At A Table With Friends

I believe that our friends are our family by choice. And life is a vibrant cosmos of choices. Sometimes, we are not chosen. But always, may we choose those who choose us. Chosen well, our relationships are intangible dwelling spaces where we are welcomed and loved, fueled to flourish and fulfill our purpose, the very thing that makes life worth living. Let us pour from an unempty cup and receive graciously from others who pour generously, with whole hearts, from theirs.

This photo is from a lunch with old friends and new from the first Saturday of January. One friend could not make it, so our table for four had space for another. The staff asked if we might, and we chose to share our table with another diner, K. That lunch was a delight far more than I could have imagined. K chose to share about his life in Florence and as we all pitched in with our own stories, the conversation became a wellspring of inspiration and hope, a reminder that, though coming from different backgrounds, we all chose Florence to be the setting of our life’s meaningful pursuits. Strangers became friends because we all chose to share what we could. It was unplanned. Unscripted. Seemingly random. Yet I think to that lunch as an especially vibrant spot in the cosmos of choices we made that day.

If you are wondering about the food, the restaurant was packed and unsurprisingly so, because as Cameron said, “I can taste the love in this pasta!”

And who wouldn’t be up for love on a plate at a table with friends?

Thank you for the love, Dalla Lola! (Via della Chiesa 16r, 50125 Firenze)


Qui, Ora

Just before the New Year, i was asked about my writing practice, “what do you write about?”. I love this question for its directness and how it leads me to asking myself, “yes indeed, what do i write about? furthermore, why do i write? Why bother, what is it for?”

Easily, I do it for me.
Writing helps clear my thoughts, my experience of everything and anything.
It keeps me entertained because finding the best words to express myself gives me a thrill;
Writing also encourages me to question how my experiences are similar to others or different, and this helps me relate better; the world feels friendlier than it used to be.
When I write I somehow feel more connected to others, more human, most alive. Writing puts life in perspective, and not just any perspective, but meaningful perspective.

So this year, expect me to write more about the bits and bobs of my everyday experiences. I am a painter by vocation and my life is an expression of my creative spirit. My younger self confused this artistic spirit for the inconvenience and embarrassment that others made me feel for it —— too serious, too intense, too different, too much. Now that I have finally found my place in the sun, I am celebrating it all with curated words aimed at genuine expression and beautiful connection.

This is the epiphany I am grateful for on this Feast of the Epiphany.

My hope is that you enjoy my phrases and find a part of yourself and your experiences in any or all of them. May my practice be useful to you wherever you are in your precious life. There is a fountain of good amongst us all and i invite you to dip your cup and drink with me from this blessed wellspring.

#thepainterwhowrites #fromthelandofmaitri

Love from the Stars at Christmas

Il Presepe at the Sanctuario di San Damiano Assisi, 24 December 2021

One of the oldest known Italian Christmas songs is “Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle”. Written by St Alphonsus of Ligouri in 1754, the title means, “You come down from the stars.” The lyrics sing of the Divine Baby Jesus who came to this world on a dark December night, birthed in a cave and wrapped in swaddling clothes. The words sing of what it must have been like to see this fragile newborn and His parents, trembling amidst cold and poverty, yet in His heart lived the love that would save the world. A love without question or condition. A love that endures, and until today, never fails.

I can’t help thinking how even then the message is so clear : “Love is enough.”

I think farther and see how that fits for me in this modern world, “Do i love my family, my work, my friends? What ways are available for me to show it?” My list includes staying in touch, saying sorry when i need to and accepting an apology so peace in the heart is restored, being kind because I too received many kindnesses, being dependable and faithful even when it is difficult, doing my best even when I feel like I am failing, caring for myself so i can care for others….”

The list is long, I realize. Love is many ways practical, without need for material things. Love makes everything enough. We need not wait for others to give it to us. Remember we are all loved first and so completely by the trembling but brave baby boy descended from the stars, whose birthday we celebrate today. Remember His parents who faced uncertainty, fear and suffering to birth His light into our lives. How greatly loved we are and how capable we are of loving!

