Tag Archives: Orvieto

Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Castelluccio and Piano Grande

I was Painting Piano Grande for the first time in September 2004. I’d seen spectacular photographs of colourful flowers growing in this vast plateau in the Sibillini mountains and hoped to capture them in watercolour. Of course it was completely the wrong time of year! I needed to return in late spring, early summer.

In May we decided to see if Piano Grande could be a day trip for our Painting Holiday Guests. We’d booked two nights at Agriturismo “Il Casale degli Amici” just outside of Norcia. We found it was well located, just a few minutes drive from Norcia and 45 minutes drive from Castelluccio.

Norcia, Castelluccio and Piano Grande

Nothing could prepare us for the devastation we saw in Norcia. Susan and I were woken from our sleep when the earthquake struck just after 3:30am on the 24th August 2016. We were staying more than 50 miles away near Chiesa del Carmine. The epicentre was south east of Norcia and left 297 dead from the villages of Accumoli, Amatrice and Arquato del Tronto. We’d heard that Norcia had been hit by another earthquake on the 30th October 2016 and the damage was plain to see.

When we walked into Norcia, renowned for shops selling amazing local produce, we could see many that had closed down. A young man selling wild boar salamis and cheeses welcomed us to try them. They were delicious and a few minutes later we’d made a significant purchase!

It was so sad to see scaffolding surrounding the devastated church and many other buildings effected by the earthquakes. I remember writing about the shop signage below on a previous blog post. Tragically it is now closed.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

A Shop in Norcia

Shop Sign, Norcia, Umbria

Great Signage, Norcia, Umbria

Painting Piano Grande

After an amazing evening meal at “Il Casale degli Amici” and a great nights sleep, we set off for Piano Grande. The drive took us a little longer than usual because of damage to the roads. Several sets of traffic lights where the road was one lane held us up. The drive was spectacular, taking us through the rain clouds into bright sunshine where we were looking down onto the clouds.

We had to wait until noon to actually drive down into Piano Grande and Castelluccio because the road was closed for workmen repairing the road. This was not a problem for me. Painting Piano Grande was on my radar! Even though we’d seen poppies growing around Orvieto and Montefalco on our way, it was still too early here.

Painting Piano Grande Alan Reed

Sketchbook watercolour of Piano Grande

 

Painting Piano Grande

Painting Piano Grande

I had plenty of time to capture the few patches of snow on the Sibillini Mountains surrounding Piano Grande and the vast plateau where wonderful lentils are grown in the summer. When the road opened we had an hour to drive into Castelluccio which is sadly now a ghost town because of the earthquake. It’s going to take a while for Castelluccio to become inhabited again. It’s such a place of outstanding beauty I pray that it receives all the help it needs become a tourist destination, along with Norcia too.

 

 

 

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Painting in Italy

 

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio

 

Our next Painting Holiday at Chiesa del Carmine in Umbria in Italy is just a few weeks away. Once again we are fully booked. For some of our guests it will their fourth and fifth time with us Painting in Italy. Over the years we’ve enjoyed some wonderful trips out. We’ve visited many of the picturesque hilltop towns and villages which are a distinctive of Umbria. It’s described as the Green Heart of Italy.

Susan and I decided that it would be a great idea for us to travel out to do some Painting in Italy earlier this month. Our mission was also to visit a few of the towns that we haven’t been to for many years. We wanted to explore some new places that might be of interest to our guests.

Our time on our flight from Newcastle to Pisa Airport passed quickly. We ended up deep in conversation with a lovely couple who have purchased many of my paintings over the years. After picking up a car we drove to Orvieto, famous for its lovely white wine and magnificent Duomo, to see if our guests would enjoy a visit.

Susan and I were staying at Locanda Rosati, an agriturismo just a few miles from Orvieto. After checking in we still had sufficient time to drive to Orvieto and have a quick exploratory trip before our evening meal. Dinner was a jovial affair as the twenty plus guests from all nationalities including Italy, France, USA, Greece, Australia and Bulgaria were all seated on a long table. Our conversations enabled us to find out more interesting places to visit. One came highly recommended, Civita di Bagnoregio, just twenty minutes drive away.

