Tag Archives: countryside

The Wedding Gift

neal_winfield_citta-di-castello_south.jpg

Citta di Castello South Wall  – Watercolour and ink 74cm x 32cm (Sold)

 

When Lucia and Leo decided to get married, Lucia’s sister Beatrice asked me to do them a painting of Citta di Castello. This I was delighted to do as I’d been teaching them English for the last two years and know the three very well.

Town wall

LuciaLeoSo we’d decided on the town and just needed the layout. This time I decided to paint Castello’s south wall, which features the impressive gateway, the Pinocoteca decorated by Versari and a half-hidden view of the bell tower and duomo.

Painting tall trees

The length of the wall is cloaked in trees so I chose to paint them in a similar way to Citerna and Nice. Raising them above the scene to give uninterrupted views of the town but keeping the verdant look.

As the painting was for a wedding I put a dawn sky in, with lovely and pinks and purple, the start of a new beginning etc. This spiritual undercurrent was completed with the “Angel fingers” sun rays peeping out through the cloud and covering the town.

Noteable buildings

CdiC Wall (37).JPGCitta di Castello is flanked by hills with the outstanding Belvedere sanctuary on one side and the former Montessori, educational institute, Montesca on the other. The scene is completed with the bell towers that grace the skyline and the modern roundabout on the left.

Secret surprise

As it was for a special occasion the lovely couple’s initials “LB LF” were also inscribed as graffiti on one of the doors and the scoreboards on the Bocce ball court feature the date of their wedding “0206”.

The wedding itself was a wonderful event, the service was held at Canoscio and afterwards we retired to the hills above Sansepolcro for a wonderfully typical Italian reception. I was happy to have been asked to play a small part in their memorable day.  Tanti auguri tutti.

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A Return to the Niccone Valley

Val di Pierle

The Niccone Valley – Watercolor and ink, 70cm x 32cm

The Niccone Valley stretches from the village of Niccone at one end to the Pierle and Lisciano Niccone Castles at the other. This lush green landscape has the border between Umbria and Tuscany weaving its way down the valley, with fortified points along the way that for centuries have kept guard over the territory.

Halfway along you have the walls of Reschio and Sorbello castles, both now hidden amongst the trees. You can, however, imagine the lords keeping the slopes clear of trees to maintain a constant view of their neighbour’s comings and goings.

The battlefield has now been given over to crops and grain, sunflowers, onion patches, olive groves and grapevines are everywhere. Each adds its own particular shade of green to the hillsides and the valley floor making for a picturesque place.

The Walled Medieval Village

Italian medieval village

Borgo Santa Giuliana – Watercolour and ink, 30 x 20 cm (Sold)

I’ve always loved the little walled Medieval village of Borgo Santa Giuliana that sits on the slopes of Monte Corona, south of Umbertide.

watercolor Italian village

Medieval walled village

The studies for this picture are as a result of having spent a month lounging around above it last summer. During the course of the day I found myself constantly taken by the ever changing colours of the walls and roofs.

 

Painting Santa Giuliana

Layout sketch

Layout sketch

This painting is based on the view from the rear of the village, looking down from the olive grove slopes above. This gives you a good overall impression of the size of the village, the shape and how it sits in the landscape.

The colours, I decided, should be a yellow/brown combination with a little deep grey for the shadows. The mountain is covered with trees so there’s lots of chance for green to compliment the browns of the wall.

Fun Trip Painting the Tiberina Valley

Umbrian valley

Valtiberina

The completion of this painting means, artworkwise we’re ready for the “Points on the Horizon”exhibition in Montone next week. Nothing left to do bar the panicking.

Driving down the valley

The Valtiberina stretches from the heights of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina (MSMT), perched on the top of a hill, right down to the main valley at the confluence of Monterchi and Citerna. At this point the two ancient Umbrian and Tuscan towns continue their time honoured face-off.

View from Monte Santa Maria Tiberina

View from Monte Santa Maria Tiberina

The beauty of the trip are the four villages, MSMT, Lippiano, Monterchi and Citerna. Each different but all typically Italian. Caffe bars and breathtaking views are what you should expect here, this is not a trip of designer shopping. Although Monterchi does have a Piero della Francesca painting and Citerna a Donatello sculpture.

Autumnal fields

Valtiberina

Valtiberina

Along with the towns, the painting shows the diversity of vegetation and crops you’ll encounter as you travel down the valley. Initially the slopes are densely wooded but this gradually thins out to reveal olive groves, grape vines and fields of sunflowers. Although when I made the trip the sunflowers had long since gone and all that remained were their sad, short cropped stalks.

Again the painting features tall stylised trees, that pay homage to the early Renaissance and High Gothic masters Giotto, Lorenzetti and Gozzoli who all pioneered landscape painting and often featured strangely alien trees.  But this was a time of experimentation and their efforts led the way to more formal renditions of fields, gardens and parklands.

The apartment looks towards MSMT and like the painting, when the sky in that direction starts to bruise, within a couple of hours, we can normally expect rain. At this time the sky can be lit up with bursts of lightening and the clatter of thunder rattles around the hills.

 

Early Morning Walks

Italian track

Morning Mist

Every morning, nice and early, I take to two dogs out for walk. Along the damp white road we stroll, shrouded in mist with a pale sun poking through the cloud. Past the crumbling farmhouse, the delapidated barn and the swirling ford. At present this is a torrent of muddy water, after the recent spell of rain.

Wood shed

Wood shed

Beneath the rusting, iron bridge, we turn and continue along the railway line.  Where you can just making out the rickety wood shed and then we are out amongst, the now empty tobacco fields and the knarled old grape vines.

grape vines

Ancient Vine

Late winter at this time of day is lovely. There’s normally a light mist and a slight bite to the chill morning air. It wakes you up nicely, focusing the mind and helping to set out the day ahead.

Italian train

Rural Grafitti

Occasionally the muted landscape is cut by the noise of a grafitti decorated, train, In the morning light it is loud, bright and brash against the subtle green of the Umbrian countryside. And just as suddenly as the clattering of the train arrives, it is gone, leaving a calm, tranquility for the three of us to walk.

Damp Tobacco

Damp Tobacco

All photographs are available to buy as greeting cards here