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.
After filming, Salvatore asked me if I would paint a portrait of his favorite polo pony Azul.
I’ve painted several of the Ferragamo’s hunting dogs over the years, commissions I have done with pleasure.
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…
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…
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.
After more than 23 summers at the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts, times are a changing and I am moving on. It was not an easy decision to relinquish my exhibitor’s space at the Festival as I have spent almost half of my life’s summers there. Many of those involved with the Festival are like family to me, and I will miss their company. I am greatly indebted to the Festival of Arts. As a fledgeling artist, it gave me the opportunity to make a career of the Labor I Love. My heartfelt thanks goes out to those dedicated people who have made the Festival what it is today: A piece of California’s history that for 80 years has done much to promote and sustain the Arts in Laguna Beach.
My decision has allowed me to spend more time with my family and has opened up new opportunities to paint the summer light of Tuscany and Provence and also complete the production of some additional scenes for our independent film, Terroir, directed by my husband John Charles Jopson.
As I’m both the Producer and the Art Director, I consider Terroir my biggest work yet!
We’ll be editing for the rest of the summer, and into the autumn in Berlin, then in December it’s back to Ealing Studios in London for final post-production.
And a spectacular explosion of color from this spring’s poppies coincided with my completion of this large commission for dear clients in Texas…
Those visiting Laguna Beach this summer and expecting to find me at the Festival of Arts can see my work in the Summer 2012 Group Coastal Show at Gallery McCollum, which runs from June 23 through the end of summer.
Later in the summer I’ll be returning to the Hollister Ranch Hoedown benefit where this year 50% of the proceeds of the Art Show will go toward the Hollister Ranch Fire Company. Then on August 25th I’ll have my solo show No Bad Paintings, No Bad Waves at Gallery McCollum featuring a book signing with Mickey Muñoz.
And of course you can always visit my Virtual Gallery to see my latest paintings available for purchase online – a few of which are featured below…
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…
…an easy dinner for eighty – consisting of traditional Tuscan “arrosto”
…and Luca provided all the Galatrona we could drink!
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.
John, Renzo and Keith sit for a press interview at the end of a long day.
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!
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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