I love Italy!  Great people!  Great food!  And a HUGE STUDIO on a mountaintop!

Paola, the coordinator for the Ozu Cultural Centre http://www.ozu.it is a wonderful host and immediately, I felt comfortable and welcome at Ozu!

On arrival, I was shown throughout the Ozu Cultural Centre and into a huge studio at least 35 feet by 60 feet with 25 foot ceilings which immediately stirred my creativity!  They had the wall already set up for my painting that I had requested and also the huge table with plastic for spreading out my paints on was all set to go!

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The Studio at Ozu Cultural Centre, Monteleone, Sabine, Italy!

In that moment, I felt truly joyful and knew that I would have many quiet hours of painting in the studio.  That first day Paolo took me to a wonderful art store and I bought a large roll of primed canvas.  The next day I measured and cut the canvas and then I painted! And painted!  And painted!

Altogether, I completed twelve 18 x 36 inch paintings and eight 24 x 36 inch paintings.  I used acrylics so they would dry quickly.  I managed to keep the texture of the paint minimal so that when I rolled them to bring them back to Canada they would not crack.  And that is a major change for me as in the past I always have enjoyed making the artworks quite thick and textured.

13 ELEMENTS - Earth Original acrylic 24 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen April 2013

ELEMENTS – Earth Original painting 24 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

I decided to depict the Elements;  painting Earth, Fire, Water and Air!

ELEMENTS - Fire Original acrylic painting 18 x 24 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

ELEMENTS – Fire Original acrylic painting 18 x 24 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

3 ELEMENTS - Earth Original acrylic 18 x 24 inches by Laara WilliamSen April 2013

ELEMENTS – Earth Original acrylic painting 18 x 24 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

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In retrospect, I believe that being on the mountain top, feeling the strength of the ancient earth, being surrounded by nature just beginning to bloom into Spring really served to ground me.

ELEMENTS - Earth 2 Original acrylic painting 18 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

ELEMENTS – Earth 2 Original acrylic painting 18 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reser

ELEMENTS - Fire 2 Original acrylic painting 18 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

ELEMENTS – Fire 2 Original acrylic painting 18 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

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The Water paintings that I completed may be a separate series that is more related to my experience of the West Coast.

ELEMENTS - Water Original acrylic painting 18 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

ELEMENTS – Water Original acrylic painting 18 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

ELEMENTS - Water Original acrylic 18 x 24 inches by Laara WilliamSen April 2013 4

ELEMENTS – Water 2 Original acrylic painting 18 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

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The Earth and Fire are Italy!

ELEMENTS - Fire 16 Original acrylic painting 24 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

ELEMENTS – Fire 16 Original acrylic painting 24 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

10 ELEMENTS - Earth Original Acrylic 18 x 24 inches by Laara WilliamSen April 2013

ELEMENTS – Earth 10 Original acrylic painting 18 x 36 inches by Laara WilliamSen (c) Copyrighted 2013 All Rights Reserved

Completing this series of paintings has definitely shifted my art language; the way that I make marks on the canvas and the overall composition.

I was hoping for this and I am so pleased to have  experienced doing this many paintings all at once so that I can view them objectively and strive for further change in the future.   I believe this is the key to my creative process; to continue to seek beyond the last movements and trust the changes flowing in.

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Every day, the most wonderful Italian food was prepared by both Paolo and her husband Enrico.  Artichoke Lasagna with Bechamel sauce!  Pesto and marvelous cheeses on Pasta!  Chicory and bean soup! And so much more.

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We shared our meals as a group and this was a wonderful time for visiting and hearing about what the others where doing.   Each meal Enrico would say to me, “some more Laara!” and of course I could not resist having seconds!  Between my painting and eating I napped on the big chesterfield in the living room, slept soundly in my comfy bed and rested in the sunshine!

I very much enjoyed the companionship of the other residents Kanwal and Lucia and the guy from Spain!  As well, my discussions with Giacomo, the resident sculptor, were totally inspiring.

It was a joy to meet my Linked in friend Kanwal Zafar in person and share studio space with her!

It was a joy to meet my Linked in friend Kanwal Zafar in person and share studio space with her!

Paolo and Enrico have a six year old boy, Ettore who was just delightful and Allesandro, the resident writer, provided us all with much humor and laughter!

On the 20th of April, we had a great party – open studio and I met many wonderful people from Rome and the local area.  I was so pleased with the positive feedback about my paintings from everyone.

I believe that it is rare to find an artist residency that combines the freedom of

no set schedules for studio use – just paint whenever you wish to,

the location in the countryside – fresh air and spring blossoms

absolutely awesome, delicious authentic cuisine!

and most of all the friendship of those who operate Ozu and create a  happy sense of belonging for all who visit!

Thank you so much to my new Italian friends!  I will be definitely be returning to Italy and to the Ozu Cultural Centre next Spring!

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