- August 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- December 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- August 2016
- July 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- August 2013
- September 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- Follow UmbriArt Gallery on WordPress.com
Tag Archives: painting
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.
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.
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
I’ve always loved calligraphy, lettering and sign writing, so this project gave me a chance to get back to some of the things I love drawing. Namely letters and the Italian countryside.
The sign is for an agriturismo, B&B, just outside of Pierantonio, Umbria and was to be completed on an old, but well preserved, wooden, window shutter. I decided to use the inside face and make a feature out of the old barrel hinges that were still intact.
Once the wood had been prepared, I set about designing the image. The only other prevision was the inclusion of the establishment’s name, “Villa Santa Caterina”.
Google Earth exploration
Although I’d never visited the site before I know the location well and easily found it on Google Earth, a great tool for exploring areas. You can really have a good nose around places and get the feel of the landscape. Obviously it’s not as good as a visit but as I’d driven the approach road often enough I knew the layout.
The idea for this image was straightforward. As you drive down the SP169, there’s a wide valley, a gentle curve and a distinctive manor house. This is where you turn off and if you look up into the hills on your right you can make out the Cyprus trees that ring Villa Santa Caterina above you.
The painting would hang outside so I opted to use acrylic paint and this, along with a dozen or so coats of varnish should protect it from the elements. As the lettering was to be the main event, and not the image behind, the other major decision I had to make was to paint a subtle landscape. This meant lashings of titanium white to give the hills and trees a pale look but leaving the buildings with enough emphasis so that they stand out. The whole effect is finished off with a bright red border.
Green trees, terracotta buildings and splashes of red in the roofs, that’s the Umbrian landscape.
Drop me a line if you think your tea room in Wales, antique shop in Portland or haberdashery in Coober Pedy would suit one. I’ll happily sort something out for you.
“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. “
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
So 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.
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.
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
“The Gothic Library, a mysterious, musty, place of books, tomes and manuscripts. Here, squirreled away are ancient texts, dark secrets and damning admissions. More revealing stories are recorded on the shelves of the cellar below the house. Locked away in heavy chests, behind iron bound doors, lit by the flickering light of a candle.”
Painting the library
This watercolor painting features a barrel arched basement with a set of steps leading up to the library. The sides are decorated with leafy foliage, reminiscent of earlier Byzantine works, and the background continues the gold leaf effect theme.
The Liatorp bookcase is lined with heavily bound, stylised, 14th century books, one, open and abandoned lies on the Stockholm coffee table. Against the wall is an Arklestrop, half moon table with a lamp and a flat woven rug on the floor.
Putting IKEA furniture in a Medieval Gothic setting is a fun way of examining the way the masters of the age would have handled painting modern furniture. Much of the Swedish designer’s products have straight, simple lines, ideally lending themselves to being recreated in a different way.
Next up, the washroom!
The Gothic Kitchen has all the mod-cons necessary for today’s life but drawn in a 14th century style. The stove and work surface/ sink are completely flat but given depth through the use of shape and colour. The fridge is drawn at a crazy angle, typical of the time and has a very bulky feel to it, again the perspective is deliberately drawn as if for the High Gothic period.
The floor level is raised at an unrealistic angle but the accurate depiction of perspective in the tiles adds dimension to the room. It features a cooker hood in the manner of Medieval kitchen’s but then has a modern electric light fitting hanging from the ceiling. The cooker is also modern, white, clean and has an old style pot boiling on top of what looks like a wooden fire.
The building, having all the elements of a 14th century house wouldn’t look out of place with a seated Madonna and an angel inside. The background as is often shown in religious panels of the time, is painted in gold acrylic, giving it a reverential feel.
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.
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.
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.
I was recently asked, by the Circolo di Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, to take part in a project to decorate the utility meter doors scattered throughout the ancient town. The remit said that it needed to fit the panel, be relevant to the medieval town and take into account the lock on the door.
Designing door covers
In total thirteen artists were asked to join the group and one Sunday a couple of weeks ago we all met up to choose our doors. Mine is the ENEL cover at the top of the stone stairs leading to the Palazzo and the main piazza.
Naturally I decided that I’d do a landscape of the area but I needed to disguise the black plastic door lock. I thought the best way to do this was to give the painting a harvest theme and hide the lock inside a strange, black, fantastical plant. Continuing the Fruita di Bosco the scene with a nectarine and more flowers in a vase, the meaning behind the books remains a mystery.
Urban art project
The access panel is quite large, some 58 x 54 cm and I felt that a landscape just plonked in the middle of the street would seem strange. So I included a terracotta tile window sill, on which the books, vase and nectarine stand, giving the impression you are looking through a window or archway.
The town is drawn from the same angle at which you look at the panel, so it has the effect of creating a world within a world. A fairground hall or mirrors, with infinite repeated views of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina stretching off into the distance.
The paintings will be printed onto film and the doors covered and hopefully remain in place for a couple of years. If you are interested in seeing them they will be ready for the town’s festa, which runs on the 8,9 and 10th October.
I hope to see you there. 🙂