Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Praia Mole, late October

Praia Mole, late October, oil on card, 17 / 15.5 cm

Dense and balmy: maybe the painting is too insistent, I am not sure.

Sometimes the pictures come over in photos in ways that flatter them, this time it isnt the case, the colours are more greenishly delicate, but I cannot easily reproduce that for some reason linked to the limitations of the camera. One of the morals of that is, of course, that art lovers should always be wary of judging pictures from reproductions: the point is obvious,but often, I sense, forgotten by participants in seminars and those writing about art.

I like to sit by the sea, I feel free and expanded. I like how the sea is different in different places, and it so often has a restful effect even if it is, for me,  a vast melancholy element.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Painting in Tuscany; thanks and thoughts


Viareggio, Tuscany, oil on card, 12 x 14.5 cm

Well, that brings to a close my trip.

It was a wonderful trip and I want to thanks everyone who helped me: my parents,the people in Tuscany, Steve in the Beehive Hotel in Rome for restaurant recommendations,  Julie for company over dinner, and to Patrizia in Bari for taking me to Monopoli and buying me beer.

And many thanks to Sarah and Stefano in Tuscany for their hospitality and meals.

Other pleasant encounters were the sweet guy in the Lecce who runs the tourist information for giving me a ride on his scooter with my luggage, pleasant if surely eccentric hotel owners in Orvieto and the Italians in general for being kind and tolerant with ignorant British painter travellers.


From an artistic perspective, one always hopes there is some definitive lesson from a trip, but there rarely is.  There is a fine interview with Chuck Close and he states that all  the ideas he ever got came form the act of painting itself. Which is a way of stating, perhaps, that talking about it isn't that valuable.

 I feel more and more that this travel painting thing is analogous to fishing: you pick your equipment, your reels and hooks and lines, you think about what you want to catch and you go towards the place. And you might be luck you might not. A good number of days are  wasted and a good number of pictures are poor. I never know until some days after which are the good and the bad, and it almost embarrasses me how little I can trust my own immediate judgment.

The best paintings occur when one is in the zone, meaning that in that mindset where one is not really thinking about what one should or should not do but simply fulling engaged with whatever one is engaged with.

You know instinctively when a picture is fake or forced, but I don't know the words to  detail that instinct, and I doubt anyone else does either. Like many artists I spend my time often wanting to be another painter, one whose work I've seen and admire. Fortunately, incompetence or the mere ridiculousness of such an ambition forces me to work in way that is my own.


Next trip: London, Egypt and Scotland in January, if the Egyptians haven´t gone completely kookoo that is, in which case it'll be Jordan.



Friday, October 19, 2012

Painting in Orvieto


Orvieto, looking north, oil on card, 16 / 14 cm

Orvieto- looking West, oil on card, 18 / 16 cm

Orvieto is an amazingly situated city with a stunning Gothic cathedral, all very well preserved or maintained,

I tried to do the sort of tourist painting in the cathedral square that almost seems the raison d'etre for travel, but never really enjoyed it. Better were the fantastic views. The second, Orvieto- looking south is a sort of impressionism which isn't, in truth, really my bag. I'm a much meatier, heavier and more expressionist painter, much more interested in lumpiness than light. I've always felt a little self conscious about this, the heaviness in my pictures. I want to make this more of a virtue as it is in, say, Morandi or Courbet.

I may shift the average scale up a bit in future trips.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Painting in Puglia: Lecce and Bari


Housing near a factory, Lecce, oil on card, 12.5 / 14 cm

Lecce, early evening, oil on card, 11 / 16 cm  NOT FOR SALE

Lecce was too perfumed for the sort of painting I like to do. It felt as every square inch had been combed over, tweaked, by a team of interior designers. The town's plan is labyrinthine, and it is flat and riverless, and has no seafront, which means it lacks vistas and, moreover, becomes claustrophobic and uncomfortable on hot days.

