I wanted to paint this watercolour as I was invited, along with six other artists, to take part in the opening of a new exhibition space in Umbertide. I decided that it would be a good idea to paint a new piece of the town for the show.
The latest picture of Umbertide was meant as a sister painting to the large one of Citta di Castello
. Taken from a viewpoint of the northern entrance into the town centre, the scene looks across the River Tevere. In the foreground are the road and rail bridges, the old wall and the houses of Piazza San Francesco.
Rising out of this is the old Rocca tower and the strangely shaped Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Reggia to it’s left. Also visible is the bell tower in the main piazza and the curvey facade of Santa Croce, now a museum, which is famous for it’s Luca Signorelli fresco.
The mountains of Acuto and Corona dominate the background with Civitella Ranieri on the third hill. On the tobacco fields behind Umbertide the painting shows the Abbey of Monte Corona and one of the brightly coloured, orange warehouses that litter the landscape around the town.
My sky is normally influenced by the weather at the time of painting and we’ve had some stormy, dark days of late. However, rather than create a grey, somber scene I decided to show the way black, leaden clouds come across as pink and purple to me. Much more dramatic and cheery.
The large tree to the right is a reference to Duccio, whose work I’ve been studying lately in reference to a project on the lost predella of Simone Martini’s picture of Beato Agostino Nouvello, in Siena. I love the way that he realised that there were two elements to depicting trees, the dark green shape of the tree and its lighter leaves.
Umbertide Sul Tevere conveys the feeling of a town situated in a large open plain surrounded by tall mountains and tree covered hills. While linked with the outside world by road, rail and river it is still a busy but tranquil place to live.