European landscapes

European landscapes this time! A tiny taste of something more exotic (depending of course on where you live).

Scooterscape; acrylic on linen panel, 20x25cm, Was $300, now $270

Colourful Rome in summer. Painted plaster walls, lime green foliage, cheeky scooters dodging cars, or lining the streets. There is energy and beauty in the simplest streetscape.

Centuries apart; acrylic on linen panel, 25x20cm, Was $300, Now $270

The juxtaposition of ancient and ‘old’ is everywhere in very old (built) civilisations. In Rome it stands out because the ancient is literally crumbling! The stones have stories to tell as is often said. Unfortunately I can’t tell you which wall this is or where we were at the time, but the contrast and tension between these two edifices as they seem to stand nose to nose is almost palpable. The shiver of blue between them highlights their near connection.

Piazza del Popolo; acrylic on linen panel, 25x20cm, Was $300, Now $270

This Piazza was remarkable to me because I saw it in a quick glimpse as we passed the huge archway. My snapshots captured the architecture and I conjured up the people, including the colourful tourist who reminds me of a friend as she stands waiting for someone.

These three paintings were developed from photographs taken from the bus window as I left Rome when a holiday regrettably had to be cancelled. Happy relics however. I hope you like them too!


Europe: from balcony, bus window and roadside

That’s the title for my next outing at Mockingbird Lounge, Glenelg (in Adelaide). I have a hallway space – hanging  tomorrow. Today I will share with you my paintings inspired by Rome, or at least by my photographs of Rome.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Centuries apart, Rome

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Piazza del Popolo, Rome

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

The pines of Rome

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

Colours of Rome

What a taming effect working from photographs has! It is difficult to ignore the camera’s “truth” in favour of the imaginative inner eye. Working outdoors opens up so many more possibilities – nuances of colour, changing light, the excitement of fleeting visions. The sheer pressure of being out there, the time limit, the silent battles all add something to the dynamics of painting. That’s what got me thinking about the power of the camera’s image.

Today when I gathered all my recent European works to glaze and put in their frames, some them cried out for more attention. They needed strengthening a bit tonally or colour-wise – just a bit more punch.  I had most trouble with “Colours of Rome” (above) which was the first one I started, almost the day after our return. I was super-keen to work in parallel with my colleagues in Rome, to reduce the disappointment somehow. This one still feels like a picture, Oh well.

There they are. From the ashes of our visit to Rome.

I have to say that Rome in the daylight is another place altogether! For me it is good to see something positive emerge from our brief non-stay. I don’t think there is any pain visible. Do you?

Off to Rome? Don’t bother with Gallienus Chain

They won’t bother with you.

Even a little bit of bothering would have helped at 11.45pm a couple of Saturdays ago.

It had been quite a day. The first delayed-departure announcement from the cockpit sent a shiver of ‘oh no’ through my fellow traveller. I was more optimistic. The airline knew we were hoping to make a connection. About an hour on the tarmac was do-able. We needed to wait but also take on more fuel for the expected circling (another hour) over London.  A chemical fire on an industrial estate bordering Heathrow had caused runway closures. All flights in and out were late. It was all about queues and English people do that well.

Our onward flight to Rome was delayed to gather people from other northern airports, so we were all relieved to take off eventually. Also on the plane was a large group of Italian teenagers. They must have numbered 20 (sounded like 40). Even turbulence didn’t sit them down or shut them up. (I tried to say “silenced” there). My offsider is a seasoned teacher so the yelling and parading in the aisles didn’t bother him. I was seconds away from standing up and delivering a terse message.

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC)
[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
The youngsters applauded and cheered when we landed in Rome. Their youthful exuberance really left me cold, but it was good to have arrived, even if about 3 hours late. We were in Rome so I could paint for the week with my colleague, plein-air artist Kelly Medford. We had been carting my art materials and equipment through Europe and the UK and even adding to the supplies, chiefly for this concentrated week of outdoor painting. It added about 5 kg to the total weight, mostly in linen panels and the wooden paint box.

