Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Art can help when science fails

Why pain relief can be the purpose of art 

I few days ago I was reading and reflecting for the nth time about the purpose of art. The recent controversy over my compatriot exhibiting exotic fruits on a wall — urged my reflection. Most of the concepts I come across were about why people should appreciate art: enjoy beauty in a private or public space, reflecting about an ethical point, chill out from stress -- among the many reasons art makes a difference in our lives, do we realize or not.

A student of psychiatry, Emily Payton, told her own experience in a hospital, assisting patients terminally ill. Where drugs won't stop the sickness, surgeons could not do any better, science could ultimately do nothing — art proved being helpful. A young man put a note by his bed: “I like music. It makes me happy :)”

He's dying and there's still something that makes him happy. And it's not a material thing, it's not a new dope, definitely nothing practical. It is music, it's art, only created to give emotion. Something magically able to distract attention from a state of desperation.  All of a sudden I realized that as an artist I create something way more powerful than I ever thought. It's not only about my ego to self express and shine. What I do has got the power of making people al little happier - regardless of my intention, that could be the selfiest possible.

A gentleman recently purchased my painting and contextually wrote me the story of his wife being seriously ill. I was happy for the sale but honestly thought - hasn't he got anything else to worry about but buying a watercolor? After reading Emily’s story, I thought he did the best thing he could do, beside taking care of his wife. I felt stupid and admired him.

There's no better time to surround ourselves with genuine art than difficult times. A painting that brings the living energy of another human, the artist, is the best cure to live a happier daily life! No matter how long we are going to be around!

May art contribute to make your new year the happiest so far!


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Never too late for love

When I was a kid I used to spend long afternoons at the community center play ground. Very often I was in awe with Fabrizio Merlo, a slightly older boy, who loved to spin at supersonic speed, bend on four-roller skates.

Although I used to spend hours sweating after the soccer ball with my friends, I thought roller skating was the coolest of sports! Fabrizio had the posture of a rocket man, and those skates were like wings!

Me roller skating in Valencia, Spain

He was my hero! And that intimidated me to the point of giving up before I could even learn how to move forward. Taking classes was out of consideration, who knows why! Later as a young man I used to ride my bike across the crazy streets of Palermo, dreaming of jumping over all sorts of obstacles on my superhero skates!

The contemplation of skating heroes continued when I lived in Paris. Some
saturday nights I wowed at flash mobs of skaters at the famous cross road of Boulevard St Germain and Rue the Rennes. These guys performed tricks and jumps and hooked up to the cars that started at the green light. Yet my wow did not turn into action.

When I moved to London I finally decide to try again. I started training up and down the side street of my guest house. One day I stepped onto the walkway, headed at the front door. But I lost balance and before falling down with my ass on the ground, I clung to the low fence wall. A block of bricks came loose and fell on my leg! It hart like I broke my leg. But the landlord yelling at me was even worse!


Me painting in Piedmont, last snow March 2019
Many years passed and I am the dad of two teenagers, whom I encouraged to learn roller skating. They used to do or still do skiing, swimming, ballet, yoga, volley, tennis and who knows what BUT skating! No way. You know what? I enrolled MYSELF into a class and still doing it. In three years I was able to go out skating with my club for 15+ miles in Italy and Spain. And you can still see me 2 - 3 times a week rolling through my neighborhood, training at the basket floor outdoor, shamelessly at my age!

Ok a couple of times I had  my bones x rayed at the hospital but you know, no guts, no glory, right? And the glory soon came my way. The other day as I was roller skating down the street, and a kid cried out: look at him mom, wow! Wanna do it too!

I was that boy's Fabrizio! 

I felt so proud, and recalled this story from 50 years back, when Fabrizio was my idol. I know, Fabrizio could have been my big bro, while I could be that kid's grandpa. But that's a just a detail, isn't it?

The lesson learned is that it's never too late for the things you love. They might have been silent for decades but lived within you. Maybe it's time for you to give them a chance! Could it be painting?


PS. If it could be painting, one exciting way to immerse in what you love is join one of my workshops. Take a minute to check out my workshops calendar and get your spot asap!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Watercolor in One Stroke, The Article

Learn how to make the less is more concept effective

Very nice to receive The Artist magazine from UK. The March issue features a four page demo I did to demonstrate my concept of One-stroke watercolor. It tells a fascinating story about the court artist at the times of the Chinese Empire. A legend that will inspire you strongly! My article also provides a lot of practical instruction for key exercises, to learning how to optimize your brushwork, and be more effective and economical. 

The task is to create a painting with a given number of brushstrokes. 

