Friday, August 1, 2008

Cinta Senese Pigs

Copyrighted © 2008 by Linda Warner Constantino. 6" by 8"- oil on canvas panel.Click on image to view larger.

These are not just any pigs. They are Cinta Senese pigs that are an endangered species domesticated at Spannocchia .

Speaking of Spannocchia I have gotten the dates firmed up for next summer's Plein Air Painting in Tuscany workshop that I will be teaching there. It will be from June 21 through June 28, 2009. I should have the prices firmed up in the next week or two. Email me me if interested.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Road Back to Spannocchia

Copyrighted © 2008 by Linda Warner Constantino - 8" by 10" - oil on canvas.

It was a late afternoon as I walked back down the hill to Spannocchia from up in the fields. The light dappled so beautifully through the trees. I tried to capture the poetry of that view here in this painting.

This painting is available for purchase if interested Email me. Remember 20% of sales are donated to Spannocchia Foundation.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Spannocchia Farmhouse"

Copyrighted © 2008 by Linda Warner Constantino. Oil on Belgian Linen board. 5" by 7."

Now that summer is here I am dedicated to painting. I am painting some of the scenes from my Spring trip to Spannocchia which I have chronicled in the blog below. It was an experience that I will never forget!

I am offering small paintings for sale $100 plus shipping. 20% of sales will go to directly to the Spannocchia foundation. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spannocchia Doorway

Copyrighted © 2008 Linda Warner Constantino - 10"by 8"-oil on board.

I loved the way the afternoon sun was coming across this doorway at Spannocchia. I think the light is especially beautiful this time of day.

If you are interested in taking my plein air painting workshop this summer at Spannocchia please contact me. I can assure you it is not just a painting experience but also a cultural immersion. My recent trip there confirmed that Spannocchia is an exceptional place.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spannocchia - Day 7 - Ciao!

My last day at Spannocchia. It is cloudy so I painted the interior of the dining room that has been so warm and inviting. This has been a trip I will never forget, the friendliness of the people, the views, the aroma of food and the food itself, the gardens and overwhelming sense of a reverence for the land. I highly recommend this place to enrich your soul and connect with the Earth.

I will write more when I return home.Ciao!

Spannocchia - Day 6

It was a rainy morning so I went to shop in Siena for presents for my family that I miss so much. The sun came out in the afternoon and I saw how it hit this little building in an area called the "secret garden." It had a sprawling lavender bush in front and some of those great cypress trees.

Spannocchia - Day 5

It was a gorgeous sunny day, the best so far. I ventured down the hill to paint this farmhouse surrounded by vineyards. I could not resist including the brush tipped cypress trees so perfectly located.
Wednesday was pizza night. The smell of the dough rising and the sauteeing of ingredients was indescribable and intoxicating. I will write more about it after I get all the images up.


This is a little painting of a little garden with this stone shed or root cellar and a flash of late afternoon sun running across it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spannocchia - Day 4

The forecast was for rain so I played hookie and took a cooking class. We began by taking a tour of the vegetable gardens conducted by Carmen, the head gardener. I could write a whole blog just on the gardens.

She has a system in place for rotating crops that is phenomenal because even if it is written down some where, it is obvious that it is all in her head. She knows all the vegetables” growing traits and tendencies as if they were her own children. If that were not enough she has the growing synchronized with the kitchen cuisine and vice versa.

It was great fun watching our chef Loredona maneuver in the kitchen with such a natural ease. We started off by making dessert first – chocolate salame - looks like salami but made with chocolate and crushed cookies. Then we prepared baked squash with rosemary. The meat course was saltimbocca made with veal, goat cheese, sage and garlic. For the pasta dish we made gnocchi. I learned that the secret is to peel the potatoes while hot – do not let them cool- and rice them and knead them very little. I finally learned how to roll the gnocchis off the end of the fork to create ridges in them to hold the sauce. They were served with a basic tomato sauce. We also put together a pear and gorgonzola crostini for an appetizer. Of course we got to eat the fruits of our labor! Delicious!

Surprisingly enough, the sun came out after class and I went out and did two little paintings (5” by 7”). This one was done so quickly because I was so cold. The building cast a shadow on me and the temperature dropped.
By the way, the easel I chose to take is a lightweight Openbox M pochade box that takes up to 8” by 10”. I also bought the wet canvas carry case. I pop both things in my backpack along with my easel, paints and gamsol and I am off. I highly recommend it. I have been using an alkyd walnut oil painting medium to speed the drying time. It leaves a gloss finish but I like it and it is non-toxic.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spannocchia - Day 3

I woke up and headed up the hill behind Spannocchia to a large open field. It was breezy and cold and I perservered with the weather as long as I could. The clouds were changing constant causing the sun to play an ongoing game of “hide and seek.”It was a painting with fingerless gloves day

Later in the day I ventured down the hill to a vineyard area surrounding a small complex of Tuscan farmhouses. I had my watercolors and painted this small landscape and took lots of pictures. I will be doing more watercolors as the week goes on.

