“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! ❤️


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