Tag Archives: paintings of Italy

Christmas Exhibition 2013

Painting of Dunstanburgh Castle-Spring

Dunstanburgh Castle, Spring

Painting of Windmills, Amsterdam

Windmills, Amsterdam

Royal Opera House, Oman at night

Royal Opera House, Oman

Painting of Qantab fishermen, Oman

Qantab fishermen, Oman

Pantheon Rome

The Pantheon, Rome

Painting of Florence from San Miniato

Florence from San Miniato

My Christmas Exhibition Preview weekend started 29th November. The exhibition continues until 24th December and is a collection of recent original watercolour paintings.

Subjects include the Northumbrian coastline depicting famous landmarks like Dunstanburgh Castle.

Paintings inspired by a trip to Amsterdam can also be seen, in particular this new limited edition print of Windmills seen in early morning light.

Over the last few weeks I have been working on a couple of commissions for a client in Oman, so I also have on view an original watercolour of The Royal Opera House in Oman at night and a small study of fishermen in Qantab, Oman.

I’ve been unable to travel to Italy this year, however the last 2 places for our painting holiday scheduled for May 2014 were booked up over the weekend.

A number of paintings of Italy can be seen including The Pantheon, Rome and Florence from San Miniato.

The exhibition also features gifts for Christmas including Christmas Cards, Magnetic Bookmarks and hand made glass, along with my Sketchbook of Oman, all of which are being purchased. Please feel free to call in over the weekend for a glass of wine or coffee and a mince pie.

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Painting of the Pantheon, Rome

Painting of the Pantheon

The Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Rome and was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa about the time of the Bible’s Book of Acts. Agrippa’s inscription can be seen on the portico which always reminds me of Acts chapters 25-26 where the Apostle Paul is brought before King Agrippa to be tried. So convincing was Paul’s witness of Jesus Christ that even Agrippa said to Paul “You almost persuade me to become Christian”. Chapter 26 verse 28.

I’ve been to Rome a couple of times since my first visit back in 1998 as part of the process of getting reference for my paintings of Italy. Each time I’ve managed to paint a number of watercolours on location. Earlier this year I painted a 14″ x 10″ watercolour of the Pantheon based on my location studies which was the inspiration to do this large painting. In both watercolours I’ve tried to retain the freshness of those painted plein air, keeping the brush marks direct and relatively loose compared to my usual studio paintings.

The painting of The Pantheon, Rome began as a watercolour demonstration for a couple of art groups who had asked me to show the students how to tackle cityscapes, in particular the challenge of painting figures in the context of a city scene. It’s been painted on an expensive sheet of rough Fabriano hand made watercolour paper.

The students seemed to appreciate the various techniques and methods I was demonstrating so I hope they enjoy seeing the finished painting of The Pantheon, Rome which is currently at my Studio and Gallery in Ponteland and will soon be available as a limited edition print.

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Paintings of Umbria

Painting of Relais il Canalicchio

Relais il Canalicchio

I first started doing Paintings of Umbria back in 2002. Tomorrow (27th June) marks the 11th Anniversary of the kidney transplant Susan and I had in 2001 when I gave my wife one of my kidneys. The image of the Hotel Relais il Canalicchio in Umbria brings back memories of the transplant because it was where we stayed for the first overseas trip we were able to make after the operation.

It was in Umbria that Susan really began to appreciate the benefits of a healthy kidney as she was able to walk up and down the various hill top villages we visited around Umbria. Before the transplant she would quickly get out of breath and become exhausted if she walked any distance.

We both really appreciated the benefits of staying at a wonderful hotel with commanding views over the Umbrian countryside, peace and quiet and fantastic food and wine. I purchased some leather bound hand made sketchbooks on this trip, so I was able to some small watercolour Paintings of Umbria. The hotel purchased a watercolour sketch I did of their building and from the studies I painted the scene above which has been reproduced as a limited edition print. It has to be one of my favourite paintings of Italy which forms part of my growing Italian collection.