Here is that beautiful song that children, young and old, in Italy sing often at Christmas time. Let Love abound, surround and enfold us all this Season and always! ♥️🎄🌟🌹

Stillness at Solstice

By the banks of the River Arno
Florence, 21 December 2022

It is Winter Solstice today, 21 December 2022. This day the sun travels its shortest path through the sky, bringing the earth its least daylight and longest night (Britannica). A few days shy from Christmas, my personal tradition is to take a moment of stillness at Solstice to look back at the year or the years that have been.

One morning in November, at my regular Sunday pew, a wave of gratitude came over me. “Thank you for this moment, for this heart that still beats reliably. Thank you for this grace called Life; for every person and situation that brought me, in both loving and hurtful ways, to a point of transformation; for calling what courage I had in me to make necessary changes that led me here to this moment, filled with gratitude. There were setbacks, disappointments, struggles; there was heartache but also, unfailing kindness from the most unexpected places —– a sprinkle of chocolate on my coffee because the barista thought I might enjoy it more, the wave of a friend across the street who walked all the way to my home to help me carry my things because I injured my foot, the invitation from another to enjoy the roses all abloom in his garden at springtime, an acknowledgment of progress from my teacher, the numerous coffees and get togethers hosted by friends just because, and the list goes on.”

Every kindness, a reminder that life endures, through the toughest times, even when the light of day feels faintest and only the longitude of night is imminent.

This solstice let us remember that in the bleak of winter the blooms of spring push through and grow roots unseen. It is from the darker days of our lives that the fruit of our labours and the strength of our spirits are birthed into light. In this mystery we are held tenderly. Enfolded constantly. And for this, may we always be grateful.

#thepainterwhowrites #fromthelandofmaitri

Love, Beauty, Power and Time

Snaps from last weekend’s visit to Arezzo. Everyone was there to enjoy the flea market and pick up vintage articles for our Still Life paintings.

But this first photo is proof of my secret agenda. 😝 I was there to view this amazing, vibrant fresco of Maria Maddalena by Piero Della Francesca from before 1459 at the Cattedrale di Arezzo.

Santa Maddalena is painted here with her hair loosely cascading over her shoulders while she holds a pot of the best oils she could find to apply on Christ’s feet on that unforgettable day at the Sepulchre. Her loose hair hints at her rouged past while the oils signify her conversion, her choice to give the best of herself. It is her language of love for the One who inspired her to become a better version of herself.

Love transforms and expands us to the heights and depths of our humanity. Love calls us into alignment and gives us the strength to walk away from everything otherwise. Love never grows old, only more beautiful, more powerful with time.

#thepainterwhowrites #fromthelandofmaitri

The Happy Ending

A feather painting to assure us all that we are watched over and loved, so fiercely and dearly loved.

And as for all the ways that our lives fell short or unfolded differently from the happy ending that we lived for, let’s remember how, without fail, our courage was matched manifold by grace every step of the way. 

I still believe in happy endings.

Being brave is the happy ending. 

“Brave”, Oil on panel, 20 x 15 cm, 2021

Cherry Season


“Cherry Season”, oil on canvas, 25 x 30 cms, June 2020
One saturday’s “harvest” from the market. It was June and cherry season had just begun. There was a sea of them, how could I not bring home a handful, at least?!?

Seeing this bright red, heart-shaped cherry made me smile. Isn’t it always a thrill when we see a symbol of love and joy in daily life? Love —- always in season, and in this time of COVID, ever more in style.


Ever Yours, Vincent


“Ever yours”, Oil on Canvas, 50 x 70 cms, July 2020
The blue scarf in this painting is the backside to a print of one of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Irises” paintings done at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890.

Today marks the 130th year since Vincent’s death. He is arguably the most beloved painter of the 20th century but ironically, he only sold one painting during his lifetime. He was both prolific in his painting and writing. Of his many inspiring quotes, my favorite is, “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done.”

