indigenous to the Tuscany region where they have been raised for over 2200 years.
Originally bred as beasts of burden, they are now in high demand for their very tasty and lean meat. The famous Bistecca Fiorentina should be made of a T-bone cut from none other than the Chianina. Seeing them here in this noble setting it was difficult for me to think of them as simply meat on the hoof.
I have created countless paintings of these lovely creatures.
I feel a deep connection with these animals… the sight of them evokes to me a Tuscany of another era.
Their distinctive white color, elegant profile and shape of their horns make me think back even further, to the origins of human life in Europe and the advent of agriculture, as the stunning, recently discovered cave paintings of Lascaux demonstrate.
Some of the many Chianine in the Ferragamo’s herd…
Related: Tuscany paintings
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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.