 

 

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Grand Canal, Venetian Dawn

 

Grand Canal, Venetian Dawn

Grand Canal, Venetian Dawn

In 2006, Susan and I spent a week in the Dolomites with an old Venetian lady who has a holiday home there. I spent the week awestruck by the majesty and spectacle of God’s creation and produced many sketchbook watercolours painted on location. At the end of the week, we then went to Venice for a few days where we were able to enjoy the Venetian Regatta.

Our flight back to the UK was from Verona, so we had to leave Venice before the sun rose. From the stern of the vaporetto that chugged along the Grand Canal, I looked back towards the Santa Maria Salute to take in the first colours of the Venetian dawn. There was no time to do a painting but I managed to take a few photographs of the scene. Using the photos and sketches I had painted from the Accademia Bridge on previous trips, I produced this very small studio watercolour which I have reproduced as a limited edition print. The deckled edge of the paper has also been reproduced which helps to give the painting a fresh, almost sketchbook feel. It is one of many paintings of Italy I have reproduced as part of my print collection.

 

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Paintings of Italy

Over the last few years I’ve received a number of commissions from clients who have a home in Italy and who have wanted a painting of their property. Each building has been quite different in terms of size and location but they have all had their own distinct charm and appeal.

In 2007 I was commissioned by an English couple to do a painting of their home near a small, compact Umbrian village called Panicale, which overlooks Lake Trasimeno. We stayed in an old Villa called Villa Le Mura which was being restored by its owners. In the evening we met up with our clients that evening for a lovely meal at Masolino Albergo Ristorante which served us authentic Umbrian cuisine.

The following morning I woke up before 7am and drove straight to the property to catch the early morning light. I was just in time. I found a suitable vantage point in between some olive trees which gave a delightful aspect of the house nestling in its own little valley. Initially it was shrouded by a shadow being cast by the hill behind me but as soon as the sun rose above the horizon it was bathed in a warm golden hue.

I quickly embarked on a small sketchbook study in a tiny leather bound book purchased direct from the Fabriano Factory in Le Marches from a previous trip and whilst the paint was drying I took a number of photographs of the rapidly changing early morning light. The owners served me a very welcome and much appreciated coffee before I crashed on with another watercolour study, this time of the olive grove which surrounded their home.

I returned to capture the evening light but we decided that the mornings work was going to be sufficient to enable me to do the finished painting, a 21″ x 14″ watercolour which the client was delighted with.

Susan and I will be returning to Italy in September for a painting project in Florence and will be happy to meet up with anyone wishing to discuss any possible commissions of properties, holiday homes or favourite views, places to paint in Italy.

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Rosso e Nero (Rialto Fish Market) A painting in Stages

Rosso e Nero Finished Painting Stage 8

Rosso e Nero Finished Painting Stage 8

In February 2004 my wife and I spent several days in Venice with my parents. We booked an old Venetian apartment through a website called Venetian-Rentals that was lavishly furnished with old books and paintings. The plan for this trip was to get some fresh reference for me to do some new paintings of Italy.

On one particular day we checked out the fish market by the Rialto Bridge and I came across this amazing scene, full of life, movement and colour. After doing a 14” x 10” preparation study, I drew out the composition with a B pencil on some very rough Italian hand made paper from Fabriano, 28” x 20” which you can see in Stage 1.

For Stage 2, I applied a mix of yellow, cadmium yellow and lemon yellow to set the right base tones for the sheeting which protects the market from the elements. The brush used was a Stratford & York size 20.

Stage 3. Once the yellow areas had dried, I made a red mix of Vermillion Hue and Cadmium Red and began to apply it wet on wet on the floor area to re-create the effect of the red tarpaulin being reflected in the wet flooring. The heavily textured paper helped to keep this part of the painting loose and fresh. The tarpaulins were rendered wet on dry as I wanted to have their edges clearly defined.

Stage 4. This part of the painting is where I began to form the title in my mind, Rosso e Nero (red and black).

I made up three separate colours in saucers, Vandyke Brown, Payne’s Grey and Lamp Black and began to build up washes with these stronger colours for the floor areas. The background arches were picked out using the point of the number 20 Stratford and York brush.

Stage 5. Over the years I have spent hours observing and drawing people in urban settings. I have developed a style where it is possible to identify different individuals by their stance, gesture and movement.

