Category Archives: landscape

Soup Bowls, Rocks and Piece of Broccoli -Painting with Imagination

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The Bosco di Querce – watercolor and ink , 81 cm x 26 cm  (For Sale)

Following on from the painting of the Olive Grove, this one is entitled Old Oak Trees. It’s the second in the series, taking inspiration from the Medieval book of trees, it features elements of an imaginary ancient landscape.
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St David of Wales

When I thought of a cluster of oak trees, naturally, my mind went to the Celtic legends, tales of dragons, druids and secret places. So, this long painting is filled with a series of old, gnarled oaks and a tor with a stone monument on top.

Making a landscapes

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Table top monument

Whereas the olive grove painting was of trees in my local area of Italy, the oak trees were completely invented. To do this I used an old artist’s trick, making an artificial landscape out of bits of broccoli, some stones and an upturned soup bowl. Perfect!

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Creating myths

This formed the basis of the painting, along with the usual stylistic elements from the 13th century masters, their hills, rocky ledges and fields. The particular way in which they painted the trees and sky finishes the composition.
To complete the scene we could add suitable names. The road leading to the stream is Via Sant’Agnese or St Agnes Street. Some of the stones came from the River Aggia, the others are ballast from the railway, (the ferrovia or the iron way). Put all of this together and you can create a myth of epic proportions.
The Bosco di Querce, follow the Iron Way, past the Stones of Aggia and up the Tor of St Agnes.” All from some broccoli, a few stones and a bowl.

 

The Old Olive Tree

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The Old Olive Tree – Watercolour and ink, 40 cm x 22 cm (For Sale)

After completing the Medieval Tree Book, I decided that I’d had fun painting them but wanted larger paintings of trees. More complete landscapes, so here is the first of the woods, forests and groves collection. It is intended that these have a group tree themes within a fantasy landscape.

olivetreeThe first, the Old Olive Tree, came out of an old tree I spotted in Citta di Castello. An impressive, 25 foot tall tree, old and weathered, it seemed the perfect centre piece to an olive grove painting. The rest of the painting is made up of other, similarly twisted and gnarled trees with the background comprised of similar trees in the distant.

The hills in the beyond are a combination of hills in Lorenzetti’s landscape the “Allegory of Good and Bad Governance” and the skyline outside of my kitchen door.

So next look out for stone circles, scarecrows and rocky outcrops populated with lots of trees.

Big Up Assisi

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Assisi – watercolour and ink 960 cm x 600 cm (sold)

Well here you have it, the Assisi painting. Purely because of its size this commissions was great fun to work on. Measuring 960 cm x 600 cm meant I had lots of space to play with so I was able to include lots of detail.

Assisi’s landmarks

There are the usual suspects, the basilicas of St Francis, Clare and Ruffino, the old clock tower and the ruined fortrezza on top of the hill. However, if you looks carefully around Assisi, there are also iconic domestic buildings that stand out. These are the places that give the city its character.

Olives and wine

The olive tree in the foreground is in the centre of a traffic roundabout as you arrive at the town. Towering above it is the bastion of Saint Francesco’s churches, you will also drive through miles of vineyards and olive groves on your way to town. These are illustrated in the bottom corners.

The scale of the painting allows you to get lost exploring the little alleyways, spotting details and identifying the landmarks. Everyone has their favourite spot and it’s fun to see where each person’s journey takes them. Enjoy your own trip around Assisi. 🙂

Supersized Assisi

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Sketch of Supersized Assisi

I have been commissioned to paint a supersized version of Assisi. Once framed the picture will measure around 1300 cm x 900 cm.

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A Child’s view

The commission is for a young lady who bears the name of this wonderful city. The intention is to create a painting full of detail with alleyways, gateways, buildings and wooded hideaways where a child can let loose their imagination and make up tales of wonder and mystery.

Assisi’s landscape

Assisi will feature prominently in the centre with vineyards and olive groves filling the foreground. This is pretty much in keeping with the landscape around the town. Field boundaries, copses of trees and little isolated farmhouses will lead up to the start of the town with its gates and walls.

