Tag Archives: watercolour

Assisi – Home to Saints Francis, Ruffino and Clare

watercolor Assisi

Assisi – watercolour and ink, 35 cm x 70 cm. (For Sale)

This Assisi watercolour is a very busy painting filled with lots of detail and colour. Like the town itself, you can easily get lost looking at the buildings, alleyways and churches. The three major cathedrals of St Francis, St Ruffinus and St Clare are all prominently featured, as are five of the medieval gateways.

Dawn sky

DSCN7606The sky is a beautiful sun burst pattern, one commonly seen in the Umbrian dawn. While the picture is divided into three views by two trees, which depict the styles of Giotto and Simone Martini. Both of whose work can be seen in the magnificent Basilica di San Francesco.

Streets of AssisiDSCN7349

As you walk the streets, what strikes you most is the array of arched doorways and windows. The town is full of arches, some ancient ones, long blocked in, others leading to delicious restaurants and bars, while others lead you down interesting back alleys to new and captivating piazzas.

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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.

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”.

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.

Watercolour of Italian Castles

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Niccone Valley Castles – Watercolour and ink 38 cm x 58 cm (Sold)

The Niccone Valley watercolor painting features the Umbrian and Tuscan castles that have stared out at each other for centuries. This trip takes you past the bar at Sorbello and below its castle, then across the fields and over the border into Umbria, passed Reschio Castle and on up  into the hills.

Tuscan Umbria countryside

The area around the Castles and Altabella

Houses on the hill

The drive ends in the wooded clearing at the top of the hills where you come to the houses of Altabella, La Quercia with its monolithic sculpture and the villas of Pietra and Casa Piccolo with their beautiful views of the valley below.

Umbrian art

Wooden Sculpture

The olive tree in the foreground is where Paul and Anne, who commissioned the painting, placed a plaque dedicated to Grace their dog.

The rays of the rising sun converge on the house at La Quercia, drawing the eye to where Paul and Anne spend their winters.

Colours of central Italy

The area is a luscious green, full of woodlands and trees, fields of sunflowers, olive groves and vineyards. Peeking out among the trees you can make out the occasional farm or villa in its distinctive yellow ocher or cream coloured walls.

I decided to paint the castles in the colours that represented their origins. Therefore, Sorbello’s Tuscan stone walls are in raw sienna and the Umbrian castle of Reschio is a rich burnt umber. The trees vary from a sap green foreground to a dark blue/green wooded background giving the painting a nice sense of depth. 🙂