I tend to draw with the brush for each figure rather than relying in lots of pencil work, but at the same time, I don’t get too involved in too much unnecessary detail. I want the figures to appear as though they are part of the painting and yet moving through the scene.

Stage 6. It was simply a matter of painting the figures that were going to bring the scene to life. The danger is to over work them and make them look too static, so it’s vital that the brush marks are kept simple and fresh.

Stage 7. The last few figures really helped to make this scene work. The older couple look typically Venetian, stolling around the various stalls, looking for the right piece of fish for their evening meal. Will it be risotto or pasta for their starter and how will they cook their main meal and with what vegetables? Building up the darker areas around the figures helps to add depth and substance to the overall scenario.

Stage 8. The final painting which was sold from my 20th anniversary exhibition in 2004 to some friends of ours which I’m pleased about, as I get to see the original every time we visit them.

I was so pleased with the finished result that we decided to publish it as a limited edition giclee print with only 20 in the edition. You can see a framed copy at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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Siena, Italy

Sketchbook study of Siena, Italy

Sketchbook study of Siena, Italy

My first visit to Siena was in February 1999. It was a wonderfully bright and crisp, sunny ( but cold ) morning. When we arrived, the shell shaped Piazza del Campo where the famous Palio horse racing is held twice a year, was very quiet. It was just a little too cool to do any painting.

The story was quite different for my next visit seven years later on a warm October morning. This time the Piazza was jumping with people and I was able to do a couple of sketchbook watercolours capturing the historic centre which has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. One of the sketches which you can see above I later did a studio version of.

Siena is one of Italy’s most visited tourist attractions, famous for its art, stunning medieval architecture, museums, cuisine and of course the Palio which featured in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace starring Daniel Craig. It’s no surprise that my limited edition print of Siena, captured on that first visit in 1999 has proved to be one of my most popular paintings of Italy. The warm golden colour of the stone work was partly achieved by using a Windsor and Newton colour called Raw Sienna. It was no doubt aptly named after the distinctive colour of the stone and rich fertile soil around Siena.

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The Artist’s Wife, Venice

The Artist's Wife

The Artist's Wife

It was my wife Susan who first introduced me to Italy. She had lived in Venice for five years and was always enthusing about the country, its people, the culture and of course, the food and wine. We made our first trip together in 1991 and I soon found myself painting exquisite scenes on location. I was beginning to discover for myself why Italy has always inspired artists from all around the world.

Sketchbook Study of St Mark's Basilica, Venice

Sketchbook Study of St Mark's Basilica

St Mark’s Square has a special place in Susan’s heart as it was in the Basilica on the 7th April in 1985 that she cried out to God and committed her life to Jesus. So the painting above, titled “The Artist’s Wife”, depicting Susan standing under one of the archways with St Mark’s church in the background, is one that holds poignant memories for Susan.

Although the original watercolour remains in our private collection of paintings of Italy, we have reproduced it as part of our series of limited edition prints of Italy. There are 250 in the edition and 25 artist’s proofs which are hand remarked as seen in the mounted print above.

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Grand Canal, Venice

The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal, Venice

The view from the Academia Bridge of the Santa Maria della Salute is probably the definitive view of Venice. In 1630 Venice experienced a devastating outbreak of the plague. The Republic of Venice vowed to build a church to be dedicated to Our Lady of Health. A student of Andre Palladio, Baldassare Longhena designed the Santa Maria della Salute in the Baroque style. Inside the church, many of the objects of art bear references to the Black Death.

When one stands on the bridge with sketchbook and brush in hand, one is acutely aware of the great artists like Canaletto, J.M.W. Turner and John Singer Sargent who have gone before and painted the very same scene. At this point, it is tempting to shrink back and not bother as you just know that there will be passers by leaning over your shoulder to offer criticism, but that’s the easy option. Instead, it’s head down and paint!

Over the years I’ve made several sketch book studies from this view point. The watercolour above is a studio production based on those studies and my own reference photographs. I was so pleased with the result that I’ve kept the original which hangs in our living room and have reproduced it as a limited edition print. It has to be one of my favourite paintings of Italy.

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