Non-arrival of baggage was a common problem that evening. We joined the very slow queue at the baggage counter. Many people were advised to wait ‘only’ another hour or so for the next flight in from LHR. Luckily our bags turned up on another carousel. As it was about 9.30pm by then, the baggage assistant agreed to phone our accommodation to let them know of our late arrival. She reported that no-one answered – just as it had been when we phoned and emailed from the UK, but she assured us that the custom was for reception desks to be open in Rome until midnight.

On through customs or whatever it is you have to do when you are on your last legs, and then out to find the bus into Rome.

On arrival in the city sometime after 11pm we headed through the railway station towards Gallienus, more in hope than certainty. It was a hot night and the end of a very long day. Visualise two “older” people (last photo on my previous post), who’d had nothing to eat or drink since about 4pm. We were dragging two cases each (63kg between us) across the 20cm rough stone cubes that make up the cobblestones of Roman streets. I am sure the gaps were wheel size.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Three of the four cases, early Saturday am on English paving; 53 kg here.

Gallienus Chain might as well not have existed. There was no-one to answer the door or the bell. Despite all the unlocking and roaming, our phones were not friendly. Thankfully a young local resident made a couple of phone calls in Italian on our behalf. The telephone number listed on the bell directed him to a second number which directed him back to the first. After a lot of head-shaking, he eventually spoke to someone. That person had closed up shop and was now two hours away from Rome. He had no knowledge of our booking. Suggestion: we could wait two hours for him to return or phone him in the morning!

Fhhrrrzzz… The sound of deflated hope and creeping despair.

We headed out to find a bed for the night. We passed homeless people and people who wanted unnamed things from us. Not named in English anyway. Spruikers and con-men seemed to emerge in the yellowish light. It was clearly a bad part of town. Our fear must have been palpable, our exhaustion obvious. We were vulnerable.

We were homeless.

Our choice of accommodation was based on a few things. Budget was primary. Secondly, because we were on the last leg of a three month holiday we were pulling all our baggage (63kg). Proximity to the railway station seemed sensible and also for easy transport to painting locations. Thirdly, Gallienus Chain was on the recommended list of our credit card provider’s travel page. Hmm.

Do you have a feeling this didn’t end well? It didn’t. We left Rome about 14 hours later.

Home safely and two weeks later it is settling into the status of a bad dream.

Just don’t bother with Gallienus Chain, that’s all.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

three virtual friendships

An exciting week in which the virtual intersected happily with the actual three times!

It started on Monday when I received a lovely package of art from my friend PC at little bits of sheffield and steelcitystatic. Wonderful images of street art around Sheffield (and from the Peak district). Many seen on-screen, now held in hand! How amazing that seems, and a touch of handwriting too. Thank you for your generous gift PC.

And then this morning, an invitation from Kelly Medford. Kelly has asked a number for friends to join her to paint in Rome in October 2013.  As a virtual friend, I got a huge kick out of this! Have you seen Kelly’s blog? She is currently undertaking 120 consecutive days of painting in Italy and creating some wonderful pieces under this pressure. All 6×8″ and done with gear that she packs on a bicycle!

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

Here we are closing the studio on Sunday arvo. Free for other things!
So, it was off to town today to see some art. First stop, the National Wine Centre to see the Kangaroo Island Fine Art show on the theme of “Coast and Seagrass Meadows.” The lovely Fleur Peters from Kangaroo Island Fine Art Gallery remembered me from our last meeting in Kingscote in May when I was with my brother (the islander). As we spoke a little more and I mentioned some info from facebook, a big happy wave of recognition passed over Fleur’s face. She then said “Now I know who you are!” She knew my online persona more than my offline one!

So, three nice surprises in one week! How refreshing life can be.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

I see now that this person is actually taking in refreshment of a different sort. Perhaps the time had come.

How about you. Have you had similar happy intersections of the virtual and the real?