Every medium has got its own way to apply the paint. More often than not students and even mid experienced painters, have bad habits that make them do a lot of work for very poor paint application and even poorer expression. Their gesture is often unnatural. My watercolor in one-stroke training is one of my all time students' favorite. The one that make you have your unique calligraphy and signature! 

This is my second demo for this UK based magazine, and I am already preparing a new exciting article! Thank you  Sally Bulgin editor of The Artist! 


PS. The Artist was founded 1931 and provides you with tons of tips and news on different painting mediums. You can get this March 2019 issue and a all year subscription here 

PS.  Best choice for you would be to reinforce this read with a the aid of the master. Check out my workshop calendar and join me in a fantastic location such as Giverny, Amsterdam, Palermo and beyond.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Faces and Stories in Watercolor

Last year I painted a couple of commission portraits in watercolor. This made me want to paint the human figure again after years of landscape and plein air.

Francesco Fontana American Breakfast (with Flora)   2018, studio watercolor on paper, 11 x 16 inches,
Francesco Fontana American Breakfast (with Flora) 
2018, studio watercolor on paper, 11 x 16 inches,

My idea is to tell stories. The girl in red t-shirt having breakfast is one of the first paintings of 2019 devoted to this new research. It is inspired by the visit to America last summer, when I took my little girls to meet their uncles and cousins ​​States side. A very exciting encounter!

The matter of fact that watercolor portraiture is not so common adds thrill to my challenge.

Francesco | Don't forget to check my ArtShop |  Next workshops

PS. Your comment is absolutely welcome!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Limitations Open New Doors

The shocking truth behind new points of view

Today a younger friend came to see my watercolor showcase in Milan. He was in town for a day to meet his oculist. I had with him probably the longest conversation about my painting I can remember. He asked a lot of questions about the making. He made comments about aspects most people never notice. It's amazing how your cityscapes have such a prospective depth -- he said. How can you make the background look so  distant?

Then a small figure as tall as a finger nail, placed in a street scene, caught his attention. Look how that guy's looking a that shop window! How do you do that? I was happy to share some of my technique and secrets. Don't worry -- he said -- I'll never be your competition, I am terrible at art!

Almost two hours later, we headed to a quick lunch in the november sun of Milan. At the restaurant I thanked him for his many insights. They were different and meaningful. He's answer almost shocked me. You know Francesco, I see differently. One of the reason I fly to Milan regularly to meet this eye specialist is that I am color blind.

Thanks for reading. You're comment is very welcome! -- Francesco

PS. Today I definitely learned that limitations open the door to new points of view.

PPS. By the way if you want to know more about how to create the illusion of distance in a city scape, consider attending one of my workshops. You can also train your eye with some of my paintings.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Solitude Will Save My Life

Can we escape the noise of the world?

Saturday I took my girls to the mall. It's Black Friday week end, and Christmas is approaching. They couldn’t wait to go shopping. The huge place was packed, and walking through almost impossible. The girls had to patiently stand in line to able to access they fave store. I thought: we are crazy, never again. The world is running straight to self-destruction!

Lonely  Mountain - Watercolor,  Francesco Fontana 2018
Away from the crazy crowd! Boy raised in the city and loving it, for the first time I could consider moving to the countryside. Isolation is perhaps not so terrible. After all, an artist needs silence to listen to his soul. Yet world can still chase you into your restroom! As long as you hold your smartphone, the noise of the crowd strikes again. Can we escape it?

For sure I understand that the older I get, the more I appreciate solitude. 

Thanks for reading, Your comment is very welcome!-- Francesco

PS. Ok, maybe you already live in a quite place and I followed you in the bathroom with this letter. In my defense I say that we artists are the weak link in the chain, compared to big businesses, we re small creatures trying to save themselves from extinction. Yet we create beauty (not beauty creams), products for the care of soul. Please feel free to enjoy some of them and consider experience some quality time in my workshops.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Why Talent is Overrated

Do art students really love painting?

Gazebo - Francesco Fontana, watercolor, 2018
Some time ago I spent an entire morning cutting about 100 canvases of old studio students and throw them in the trash bin. These were works of students who gave up classes at least a year ago. The fact that these guys left their efforts behind and never showed back to pick their paintings and drawings, was very sad to me. I thought they don't love what they did. The clearing process involved a review of each of these paintings and drawings and let me tell you, some are more than decent pieces. So I decided to save a bunch of the best ones. Some were confiscate by my 10 yo daughter Flora: don't rip that dad, I like it, give to me!

So today I've learned that skill and talent don't make you a good painter. Love does.

Thanks for reading. Your comment is very welcome!


PS. Of course there are many students around the world who are enthusiastic about their experience with my workshops. And many who love and collect my paintings
PPS. Use this Golden Friday week end to make your self a gift at a reduced price