We had a journey that went down the road less travelled as our dear friend , Sharon Tysseling, suffered a brain hemmerahge only 6 days into our adventure, the day after we journeyed to Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence. Thankfully one of our crew, Leslie Harris, spoke fluent French and was able to go with the ambulance along with Sue Pappas and Marla Ferrara to be with her as they sped her to the hospital in Avignon. There they made the decision to air flight her to the hospital in Marseille where they performed emergency brain surgery to relieve the pressure of an enormous brain clot. We had to call her husband, Mark and tell him what had happened. He flew to Marseille the next day where endless days passed at we all tried to navigate a medical system in a foreign country where the doctors and staff spoke very little if no english. I try to put myself in his shoes and wonder how I would have been able to do what he had to do if he hadn't had the help of loving friends to help him through this horrific experience. Mark arranged to have her flown home by medi jet where they said there was just too much damage and he had to remove life support. It has been an unbelievably sad trip and I lost my heart for painting although I did do a small one of the pool house in the gardens of the villa we rented the day of her stroke while waiting for phone calls.
We continued our trip as we all knew that Sharon would have wanted us to go on and flew on to Venice for 3 wonderful nights and days. What an amazing place. We took the boat to the Island of Murano that is famous for its exquisite blown glass where I managed to throw up my easel an paint from a bridge for a glorious 1.5 hours....some much needed art therapy. We then traveled on to the island of Burano, famous for it's lace. It is without a doubt the most colorful and wondrous city I visited and it' now on my bucket list to go a paint there for a week!
Our trip together ended in Venice, but Sharon and I had arranged to stay for another 9 days of travelling. We had rented a car to drive through the Le Marches of Italy and were planning of painting and moseying through the vast countryside of this amazing part of Italy. We were going to hook up with lifelong friends of Sharon's from Canada in Ravenna for this last part of the trip..It was something I had to face doing on my own and I was scared to death of having to drive from Venice to Ravenna by myself...Italians are famous for driving like bats out of hell and my lat experience of driving here wasn't what I would call good! I rented a GPS and she became my friend as I only got lost about 10 times, ha!
Sharon's friends, Rosanna and Jeff Langer, ended up being amazing traveling companions. They shared my obsession with maps and history and their unfettered joy of the trip was refreshing! We could also share our deep sorrow at losing our friend and each night at dinner we filled a glass of wine for our unseen friend.
We spent the last 4 days of our trip in beautiful Orvieto where I finally found my heart again and was able to start painting again. Day before yesterday I woke up and was me!...I felt like I had found an old friend and went outside at 7am and painted the view of the backside of the Duomo from our terrace. Later we found our way to some hot springs near San Casciano di Bagno...after getting lost about 30 times where I did a little watercolor sketch. 2 in one day!!!
I was joined yesterday by a young woman,Kelly Medford who lives in Rome, to paint in Orvieto. It was probably my best day as I woke up and finally emerged from the dark cloud off pain that has filed my heart the last few weeks. She also went with us to return the rental car to Hertz to help translate as we had acquired a rather large crease AKA a puncture in the front of the car! AHHH! They didn't even say anything, I guess it was considered normal wear and tear here! YAY!
I 'met" Kelly on a FB group page called Plein Air Painters...what a wonderful tool the internet has become..
Below you will find images of the paintings I managed to do on this trip...I brought enough supplies to do 30, as you will see that didn't happen. But I learned so many other things...The graciousness of strangers, not to take for granted even one day the people you love, patience and that I can be a really irritating PIA sometimes. Ahhh humbling to find our at 62 that there are still lessons to learn.
Thank you, if you made it to the end of this...Ciao!