Tag Archives: watercolor

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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The Marmore Waterfalls

 

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Marmore Waterfalls – watercolour and ink, 90 cm x 30 cm (For Sale)

A question, often asked of artists is “how long did it take you to paint that?” Well the waterfalls at Marmore took me 8 years. I first visited them back in 2009 and decided I had to capture the area on paper.

The actual design, once I put pencil to paper, took about two weeks to dream up. Those who followed the paintings progress on Facebook know that it took five days to paint. So depending on how you look at these things, anywhere between eight years or three weeks.

Some times you can’t rush things.

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Umbria Film Studio

Behind the painting

The painting features the 2,200 year old, man-made waterfall at Marmore, popular with artists, the medieval hill top village of Papigno, through which your drive on your way to the base of the falls and pass the Umbria film studios.

The studios are  where Roberto Benigni filmed his classic movie “La vita e bella” and has a strange collection of building facades along the river, with the large, metal cladded buildings behind.

Marmore waterfalls

Around the corner from the studios you come across the waterfalls. If you visit, choose your times carefully as they are not always flowing. The water is diverted through a hydro-electric plant and for the greater part of the day they are quiet.

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Tree studies

However, twice a day the sluice gates are opened and you can experience the full glory of the water cascading over the cliff face and through the trees. It is this spectacle that artists and poets down the ages have come to witness and area is a truly tranquil place to explore.

Lucifer’s Summer

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Lucifer’s Summer – watercolour and ink, 26cm x 40cm (For Sale)

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.

Withering landscape

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.

tumblr_m9fs9j2VIR1refr94o1_500Hot summer

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

Windmills in the Wind

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Medieval Laundry Room – watercolor & ink, 21 cm x 29 cm (For Sale)

“Highlighted against the storm brushed horizon the windmill groaned. Its sails idly turning as the early evening sky began to bruise. From the depths inside came the groans and grinding of a dank, dark place, heavy with gloom. The flapping of the clean clothes, whip-like, as they cracked out their punishment. Yes! it’s wash day again. “

Medieval WindmillMedieval Windmills

I’ve always loved the way the Gothic painters, woodcut artists and print-makers portrayed windmills. Strange boxes, mounted on legs or humps with crazy, spindly sails, twisting and turning in the breeze.

So when it came to the next in the Medieval rooms series I thought a windmill would make the perfect laundry room. Noisy places, vibrating machinery, canvases flapping in the wind and a sense of foreboding, well perhaps that’s just my laundry room.

laundry-bagFurnishing the windmill

The idea for the furnishings of the windmill came straight out of the Ikea catalogue. The washing machine, linen basket, laundry bag and shelves are all products from the Swedish company.

I also liked the idea of including a chain mail shirt and a Boudica-esque bra with copper finish and swirls. The whirligig behind, with its CrosssectionMillwashing reflects the mill, turning, spinning and drying the clothes.

Landscape painting

Instead of the gold leaf effect background, I have opted for in previous paintings,   I chose an alternative deep, Prussian blue sky, tinged with a hint of black.

Nowadays the use of black and white in watercolour painting is somewhat frowned upon but in the International Gothic period it was a perfectly acceptable practice.

Painting techniques windmill1200_0

This technique is how the painters of the past created depth, shadows and highlights. While their attempts may look clumsy and simplistic there is also an element of sophisticated understanding that gradually develops into the Renaissance period.

 

 

 

Gothic Kitchen Corner

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Gothic Kitchen Corner – watercolor and ink, 21 cm x 29 cm (For Sale)

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.

Gothic cooking

ConsulterElementNum (1)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.

Perfect home

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.

Ye Olde IKEA Bathroom

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Medieval Bathroom – watercolor and ink, 21 cm x 29 cm (For Sale)

Bathtime

Gothic Bathroom

This time I explored the Medieval bathroom, complete with contemporary fixtures and fittings. IKEA don’t make baths and shower units so I had to look elsewhere for a modern tub. However, the shower curtain, the basket and the toothbrush glass all come from the Swedish furnishers.

Painting the old and new

Again the painting has a typical 14th century palette and I’ve got some gold acrylic paint to replicate the gold leaf commonly found in Medieval manuscripts. These pictures have the feel, colour and style of the original artworks but with the fun inclusion of electric sockets and brass taps. All fitted into impossible spaces, at weird and wonderful angles, just like the International Gothic artists did.

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IKEA curtain

Gothic furniture

When planning this series it suddenly came to me that IKEA are an excellent choice for the furnishings. Their designs are clean and simple but most of all they are a world renowned brand, instantly recognisable and easy to identify with. Giving their products a Medieval spin but still making them obviously IKEAesque.
Imagining how past things might have been portrayed in a modern light has always interested me. As with images, the same applies to music. Today, would the group Buggles have written YouTube killed the MTV star, instead of the long dead video killing the radio star. Blondie’s classic “Call me!”, most likely would be “Text me!” while Joni Mitchell hails an Uber cab instead of her Big Yellow Taxi. Next up, a kitchen I think.

Swedish Furniture in Medieval Manuscript

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IKEA Medieval Bedroom – watercolor and ink, 21 cm x 29 cm (For Sale)

SpaDayI’ve always loved the works of the International Gothic period. A time when conventions were being broken and new techniques explored. Artists in this era were busy exploring ways to represent three dimensions, trying out different ways of painting trees and attempting to understand the nature of water.

Modern Medieval

The thought behind this current crop of works is to take the idea of these magnificent rooms and fill them with modern furniture. I found it amusing

IKEA lamp

IKEA Dudero lamp

playing with how someone like Simone Martini might paint a modern IKEA chair or see how his bed spreads would look on a Hemnes bed.

Using a typical palette of the day and acrylic gold paint gives these watercolours a wonderful sense of a Medieval artist’s take on the modern world. Living in Italy it’s not difficult to find 700 year old buildings so the only garish thing is to fill their ancient rooms with cheap, modern furniture. This I’m sure happens all over the country, not everyone can afford or will like antique furnishings.

Swedish furniture

The aim is to continue in this way, creating bathrooms, sitting rooms, kitchens and dining rooms, all featuring IKEA furniture within a medieval surrounding. Each will have bold, bright colours and dark or golden backgrounds, giving them a dramatic effect. Obviously if people want their own lounges recreated in a period fashion, I’d happily look at that too.

Fingers crossed for a fun time. 🙂