Tag Archives: town

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? …  🙂

The Wedding Gift

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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.

The Back of Santa Maria Tiberina

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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.

Mapping the Town – Painting Castello’s centre

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Castello’s Centro Storico Watercolour & ink, 45 x 25 cm (For Sale)

As the exhibition date draws ever nearer I decided I had time for one last painting. However, what painting would complete the show?

In the end I decided that a street scene around the gallery would be an interesting idea.

Old maps

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Old map

I love the way old map makers, in the 15th century, fitted the streets and buildings into town plans, so I used an image of old Citta di Castello as inspiration.

The gallery is off the main thoroughfare and down a little side street that luckily links some of the town’s landmarks. It can easily be reached from the Duomo, the Civic tower and the Podesta, Castello’s old town hall.

Via Apollinare and Via del Popolo are normal Italian streets, lined with small, old churches and restaurants. The entrance to the market and a collection of shops can also be found here. Narrow, cobbled and brightly coloured, it’s similar to a thousand others all over the country but this one has the Tea Shop Gallery where the works will be on display.

Steamy sky

Citta di Castello street

Via del Popolo

The sky went through a number of permutations, fluffy, feathery and speckled, before finally settling on an abstract blue/purple swirl.

As the show is in a tearoom the idea was to create a sky that had the feeling of a boiling kettle or a steaming hot cup of tea. It was initially a pale blue but the tower was lost against it, so I tried a bolder approach.

No greenage

Another difference is the total lack of green. Just for a change I made a conscious decision to leave out any green in this painting. Umbria is known as the green heart of Italy and my paintings are normally full of verdant tones.

If you are in the area between the 9th and 17th January (2016) it will be great to see you. Why not call in for a cuppa? Ciao Neal!

Show can be seen  at:-

ARTe, Sala di Te, Via della Apollinare, Citta di Castello.

Land, Sea and Townscapes all Together

Welsh town - Saundersfoot

Saundersfoot – West Wales

I’ve finally come from behind my Italian mountains and taken on a new viewpoint. This time it is the beautiful town of Saundersfoot in West Wales. The scenery combines perfectly sea, land and townscapes all in one painting. The town, complete with its little harbour, colourfully painted houses and rolling hills topped with trees makes an idyllic study.

It’s not far from my other Welsh study, Tenby and as it’s an area I know quite well. Painting Saunderfoot reminded me how much I love that part of the world and that I should spend some time there working again.

Wales town

Saundersfoot

It was great drawing a place in Wales, with different shaped roofs and buildings to the ones I normally paint in Italy. There was a lack of terracotta or cream  and the trees were less sculpted. I like painting the sea too, there’s a tranquil feeling to be had making repetitive wavy lines. It’s a kind of artistic Pilates.

The sky gives a nice sense of drama to the composition and for me anyway, a bright pink and orange sky is the norm first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

 

Watercolour Painting in Le Marche

Le Marche village

Cantiano – Le Marche
Watercolour and ink 33 x 55 cm (Sold)

Cantiano is a little town in Le Marche, situated in the Appennine Mountains, 40 km south of Raffaello Sanzio’s birthplace, Urbino. The town sits on the base of a deep cut valley with towering hills all around and the little hamlet of Il Borgo clings to the side of Monte Petrano.

DSCN3030The views across the Sierra Burano are gorgeous, with Monte Catria, crowned with a massive iron cross, being one of the stand out features of the landscape. The countryside is littered with ancient bridges, mysterious tunnels and Romanesque churches.

The painting focuses on the river with a row of brightly coloured houses opposite, behind this there is one of the oldest streets in Cantiano, said to date back to the Medieval period. This leads into the large piazza, with the ochre clocktower building and the church of  San Nicolo and a  little further down the road the Collegiate di San Giovanni Battista.

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Cantiano sunset

The road leaves town and gradually climbs through the rugged, hills until you come to Palcano, with the collection of houses, Il Borgo is higher up the hill. Here the slopes are wooded, scrubland, there is the occassional olive grove and field but very little cultivated land at this height.

For the sky I settled on the gorgeous sunset, oranges and pinks we saw during out visit, It was slightly cloudy and just as the sun headed towards the horizon the sky was lit up.

Raphael Sansio

The Knights Dream – Raphaello

The now familiar tree motif is one inspired by Raphaello, it takes its shape from the way the local boy painted foliage on his trees. These were often tall trunked trees with roughly hinted, stylised leaves. This one uses the tree at the centre of a “Knights Dream” as the starting point.

 

 

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.