Civita di Bagnoregio and Lago di Bolsena

Civita di Bagnoregio is a medieval hamlet perched on a plateau of volcanic rock surrounded by steep ravines in the region of Lazio. I discovered that it only has 1o residents. However it is beginning to thrive as a tourist destination due to an initiative from the Mayor of Civita di Bagnoregio.

Any tourists crossing the foot bridge must pay €5 on a Sunday or public holiday and €3 during a weekday. Their ticket system has meant that residents of Civita and Bagnoregio no longer have to pay communal taxes and there is zero unemployment. I found it fascinating that the 850,000 tourists forecast for 2018 has created 400 new jobs for the 200 new businesses that have been birthed in recent years.

When we arrived the following morning thick fog had descended. I was wanting to paint the classic view that I had seen in photographs but it simply didn’t exist!

As it was a Sunday, crowds were already starting to arrive in their droves. We decided on a return visit to Orvieto. Despite the dull, overcast light, I managed a sketchbook watercolour of the Duomo from Via del Duomo. After a lovely lunch I found two great vantage points to paint Orvieto from a distance.  On completion, we set off to a new destination for us, Lago di Bolsena.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Lago di Bolsena

By the time we arrived, the low clouds had lifted and we were able to enjoy shafts of sunlight sparkling on the calm waters. I was able to record the tranquil scene in my trusty sketchbook.

The next morning we headed straight for Civita di Bagnoregio. This time I was able to paint the view that I had been after the previous day. We didn’t make the short walk along the footbridge into what was once Italy’s dying town. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do so one day.

Painting in Italy Alan Reed

Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio

Our Painting Holiday for June 2018 is fully booked. You can register your interest for the future at art@alanreed.com

For me, Painting in Italy is rewarding experience. Even though this was an exploratory trip, I still came up with some great reference for some future paintings.

 

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Paintings of olive trees

Alan Reed

Olive Grove, Spring Light

I’ve been painting “en plein air” in Italy since 1991 when Susan took me to Venice. I fell in love with its architecture, the light, atmosphere and culture. However, it was not until our first visit to Umbria in March 2002 that I started to make sketchbook studies of olive trees.

We were staying in the Relais il Canalicchio hotel, perched on a hill commanding stunning views of the Umbrian countryside. During the first night of our stay, having enjoyed a fabulous meal at their restaurant, there was a heavy fall of snow. We awoke to complete silence and total white out. We were literally snowed in until the following day. Once the snow had cleared we began to explore Umbria in earnest, taking in hilltop towns like Orvieto, Todi, Perugia, Assisi and Norcia.

On one occasion we drove to the Fabriano paper factory and I purchased several leather bound sketchbooks containing their wonderful hand made watercolour paper that is so lovely to paint on. On our return to the Relais il Canalicchio I wasted no time in testing the first sketchbook by painting the view from our room as the sun was going down.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour from the Relais il Canalicchio

It was during this period that I began to develop a sketchbook painting style in watercolour where I would deliberately avoid drawing out beforehand the scene in pencil. This meant that the brush marks became more considered, fluid and direct.

I also began to make sketchbook studies of the olive trees that surrounded the tiny hill top town of Canalicchio. These became the inspiration for a number of studio paintings including the one below of the Relais il Canalicchio available as a limited edition print.

Painting of Relais il Canalicchio

Relais il Canalicchio

On our reedart painting holidays in Umbria we stay at Chiesa del Carmine. The gardens have plenty of olive trees for the guests to paint. They have fun painting and drawing their twisted branches and beautifully shaped leaves. I also join in the fun with my own sketchbook watercolours. These days I make my own sketchbooks using paper from Khadi Papers and leather from a local supplier.

Alan Reed

Sketchbook Watercolour of Olive trees

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