Monthly Archives: December 2014

Putting the Pieces Together – Painting Cagli

Or, how a painting gets made, Cagli is a small town in Le Marche, Italy, near the Umbrian border and the city of Gubbio. It has a long history and nestles neatly between the mountains alongside the old Via Flaminio, which linked ancient Rome with the Adriatic Sea.

Finding Cagli

Cagli's buildings

Cagli’s buildings

It took a while to piece together the painting and even having spent time walking it’s streets and looking at the buildings still meant a snap decission about the composition couldn’t be made. Eventually the form started to take shape and a bright cream town will rise from the lusious fields with a blue/grey mountainous background to frame the picture.

Raphael's trees

Raffaello’s trees

There were a couple of things I wanted to include. Firstly that is linked in with its sister painting – Cantiano. This I’ve done by extending the Cantiano hills, the sky and the SP3 Superstrada across onto the left-hand side of the Cagli painting. I also decided to have some more of Raffaello Stanzio’s trees in the work as he was born in nearby Urbino.

Cagli’s old map

Cagli map

Studies from the 1670 Map

Whilst walking the streets I came upon a shop with a reproduction of a 1670 street map of the town. This was a wonderful find and luckily it has been uploaded onto the internet. Each street block is delicately filled with buildings to give a wonderful impression of the town some 345 years ago.

I’ve taken some of these street blocks and building patterns and included them in the foreground of the painting. Using this and the more recognisable structures to construct a view of the city, with the Appennine Mountains in the background.

Colouring Le Marche

Cagli town centre

View of Cagli’s town wall

The colours I plan to use will be the typical terracotta, cream and ochres in the buildings set against a steely blue mountain with turquise and verdant green vegetation. This will be capped of with the continuation of the dramatic orange, pink and purple sky.

Land, Sea and Townscapes all Together

Welsh town - Saundersfoot

Saundersfoot – West Wales

I’ve finally come from behind my Italian mountains and taken on a new viewpoint. This time it is the beautiful town of Saundersfoot in West Wales. The scenery combines perfectly sea, land and townscapes all in one painting. The town, complete with its little harbour, colourfully painted houses and rolling hills topped with trees makes an idyllic study.

It’s not far from my other Welsh study, Tenby and as it’s an area I know quite well. Painting Saunderfoot reminded me how much I love that part of the world and that I should spend some time there working again.

Wales town


It was great drawing a place in Wales, with different shaped roofs and buildings to the ones I normally paint in Italy. There was a lack of terracotta or cream  and the trees were less sculpted. I like painting the sea too, there’s a tranquil feeling to be had making repetitive wavy lines. It’s a kind of artistic Pilates.

The sky gives a nice sense of drama to the composition and for me anyway, a bright pink and orange sky is the norm first thing in the morning and last thing at night.


Watercolour Painting in Le Marche

Le Marche village

Cantiano – Le Marche
Watercolour and ink 33 x 55 cm (Sold)

Cantiano is a little town in Le Marche, situated in the Appennine Mountains, 40 km south of Raffaello Sanzio’s birthplace, Urbino. The town sits on the base of a deep cut valley with towering hills all around and the little hamlet of Il Borgo clings to the side of Monte Petrano.

DSCN3030The views across the Sierra Burano are gorgeous, with Monte Catria, crowned with a massive iron cross, being one of the stand out features of the landscape. The countryside is littered with ancient bridges, mysterious tunnels and Romanesque churches.

The painting focuses on the river with a row of brightly coloured houses opposite, behind this there is one of the oldest streets in Cantiano, said to date back to the Medieval period. This leads into the large piazza, with the ochre clocktower building and the church of  San Nicolo and a  little further down the road the Collegiate di San Giovanni Battista.


Cantiano sunset

The road leaves town and gradually climbs through the rugged, hills until you come to Palcano, with the collection of houses, Il Borgo is higher up the hill. Here the slopes are wooded, scrubland, there is the occassional olive grove and field but very little cultivated land at this height.

For the sky I settled on the gorgeous sunset, oranges and pinks we saw during out visit, It was slightly cloudy and just as the sun headed towards the horizon the sky was lit up.

Raphael Sansio

The Knights Dream – Raphaello

The now familiar tree motif is one inspired by Raphaello, it takes its shape from the way the local boy painted foliage on his trees. These were often tall trunked trees with roughly hinted, stylised leaves. This one uses the tree at the centre of a “Knights Dream” as the starting point.