Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The trip has come to an end, and I will be home in Billings in two days.  Last night the Villa prepared an amazing Thanksgiving meal for us.  They had a 33 pound turkey, cooked potatoes, pasta, appetizers, bread, eggplant, stuffing, green beans, jam instead of cranberries, wine, sangria, and chocolate pie for dessert.  It was an incredible meal.  We hung up art from printmaking and drawing, and Rossella invited several of her friends from the community to attend.  Roberto and his sister came also as well as Antonella, Catia our Italian teacher and her family, Marina, and others.  I sang while Ben accompanied me on guitar, and we gave gifts to the family and staff at the Villa for being so kind to us over the past several weeks.

Everyone seemed to be in an excellent mood, and it was a great way to close the trip.  Meg put together a slide show which included pictures from the entire trip.  It really hit me how much we have done and seen over the past few months, and I found myself remembering the highlights of the trip.  I particularly enjoyed the first two weeks of travel.  While they were exhausting, I felt I saw so many things I have wanted to see for years, and I consider myself very lucky that I was able to experience all that I did on this trip.  One of my favorite parts of each day at the Villa was the runs Maggie, Johan, and occasionally Ashley, Meg, and Melissa P. would take.  We would cross over into the town of Migiana and run up hill through town and down back around the Villa.  While most drivers seemed to think we were crazy, it was one of the only times I didn't feel like a tourist.  Running in Italy is one of the things I will miss the most.

While this trip is not at all what I expected, and not entirely wonderful, I am very happy I came.  I do not think I would want to live in Italy, but I respect what I experienced.  It is a great place with so much culture and history, and it made me think a lot about myself, my goals, and my place in the world.  The trip helped me remember to be thankful for all that I have and the many wonderful people in my life, and it also encouraged my love of travel.  While I do not think I will pursue Drawing, Art History, or Printmaking as professions, I loved learning about all of them.  I know this experience has made me wiser, more thoughtful, and more aware of myself in many ways.  With that, I know it was absolutely a worthwhile journey.
The most meaningful part of this entire trip has been working with Damiana Pinti, an Italian opera singer who is friends with Rossella.  She is absolutely incredible.  I have never had a teacher that is so effective.  She is quite demanding, but never mean and very patient with me.  We have primarily been working on my breathing, and she is teaching me how inefficiently I breathe.  Lessons with Damiana are incredibly mentally and physically exhausting, and I spend large parts of my two hour lessons lying on the floor in a yoga pose, standing against the wall with one leg in the air, or trying my best to sing in extremely awkward positions.  Her methods are a completely new to me, but I love them.  By the end of my lesson I am completely hoarse, but during my lesson I can always hear a difference in my sound.  

photo courtesy of Ashley Abraham

Damiana constantly tells me how poor her English is, although I think I communicate with her better than any other teacher I have had.  She has taught me so much in such a short amount of time, and I will miss her very much.  She picked out a piece for me by Bellini, from Romeo and Juliet.  She says my voice is perfect for the piece, as my it is very youthful like Juliet.  I am hoping I can sing the piece for my Senior recital.  Damiana has also helped me a great deal with my Italian.  Working with Damiana has made my trip to Italy so worthwhile, and I am so greatful for the experience.  
Completing my plate was quite a challenge, and my fingers and neck are killing me.  I am mostly satisfied with how it turned out, although I started carving out a section of my linoleum, originally thinking that I wanted it white.  I changed my mind, so I do have a "mistake" that I am going to try to fix by covering it with thick paper.  Eva has expressed her doubts, and I am hoping that if I cannot get a clean print here, I can take the plate home and find a way to fix the problem.

photo courtesy of Maggie Weber

Printing went alright.  As Eva anticipated, the white spot on my plate was not easy to cover up.  I tried several different methods of printing, and while I was able to fix some of it, the spot still showed up.  I am planning on a more permanent fix back in Billings.  The whole process is very interesting though, and I really enjoy the freedom I have with the finished product.  I have started making smaller prints and changing colors.  I especially enjoy my print in a dark red/brown, and I played around with some double prints too.
I was more than ready to return back to Villa life after our long break in Sardegna.  While it was beautiful, the weather was not, and we may have had just a little too much time on our hands.  The night before we left our power went out, which made attempting to pack and clean up very interesting.  I was eager to have great food, a comfortable bed, clean clothes, and meet the our final professor.

Eva is from Dillon, and she is teaching printmaking.  While I am excited to get started, I am also very nervous, as I have never carved into linoleum before.  Eva had us do some preliminary sketches and spoke to each one of us individually about our idea.  She was very pleased with mine, gave me some suggestions and told me to begin.

I started by sketching my design on my linoleum, and began with the straight-edged tool.  My design was very detailed, but after about half an hour, I felt I had a working technique.  Today I worked on my piece for about four hours, and I managed to carve out about an inch of space.  I have a feeling I will be spending several hours in the studio over the weekend.
I was correct in that it is not any fun hiking three miles into town and back.  Gonessa does not have much to offer either.  We went to several different "gorcery stores" to find very limited supplies.  Fruit, potatoes, nutella, water, cereal, eggs, and candy for Halloween of course-that was our big buy.  Fortunately we had some left over food from our trip into Iglesias, and we were doing well with making meals with pasta, potatoes, and whatever else we could throw together.

The weather hasn't been great, while walking back from town we were rained on, and the gloominess has continued into the start of the week. We've heard things should clear up later in the week, and I am hopeful as I would like to get a little sun! We are also planning a Halloween celebration! Going into town for some more Halloween "supplies".

Halloween was a blast! We watched Halloween MTV all day in Italian, which is about all we can understand and had fun last night, finishing the evening with "Zombieland".  We did well to make it as American as possible.
Break in Sardegna!!!!!!!! Our beach house on Porto Paglia was amazing! We were about 150 yards from the beach.  Maggie, Meg, Marianne, Melissa P., Jase, Josh, Ben, Katie, Ashley, and I flew out of Perugia into Cagliari.  We then bused to the train station, took a train to Iglesias, and took a cab right up to our house.  It was an exhausting day of travel, but we made it!

It is wonderful to be in my bikini in late October.  The water is crystal clear, and while the weather is not exactly mid-summer hot, it is pleasant lounging around in a two-piece.  Ben, Katie, Ashley and I are in a house together.  Ashley and I are sharing the upstairs loft, which has a queen size bed and little else.  The houses are very nice, including a bathroom, fridge, stove, sink, TV, and small diswhasher.  We plan on walking into town to get groceries tomorrow.  I am not very excited for that, as it is a three mile walk to the nearest town of Gonessa.
Our time with Julia has come to an end, and tomorrow we will have the critique of our art.  I have spent quite a while on each piece, and for the most part I am happy with them.  My personal mythology and landscape are my most successful pieces, and I feel I actually grew in my abilities with water color.  The most successfu aspect of my landscape is the Italian-style roof.  While approximately two weeks is not much time to learn a lot about drawing or painting, I did take away some useful knowledge about using charcoal and eraser.  I am excited for critique tomorrow, and even more excited for BREAK!