“Italian Bicycle”

Italian Bicycle, Marcia Carole, Watercolor

It’s been a very long while since my last blog post. My focus has been on living with stage four breast cancer while trying a new strategy – a chemo pill and estrogen blocking shots. I’ve made some real progress in the fight, according to my latest blood work results. With the progress, has come increased pain. However, in the midst of pain, I have fought for a new piece of art. The above painting is the first of its kind in many months.

I have lovely memories of idillic weeks of leisure in the Tuscan town of Lucca. While there, I often walked past the above scene, especially on afternoon strolls. I loved the jumble of plants, pots and bicycle. I snapped lots of photos (all looking the same) and dreamed of painting a watercolor of this scene. Well, here it is – and it’s a miracle painting.

Making art actually takes great concentration – something that is in short supply for my chemo- bruised brain. With grit, determination, and a true passion for my subject matter, I sketched this beloved scene. Then I went over the sketch in pen. Finally, I added layer upon layer of watercolor. As my mind wobbled and my body gave out with the deep ache of the residual destruction of chemo, I crawled across the art-making finish line. I hastily brought this piece to my printer in Seattle. (Before I ran out of steam.) I received amazing gicleé prints from him. I had cards printed to sell and give as gifts. All of this work seems to be a miracle of sorts. You see, these days, I take nothing for granted. Each day is, more and more, a gift.  And, well….just maybe, that’s a good place to be.


Love In Italia For Valentine’s Day


I have had the thrill of painting in Lucca, Italia during several summers, in recent years. I love to paint a balcony scene that is on a large square with an important cathedral. The real windows are often closed because of the hot, summer sunlight. When I have painted the scene, I have flung open the windows and added a couple in love. Love on Valentine’s Day – or in Italy, any day! I have museum quality gicleé prints on German etching paper available for sale, as well as blank cards, of this lovely scene.


Here is the young couple in an embrace. The curtain is blowing to represent life and love. The days I have spent in Italy have been grace-filled days. They have been days filled with beauty, good food, kind friends and lovely color everywhere. Such beauty has been restorative to my soul, mending fragile areas, and encouraging my heart.


This particular balcony has many pots of bright red flowers and flowers hanging on the stucco walls. The lively reds help me to see past dark days fighting cancer, and dark days healing from hard parts of my story.


I have seen the windows open when I was on one, maybe two, of my trips to Lucca, and it was fun to see the long white curtains blowing a bit in the breeze. Such life! I have exaggerated the blowing of the curtains in this watercolor. The wild curtain expresses my joy I have experienced in this town.


I’ve used washes of sienna to suggest shadows under the pots. A blue vase is casually tucked by one of the window shutters.


Here is a photograph of the real balcony in Lucca with the windows closed. It’s a much more lively scene to have the windows open! This photo must have been taken during the heat of the day, or when I was wandering around early in the morning. If you’d like to buy a print or a set of cards, please let me know at marcia2010@swissmail.org. The prints are 11×14 for $40 / includes shipping costs. The cards are 10 blank 5×7 cards for $25 / shipping costs included. Please include your hard copy address when you email, and I’ll give you an address where you can mail payment. I only have 10 prints in this edition. Enjoy love in Italia!


The front of my art cards.


11×14 gicleé museum quality print.

Saving The Light


My latest set of museum quality prints have been made from my original, watercolor and wax resist painting. They just arrived from my printer in Seattle. My printer, Carl at Color1Photo, makes giclee reproductions using inks rather than water-based materials, on German etching paper. The prints just sing with color very true to my original work. I slept for 4 days while the prints were made and delivered.


The watercolor, wax resist process is tricky, and the process has taught me a life lesson. Hot wax is painted on areas of delicate rice paper, where one does not want any further paint to be laid down. So, if you want white or light-filled areas, you have to protect them by coating them with the hot wax. The wax cools quickly, those areas are protected, and further layers of color are then painted on the rice paper. I have to remember where I want light, and cover it with the wax.


The light on pottery vases, on windows, and on the freshly hung wash, is eventually revealed when the cooled wax is ironed away. In the end, the piece of art has to be ironed repeatedly between pieces of newsprint so the wax is removed from the rice paper. At last, after much ironing, the light is seen in stark contrast to the darks that were laid down after the lights.


And what is my lesson? Well, I am in the biggest fight for my life with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. It looks grim, dark, colorless, and gray on many of my days. I have little strength. However, I have life and light in my heart, soul and mind that I don’t want stolen by the darks. What is my “hot wax” I use to protect the light in my life? I “protect” or save that light by carefully remembering goodness, beauty and where my hope is in my life. I keep the dark layers from covering the lights through prayer, making beautiful art, listening to restorative music, receiving get well cards, talking with friends and family who love me, making myself see “grace sightings” or good that happens THAT day and being thankful, and by reading God’s light-filled words of truth and hope, even on the darkest days. I save the light. And, really, the light saves me.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

Here are a couple of pages from my art journal. On the right, you can see the scene, in Lucca, Italia, from which my painting is derived.

