Tag Archives: town

Gubbio – The Saint, The Wolf and a Race

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Gubbio – The Saint, The Wolf and a Race, watercolor and ink. 36 cm x 68 cm (For Sale)

Gubbio is a fascinating town in Umbria, said to be one of Noah’s first twelve cities, it is also the place where St Francis spoke to a wolf, who was terrorising the residents. Each May there is a famous mountain race where three teams carry 25 foot totems to the basilica above.

Gubbio landmarks

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Ceri dei Gubbio

The main landmarks around Gubbio are depicted including the ancient Roman amphitheater, the churches of saints Francesco, Ubaldo and Pietro as well as the magnificent Palazzo dei Consoli.

The painting is a sister to the one of Assisi with the sky following from one to the other. It is painted with a lack of linear perspective as a way of exploring differing ways of depicting depth.

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Palazzo dei Consoli

The style is a modern interpretation of the Medieval Gothic work of such artists as Giotto and Martini who were both active in this region over 700 years ago. Great examples of their works are shown in Assisi.

Medieval pallet

The painting employs a pallet typical of the era. With earthy tones and the occasional splash of colour thrown in. Ultramarine was especially reserved for depictions of the Madonna and so a cerulean blue is used instead for the sky.

The greens are mainly viridian, sap and terra verde with titanium and Chinese whites providing the highlights. As always vermilion is used for the bright red roof tiles.

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Lacrime di Lucifero

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Lacrime di Lucifero – Morro d’Alba – watercolour and ink 44cm x 28cm (For Sale)

Lacrime di Lucifero. Lacrime refers to the delicious wine of Morro d’Alba, Lacrime (meaning tears) and Lucifero being the nickname given to the heatwave of the summer of 2017.  One of the things you need to ease the midday temperatures is a good wine and believe me, this is a great wine.

Morro d’Alba painting

DSCN7688Morro d’Alba is 12 km from the coastal town of Senigalia in Le Marche, Italy and is perched high above the Adriatic Coast. From its covered walls, you can look down on the endless fields of sunflowers, vineyards and olive groves.
The main piazza, on the left, sits on top of a small hill, with the rest of the town sloping away from it. All around the town walls there are pine trees and oaks along the road side. During the summer months these provide much needed shade and were especially welcome in 2017.

Gothic style

Again the style is an apocalyptic, Gothic stylised painting, with a red faced demon, blasting hot air down on the town and the typical trees and buildings that can be found in Medieval manuscripts. The idea is to give the painting a doomsday feel to it. Soaring temperatures, parched landscape and bleached, dry towns. All very “The end is nigh”.

Painting the Dark Alleyways of Castello

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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.