Sunday, January 13, 2013

Worst blogger in the history of the interwebz...

It's probably a good thing nobody reads my blog. Considering I haven't blogged in, oh what's it been? Almost 2 years? Yikes...

Sometimes, over these past 2 years, I would think about blogging. But then I would convince myself that there was nothing in my life worth writing about. Especially since my blog is called "Shannon Paints" and, well, these days Shannon paints about as much as she flies rocketships while performing heart surgery.

It feels a little weird to write about my life if I'm not conquering the art world, turning out multiple paintings per week, or splattering my studio with clay to create works of ceramic awesomeness. But even if I'm not doing the things that I would consider to make me "successful" (whatever the hell that actually means), even if I'm not the prolific artist I always hoped I would be at 27 years old, it doesn't mean my life isn't bloggable.

Every day in my life is an adventure. I live in freaking Italy. I wake up every morning to a view of a gorgeous lake from my living room window. I stumble through a language that I never studied properly, but every word in my Italian vocabulary and every bit of mangled grammer is a personal triumph because I did it on my own. I go hiking in the Dolomites. I've climbed Mount Vesuvius more times than I can count. I battle dragons in the Sistine Chapel (okay, they're actually ferocious throngs of toursits and bitter old tour guides... but they act like and sometimes even smell like dragons).

And the biggest adventure of all, I just got engaged. I'm getting married. I'm getting freaking married. After seven years with Tommaso, we decided to make it legal. So I'm now planning a wedding, to be held in Alabama later this year, from the other side of the planet. If that's not terrifying exciting, I don't know what is.

So I think maybe I will visit the blog more often, to talk about life and let off steam from wedding planning. We'll see how this goes...

Friday, March 18, 2011

After one year in Italy...

Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. This month also marks one year since I moved here. In honor of that, I wanted to write a blog... but instead I took a nap. So here it is, a day late, my tribute to Italy.

When I first came to visit Italy almost five years ago, I was completely infatuated. I thought it was the most beautiful, most perfect land that I had ever seen. It was so full of art and history, and my college sophomore brain just couldn't get enough. The food here was magical, like nothing I had tasted before. Even the relaxed, I'll-get-to-it-tomorrow attitude of the Italian people seemed enchanting and refreshing.I was head over heels in love with a country shaped like a boot.

Well, it's five years later, and it's safe to say the honeymoon's over. I live here now, and I get to see the side of Italy the tourists never see: the public transportation that's always either late or on strike, the mind-numbing politics, the way Rome's city center smells like a toilet for most of the summer. The food is still amazing, but unfortunately a year of endless pizza and pasta has left its mark on my hips. And that relaxed attitude? Well, now it just gets on my nerves that nothing ever gets done around here. No, I'm no longer infatuated with Italy, and in fact I often find myself getting homesick for Alabama.

But you know what? Every now and then the magic of Italy still surprises me. As I'm leaving work at the Vatican, and I take a few minutes to contemplate St. Peter's Basilica... or as I turn a corner and see the Colosseum... or even when I get a particularly delicious gelato... sometimes the beauty of this place slaps me in the face and I remember how lucky I am to live and work here. And, for the record, I still think this is the most beautiful place on earth. There's just something about the light, and as the sun is setting in the evening everything turns golden and I relize why Italy has been the inspiration for countless poems, books, songs, films, and fantasies.

I do still love Italy, it's just not that new, unconditional infatuation anymore. It's a more mature love, one that has been tested- and is still being tested- by time. I know now Italy isn't perfect, but sometime's it's the imperfections that make this place so unique in the world.

So happy 150th birthday, Italy! May your next 150 bring prosperity and health and happiness for your people. And maybe, just maybe, better public transportation?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So, apparently I'm really bad at blogging...

Actually I've been avoiding it. This is partially because I am incurably lazy and partially because I'm going through a kind of life crisis. For the first time in my memory, I don't want to paint. I mean, in theory I do want to paint, but for the life of me I can't think of anything worth painting. I have zero inspiration. Add to this the fact that when I did force myself to paint recently it ended up being a disaster. I didn't finish the painting and don't know if I ever will. It was that bad. It did a number on my self-esteem and now I just can't find the will to pick up a paintbrush and try again. I know this will pass. Painting is still in my soul, I can feel it there- although admittedly it's a more distant, small feeling. Inspiration will come back to me, or I'll get brave enough again to force it back. But for now, I'm not painting. And I didn't think the laments of a not-painting-painter would make for very interesting blogging.

I'll try to blog more often. I may take a break from talking about art for a while... so I'll probably post things about work and life in general. I know every artist hits a block once in a while. Still... hugs, good vibes, and advice are much appreciated.

Peace & Love

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A new look, a new painting, and a new passion

It's Sunday night, I'm not working til Wednesday, and Tommaso is hard at work translating a TV show, so that means... lots of time to update my blog!
I've changed the look of the blog. No biggie, but I think it looks a little nicer. Still wish I could get a custom designed background though *hint hint to my graphic design buddies*

I've also uploaded a pic of a new acrylic painting, a self-portrait... well, kinda new. I painted it in December, so it's not the self-portrait mentioned in my last post and it sadly doesn't count toward my 11 in 2011 goal. It was actually a separate, very specific exercise. I usually take forever to finish a painting, using a lot of glazing and meticulous detail. With this painting I basically gave myself one evening to complete it, and challenged myself to use more "messy" brush strokes and hardly any glazing. I liked the freedom of allowing myself to be more messy and more liberal with color. Painting the hair into the background was fun and the scarf had about 5,876,194 colors, so that was interesting. It was a good exercise, and although the painting turned out less proportional, less "tight", less realistic than I generally like, I think I'll visit this technique more often.
Also, it reminds me of the Fayum mummy portraits somehow. Maybe it's the (ginormous)eyes. Or maybe I just have too much art history in my brain right now. Thoughts?

