The most beautiful things are those felt with my heart, rather than those seen with my eyes.
Fitting my luggage and art portfolio into my micro sized rental car, which I aptly named "Baby Belle" is not easy. My portfolio is almost larger than my car. She is so delicate, this little car, that she almost breaks into tears at the sight of a steep hill. On one occasion she downright refused to go up a country lane. I am fairly certain she thought it would take far more energy then she thought ladylike to expend. If I didn't have ample speed, hills were out of the question. Today will be our last ride together and I will actually miss her. With keys in hand, I close the door to my Italian home one final time. The weeks have flown by in a blur of decadent wines, mouthwatering meals and countless hours spent painting inside the Tuscan fortress that was my home. A few tears escape as I drive off, leaving Buonconvento to fade in the distance. I aim Baby Belle in the direction of the airport, it's time for a change of scenery.
The airline attendant checking me in suspiciously eyes the four foot long canister tucked under my arm. In a somewhat questionable tone she asks me "What's in there?" I explain it contains three of my paintings. There is a moment of silence and then she enquires again, "What are you planning on doing with it?" To which I reply confidently, "Carrying it on." I am informed that may be a problem due to it's size. Being the determined little thing that I am, I look her straight in the eye and offer back "Then I will wear them. I am not checking them under the plane." Images of Joseph's Technicolor Dreamcoat come to mind, but if I have to, I will. Thankfully, I don't have to.
Nestled on an island, deep in the middle of the Irish Sea, my new cottage is more than I dreamed it would be. One would never know it was once a stone barn that housed.................wait for it.................................pigs. Yep, pigs. To my city friends in NYC, yep, I am sleeping in a pig barn. I know you are smiling right now, imagining me, and the pigs. But fear not, this particular pig barn is equipped with 3 iron chandeliers which are hanging between the original rustic beams in the lofted upper level of the cottage. Below, on the first floor, I find a jacuzzi bath and the comfy, coziest, white down duvet covered bed, suitable for even the fanciest of girls. Two stories of sheer heaven. My little barn is set inside one of the most amazing glen's on the island. (Glen being a Scottish term for a deep valley with water running through it that leads to the sea.) Here on the Isle Of Man beauty abounds, and I am grateful to find myself smack dab in the middle of it.
The Isle Of Man, where roads are given names like the "Lhergy Cripperty" and speed signs basically say "Go ahead, drive as fast as you want, we trust you" and the closest thing to a traffic jam is when a herd of wayward sheep overtake the roads. The Isle Of Man, home to the lucky few that drive daily down winding roads that surely were the inspiration for the scene in "Sleepy Hollow" where the "Headless Horseman" rides wildly down that dark tree line road, with the light illuminating at it's end. It would seem that almost every road here is lined with rows of trees, yearningly arching wildly overhead as if desiring to entwine it's branches with those of the trees on the other side. Like mother nature's leafy embrace. The result of which gives one the feeling you are rolling through lush tunnels, curving to the left, to the right. Every tree is smothered in English Ivy from its base to it's highest tip. This is the standard vision of a road on the island. The sight of which causes me to stop mid-sentence every time, as I take in the awe inspiring sight. Now just imagine that beautiful sight, then the sound of a superbike racing along at speeds that one can't imagine until you have seen it with your own eyes. Those are the sounds and sights of the Isle Of Man during TT week, which occurs in May-June of every year. Because this is the road racing capital of the world. Incredibly surprising, incredibly lovely and I am incredibly grateful to be here.
For those that prefer a slightly slower pace, there are endless footpaths on the island. There are trails meandering through fairytale glens, winding through sheep filled farmers fields, hanging on seaside cliffs and some deep in the thick forests. On one particular coastal walk I spy something red on the cliff below my path. Being the curious soul that I am, I climb down off my path to get a better look. Standing vertical I stare directly into a tiny little clump of red mushrooms. I have never before seen a red mushroom, and these particular ones appear to be molded out of red Jello. A sight that brings a smile to my face. A gust of wind blows me slightly off balance and I adjust my footing and rest my hands next to the mushroom treasure in front of my face. Something tells me "Turn around Patty." As I do so, my eyes go down to the rocks and sea below. One wrong move and I think to myself, "That would suck." I carefully climb back up and continue my walk. There is a lightness in my heart and I am happy for its presence.
Approaching a gallery can be an intimidating task for most artists, and I am no exception. But, seeing as I have carried my paintings across Europe, I figure I should give it a go. As fate would have it, six days later, two of my Italian paintings are hanging inside the gallery. I had just enough time to have them framed for the exhibits opening. During the reception the gallery owner approaches me and smiles. He congratulates me on getting into the show. With a nod of his head in the direction of one of my pieces he tells me "Well done, you have been on the island only a short time and you are already in a gallery. It takes most artists two to three years to get into a gallery here." I thank him and can't help but be once again grateful. Grateful for the opportunity, grateful for Jello mushrooms, tree covered roadways and this islands never ending beauty.