Tag Archives: art

Paintings at Artisti al Monte

We had a great weekend at Artisti al Monte. I set my artwork up on the loggia at Valerie’s house in the beautiful Umbrian countryside. There were lovely views of the Aggia Valley all around, down to Sansecondo and the Upper Tiber Valley and on up towards Gioiello and Monte Santa Maria Tiberina.

DSCN7124Art tour

In total there were 29 artists dotted around the wonderful landscape where visitors could follow the trail to various sculptors, painters and craftspeople from the area. The largest collection was in Monte’s castle vaults but more could be found in the restaurants, guest houses and local studios.

I spent the weekend sketching on the airy loggia, chatting with our guests, while Valerie sat below making a ladybird mosaic and telling people all about the process. Everyone was really interested, especially the kids.

DSCN7143Fun for the kids

The committee had come up with the great idea of awarding a prize to the child who collected the most signatures. We had an endless stream of enthusiastic artist hunters coming through our doors. The serious side was to help raise funds for this little school to help with trips and equipment, it was fabulous to see the little ones joining in.

FullSizeRenderSuccessful art event

This is a wonderful way of bringing the community together and showing off the talents in the area. It proved to be a popular event with picnics arranged, family trips out and lots of people happily chatting in the spring sun. Now in it’s 5th year the Artisti al Monte continues to help the local school, show off its artists and bring people together. What more can you ask from a weekend?

 

Drawing Gothic

The early styles of the International or High Gothic period are dominated by a lack of perspective. Artists at this time were rediscovering the ways of showing three dimensions and their attempts are an interesting exercise in drawing.

3bec70db40e6dfde02ae3a4769e550faGothic art

They were aware that things changed over distance but were not sure how to depict distances or foreshortening. Although devices are commonly found in Greek and Roman art, down the years the techniques had been discouraged and lost. Now artists found themselves experimenting to reinvent the illusion of depth.

With a relaxing of regulations by the church controlling art and a growing merchant class with money to spend, more naturalistic lifelike studies  began to emerge. People, landscapes, buildings and vegetation all appeared in paintings.

Drawing perspective

DUCCIO FIRST DENIAL OF PETERThe first uses of perspective were simple oblique projections, whereby angled ,parallel lines were used to indicate that a building was going into the distance. Ariel perspective, the bluing of the horizon, was another early device for showing objects further away.

Gradually the idea of vanishing points took hold and artists had all lines converging at a single point. Quite often this was the centre of the room and painting panelled ceilings and tiled floors were popular to show their mastery of the technique.

There was however a tendency to give each object their own vanishing point in the picture, which gives the scenes a chaotic but interesting look. There are chairs at strange angles, beds that Annunciation of Death of the Virgin_Siena,Museo dell opera del Duomoseem to float and objects that sit in a completely different plain to the things they rest on.


Painting nature

By the end of the High Gothic artists could comfortably draw ellipses, understood how objects sat next to each other and where shadows naturally fell. All important developments in illustrating three dimensions.  As each mystery unfolded their worlds took on a more realistic appearance.

KitchenDrawingOver the next two hundred years the skill of using one, two, three and four point perspectives would be unlocked and by the start of the Renaissance  artists were comfortably creating realistic rooms, elegant street scenes and marvelous landscapes.

It was through these early experiments during the Gothic period that led to the later, accomplished designs. They do provide an interesting instruction on how to draw perspective and show how the different ways effect the look of a painting.

 

The International Gothic – A Break from Tradition

The International Gothic or Late Gothic art period covers the 13th – 14th centuries and came during a time of religious upheaval and political change. The Christian church was witnessing the growth of Protestantism with its new fangled ideas and the establishment of City States. These too had their own, personal, political agendas and particular allegiances. Very much like the world of today.

lorenzetti_street2The growth of the merchant class provided a challenge to the financial muscle of the church and Europe’s royalty.

These nouveau riche still wanted art on a more personal level but art that reflected their view of the world. It wasn’t  burdened by outdated dictate and accurately reflected the people of the times. The church’s ideals on how and what art should depict was being intellectually challenged. People wanted frescoes and paintings that illustrated real life. Therefore there was an increase in naturalistic imagery and the showing of everyday life.

Gothic art

Annunciation of Death of the Virgin_Siena,Museo dell opera del DuomoThe artists during this period spent their time rediscovering the ancient ways of showing nature. Perspective, foliage and realistic depiction were once again on the menu. Here current artists played their part in trying to understand how the Greeks and Romans set about doing this.