(Edited to add: The lighting is really poor quality in this picture, I will try to get a better pic later and re-post)

So, I've definitely been painting more, but I've also discovered a new outlet for creativity, which brings me to my "new passion". Cooking. That's right, Mom, cooking. I've always thought of myself as more of a baker, and honestly I was a little scared of the stove top. I tended to burn things. But lately, out of nowhere, I've found a love of cooking and amazingly I'm actually pretty good at it. I've been making all sorts of lunches and dinners for myself and Tommaso, and I'm finding that cooking is a great stress relief and a nice break from the boredom of having zero
work in low season. I may even start posting some of my favorite recipes.

That's it for now, gonna turn in early tonight. Buona notte.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Year's Challenge: 11 in 2011

So, I usually don't make New Year's resolutions. I mean, sure, every year I say I'm going to lose 10 lbs, travel more, learn a new skill, etc... but my problem is, I never have my whole heart in it. Therefore, every year on December 31st I usually have nothing checked off my very generic resolution list. I hope this year is going to be different. I've decided to really challenge myself, and I've come up with my 11 in 2011 plan:

Basically, I'm challenging myself to produce 11 complete paintings this year. They don't have to be masterpieces, or great, or even good. They just have to be finished. I think forcing myself into the studio with a deadline will give me much-needed motivation and practice for when real commissions come along. Why 11? Well, aside from the fact that it has a nice ring to it ("11 in 2011"), it's a number that I think will be reasonable and doable. I would have decide on 12, one per month, except I know when high season picks up, I'll have at least one month in which I'll be giving too many tours to even think about painting. So 11 works... it's ambitious by my lazy standards, but not overwhelming.

Right now I'm mostly thinking in terms of self-portraits (I'm a cheap and available model) and paintings from reference pics I've taken in the past. But I've got some great new ideas, and hopefully I can get models soon. One self-portrait is already on my easel, about half completed, so I guess I'm off to a pretty good start :)

Here's to a great New Year and reaching all our personal goals this year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fall in Alabama

I recently made the big hop across the pond to visit my family in Alabama... just thought I'd share some of the highlights of the trip.

When I planned the trip I was so excited. I'd have 5 weeks off work, October 25- November 30. I thought there would be plenty of time to study for my tours, read some of my old Art History books from college, visit family, relax, and enjoy being home. Of course trips home are never as relaxing as you expect them to be. There are people to see and things to do, so as usual by the end of the trip I was exhausted. But I can honestly say that I crammed as much quality family time into those days as I physically could, so I'm happy.
I was home for the major fall holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving, which was lucky because Thanksgiving doesn't exist in Italy and while Halloween is gaining popularity there it's definitely a bigger deal in the US. I really love Fall in Alabama. Aside from the holidays, it's just a beautiful time of year with the changing leaves and gorgeous weather. I'm happy I got to spend my favorite time of year at home. My family also creatively solved the problem of me missing Christmas at home this year... we just made November 25th Christmas. So I got to have Christmas at home too. Here's a pic of me, Tommaso, and our stack of gifts:
PhotobucketI also (finally!) got to do some art! Terry Strickland ( ) invited me to be her assistant at her Gadsden Museum of Art workshop Nov. 13 & 14, so I also got to take part in the workshop. I had a blast hanging out with Terry and learning new techniques. We worked in oils, which I haven't done in maybe 2 or 3 years... I know, shame on me. The workshop was really the kick in the pants I needed to get started painting again. Since then I've purchased some new art supplies, brought them to Italy, and set up a studio space... I'm heading in the right direction, now I just have to get in there and paint! Here's the lovely Terry teaching at the workshopPhotobucket

I also got some bad news while visiting home. My grandmother (father's mom) has been battling cancer for years, and it is no longer responding to treatment. My grandmother has been put on hospice care, and now everyone is just trying to make her as comfortable as possible. At first she seemed to be pretty strong and have a good attitude toward all of this, but in the short time I was home I saw her getting weaker. I breaks my heart, and it made leaving Alabama even harder. I'm going to try to go back to see her in February though, if I can afford it. I'd just like to ask anybody who reads this, whatever your faith may be, please send some prayers or meditation or good vibes her way. Her name is Betty.
Well, I guess that's it for this post. I've got a tour tomorrow, so I'm heading to bed. Goodnight!

Monday, December 6, 2010

First Post

Let me start by saying I'm pretty new to blogging and a chronic procrastinator (I'm lucky if my Facebook status gets updated once a week and I have pictures from 2004 that I've never uploaded), so we'll see how this turns out.

Basically, I'm doing this blog so that my friends and family can see what I'm up to. I live in Rome and work as a tour guide, so that in itself keeps my life pretty interesting. I call myself an artist, but since I haven't painted anything serious in about a year I'm not so sure I deserve the title. I'm planning to work on that, though... with tourism's low season starting I have no excuse not to create a studio space and get to work. I'll be posting pics of my progress. I hope :)

I also think blogging will be a good way for me to clear my head of a lot of clutter... thoughts and ideas and worries that fill my brain as I'm taking the train to work or trying to get to sleep at night. So you'll probably see a lot of my opinions and thoughts on life, as well as personal struggles (like learning to speak Italian and trying to maintain a healthy weight in the land of pasta, pizza, and pane) and occasional triumphs. I'd love to have people share their thoughts and advice on the subjects I post, so don't be shy!

I guess that's about it for my first post. Pretty soon I'll be writing about my recent trip home to Alabama. But for now I'm going to enjoy some much needed quality time with my man- watching a movie and cuddling on the couch. Ciao, y'all!