These last couple of months have been a good time to regroup and reconnect. I was fortunate enough to have family visit me in Italy before we then traveled to Spain and Portugal together. These opportunities are rare and not-to-be-missed.
I want to share with you what I found lovely and different during my trip. I am writing now about the azulejo or blue and white ceramic tiles of Portugal. Blue, especially of the royal, cobalt, ultramarine variety, is my favorite color, but even so, it is hard for anyone to miss the azulejo. It is everywhere throughout Portugal! I had recently posted on Facebook an article about the history of the color blue in painting. It seems it was historically a very expensive color to manufacture, since the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli was one ingredient. It was used sparingly by artists until new ways of creating the hues were found. However, I asked everyone in Portugal who I thought might know the answer what inspired the color choice of blue over all of the colors available. No one really knew, but one tour guide said it is a color of royalty. I had always thought that was purple. Boh!
The origin of what has been a Mediterranean art for centuries is Islamic Africa. However, it really first took hold in Europe in Spain, especially in the southern regions of Seville and Granada. Islamic tradition forbids imagery of the figure and for this reason, centuries ago, the tile art found on the southwest Iberian Peninsula started off as geometric designs. When used to fill walls, the effect is stunning, but it can also be overwhelming to the senses.
Azulejos ceramic tile mural in Sintra train station, Portugal
The art moved into the area of decorative motifs and slowly one can see the addition of animals, often birds, with plant shapes. Later, in the 1800s, as Portuguese artists truly embraced this art form, the tiles became full-blown collective murals, depicting human figures and often telling stories of Portugal's history or even mythological tales.
The tiles were intended, like the affresci [frescoes] and tapestries in Italy, to decorate otherwise blank walls. However, they were also much appreciated for their insulation against extreme temperatures and humidity. [As you know, tiles are great for bathrooms and other typically humid areas in homes.]
Next to the public fountain, where we saw a lot of people bringing a lot of bottles to fill, the blue and white azulejos even decorate the signs in many languages that describe how Luso, Portugal became famous for its nearby forest Bussaco and its clean water supply.
Azulejos at the Buçaco Palace near Luso, Portugal
Azulejos at the Buçaco Palace [Bussaco in English] near Luso, Portugal
Azulejosat the Buçaco Palace near Luso, Portugal
Azulejos at the Buçaco Palace [Bussaco in English] near Luso, Portugal
View from the Train from Luso [really Coimbra] to Sintra:
Sintra [west of Lisbon], Portugal
My brother, his daughter, and I never made it into Lisbon, other than the taxi ride to the airport. Nearby Sintra was so beautiful and we have a friend who lives near the beaches, so went to see her one day of our short visit to that area. Here I will show you just a few of the lovelies we saw during our trip to Sintra.
Elaborate azulejos at the train station in Sintra, Portugal
Azulejos outside of the train station in Sintra, Portugal
Elaborate azulejos enhance Sintra, Portugal
Castles abound in Sintra, Portugal
This blue and white mural inside the park with the castles (shown above) is also fairly large.
Mosaics with gorgeous colors and inspired by tropical Nature decorate the floor in a castle in Sintra, Portugal
Castles with brilliant mosaic floors are savored in Sintra, Portugal
If you enjoyed these images, you might enjoy visiting these linked pages that I found for you.
It is so hard to miss people. I think often of my many conversations with my late friend and mentor Vasily Fedorouk, especially as I am carving stone. Here are a couple of his carvings that are related to this newsletter's topic:
Apollo Portuguese Marble with Gold
And staying with the blue theme, here is a blue marble torso:
As with my Web site, I hope to develop my YouTube channel based on the requests and curiosities of those of you interested in art and how it is created. I want this channel to be useful to you and could use your input and opinions. Thank you… and thank you for sharing, as well as subscribing. Go here now:
If any of these mostly available works interest you, please contact Don Elliott at the Franklin Barry Gallery, 617 Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 Tel. 317.822.8455, Don Elliott: email@example.com
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I have been really enjoying licensing my art on the FAA products online:: 30 day guarantee... pillows, shower curtains, prints on metal, etc. During my Kickstarter campaign in 2015, the prints on metal were some of the awards and upon the success of that project, I ordered some and hand-delivered them to supporters. I was pleased with how happy people were with them: A good quality product and fast service! They arrive ready to hang, so easy!
If you see an image on my site, my blog, or even my Facebook pages that you would like to own as a print or note card or pillow or anything FAA offers, please contact me and I will upload the image for you. I do not earn much off of licensing, but you know, every bit helps me to continue making art. The best part is that you get to enjoy the art images in a way that makes you happy. Win-win.
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Thank you for your interest and support in the book I wrote in the summer of 2011 about being a street artist in Italy. I was thrilled to receive such glowing feedback about how I had shared not only the art and the artists, but also something of the political environment regarding street art, interaction with the public and other street performers (my favorite chapter is the one in which I have invited children to join me on the pavement), as well as images of the Renaissance City herself.
The book is titled "My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy." If you have read the book and would like to help in the promotion of it, perhaps you would consider writing up a short review for Amazon.com (or even send me a testimonial for my own site). Your review does not have to be fancy. The intention is to help other people get a better idea about what is inside and whether or not they may enjoy the read.
Just click here. Scroll down to the section on Customer Reviews. Click on the button to the right that says, "Create your own review" Sign in and follow their guide.
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My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy
Above: Cover for book:
"My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy" by Kelly Borsheim
I have about 20 copies here with me in Italy and some in North Carolina, so if you are also here, just write me and we will organize the rest.