Category Archives: watercolour

Watercolor on the Lake – Isola Polvese



Isola Polvese – watercolor and ink, 52 cm x 21 cm (Sold)

Here’s the finished watercolor of the third island on Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, Italy. The picture captures the lusciousness of the place, covered in oak woodlands and olive groves. Dotted around the island are a collection of buildings,a cafe bar by the dock, a ruined castle and an abandoned monastery. The island also has its own oil press where they produce their olive oil.

Tuscan umbria castle towns

Castiglione del Lago 

Travel painting

As it’s perpetually shaded, even on a hot day, it’s a cool place to walk around. The island is now an unspoilt nature reserve with thousands of birds flocking to its shores each year to take advantage of the lovely natural habitat.

Lago Trasimeno, Umbria

Isola Maggiore

Island joy

The painting is part of a threesome, with the Isola Maggiore and a study of the town of Castiglione del Lago completing the set. Lined up together you get an idea of the large expanse of water that makes up Lake Trasimeno and the wooded hills that surround it. However, most of all, you can feel the tranquility of the water as it laps along the shoreline and the serenity that can be found all over the islands.



Le Mont Saint Michel – Cathedral in the ocean

Mass San Michel

Le Mont Saint Michel Watercolour and ink 28 x 45 cm (For Sale)

The ancient rocky outcrop at the mouth of the river Couesnon has had occupants going back a millennia. Situated some 600 metres off the coast, near the village of Avranches, its 14 metre tidal range made it a highly defensible site.


Mont Saint Michel, Britany

Monastery building

A monastery was first established here in the 8th century but down the years, Mont Saint Michel has been used as a castle and also prison as well.   Victor Hugo was amongst its many political prisoners kept here.

This image of the towering abbey is based around a painting by the Limbourg brothers around the start of the 15th century. Le Mont Saint Michel featured in the lovely Gothic International manuscript Les tres riches heures du Duc de Berry. The original book measured only 29.4 x 21 cm and can be seen in the Musee Conde in Chantilly.


Orvieto Painting – The Wine of Popes


Orvieto – The wine of the Popes



The Back of Santa Maria Tiberina


Monte Santa Maria Tiberina – Watercolour and ink, 74cm x 32 cm (Sold)

Painting Monte

Monte Santa Maria Tiberina is an Umbrian, hill top village that is visible from just about anywhere on the Umbrian, Tuscan border. From it’s lofty perch it looks down on the Upper Tiber Valley, Citta di Castello, all the way down to Umbertide and up as far as Sansepolcro.

Painting Umbrian village

Monterchi – Watercolour and ink 36 cm x 36 cm (Sold)

Piero’s influence

This version was commissioned as a sister painting to the Monterchi study and so they share many similar features. MSMT’s location meant a Piero della Francesca sky was an essential element, while the large feature trees are reminiscent of the masters own style.

The view in reality, mainly, consists of wooded slopes but if you travel along the road from Prato to Monte you find yourself weaving your way around the hills. Climbing ever upwards, past small farms, olive groves and vineyards.

The painting shows the change in the vegetation, which culminates in the cluster of fir trees on top of the hill and the blockhouse structure of the ancient village.

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.


Painting Mount Subasio

Umbria, Assisi painting

Mount Subasio, Assisi and Spello
Watercolour and ink, 74cm x 37cm (For Sale)

It has been an idea of mine for quite a while to paint Mount Subasio with its sentinals, Assisi and Spello. These are both ancient towns and in the case of Assisi very famous as the birthplace of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.

Assisi Umbria

Basilica San Francesco, Assisi

The painting is viewed as if travelling along the SS3 between Perugia and Foligno. Out of the distance the curvey shape of Subasio appears and as you approach, the distinctive features of San Francesco’s basilica come into view. It is an awesome sight to drive up to.

Follow the highway

Porta Consolare with olive trees

Porta Consolare with olive trees

The bottom of the page represents the superstrada and if you look carefully as you drive along the foothills of Mount Subasio you’ll see the churches along the roadside. Spello at the other end is moulded around the slopes and has a number of ancient town gates. The most distinctive of these are the twin towered Porta Venere and the Porta Consolare, with olive trees growing on top of it.

The trees in the foreground represent the works of Piero Lorenzetti and Giotto, both worked in the area and have frescoes in the basilica. The palm trees are in the style of Pinturicchio who worked extensively in Spello and it is here you can see his paintings.

Return to the Niccone Valley

The lovely people of Lisciano Niccone have approached me about painting their gorgeous valley again. This one will be for their publicity material.  Both a good advertisment for me and a chance to take another look at the stunning Niccone Valley landscape.

Publicity for Lisciano Niccone

Lisciano Niccone Castle

Lisciano Niccone Castle

As it’s a promotional image I’ve decided to keep it bright and cheerful, just like summer. There should be a bold sun, a few clouds and lots of green hills with the ubiquitous castles that makes the valley is famous.

Drawing the Valley

Niccone Valley Sketch

Niccone Valley Sketch

I’ll keep the dimensions roughly the same as the first version, which was in the region of 70 cm by 32 cm. This should give me a large enough canvas to paint in detail and also plenty of room to cover the 16 miles that make up the valley.