Bari, the town, oil on card, 10.5 / 13 cm  NOT FOR SALE

Bari- the Adriatic, midday, oil on card, 15 / 18 cm   NOT FOR SALE

Bari, was considerably better, more "normal", less airbrushed for tourism. I stayed near the station in the sort of crummy hotel with a strange lift and the view of the backs of buildings, and everything painted brown, the sort of Tom Waitsian place that I like though I am not sure why as they are self-evidently quite grim.

It's nice to walk along the seafront and paint. The people seem friendly and relaxed in Bari. it would be a good place to go if you were sick and just wanted some time to get well and have simple conversations about their dogs or the temperature. There are lots of nice little shops too. Italy doesn't seem to have suffered the corporate colonisation that blighted the UK, homogenizing every high street.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Painting in Rome: from the parks and around the railway station


From v. di Villa Medici, Rome, oil on card, 14 / 11.2 cm

Rome, West from the Garibaldi monument, oil on card, 12 / 15 cm

Parkland in Rome, oil on card, 11.5 / 10 cm

 Temple, Villa Borghese Park, Rome, oil on card, 12.5 x 13 cm

 Near the Borghese Museum, Rome, oil on card, 13.5 x 10 cm

Rome is a pretty great painting city, with architecture whose insistence is sometimes oppressive: seeking respite from this I went along the river and painted the bridges. And I also went to the wonderful parks.

I started to explore the area near the station too. Immediately outside the station is, of course largely devoted to tourism, but move slightly further south and it quickly, magnificently, changes.

There, pitiful shop window displays showing drab and ugly clothes such as a selection of beige underpants of various sizes, each pair strangely stretched in a peculiarly unflattering holder, or some nasty shoes, the dirty take away restaurants and their aging shop signs, and then the men, often immigrants, in short leather jackets simply standing around smoking or sometimes using mobile phones, and the trams and vast nineteenth century blocks in scuffed pastel colours combined to make me feel an incredible nostalgia for some generalised, seedy. ex-communist city in the nineties, St Petersburg, or Warsaw. 

Also, there are non-Italian restaurants there too: something to be grateful for if the unimaginativeness of Italian cuisine starts to pall.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Painting in Rome : buildings


St Peters, Rome, oil on card, 13.5 / 16 cm    SOLD

Behind the Parthenon, Rome, oil on card, 10.5 / 13.7 cm

I'd had the idea of tackling more of the famous buildings but when I got to them felt disagreeable, the declamatory style of architecture and insistent presence of mass tourism combining to persuade me to so see refuge in Rome's wonderful parks and gardens- of which more tomorrow.

This touches on the way that tourism has the effect of so often destroying what it purports to celebrate, ones the sense of private discovery is lost among the hordes, to which I, of course, contribute, while hypocritically deriding.

The value of art is in the revealing of secrets, a butterfly chase: the skill is to capture and preserve an elusive emotion in your aesthetic net. The next major trip is Egypt- almost equally scrutinised, alas.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Painting in Rome: bridges


Ponte Sisto, Rome, oil on card, 12 / 14 cm   SOLD

Ponte Sant' Angelo, oil on card, 14.1 / 18.8 cm

 Ponte Principe Amedeo di Savoia, Rome, oil on card, 13.8 / 8 cm

Ponte Mazzini, Rome, oil on card, 14 / 11.5 cm

 Ponte Cavour, Rome, oil on card, 14 / 16 cm

Ponte Margherita, Rome- the lonely cyclist, oil on card, 18 / 16 cm

Ponte Pietro Nenni, Rome, oil on card, 12 / 7 cm

 When I was last in Rome, two years ago, I painted the Pietro Nenni Bridge, and I wanted this time again to paint the bridges. I pursued this, semi systematically. The bridges offer a respite from the intense tourism of other places, the

I was in Rome in two short bursts, at the start and end of a wider Italian trip. The weather was more or less perfect, though I'd have been happier with something more sharply contrasting to Brazil's perpetual summer, something more surely autumnal. 


Sunday, October 14, 2012

29 from Italy

29 from Italy

Absent are four pictures which were sent to Scotland to, perhaps, be sold there.

It's not a bad haul: somehow not quite what I expected to produce, for good or ill.

 I will work more and more in the larger sizes in future.

Over the next few days I'll write more about the specific pictures and places.