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Borsheim Art Newsletter:

by Kelly Borsheim copyright 11 October 2012

  1. Mural Painting in Caprese Michelangelo, Italia
  2. Sculpture by Vasily Fedorouk
  3. Street Painting Book available in Europe, Canada, and Japan
  4. Blog Highlights
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[Invitation Mural, Italy]

"Come Hither..." The Invitation, Mural detail
Private Commission, Italy, by Kelly Borsheim

Dear Art Lover,
Happy October, one of my favorite months! There is so much to do and wonderful distractions. I have spent my summer traveling and visiting friends, as well as working on art. See the blog links below to share in some of the highlights of my summer: The Italian Riviera, Serbia, Spain, and back to Toscana, Italia.

[sculpture in Serbia] [farm in Serbia]

[farm tractor ride in Serbia]

I had a "chicken and egg" experience this summer. You might call it synchronicity. Late this past spring I had begun talking to my friend and muralist Victor Goikoetxea ("tx" in Basque sounds like "ch"). He was teaching a mural-painting workshop in his hometown of San Sebastian, Spain, and I wondered if I could learn a lot from a class that was not taught in English. Around this same time, one of my art collectors who has a home in the birthplace of the great Michelangelo said he had an idea for me: paint a mural of three curvaceous babes taking a dip into a pool surrounded by window views of the Italian landscape and Roman ruins.

I must admit that one of the greatest joys in my life arrives when friends become clients and clients become friends. We see people more as complex energies when we get to know them in different contexts. It makes for interesting discoveries about them and myself and fun times. Do you feel the same?

It seemed a no-brainer to accept this opportunity. My mother is an artist, and she created a wall space in my room when I was a new teen-ager that framed my first mural. Mine was an ocean-themed work with a mermaid and sea creatures. Surprisingly, I do not remember ever having seen or taken a photograph of it. In any event, I had not painted on a wall since I was a child and mural painting was a lot different from street painting!

As with much of my art in any medium, most of the work happens in my head or parts on paper before the real material is ever even touched. This project contained many new elements for me besides the obvious size factor. [The mural is on a wall that is approximately 200 x 400 cm or 6.5 x 13+ feet.] Although I have studied perspective, I had not designed a lot of environments in perspective and with multiple figures. It was fun trying to create the illusion of another space connected to the room in which I painted. There were many things to consider in the design, besides the elements he wanted to see in the painting. Mainly, there is a real window that seemed unfortunately placed on the wall, as well as being an odd size for anything too far away. But I loved the wood with the iron hinges and therefore did not want to just paint over it, as if it never existed. Instead I decided to feature it and create a scene in which it sort of belonged. There was also a Jacuzzi in the center of the room, less than one meter from the wall; a sink against the wall on the left; and the space overshadowed on the right when the picture window on the adjacent wall is open.

[mural painting design consideration]

My first step was to map out the dimensions of the wall, locate all of the known furniture issues, and other possibly important lines. I added the magenta lines that correspond to the height of the picture window on the adjacent wall. I had at one point wondered if any window opening I designed should match up with the vista window on the other wall. Architects seem to prefer a certain kind of symmetry in the spaces they design. Site-specific works are best when they consider the site in which they exist.

You may see in this first image that I added a vanishing point and drew some lines from it to key positions for figures and features. Perspective drawings and paintings are typically designed from one viewing point. Ideally, the mural should look good to a person sitting in the Jacuzzi. I considered the viewer's position, side to side, as well as at what height his eyes will be. In this case, though, I decided that the door entering the room on the far left would probably be a more common position for the mural to be seen, since many people may stand at the door and look into the room, while fewer may actually sit in the Jacuzzi. So, I later moved the vanishing point slightly to the left of the center of the wall, keeping the horizon at my eye level, since I am fairly average in height.

I started to work in collage mode, rearranging elements around these structures. I am not very good with Photoshop, but I still find it faster to move, flip, and resize things when determining composition. I looked into so many ideas of mathematical forms, such as spirals and triangles. I did not just want to fill a space; I wanted to take you somewhere. Also, I looked to two of my favorite artists, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Sebastiano Ricci for ideas.

[mural painting design consideration]

My first idea was too literal and felt claustrophobic (see above). However, recognizing that emotion helped me to break through to create a more open space. I ditched the computer and picked up the ever-so-sexy and flexible stick of vine charcoal and very roughly sketched out my new idea right before I visited my client. He is a smart guy and I was so happy that he understood the idea just from the sketch and was pleased. I later refined the drawing, computing the perspective issues more than any details. I thought to do a color sketch in pastel beforehand, but ran out of time. The image existed really only in my mind, and even that image was altered as I was painting the mural.

