Tag Archives: watercolour

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.

Nice Painting Nice

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Nice, France  – Watercolour & ink 74cm X 24 cm (Sold)

I’ve finally finished my Nice painting and it’s turned out well, nice. This is the largest townscape I’ve undertaken and my first in France, so it was quite a challenge. The image concentrates on the promenade, highlighting some of the most interesting buildings that fill the street. The centre has the Colline du Chateau, with the old castle tower and stairway that leads up to the gardens, and the harbour behind.

The town has a gallery dedicated to Mondrian, so I thought, why not have a Mondrianesque sky. The other option was Chagall but I’m not sure a violin playing goat in the sky would have worked. Perhaps next time.

Bright liners and speed boats

Mont Boron on the right has some really interesting, strange shaped and exotic buildings on its slopes. Below is where the bright liners also leave giving the area a splash of colour, in their yellow livery.

The Prom at Nice is covered with rows of palm trees and to include these essential elements I decided to raise them up so that they didn’t obstruct the buildings along the foreshore. This seems to have worked out okay. To cap it all off there are two boats bobbing about in the foreground.

Nice, I hope you like it.

 

 

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

Jpeg

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.

Painting the Road to Hell

Italian highway

E45/ SS3BIS at Pierantonio Watercolour and ink, 24 x 57 cm

Well perhaps calling the E45/SS3BIS the “Road to Hell”, after Chris Rea’s famous song, is a little strong. After all it only goes between Cesena and Orte so not exactly the demonic destinations implied by the song.

However, anyone who has travelled to Perugia or  Bologna airports will tell you it’s a rough, narrow motorway with frequent diversions and contraflows. Not really an endearing run.

Umbrian landscape

Landscape in UmbriaOnce you take your eyes off the traffic bearing down on you or the unpredictable vagaries of motorway driving, you will see some gorgeous scenery. The hills that flank the E45 are dappled with olive groves and woodland copses. There are plenty of vineyards, abandoned farms and ancient churches that crown the hills and lots of half-hidden surprises amongst the trees.

Sourcing Gozzoli

Benozzo Gozzoli painting

Gozzoli village

This painting uses Benozzo Gozzoli for inspiration, although he never worked directly in the Upper Tiber Valley, his work can be found further south in Montefalco. While Gozzoli’s most famous work , “The procession of the Magi” is housed in the Medici Palazzo, Florence.

I liked the idea of putting some of his work into the painting. The trees and clouds he painted for the Medici family in the procession are so iconic that it would be a shame to leave them out of the journey.

Painting the motorway

This portion of the E45 (others are planned) is just after the Pierantonio junction. If you’re heading south, on the right is one of Italy’s many Castello di Savoia, with the hills to the left featuring a church, some farms, hill top ruins and vigilant watch towers.

So the next time you find yourself driving down the motorway, risk a quick glance to the horizon. You’ll sometimes surprise yourself with the unexpected views.

 

Monterchi Watercolor

Painting Umbrian village

Monterchi – Watercolour and ink 36 cm x 36 cm (For Sale)

Piero territory

Madonna del Parto - Piero della Francesca

Madonna del Parto – Piero della Francesca

Monterchi stands on the Umbrian Tuscan border and is famous for the rare painting by Piero della Francesca of the pregnant Madonna, “Madonna del Parto”. He was born locally, in Sansepolcro and many pieces of his work can be found in the area.

It’s for this reason I decided to paint a sky similar to his “Baptism of Christ” now held in the National Gallery in London. The tree on the left is also a reference to the 15th century painter.

The Baptism of Christ - National Gallery, London

The Baptism of Christ – National Gallery, London

Drawing the landscape

I used some sketches and photos from the Valtiberina painting that were taken looking across the fields from the road to Lippiano.

The colourful town stands out nicely, with a clear sky behind and plenty of trees in the foreground. Although I did a little pictorial pruning of the trees to give a better view of the buildings.

Watercolour of Umbertide Sul Tevere

Umbria towns

Umbertide Sul Tevere  Watercolour and ink, 74cm x 46cm (For Sale)

Painting Umbertide

I wanted to paint this watercolour as I was invited, along with six other artists, to take part in the opening of a new exhibition space in Umbertide. I decided that it would be a good idea to paint a new piece of the town for the show.

Inauguration poster

Inauguration poster

The latest picture of Umbertide was meant as a sister painting to the large one of Citta di Castello

. Taken from a viewpoint of the northern entrance into the town centre, the scene looks across the River Tevere. In the foreground are the road and rail bridges, the old wall and the houses of Piazza San Francesco.

La Rocca

Rising out of this is the old Rocca tower and the strangely shaped Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Reggia to it’s left. Also visible is the bell tower in the main piazza and the curvey facade of Santa Croce, now a museum, which is famous for it’s Luca Signorelli fresco.

The mountains of Acuto and Corona dominate the background with Civitella Ranieri on the third hill. On the tobacco fields behind Umbertide the painting shows the Abbey of Monte Corona and one of the brightly coloured, orange warehouses that litter the landscape around the town.

My sky is normally influenced by the weather at the time of painting and we’ve had some stormy, dark days of late. However, rather than create a grey, somber scene I decided to show the way black, leaden clouds come across as pink and purple to me. Much more dramatic and cheery.

Duccio’s Tree

International Gothic artist

Duccio’s tree

The large tree to the right is a reference to Duccio, whose work I’ve been studying lately in reference to a project on the lost predella of Simone Martini’s picture of Beato Agostino Nouvello, in Siena. I love the way that he realised that there were two elements to depicting trees, the dark green shape of the tree and its lighter leaves.

Umbertide Sul Tevere conveys the feeling of a town situated in a large open plain surrounded by tall mountains and tree covered hills. While linked with the outside world by road, rail and river it is still a busy but tranquil place to live.