A month in Italy to create art – a dreamy opportunity! How did this come about, you may ask. Here’s a quick art recap of how Steve’s Artist in Residence at La Fortezza came about and the fabulous results.
You may remember last fall, Steve taught a painting workshop at Annette Joseph’s 9th century villa, La Fortezza. It was full of creativity, laughs and exploration. That lead to this offer from Annette, be the first Artist in Residence, creating work inspired by the region. And he said YES! So, this past July, he did just that, creating a body of work that reflects the history, geography and beauty of the Lunigiana region. Truly a gift to focus on art for a full month.
If you haven’t been to this part of Italy, add it to your travel bucket list. Lunigiana is a historic region between Tuscany and Liguria, drenched in history, unique foods and breathtaking views.
Being familiar with the town and nearby art store, Steve knew what supplies he needed to take and what he could purchase there. So, with brushes and paint in hand, he spread out in the spacious studio, working on many canvases and paper pieces at once, as the inspiration moved him.
One of the benefits of being in one place for a longer period of time is you make friends with the locals. This was especially helpful as Steve wanted to make copies of historic rare books and ephemera at the local rare books archives, to incorporate into his paintings. With some patience and help with translating, he got more than he needed, including the Roman soldier seen above, an atlas of the region from 1785, and a lawyer’s goat skin bound book of contracts from 1635, all incorporated into various works of art.
It wasn’t all painting, there was cooking to be done, in Annette’s fabulous kitchen, plus visiting local museums, sites and an artists’ co-op. Check out Annette’s many workshops here.
One of the artists shared some scrap chunks of Carrara marble with Steve. What an amazing new conduit for his art, another blessing from travels and learning from new friends.
How does one end such a wonderful month of painting? With a show of course! A downpour didn’t dampen our spirits either. The food truck brought the food inside the studio where our friends, local and from afar, ate, drank and danced into the night.
The next day, we packed up the art, said ciao to La Fortezza, and headed to the iconic beach town, Forte Dei Marmi, the perfect way to cap off a jubilant July.
Folks frequently ask about Steve’s studio – and lucky for us, he loves sharing his happy place with others! It’s perfectly situated to fuel his creativity. Back in April, Paige Minear shared a visit to Steve’s studio on her blog, The Pink Clutch.
We thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of the same tour and offer a behind the scenes look of where the magic that is Steve’s art happens…
Steve’s studio is located in the loft above the steve mckenzie’s showroom. He can be a bit messy, so it’s smart to contain the work in a space that can be somewhat hidden. Up in the loft, he has various areas set up for working. A large easel is built on the wall and is the spot where Steve works on his larger pieces.
Commercial, stainless kitchen carts easily roll with Steve as he works.
An antique drafting table serves as his workspace for ink and watercolor drawings. This is also the place where Steve’s fabric patterns are created.
The curated objects in Steve’s studio are what inspire him most to create… Here are a few. Note the Illy coffee – nothing like an Italian espresso to keep you going!
Lately, Steve has been spending a lot of time in the studio, creating works for some upcoming shows, fabric lines and more!
Come visit the steve mckenzie’s showroom and experience the art of Steve McKenzie for yourself; and stay tuned for some exciting things coming up for Steve’s art!
*All photos by Marc Mauldin Photography