[idea mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration]

I also had an idea, rather late in the process, to change the main figure. I did not want to create a voyeuristic situation as much as an inviting one. So, I decided to have the model try a pose that looked directly at the viewer and said, "Come on in; the water is fine." Working in a visual language, sometimes it is difficult to communicate body language in text (e-mail). My time with my model was extremely limited and I depended on her and her husband to provide me with images since we were rarely in the same place at the same time. So, I shot a quick snapshot in my room while I struck the pose I envisioned and sent it to the model to communicate what I wanted, time being of the essence by that point. I am fortunate to work with wonderful people.

My client and I discussed various issues as we went along. He was a bit like a coach and the idea of mural painting as an athletic endeavor amused me. I think he enjoyed the idea of helping me pace myself to match the deadline we were up against (and I did find this helpful), but I am also quite stubborn. Each morning that he woke up and discovered that I had not arrived to the point at which he had anticipated, I simply hoped that he saw why I had decided to slow down and fix something that bothered me.

I also explained the sequencing of the painting process. I had to paint certain areas first so that they would be thoroughly dry before I added the next layer (yes, even in acrylic), or sometimes I just wanted to start work on a part to let it sit in my mind for a day as I thought things through. I enjoyed having his and other eyes around on occasion because one of the main difficulties with this project was the tight deadline and my level of fatigue mixed with constant thinking. Another was the limited ability to stand back and take a look at the work. Feedback from fresh eyes was appreciated. I enjoyed our collaborations.

[idea mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration]

[idea mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration] [mural painting design consideration]

I struggled a bit with the acrylic paint. It seemed so much more fun on landscapes, but seriously, for large areas and, thus far, skin, I wanted my oils. Mostly it is the fact that acrylic dries fast (creating hard edges if I am not on top of it!) and that the color dries darker and redder than applied. That latter issue made it difficult for me to match areas that I had worked on earlier. In the image above left on this page, you may see test swatches I painted onto the wall on the right. I knew that I would be painting a plant over this area, so I was not fussed. I had never done faux finishing before and wanted to test out different hues and levels of chroma to imitate a golden type of travertine. Hmmm, practice and experience with acrylic paint could help that a bit.

I returned to my home in Firenze on a Monday, but slept most of that day. Then I put in three and a half days in the studio before returning that following Friday afternoon to Caprese Michelangelo. By Friday night, I had finished most of the acrylic painting work and I protected the mural painting with Zecchi's brand of acrylic varnish. Saturday and Sunday, I worked all day and most of the nights painting in oils over the top of the varnish. I painted the water in the pool and the figures in oil. The oil will be completely dry, hopefully, once I return in the spring to finish the work properly. I was back in Firenze again that Monday morning, and again, slept most of the day, missing my studio time, but better off for it.

[idea mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting design consideration] [mural painting idea design consideration]

[idea mural painting design consideration] [mural painting idea design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration] [mural painting design consideration]

I must say that I adored working in a place with such a gorgeous mountain view and wildlife all around (I was especially charmed by the cinghiale [Italian for "boar"] that came around most evenings before dusk to dig up the dirt right outside my window as they scrounged around for ripe figs freshly fallen from the trees. Nearby there were plenty of small apples and grapes for me to snack on as well. [This came in handy when I was hungry during the middle of the night and did not want to disturb anyone in the house.] The only real annoyance in this wooden paradise was the changing light. Some bright mornings left me with large contrasting shapes projected onto my mural painting, while the late nights found me working under tungsten lights and I feared strange colors would appear on the art in the natural light of day.

[mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration]

[idea mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration] [mural painting design consideration]

I painted this mural in about two weeks, working every day all day and often into the nights after dinner. Victor not only called me from Spain while he was busy finishing up his month-long workshop (I only attended the first two weeks), but he came out to visit once he was back in Italia. He told me that there was no way I could have done what I did in the time that I had. I really put in the hours and I must say that I was delighted that I could surprise my teacher! I hope you have enjoyed these progress images, starting from the design stage to my drawing in pencil on the wall to the end of the mural painting for 2012. In the spring, when my friends return to Italia, I will finish the mural, adding flowers to the potted plants, refining details in the landscape, and improving the figures (I never had time to refine the woman in the pool with my oil paints). If you would like to see more, please visit the links in my blog posts below.

[mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration]

[idea mural painting design consideration]

[mural painting idea design consideration]

Update with Now Finished Mural as of April 2013:

[Tuscan mural painting completed]

Limited Availability: Sculpture by Vasily Fedorouk

I met my future mentor Vasily Fedorouk at the MARBLE/marble Stone Carving Symposium in Colorado in the summer of 2001. He was only there for four days as he took a huge block of marble and proceeded to rough out a belly dancer fountain. I thought he was a god; I had never seen anyone do such a thing and with so much beauty in the result, apparent even early on. I had never carved marble before and luckily, my carving space was not far from his in this wooded workshop. For four days I watched the stone disappear and take shape as he carved with diamonds. Each evening, we drank vodka and spoke about art. He was a generous teacher and interested in my questions, even though he was shocked by the lack of art education that I had received.

Born in 1950 in the province of Kobaki of Ivano-Frankovsk, Ukraine, Vasily Fedorouk spent his childhood surrounded by the beauty of the Carpathian Mountains. In 1966 he entered the Kosov Art College and later specialized in sculpture at the prestigious Lviv Academy of Art from 1972 through 1977. He worked as a sculptor ever since. He was a member of the Union of Artists of Ukraine since 1982. Vasily's works have been exhibited internationally and are in private and public collections in the USA, Ukraine, Russia, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Brazil, Norway, Korea, Israel, and Turkey. Several of his sculptures are in the permanent collections of museums in Ukraine and Russia.

Our friendship continued to grow over the years and the miles. He taught me much through images he sent to me of his new works and our occasional talks over the phone. I visited him in Chicago, after he moved his family from Seattle. Twice he came to Texas to teach a stone carving workshop with me. He was sometimes brusque, but his frank talk shaped me and made me a much better artist than a softer voice might have done. I trusted him completely and loved him unconditionally, despite our sometimes different views on non-art subjects.

I was horrified when I learned of his sudden death in 2009. However, I have remained friends with his family in America. And recently his wife Dilbara decided that she was ready to allow a few of Vasily's artworks in her private collection to go into other art collections. She has asked me to help her find collectors who will appreciate the quality designs and ideas that Vasily had.

For this, I am posting images of original sculptures carved by Vasily Fedorouk. I myself own a couple of this great artist's works and I never cease to appreciate the beauty of his lines and simplicity of form that shows so much emotion.

If you would like more information about how to acquire the following original sculptures, please contact the studio at sculptor@borsheimarts.com and let me [Kelly Borsheim] know which piece interests you. Thank you so much.


Bronze with Marble Base
13" x 4.5" x 5"
© 2008
Vasily Fedorouk

$ 5,000

(More images below)

[bronze sculpture pregnant human figure]
"Pregnancy" bronze sculpture by Vasily Fedorouk

(More images below)

Vasily Fedorouk, Sculptor [1950 - 2009]


one of a kind
21" x 10" x 6.5"
© 2001
Vasily Fedorouk

$ 9,000

[stone sculpture figure on a cloud]
"Cloud" stone sculpture by Vasily Fedorouk


Texas Rattlesnake (Fossil) limestone + Texas Pecos Sandstone
one of a kind
15" x 9" x 4"
© 2006
Vasily Fedorouk

$ 5,000

[stone sculpture mermaid on shell]
"Mermaid" stone sculpture by Vasily Fedorouk

Book: "My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy" available in many countries now!

Thanks for reading! My book about my street painting experiences in Italy is now available in Amazon.com in the US, as well as in several European Amazons and Japan and Canada! Check it out on my newsletter page for an easy link to each country's page ( see column on right); Amazon even allows you to see some of the inside pages: http://www.borsheimarts.com/newsletter.htm

You may also order a signed copy directly from me (no extra charge for the inscription) and I will get you a shipping quote from Italy. Contact me directly, please, just hit "reply" to this e-mail and let us talk. Do not to forget to include your mailing address.

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Next time, the Guggenheim . . .

Pace (peace),
Kelly Borsheim
11 Ottobre 2012

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Give a Book Review:

Thank you for your interest and support in the book I wrote this past summer about being a street artist in Italy. I was thrilled to receive such glowing feedback about how I had shared not only the art and the artists, but also something of the political environment regarding street art, interaction with the public and other street performers (my favorite chapter is the one in which I have invited children to join me on the pavement), as well as images of the Renaissance City herself.

The book is titled "My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy." If you have read the book and would like to help in the promotion of it, perhaps you would consider writing up a short review for Amazon.com (or even send me a testimonial for my own site). Your review does not have to be fancy. The intention is to help other people get a better idea about what is inside and whether or not they may enjoy the read.

Just click here. Scroll down to the section on Customer Reviews. Click on the button to the right that says, "Create your own review" Sign in and follow their guide.

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or from Amazon.com:

I have about 20 copies here with me in Italy, so if you are also here, just write me and we will organize the restů

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