Mario Sings Opera; I Paint While Fighting Cancer

After I came home from my latest oncology appointment, I sat in the sun and took a short walk, thinking that would cheer me up and wipe away my tears. Cancer is hard, no way of getting around it. The sun felt good on my face, but the walk was a struggle and reminded me of my cancer lingering in my lungs. I decided to take a nap. It was sort of a way of escaping for an hour.


I got up, and I forced myself to dip my brush in bright red paint. I so want to complete this painting of Lucca, Italy, when I was there on a rainy, May afternoon. The bright colors I chose cheered my soul a bit. I love watching the water and paint move into places I direct it. And, I enjoy the happy wiggles of black I add as reflections on the wet cobblestone.


The figure in the middle of this painting represents a man named Mario, who really lives in Lucca. Since I’ve been to Lucca four or five times, I’ve become more at home there, and even have folks there I count as treasured friends. I know Mario because I’m not just a tourist who breezes through for an hour in Lucca. Mario darts about with a little radio/music player. He likes to play it as he happily wanders about the many streets of Lucca, and he often sings opera along with his music. Maybe the locals have tired of him, maybe they love him. I certainly enjoy seeing him singing in his own happy world. I stop and listen to him, because I want to give him the respect I have for him.


I’ve decided to take a lesson from Mario, and paint during cancer treatment. I certainly do not have one hundred percent energy these days, and my fingers are wobbly from neuropathy. These are two good reasons not to paint. However, I got back to this watercolor once again today, because, well, if Mario can sing opera in his world, I can paint in mine! It’s my way of making a joyful noise in my hard world of oncology. I think Mario would approve.


Lucca, Italia Journal


I’ve been working on finishing my collaged art journal of Lucca, Italia this week. I began in May, 2014! Here, I have some original watercolors mixed in with photos and collaged painted papers. I hope to finish in the next few days.


Marge Malwitz and I had such a restorative and restful trip to Italy last May. We soaked in beauty, and responded with our own art-making. Check out Marge’s work at:Marge Malwitz. Marge is my art and “art engaging story” mentor.


It is always an honor to learn from Marge. She has an amazing design background, and gently leads me in making better art. I might make one well designed page to her twelve, but I am thankful for the one.



Each journal I make helps me to grow. I cut and move shapes around until I sense the shapes are dancing together in harmony.


I think Marge and I should take off for another trip of learning and soaking up beauty. Maybe, I’d create a couple of more pages with good design. Every artist really needs trips like these! Especially, for the naps!!!


“Sunny Lucca”

Sunny Lucca, Marcia Carole, wax resist on rice paper

I have been working on my art journal I am making of Lucca, Italia, and I came across the photo (below) I worked off of, for the above piece in a wax resist class. The wax resist piece is huge – about 20″ by 24″ so it’s much larger than the journal!! I am gluing down a small version of it in my journal, alongside the photo I snapped when walking on the wall in Lucca, Italy. Lucca is a lovely town in Tuscany where I have years of memories learning Italian, painting, eating great food, and just resting. It’s the one place where I have no allergy issues.

Sunny Lucca photo, Marcia Carole, Lucca Italia

I’ll be heading to Lucca soon to spend time with my mentor, Marge, rest at sea level – getting the greatly needed oxygen my body lacks a bit in Colorado Springs – and I’ll spend some time being inspired by beauty. My soul is nourished in my dad’s homeland, and Lucca is familiar and friendly. For me, going to Italy, something I’ve saved for all year, is another way to fight cancer, enjoy my friendship with Marge, and just laugh a little within the beauty God gave Italy. Marge will push me to make some art – and that’s good, too! As you can see from the work above, I will be inspired by Italy and my time with Marge, long after we come home.

Marge and Marcia Carole in Lucca, Italia




Throwback Monday – Italy Art Cards

Lovely Lucca, Italia, Marcia Carole, Watercolor

A friend has ordered a set of these cards in the midst of the rush for “Christmas” Monday Cyber-deals. How refreshing to order art reflective of my journeys to relaxed, beautiful Italia. I like to say to friends, especially when I am about to return to Italy, “The Italians already had their time of conquering everything – the known Western world, so now they are into good food, good wine, good conversation and amazing art.” These cards remind me of lazy afternoons when I was loli-gagging around beautiful, peaceful Lucca, Italy. That’s where the original was painted.

My prices are fairly static, although I am offering free shipping this week. (5×7 inch cards, 10 for $20.) In the spirit of relaxed Italy, I’m not throwing myself into the mad, frenzied consumeristic wheeling and dealing. Instead, I’ll mail these out, little by little, as I can. As Leonardo Da Vinci used to say, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work, your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller, and more of it can be taken in at a glance, a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”

Here is the back of card with my website and name.

If you’d like a set of 10 of these cards, please feel free to let me know here:http://thecreativecall.net/art-store.php and just fill out the form on that page with your request for Italian art cards. I’ll be sending them out by the end of this week. Buon Natale!