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[book street painting florence italy]
Above: Cover for book:
"My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy"

by Kelly Borsheim

Order the book today
(Click on the image above.)

Street Painting: The Art of the "Madonnari"

No one knows exactly where the art of street painting originated, other than in the Mediterranean region. Devotional drawings, usually of the Madonna, were drawn on the hard flat surfaces outside of the churches and in the open air, perhaps to slow the spread of plagues. This form of art in the street began to gain in popularity in Spain and in Italy. Hence, the Italian word for these street painters is Madonnari. (Madonnaro = one male artist; Madonnara = one female artist)

No streets were harmed in the making of this art. The Madonnari use chalks and pastels, but only pastels without oil. Pastel is pure pigment, which lends to the bright colors typical of these paintings in the streets. Sometimes the street painters will wash away their work of the day with water and a broom. And the next morning the street cleaners will drive their vehicles over the work, wet brushes spinning over the drawing and washing away the night's dirt and the dust. But some of the time, people prefer the pastel paintings to remain as long as Nature and man will allow. Street painters often rely on tips from tourists and locals alike, but for a few events, such as street painting festivals, artists are paid by organizations, businesses, or individuals to create their works.

Artist Kelly Borsheim began street painting in September 2007 while living in Florence, Italy. This page contains some of her works on Via Calimala in central Florence, not far from the famous Ponte Vecchio. You may hire her to do a street painting in your neighborhood for a special event or for no reason at all, save for fun and beauty. Contact the studio for availability and prices. Please note, that any and all of these images can be also painted on paper or canvas. The price will be higher, but the work will also be archival.

Interviews (including video) featuring Kelly and her work as a streetpainter:

Thank you for your support.
I hope you really enjoy the book
filled with street paintings in Italy.

[street painter]

Kelly poses with her broom
during a break in Florence, Italy.

Read more about Kelly's street painting experiences on her blog. [See Search bar on the right and enter 'Street Painting' or any topic of interest and see what comes up.]

Kelly has written a book: "My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy"

(over 350 images!)

Order from Amazon by clicking on the links below.
(You may also read some of the inside pages on this site.)

[street painting]

Kelly's first street painting in Florence, Italy

[art street painting]

"The Blue Madonna" by Carlo Dolci was recreated in the street.

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Kelly's before and after, painting like a sculptor

[art street painting]

Street painting in front of a Florentine parade.

[street painting]

from Michelangelo's Sistine Chappell

[art street painting]

The Libyan Sibyl

[street painting]

the lovely colors and depth of pastel painting

[art street painting]

the original art is attributed to Jacques Louis David

[street painting]

Kelly begins her drawing: light vs. dark

[art street painting]

After layers of pastels, blending creates a new effect.

[street painting]

Kelly at work on a Sassoferrato in Florence, Italy

[art street painting]

work-in-progress

[street painting]

[art street painting]

Caravaggio art

[street painting]

Kelly invites children to "help" her sometimes.

[art street painting]

original artist = Bouguereau

[street painting]

Botticelli's "Venus" (detail) in Florence, Italy

[art street painting]

There is beauty even in the destruction.

[street painting]

Batoni's Madonna with Child in Florence, Italy

[art street painting]

Street painting in progress by Kelly Borsheim

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Batoni's Madonna with Child in Florence, Italy

[street painting]

Bouguereau recreated in Florence, Italy

[art street painting]

Pastel painting as street art

[street painting]

Bouguereau recreated in Florence, Italy

[street painting]

Another sibyl from Michelangelo's Sistine Chappell

[art street painting]

Illegal merchants pass by behind Kelly and
a young budding artist. Photo by Ernesto Brosa

[street painting]

Street painting in Florence, Italy

[art street painting]

Note the grey wings are actually not painted - this is the color of the street

[street painting]

Street painting in Florence, Italy

Street Painting Festival - Nocera Superiore, Italia May 2009

[street painting]

Kelly works through the night.

[art street painting]

Theme that year: The Life of Saint Paul

[art street painting]

Part of the Florentine team, Kelly painted her first copy of a Rembrandt,
with minor changes to represent Saint Paul's second time in prison.

Florentine Politics and the Street Performing / Painting Taxes

[street painting]

Newspaper coverage of 'madonnari protesting tax raise in Florence, Italy

[art street painting]

'Il Comune' (City Hall) raises taxes for street painters.

[street painting]

Kelly is famous in Florence, Italy!

[art street painting]

'Madonnari' protest in Piazza della Signoria

Group Paintings in the Street

[street painting]

Recreating Botticelli's "la Primavera"
with colleagues Johnny (Ireland) and Geovane (Brasile)

[art street painting]

Kelly drew the left side.

[street painting]

Kelly's part of a group effort

[art street painting]

The second day of a two-day drawing

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Copy of Caravaggio with colleague Johnny

[art street painting]

Kelly starts drawing another Caravaggio, her colleagues arriving later.

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Detail of a Caravaggio street painting

[art street painting]

Group painting: Caravaggio's "Dinner at Emmaus"

[street painting]

Kelly chats with Iranian tourists in Florence, Italy

[art street painting]

Raphael's Madonna and Child with Farsi compliments
street painting by Johnny Grogan and Kelly Borsheim

[street painting]

Kelly starts the drawing of "Adam" after Michelangelo

[art street painting]

Chalking a part of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel

[street painting]

Street painting is a very physical art.
We start the drawing on all fours, to get the face drawn in more accurately.
Sitting, kneeling, stretching, standing up, standing back for a more objective look. The neck was the surprising sore area -- holding the weight of the head out horizontally most of the day.
The madonnari usually start around 10 a.m. and finish at midnight.

[art street painting]

Kelly and Johnny's street painting at midnight

[street painting] [art street painting]

2010 June - Raphael's "Madonna of the Chair" drawn with my colleague Johnny McGrogan


[street painting book Florence Italy]

Buy the Book My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy

Interested in Kelly's blog from Florence, Italy, and central Texas? Subscribe online at:
http://artbyborsheim.blogspot.com
(This is a different subscription list than the one for the art newsletter from Borsheim Arts Studio.)

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