Category Archives: Painting

Gubbio – The Saint, The Wolf and a Race

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Gubbio – The Saint, The Wolf and a Race, watercolor and ink. 36 cm x 68 cm (For Sale)

Gubbio is a fascinating town in Umbria, said to be one of Noah’s first twelve cities, it is also the place where St Francis spoke to a wolf, who was terrorising the residents. Each May there is a famous mountain race where three teams carry 25 foot totems to the basilica above.

Gubbio landmarks

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Ceri dei Gubbio

The main landmarks around Gubbio are depicted including the ancient Roman amphitheater, the churches of saints Francesco, Ubaldo and Pietro as well as the magnificent Palazzo dei Consoli.

The painting is a sister to the one of Assisi with the sky following from one to the other. It is painted with a lack of linear perspective as a way of exploring differing ways of depicting depth.

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Palazzo dei Consoli

The style is a modern interpretation of the Medieval Gothic work of such artists as Giotto and Martini who were both active in this region over 700 years ago. Great examples of their works are shown in Assisi.

Medieval pallet

The painting employs a pallet typical of the era. With earthy tones and the occasional splash of colour thrown in. Ultramarine was especially reserved for depictions of the Madonna and so a cerulean blue is used instead for the sky.

The greens are mainly viridian, sap and terra verde with titanium and Chinese whites providing the highlights. As always vermilion is used for the bright red roof tiles.

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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”.

Lucifer’s Summer

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Lucifer’s Summer – watercolour and ink, 26cm x 40cm (For Sale)

After the heatwave, that drifted over southern Europe for three weeks, the summer of 2017 earned nickname “Lucifer’s Summer”. The average temperature was in the mid-forties and the heat was stifling.

Withering landscape

The painting features the village of Belvedere Ostrense in Le Marche, with the silhouettes of Barbara and Ostra Vetere in the background. The hills had either been ploughed, which left hardened clods of earth or black, dried sunflowers, making the usual verdant landscape turn various shades of black and brown.

tumblr_m9fs9j2VIR1refr94o1_500Hot summer

The never-ending heatwave had the feel of a biblical prophecy to it so I decided to paint it in a Medieval manuscript style, complete with a demonic head in the corner. From its foul mouth swirl the stinking, reeking heat of hell. Well that’s how it felt for quite a few days that summer

Medieval Treadmill Workout

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Medieval Gym – Watercolour and ink – 21 cm x 29 cm (For Sale)

“The steady rumbling of the water wheel, turning, turning, turning, working to the beat of the race. The straining of the machine, the thump against the punch bag, the sacks of flour and the groaning, panting and sweating of the work out. Gym day, Thursday is here again. “

Watermill2Old watermills

The idea came from images I saw of old watermills, simple representations that looked fun to play with. I liked the idea that the waterwheel could also be used as a piece of gym equipment, endlessly driving people on.

The mill machine

Watermill3So the Medieval gym was filled with a punch bag, exercise bike, medicine ball, wall ladders, pommel horse and a climbing rope. The locker cabinet is based around the Ikea  cupboards. The idea is that the gym equipment somehow looks like the wheels and cogs of the mill, so in truth you’d get a work out there whether you went for exercise or as part of your job.

Painting watermills

I decided to make the watermill a natural partner with the windmill painting by using the same deep Prussian Blue sky. The dark blues in the watermill are countered by bright orange, browns and yellows to give the picture some colourful visual points.Watermill

The style of the water comes from the way traditional stained glass artists would paint water and is one I’d used previously in the painting of Positano

Windmills in the Wind

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Medieval Laundry Room – watercolor & ink, 21 cm x 29 cm (For Sale)

“Highlighted against the storm brushed horizon the windmill groaned. Its sails idly turning as the early evening sky began to bruise. From the depths inside came the groans and grinding of a dank, dark place, heavy with gloom. The flapping of the clean clothes, whip-like, as they cracked out their punishment. Yes! it’s wash day again. “

Medieval WindmillMedieval Windmills

I’ve always loved the way the Gothic painters, woodcut artists and print-makers portrayed windmills. Strange boxes, mounted on legs or humps with crazy, spindly sails, twisting and turning in the breeze.

So when it came to the next in the Medieval rooms series I thought a windmill would make the perfect laundry room. Noisy places, vibrating machinery, canvases flapping in the wind and a sense of foreboding, well perhaps that’s just my laundry room.

laundry-bagFurnishing the windmill

The idea for the furnishings of the windmill came straight out of the Ikea catalogue. The washing machine, linen basket, laundry bag and shelves are all products from the Swedish company.

I also liked the idea of including a chain mail shirt and a Boudica-esque bra with copper finish and swirls. The whirligig behind, with its CrosssectionMillwashing reflects the mill, turning, spinning and drying the clothes.

Landscape painting

Instead of the gold leaf effect background, I have opted for in previous paintings,   I chose an alternative deep, Prussian blue sky, tinged with a hint of black.

Nowadays the use of black and white in watercolour painting is somewhat frowned upon but in the International Gothic period it was a perfectly acceptable practice.

Painting techniques windmill1200_0

This technique is how the painters of the past created depth, shadows and highlights. While their attempts may look clumsy and simplistic there is also an element of sophisticated understanding that gradually develops into the Renaissance period.