I cannot help wondering how Vincent would have felt about social media if he were alive today. Would he think it a boon or bane to his work? I think he would have been a star on social media if he allowed it and sell more of his work, if not all of them!

My path in art was forged after I experienced his “Starry Night On The Rhone”, and his writings have been a steady influence in my art, my life. Vincent’s dedication to his work, his passion for life, the way that he saw God’s handwriting in nature and how he transposed what he saw and felt on his canvases; how he allowed such beauty to pierce through his sadness and disappointments — all remain relevant and worthy wisdom to this day.

So today I celebrate his life and honor him with every like and every kind word on social media that others have offered for my work. Let it be my gift for the man who loved so greatly and much that his work and his words continue to inspire us all to this day. You have performed much and accomplished much, dear Vincent. Well done. Truly, well done.


#palazzosanniccolò #thepainterwhowrites #nulladiessinelinea #fromthelandofmaitri #fiorentina1026

Oh Life, to paint from Life!


“Summer Blues and Greens in Porta San Niccolò”, oil on panel, 35×50 cms, June 2020

A landscape work I did in June 2020. Spring was cusping into summer then and lockdown rules had just eased. For as long as I followed safety protocols, I was free to paint outside. At last!

Clear skies of blue and spectacular natural light on everything, all waiting to be savored since the beginning of Spring. This unassuming spot in the San Niccolo Quartiere in Florence, overgrown with grass and dotted with wild purple flowers was the banquet of beauty that so thrilled my eager painter’s heart! I painted faithfully everyday en plein air, and by noon of the 4th day I had only the overgrowth to paint on the foreground and the painting would be finished. I was excited to finish!

I stopped work and laid out essentials for a quick lunch when I heard the loud, strange whirring sound of a motor approaching my spot from the other end of the garden. It was the city gardener and his mower, aiming for my treasured, unpainted overgrowth! I was in shock as he smiled at me to say, I did not have to worry, I could go on and eat my lunch… heart sank in a silent scream, “yes, but my foreground!!!!!! You mowed down every tall blade and purple lovely in it!!!!” I was heartbroken but I also knew he was only doing his job. Moments of secret lamentation followed and then I realized, this is exactly why I choose to paint from life. This is life —- the gardener doing his job and so I, too, must do mine — by painting without the overgrowth and finding beauty in what remains of the garden.

So this is the finished work from those early days of summer. My wish is it makes you smile for at least one reason just as it always reminds me of that 4th day and its bit of tragedy, that today in hindsight, is this work’s added dose of unmistakable, unforgettable humor. Oh Life! ❤️


#palazzosanniccolò #thepainterwhowrites #nulladiessinelinea #fromthelandofmaitri  #fiorentina1026atpalazzosanniccolò

“Trust (A Feather for Ana)”

Lockdown rules have eased in Florence and we are now restarting lives once paused without warning by the pandemic. The days feel fresher and every moment spent outside to run errands, to work or reconnect with each other sparkles with gratitude. I found this feather on my way to the art supply store and was pleasantly surprised, it was my first feather sighting after the lockdown. I always believed that feathers are a sign of protection and guidance from Heaven. Perhaps this very one is a reminder that as life goes on and we have no choice but to live with this virus, we have a choice to trust in God who watches over us with mercy and providence, and trust also in ourselves, that our learnings over the last three months will carry us safely through to the end of this pandemic.

True, this virus shows us how fragile we are but it also pointed us to the things that truly matter. We are still here, ever capable of making a difference, ever able to ease each other’s suffering. Seen this way, we have not lost the means to keep this world and each other safe, despite this virus. As we move forward and restart our lives, let our trust in God and ourselves be our refuge and our strength. In this, our trust is well-placed.
May this feather painting inspire you to love and care as deeply as you are loved and cared for, today and always.

“Trust (A Feather for Ana)”, oil on canvas, 23 x 23 cms, 2020


#salcedoauctionsprivateview #gavelandblock #thepainterwhowrites #fromthelandofmaitri