Monthly Archives: November 2015

Painting the Road to Hell

Italian highway

E45/ SS3BIS at Pierantonio Watercolour and ink, 24 x 57 cm

Well perhaps calling the E45/SS3BIS the “Road to Hell”, after Chris Rea’s famous song, is a little strong. After all it only goes between Cesena and Orte so not exactly the demonic destinations implied by the song.

However, anyone who has travelled to Perugia or  Bologna airports will tell you it’s a rough, narrow motorway with frequent diversions and contraflows. Not really an endearing run.

Umbrian landscape

Landscape in UmbriaOnce you take your eyes off the traffic bearing down on you or the unpredictable vagaries of motorway driving, you will see some gorgeous scenery. The hills that flank the E45 are dappled with olive groves and woodland copses. There are plenty of vineyards, abandoned farms and ancient churches that crown the hills and lots of half-hidden surprises amongst the trees.

Sourcing Gozzoli

Benozzo Gozzoli painting

Gozzoli village

This painting uses Benozzo Gozzoli for inspiration, although he never worked directly in the Upper Tiber Valley, his work can be found further south in Montefalco. While Gozzoli’s most famous work , “The procession of the Magi” is housed in the Medici Palazzo, Florence.

I liked the idea of putting some of his work into the painting. The trees and clouds he painted for the Medici family in the procession are so iconic that it would be a shame to leave them out of the journey.

Painting the motorway

This portion of the E45 (others are planned) is just after the Pierantonio junction. If you’re heading south, on the right is one of Italy’s many Castello di Savoia, with the hills to the left featuring a church, some farms, hill top ruins and vigilant watch towers.

So the next time you find yourself driving down the motorway, risk a quick glance to the horizon. You’ll sometimes surprise yourself with the unexpected views.


Monterchi Watercolor

Painting Umbrian village

Monterchi – Watercolour and ink 36 cm x 36 cm (For Sale)

Piero territory

Madonna del Parto - Piero della Francesca

Madonna del Parto – Piero della Francesca

Monterchi stands on the Umbrian Tuscan border and is famous for the rare painting by Piero della Francesca of the pregnant Madonna, “Madonna del Parto”. He was born locally, in Sansepolcro and many pieces of his work can be found in the area.

It’s for this reason I decided to paint a sky similar to his “Baptism of Christ” now held in the National Gallery in London. The tree on the left is also a reference to the 15th century painter.

The Baptism of Christ - National Gallery, London

The Baptism of Christ – National Gallery, London

Drawing the landscape

I used some sketches and photos from the Valtiberina painting that were taken looking across the fields from the road to Lippiano.

The colourful town stands out nicely, with a clear sky behind and plenty of trees in the foreground. Although I did a little pictorial pruning of the trees to give a better view of the buildings.