The Idea Behind Painting La Verna – Part Two

The sanctuary at La Verna was initially a place of solitude for St Francis. Today it is a busy, working monastery perched precariously upon a rocky outcrop of Monte Penna . The idea is to use the works of Ghirlandaio and Gozzoli as reference points to create a new perspective on this Tuscan, religious tourist attraction.

The problemLa Verna cartoon

La Verna cartoon

with getting the composition right is the sheer number of buildings present today. In Ghirlandaio’s day there were about half a dozen, the current site contains nearer fifty structures.

I decided to do this by flattening out the perspective and moving the monks quarters through 90 degrees. Using the open courtyard as the focal point and placing the buildings around it, keeping the large cross and the sheer cliff face in place.

Layout sketches

Layout sketches

The steps down to the hermitage and into the caves I moved around a little to make the rock face more interesting and to record St Francis’ hideaways. It did mean however, that the long, glazed corridor was missed off and the peak of the mount is somewhat stylised but you get the gist.

LaVerna3Although the rocky outcrop is based on Gozzoli’s cliffs from the Magi Chapel, you can still make out the rough shapes of the rocks. The foreground follows the same contours as the actual ground and the foliage has a similar feel to the area. The large trees are an invention but if you ever visit the site you will see trees like this all over the place.

LaVerna2Once the layout had been decided upon, detail sketches were made and a rough outline drawing complete. This gave an idea of the composition and look of the painting.

Check out the finished painting in Part Three.


3 responses to “The Idea Behind Painting La Verna – Part Two

  1. Fun following your process Neal!

  2. Pingback: St Francis’ Tuscan Retreat – La Verna | UmbriArt Gallery

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