Had a clear weekend so gessoed up a canvas and did my second painting in the Sardinia series. Capo Testa is a wonderful area on the north-west coast of Sardinia. There’s a maze of walking tracks amongst the huge boulders and so many wildflowers it’s like a series of rock gardens. There’s the mild scent of curry wafting over the cape from the yellow curry plants and the stunning blue of the Mediterranean in the background. Hope I managed to capture just a little of this amazing place which I hope to get back to some day.
I had a painting day today and broke out the acrylics for a change. I’ve been doing a lot of pastels lately and although I love them sometimes I crave the luxury of slathering on thick wodges of paint and building up some texture.
I had a lot of fun with the foreground using some modelling paste mixed with the paint to give volume and texture to all that vegetation. The Queen Anne’s Lace was all over the island with flower heads the size of dinner plates in some places! I took a bit of liberty with some of the flowers so I could harmonise the painting but there were a lot of coastal blooms all around Sardinia.
I like how the red underpainting shows through in places giving the painting a bit of zing.
Another joy of acrylics on canvas is that I can continue the painting around the sides , put in a couple of d rings, wire it up and straight onto the wall. No tedious mat cutting and then having to put the pastel in and out of the frame half a dozen times because I keep seeing a speck of dust that’s fallen on the mat – it always happens no mater how careful I am!
This one’s for an upcoming exhibition and I’m thinking it might not come home. All in all a satisfying days work.
I’ve unpacked the suitcase, done the laundry and distributed the gifts. I’ve settled back into work reacquainting myself with the myriad small disasters of the working day. I’ve rearranged the studio and tidied up a bit. So now there’s so more excuses for putting off starting on the post holiday paintings.
It might surprise you to know that as much as I love painting there’s something a bit daunting about sorting through my memories, masses of photos and all those small sketches I did and trying to distill the essence of the holiday that I now want to capture in larger pastel paintings.
Sometimes I absolutely know what I’m interested in. One holiday it was patterns- roof tiles, fields of different crops, rows of lavender, five metal jugs on a wall, bicycle wheels- stone fences-the list went on. Other times it takes a while for a them to emerge and this last Italian holiday was one of those.
When that happens sometimes I just decide to jump in and start painting whatever and see what develops. So here are my first three paintings and I think what might be developing is a visual essay on the varied landscapes of Italy.
When you live as far “down under” as we do, in southern Tasmania, it’s a long way to Europe and our usual approach is to whittle away at our wish list across 2 or 3 countries each trip. This holiday we spent 5 weeks in Italy instead of our usual 1-2 weeks and it really made a difference. We were able to stay a week each in four very different regions and explore a bit more in depth than we usually have time for and I think the vastly different landscapes, architecture and traditional work is what captured our interest. Of course this variety shouldn’t be a surprise given that the Italy we know today is a very recent entity .
A gentle morning landscape with mist rising over the Tuscan wheatfields, the emerald waters of Sardinia and snowcapped mountains reflected in Lake Arpy in the northern Italian alps – the start of a series celebrating the diverse landscapes of Italy.
I was expecting the beautiful beaches of Sardinia but this small island has so much more to captivate and delight the senses. I’m not downplaying the beaches though as I’m a big fan of turquoise waters, small sandy coves and coastal flora!
The water is warm and inviting and not only did I do my fair share of swimming and snorkelling but I managed to fill up my sketch book and break out the pastels for a painting session. It was a bit frustrating with the pastels as I just didn’t bring enough colours to really capture the full gamut of greens and blues in the water but I enjoyed the simple ink and watercolour sketches.
The wildflowers were in full bloom everywhere. Fields of dinner plate sized Queen Annes Lace carpeted the countryside and along the coast were the yellow curry plants with their pungent perfume, bright pink pigs face, delicate purple and pinks of flowers I have no name for yet and more of those QALs.
It’s not all beaches and flowers, there’s plenty of culture and history when you need a break from all that blue and green sea! There’s a rich history of Nuraghi settlements and burial necropoli to explore as well as the influence of the conquering Spanish and the early Christian churches. I found the Nuraghi necropoli sites very evocative and was impressed with the innovative architecture of one of their protective fortresses with it’s maze of passageways and stairs.
The early Christian churches have some wonderful carvings and were set in lonely fields and on stoney outcrops giving them an air of mystery and romantacism.
We even stumbled upon a cheery festival and saw evidence that the traditional costume is still worn on special occassions.
A short stroll down to the local beach in the evening rewarded with a moody evening light. The pine forest on the headland cast dramatic shadows and the setting sun silhouetted the wetland trees.
The wind has weathered the rocks creating interesting rockscapes.
There’s a hinterland of mountains and rolling farmlands wiith small villages scattered across the landscape that provide an interesting contrast to all that coastal scenery.