Suddenly it was possible to paint trees, water, buildings and furniture. Painters could populate their worlds with people and animals, fields and hills. But how?  It is interesting to see the artists development of perspective. Each creating strange views with multiple vanishing points, rooms with weird angles and impossible furniture scattered throughout the pictures.

Social painting

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽdaThese strange, other worlds, with their experiments at three dimensions provide a unique viewpoint into life during the Late Medieval period. They show the lives of the ordinary people in the fields alongside royalty.

You can see palaces, castles and cathedrals but also simple houses, barns and sheds. As much as you can see wars and battles there are farmers sowing crops and peasants tending sheep.

Artistic licence 

Giotto di Bondone, Simone Martini, the Lorenzetti brothers in Italy and  Conrad von Soest in Germany and the Limbourg brothers from France all played their part in developing the distinctive style of the International Gothic.

This break with the traditions of the Byzantine paved the way for what would become the greatest advances in art with the arrival of the Renaissance. The steps started by the International Gothic would flourish during the next period and set new standards in artistic representation.  However, I still find the exploration of the 13th and 14th centuries some of the most compelling works on view.

 

The Italian Wedding Garden

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Garden View from Montone – Watercolour and ink 53 cm x 31 cm

This wedding present features the Italian garden where the happy couple got married. It is next door to the ex-San Francesco Church in Montone. A beautiful location with lots of trees to shade the guests and a spectacular view behind.

garden-view-20Views from Montone

From this lofty position you can see across the Val Tiberina towards Trestina, Fabbrecce and the hill top monastery of Canoscio. In the distance is the little village of Lugnano and on the horizon the omnipresent Monte Santa Maria Tiberina.

Painting the landscape

The garden itself features three distinctive trees, two birch and a large palm tree. Between these is a bench. I liked this as a metaphor for married life, two becoming one and looking out on the bright new future with the sun raining down. Corny of course but I think it makes for a nice composition too.

If you’d like your special place captured in watercolour or think it would make a perfect wedding gift, drop me a line at travellingcontent@gmail.com

 

Watercolor on the Lake – Isola Polvese

 

neal_winfield_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.

 

Sketching Trip to the Lake

Lake Trasimeno

Island of Polvese

I took a nice sketching trip out to Lake Trasimeno yesterday to get some drawings and photographs for my next painting. Early autumn can be a great time for packing up your tools and going into the wilds to draw.

 

Lago Trasimeno Rocca

Polvese Castle ruins

Autumn art trip

It was a warm day with that particular bright, piercing sunlight you get in September. The subject for this picture is Polvese, the largest of Trasimeno’s islands and the least inhabited.

Once a thriving fishing community lived here and its ruined castle and abandoned monastery attest to the fact that it used to be home to many more people than it is today.

Isole Polvese

Water logged trees

Walking tour

The island is a lovely place to walk, the gradients aren’t too steep and there are plenty of interesting corners to photograph or paint and a little cafe bar to pick up a snack.

Like the neighbouring island of Isole Maggiore there is a regular ferry,

Monestario Polvese

Polvese Monastery ruins

running almost every hour (except lunchtimes) and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Alternatively you can cruise around the lake capturing the towns along the shoreline and the olive grove strewn hills behind.

If you should find yourself on an art holiday in Umbria, then a day on the lake is a rewarding way to fill up a sketch pad. Happy drawing 🙂

Painting the Dark Alleyways of Castello

neal_winfield_central_citta_di_castello

The Dark Alleyways – watercolour and ink, 31 cm x 50

The latest painting is of the back streets of Citta di Castello. The brief included a particular doorway, which is down a narrow alleyway, plus three piazzas.

dscn6344Painting the alleyways

The scene needed to take into account the rear of the cathedral, the town’s famous round bell tower, along with three other structures that make up Castello’s memorable skyline.

The tight cobbled streets and strange irregular plan do not give you much room to work with. This area is also quite tall in some respects with high towers, the mass of the cathedral building and the impressive apartment blocks next door. So all in all I think the result is quite pleasing.

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Stormy purple sky

Colour blind sky

As autumn closes in the weather has turned a little. Gone are the endless blue skies, sun streaked days with scorching afternoons. Instead we’ve been experiencing the odd dramatic thunder storm.

So I decided to answer the question all colour literate people ask. “What colour is the stormy sky in your world?” Well here you have it.  Tell me, who’d swap all of this for a boring, old grey sky? …  🙂