Spannocchia - Day 2

I woke up in disbelief that all that was required of me was to paint. Am I really in Italy or am I dreaming? I am overwhelmed by all there is to paint. The first thing I painted was the view out of my window. It was cold outside so I was getting a slow start and the radiator was located just under the window. It was a nice way to ease into painting and the day.

Later in the morning was on my way down to and orchard to paint when I stopped in my tracks at this lovely Tuscan farmhouse which houses guests here at Spannocchia. The weather was overcast and windy but this place was idyllic so I decided to paint it instead. The people staying there liked my painting so much they are buying it. I was not expecting this to happen!

In the afternoon the day I went to the front grounds of Spannocchia. I just had to do a painting with those tall cypress trees in it. The weather totally changed from the morning and blue sunny skies abounded casting long shadows from the cypresses across the grass.

All of a sudden I noticed three gigantic pigs walking into the grounds. They acted like they owned the place. I was not sure how to behave around large pigs with a 3:1 advantage. Could they be aggressive? I decided to take a “Dog Whisperer’ approach and act like I was in charge. I was ready for a stare-down if it came to that. Evidently the pigs were NOT supposed to be in the yard but had gotten loose. You could have fooled me. It turns out these pigs are an endangered species called cinta senese. I named them prosciutto, salame, and capocello.

The day was still not over but the weather was cooling off so I decided to switch to watercolors and painted the wall of pots and pans in the kitchen. I loved all the variety of round shapes. Believe there are plenty of interesting nooks and crannies to paint inside the house. More paintings to come.

Spannocchia - Day 1

Driving up the road to Spannocchia is like driving back in time and slowing the pace of your life at least in half. This 1100 hectacres was intended as an artist retreat at one point in its history and still is among other things. It is rustic and filled with a rich history that is deeply connected to the earth. There is a reverence here for growing and cultivating the food that comprises Italian cuisine that many of us love some much.

As a plein air painter it is a dream come true. Everywhere you look there is a compelling view to paint. Having had little sleep and arriving in the afternoon I did an quick painting of the grounds in front of Spannocchia.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I am Here at Spannocchia

I arrived at 2:30 pm today after close to no sleep. I stopped at a grocery store on the way to get food for the weekend and that was like being in the dark due to my limited Italian. I do not even know if what I bought was milk.

I will try to get set up to put up photos but it won't be until monday. I did paint this afternoon. I could barely focus because there is so much to paint. The weather could get cloudy but the inside of this place has all these lovely little rooms that are like secrets that you discover.I will probably do some watercolors of them.

I will dedicate an entire post to traveling with paints but suffice it to say everything arrived including my umbrellas which was checked as luggage. I was sure it was going to be mangled but it came out fine.

I did a little painting this afternoon using the Vasari oils recommended by Scott Christensen. I used only cad red, cad lemon yellow, ultramarine blue and titanium white.I was totally exhausted but so excited to be here that I had to paint. I fixed myself a nice little dinner with gnocchi, broccoli, red pepper, shallots and some pesto with parmesan reggiano. People kept coming through the kitchen saying it smelled good.How can you go wrong with those ingredieants!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Off to Spannocchia!

I will be going to Spannocchia to paint en plein air for a week (March 15-22) and set things up the upcoming workshop this summer. I will be posting paintings and photos to give you a little feel for what the experience will be like. If you sign up for my Google group on the right you will receive my daily "postcards from Tuscany." I am so excited to be going!!! Ciao

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Plein Air Painting Workshop July 2008

I am starting this blog to announce a plein air painting workshop that I will be teaching in Italy this summer 2008. I am very excited about this opportunity. It will be taking place at Castello di Spannocchia located approximately 20-30 minutes from Siena from July 20 through July 26, 2008.

This program will employ the pochade format to create plein air paintings of the beautiful Tuscan countryside that comprises Spannocchia. (A pochade is a small sketch or painting that is usually completed in one session.) This small format of painting has regained popularity recently due to the “A Painting a Day” movement. It is a very effective and satisfying format for developing painters of all levels.

We will have two oil painting sessions a day with a daily critique or demo after lunch and a painting field trip to a neighboring town. Teaching will be conducted by demonstration as well as at the easel on an individual basis. Emphasis will be placed on developing the skills to interpret and paint from life while connecting with the natural beauty and rich history of the Italian countryside.

I will be posting more information as it comes to me. If your are interested please
email me at