"The Nightengale" (Bramasole; Cortona, Italy; for my fine neighbors, Ed & Frances Mayes)
I just finished this...a painting (it's SMALL, as everything I do is, these days) of Bramasole...Ed and Frances's home in Cortona, Italy. I'd read Frances's wildly popular books before I ever met her and Ed (which I finally did, in the grimly pretentious "bakery" section of Durham's Whole Foods, about a year ago).  And, lo & behold, Herve and I moved to Hillsborough, and the Mayes (the reigning king and queen of Italophiles,whether E&F like it or not) turn out to live just down the road, when they're not in Cortona....and we've become friends, as neighbors do from time to time. (scroll down for more chatter from me....)
 
It's very odd (I try to keep my mouth shut about the matter) to talk to Mr & Mrs. "Under the Tuscan Sun" (the title of the memoir and the wildly successful movie based on Frances's memoir of finding and restoring Bramasole....and the danged movie doesn't even MENTION that Ed actually exists until the last scene...he's a very nice & patient man to put up with this, I think).  They're both just as pleasant and normal as pie.  I would have freaked out six ways from Sunday if I'd been subjected to such public scrutiny and publicity....but they handle it all with remarkable grace.
 
I've sort of asked Frances (not that she's answered) what it must be like to have written a book that's so  obviously touched and means so much (go to her blog and read the letters) to so manypeople.....that would seem a heavy burden to me.  but, then...she was at my table this past fall when I was suddenly asked (by a near stranger) "Are you shy?".  Perhaps I am.  Frances isn't. I think she's a fine artist/writer, as is Ed ( a good poet, quite aside from all of his other occupations).
 
She and Ed are also a lovely couple (he took her name when they married---a fact I enjoy knowing)...and I drew/painted this while hitting "replay"on one of Herve's favorite songs..."The Nightengale". I intend to give the picture to Frances and Ed....they can donate to some good auction for some cause (their concerns coincide with mine; their influence is understandably a bit more considerable than mine).
 
Lyrics (and, yes, I thought of Frances and Ed's marriage...and my own, while I painted this today):
 
go to (and this is the ever-wonderful Jennifer Warnes singing; she wrote the dang thing....and, if you're like perhaps-silly me, you'll play the song in the background while looking at the picture.  It's a lovely view there at Bramasole):
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F4I-etmQ4I
 
Yesterday I thought that I walked alone
And that love was just a memory
But a nightingale
Followed me back home
Where my love was
Waiting there for me

I had lost my faith, as lovers often do
When the storm clouds gather overhead
But a nightingale sang a note so true
That I knew I'd lost my fear instead

And to think that I said
Love was for fools
And that time would never heal
These old wounds
But the nightingale saved a prayer for me

In the twilight, he played a faithful tune

I have heard the lark over the vale
And I've heard the lonesome whippoorwill
But the sweetest song is the nightingale's
And I know I'll never get my fill

And to think that I said love's for fools
and that time would never heal these old wounds
But the nightingale saved a prayer for me
In the twilight, he played a faithful tune