IMG_20180524_0003Assisi background

On the left, sitting low to the horizon, will be the Basilica of San Francesco. The upper slopes of Mount Subasio will then fade off on the right hand side. The sky will be a bright, sunburst, a mixture of yellow, orange, pinks, blue and lilacs perfect for this setting.

I’d also like to fill the picture with secret letters, numbers and images to fire a young person’s imagination and get her to look deeper into the painting. We’ll see how this idea pans out though.

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Towers, steeples and archways

The size of the watercolour will allow plenty of space to paint a fantastic, magical landscape where kids can have fun adventures. The hope is that people can return to it time and time again and discover new things hidden within the picture.

With the paper successfully stretched it’s time to get painting Assisi in all it’s magnificent detail.

Assisi – Home to Saints Francis, Ruffino and Clare

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Assisi – watercolour and ink, 35 cm x 70 cm. (For Sale)

This Assisi watercolour is a very busy painting filled with lots of detail and colour. Like the town itself, you can easily get lost looking at the buildings, alleyways and churches. The three major cathedrals of St Francis, St Ruffinus and St Clare are all prominently featured, as are five of the medieval gateways.

Dawn sky

DSCN7606The sky is a beautiful sun burst pattern, one commonly seen in the Umbrian dawn. While the picture is divided into three views by two trees, which depict the styles of Giotto and Simone Martini. Both of whose work can be seen in the magnificent Basilica di San Francesco.

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As you walk the streets, what strikes you most is the array of arched doorways and windows. The town is full of arches, some ancient ones, long blocked in, others leading to delicious restaurants and bars, while others lead you down interesting back alleys to new and captivating piazzas.

The Marmore Waterfalls

 

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Marmore Waterfalls – watercolour and ink, 90 cm x 30 cm (For Sale)

A question, often asked of artists is “how long did it take you to paint that?” Well the waterfalls at Marmore took me 8 years. I first visited them back in 2009 and decided I had to capture the area on paper.

The actual design, once I put pencil to paper, took about two weeks to dream up. Those who followed the paintings progress on Facebook know that it took five days to paint. So depending on how you look at these things, anywhere between eight years or three weeks.

Some times you can’t rush things.

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Umbria Film Studio

Behind the painting

The painting features the 2,200 year old, man-made waterfall at Marmore, popular with artists, the medieval hill top village of Papigno, through which your drive on your way to the base of the falls and pass the Umbria film studios.

The studios are  where Roberto Benigni filmed his classic movie “La vita e bella” and has a strange collection of building facades along the river, with the large, metal cladded buildings behind.

Marmore waterfalls

Around the corner from the studios you come across the waterfalls. If you visit, choose your times carefully as they are not always flowing. The water is diverted through a hydro-electric plant and for the greater part of the day they are quiet.

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Tree studies

However, twice a day the sluice gates are opened and you can experience the full glory of the water cascading over the cliff face and through the trees. It is this spectacle that artists and poets down the ages have come to witness and area is a truly tranquil place to explore.

Lacrime di Lucifero

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Lacrime di Lucifero – Morro d’Alba – watercolour and ink 44cm x 28cm (For Sale)

Lacrime di Lucifero. Lacrime refers to the delicious wine of Morro d’Alba, Lacrime (meaning tears) and Lucifero being the nickname given to the heatwave of the summer of 2017.  One of the things you need to ease the midday temperatures is a good wine and believe me, this is a great wine.

Morro d’Alba painting

DSCN7688Morro d’Alba is 12 km from the coastal town of Senigalia in Le Marche, Italy and is perched high above the Adriatic Coast. From its covered walls, you can look down on the endless fields of sunflowers, vineyards and olive groves.
The main piazza, on the left, sits on top of a small hill, with the rest of the town sloping away from it. All around the town walls there are pine trees and oaks along the road side. During the summer months these provide much needed shade and were especially welcome in 2017.

Gothic style

Again the style is an apocalyptic, Gothic stylised painting, with a red faced demon, blasting hot air down on the town and the typical trees and buildings that can be found in Medieval manuscripts. The idea is to give the painting a doomsday feel to it. Soaring temperatures, parched landscape and bleached, dry towns. All very “The end is nigh”.