Monday, October 28, 2013


Yes! We are having fun in Italy! Lots of painting, good food and wonderful sights, sounds and tastes! 

The Opera insights each evening have been terrific! Last Saturday night, Italy had Daylight Savings. I find it odd that the Montana isn't setting the clocks back this year until November 3rd?? Isn't that crazy? I thought that everyone all over the world changed the time ( if they were going to ) at the same time, on the same day. Shows you what I know..... How confusing! 

So, we set out clocks back, then when we fly home we will set them forward and then two days later we will set them back again. Just seems funny. 

Yesterday we had a pumpkin decorating contest. I was on the team with Cynthia Hamilton and Sunny Livesay. Here is our creation all made from vegetables and fruit. The judges will announce the winners tonight. We were inspired to use vegetables and fruit to create a likeness of our wonderful chief Deno! 


Monday, October 21, 2013

We arrived in Tuscany!

Today we traveled by bus from Rome to Tuscany and arrived at Dievole 2 hours late. There was a wicked storm that flooded the road and a huge truck went over the rail, stopping traffic for over two hours.

But we arrived safely and ...

This place is amazing! Everyone in the painting holiday arrives tomorrow! 


Oops! This just happened to slip in with the other photos! I love this CAR!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ancient Ruins

Yesterday was amazing! We traveled down to the south west corner of Rome, to the ancient ruins of Ostia Antica. Built in the 1st and 2nd century AD.

The Romans have spent decades digging out this once famous and prosperous city on the mouth of the Tiber river. It was haunting to stroll down the streets, walk On the mosaic tiled floors and feel, just for a moment, like I was wearing a toga!

Tomorrow we head to Tuscany for the preliminary planning before the others arrive on Tuesday.

Big hugs,Susan

Friday, October 18, 2013


So today was the day for the Vatican tour and that included the Sistine Chapel. Wow! They now include the Vatican museum, amazingly beautiful! Here are a couple highlights from the day!

Here are a couple photo highlights from the day!

Weather continues to delight and food continues to be extremely tempting!  Just found some non dairy gelato !! I am in heaven!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rome is Magnificent!

Wouldn't this fine fellow make a great model! Giunluiggi was our very informative guide this morning on private tour of the major ruins in Rome.


I was here in 1969 and again in 1972. I was amazed at the ruins then and flabbergasted at them now. Between the early 70's and now, they have excavated much much more! The ruins have come to life, all of the many many layers and layers of history! I am amazed and dazzled!

Rome is incredible!

Fabulous weather! Incredible food, great people, tons and tons of history!

Did I mention that Rome is Wonderful!



This is a detail from our hotel here in Rome. And YES, it does have an elevator!

Monday, October 14, 2013

First Italy Post

Buon Giorono! 

Right now...Howard and I are in New York, on our way to teach painting and drawing in Italy, Tuscany to be exact. This is an artist's paradise. The light is heavenly, the little red roofs delightful and the food incredible. 17 artists and 6 non- artists will be meeting us in Siena for a 10 day painting workshop. We can't wait to share our joy of Italy.  For months Howard has been brushing up on his Italian!
First question for artists, even before we think of "what is the weather like there?" Is... "What do I pack for art supplies??"  I always suggest as little and light as possible.


This is a very simple watercolor set, complete with some drawing tools.
On our trip, Some will be painting in watercolors, some in oils  and some will be drawing.
Word to the wise....Always pack your tubes of paint in your checked luggage.

As for clothes, bring as little as possible, dress in layers and for me I bring lots of scarves to make me feel like I have variety.

So, here we go, I will attempt to keep you up dated as we explore the vineyard and villages of autumn in Tuscany! Thanks for coming along as readers on this adventure! 

Wish you were with us,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fire and Art

What is on my mind today….Fire….and art….

Around here the summer season cannot be complete without the good….and the bad….company and forest fires. This year is no exception; we have had wonderful visits from friends and now we have smoke. Last year, Bozeman was basically free of the smoke, but this year, the smoke is worse that I can ever remember and closer to us.  There are fires all around Montana.

Tuesday August 28th a fire started from a lightening strike about 18 miles from our home and studio. Now, that sounds like a long way away, doesn’t it. No, actually a fire can travel miles in a single afternoon if the wind is blowing. Today, Friday, August 31st, the fire is only 8 miles away or less. The beautiful forest right behind our house is now empty of campers. All the trails and campgrounds and canyons are closed, evacuated. The fire has dipped down into Cottonwood canyon west of us and those homes have been evacuated also. It now threatens to extend into the Hyalite Canyon, creek and reservoir. Our canyon, Leverich, would be next.

We first noticed the new fire while driving home from town, I was admiring the billowing clouds in the south, when I suddenly realized that those pretty clouds must have been directly above fire. FIRE! My head went into a tail spin! That fire is really close to our place! Oh no! Flash backs of other times in my life that were dramatically traumatic, threatened to engulf my emotions: the 2009 explosion of Montana Trails gallery in Bozeman resulting in 28 of our large paintings destroyed and the death of our dear friend, Tara Bowman; the 1978 war and bombing in Afghanistan with 200 students and 40 teachers fearing for our lives; Pakistan’s revolution in 1976, again being fearful and scared for my life and the life of my students and friends. These are times that I experienced as major fear factors in my life and these memories tend to come flooding back when I get scared. It is Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, my dear artist friend and excellent Counselor, Dorothy Dacar, assured me. Just knowing that, calmed my nerves and organized my thoughts. Start packing.

Fire is beautiful when contained and controlled. Wasn’t it our first light in the dark, our first way of controlling our heat and the first way of cooking our food? Fire is good…. Right? It is the most basic of instincts to love fire and fear it as well. 

 Our Campfire
Watercolor by Susan Blackwood

Well, ironically, (prior to this fire starting in our forest so close to our house), this year I have been teaching workshops on painting the expressive glow of flames from a candle, lantern, or campfire. I have another one scheduled for October 4th and 5th, 2012 in Greeley, Colorado.

 Demo on the flickering flame.

There are many beautiful paintings of glowing light that tug at our hearts. Several artists have powerfully portrayed the controlled burning of the prairies. I have seen wonderful paintings of forest fires that put an ache in my heart. Art to me needs to communicate emotion; flame and smoke really do that.

Many great current artists come to mind. Brent Cotton has captured the fine art of glowing light in many of his paintings. I am reminded of other paintings that I have seen: The beautiful portrait by the fireplace; the young woman with a lit candle; the translucency of our skin as it glows when close to a lantern. Morgan Weistling has painted powerful paintings of people with candles. Artists for years have been looking at flame with awe and art in mind. The knowledge of how to create that glow on paper or canvas can be transferred to any subject from landscapes, cityscapes, people, animals, florals and still lifes.

So there it is, art and fire. Now, I will get back to my packing in preparation for the possibility of evacuation and I may even do some painting today.  Stay tuned.
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