Thursday, 29 October 2009

Il Duomo, Taormina, Sicilia

Cathedral San Nicola di Bari, by night
oil on canvas  - 30 x 40 cm
painted on location - 7 Oct 2009

This is a must visit location for anyone going to Sicily. Located high on a steep mountain slope, one is enriched with such magnificent views of not only the lustrous Mediterranean Sea, but also that beauty, known as "the sleeping giant", Mount Etna. The worlds most active vulcano, and one of the biggest. I found out from the owner of our Bed & Breakfast that Taormina became known to recent visitors, (18th century + onwards) by a German landscape artist who had an exhibition of the paintings he made at this location in a prominant Paris art gallery, which stunned the Parisian public. They refused to beleive that such a landscape existed. Which at once offers tropical vegetation, with ruins of the Golden Greek Era, and topped of with a snowcapped active vulcano in the distance! This awakened the curiousity of the Parisians, who sent a delegation to confirm this surrealistic scenery. It soon became one of the hottest tourist locations of southern Europe. Since I was down there painting myself, thought this would be nice to share with you all. A picture for you to see for yourself what I was inspired to paint.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Sciacca, Sicily, fishing port with sunny street scene

Entrance to fishing port, early morning
oil on canvas board
24 x 30 cm
painted on location - 7 Oct 2009


Sciacca (prenounced shi-aka), ia a picturesque seaside town built on rocky cliffs that overlook the Mediterranean Sea on the South - western coast of Sicily. It is famous for its many artisan shops which specialize in ceramic ware/tiles, its Thermal Spa complex, and its fishing fleet . There are hundreds of fishing boats, of all sizes and colorfully decorated, that moor in the port. Excited about what I saw, I first decided to make a quaint simple composition of an alley way in the old fishing village, with a play of mid afternoon sunlight(painting featured below). Then the following morning, whilst my colleagues were still enjoying the comfort of their beds, I was out there capturing the early morning sunlight affect on the port. With the moon still in view, the warm hues from the rising sun on the horizon, a soft yet colorful enhancment to the cool blue hues reflecting on the seas surface. Two boats returning with their catch, one boat heading out, with a flock of seagulls following, to pick up any leftovers.

Old street scene, Sciacca
oil on canvas board
30 x 24 cm
painted on location - 6 Oct 2009


A detail of an alleyway in the old fishing village shown on the bottom right corner of the above painting. That pile of lit up greenish/yellow object is actually a fishing net, being dried out.

Friday, 23 October 2009

View of Petralia Sottana & Street scene Petralia Soprana

Oil sketch of Petralia Sottana
oil on canvas
18 x 24 cm
painted on location - 5 Oct 2009

We were en route to this quaint village, from a good afternoons work at a village even higher in elevation (painting below), when Dimitrios suddenly decided to pull over the van and suggest that we paint the village with the affect of the sitting sun. Am glad he made that decesion, all our efforts were worthwhile, at least I was happy with mine. This was the only place we stayed at that didn't have a view of that shimmering blue of the Mediterranean Sea. However the vistas were no less spectacular, with amazing skies and valleys covered in rich soil, hosting all sorts of crops and trees.

Street leading to Cathedral, Petralia Soprana
oil on canvas - 24 x 18 cm
painted on location - 5 Oct 2009

Again, the play of light is what inspired me to tackle this rather commonplace view. However the ceramic detail of that church tower, also spoke to me. It had just been restored, and the other tower, to the left, which is not in view, was in restoration. Covered with more than a 1000 multicolored handmade pointy ceramic tiles, I felt it deserved il pittore's attention. These twin villages are located in the interior of Sicily, just off the main highway that leads from Palermo to Catania.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Il Duomo di Cefalu & Case antice nella Baia

St. John's Cathedral at dusk, Cefalu, Sicily
oil on canvas - 40 x 30 cm
painted on location - Sunday 4 Oct 2009, (early evening)

Cefalu is famous for its monuments, and this is probably the most famous example. Built by The Normans(1016 - 1194), one of the most ancient Cathedrals of this period, it still retains its natural beauty, mainly due to the fascinating color of the yellow ochre stones, which are found in abundace on this Island. As I started to paint this scene, the light was so intense on the facade of the structure, I was at once troubled with the thought of, "how the hell am I going to get that vibrancy on my canvas?"..., it eventually got softer and for certain moments, the stones seemed to glitter a most unusual golden light, wonderfully magical, to say the least. One does not even need to enter this place of worship, in order to have a spiritual transcendent experience, at least not in my case. The Statue of St. John(appropriately a Norman Saint) is the one featured on the far right.

and early the next morning....

Charming ancient houses along the Bay, Cefalu
oil on canvas - 24 x 18 cm
painted on location - Monday 5 Oct 2009

The Sunlight is just starting to make its access on the slowly awaking village. Il pittore is out there, capturing that soft golden light in time to render its magical affect on the scene at hand. As the English painter, John Constable once said, "Light governs everything." He couldn't be more right, especially on this Island. A slight reflection on the turquoise/greenish salty water, harmonizes carefully with the yellow/greenish forests being lit up on the gentle mountain slopes, behind the village.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Historical Centre, and the Sea at Cefalu, Sicily

Old Center of Cefalu, as seen from the beach
oil on canvas, 20 x 40 cm
painted on location - Sunday 4 Oct 2009
This is the destination, I especially wanted to visit. As it said in the Lonely Planet guide book, a postcard perfect village . I already new that, as I have seen pictures from this town, years ago. What also attrachted me to this place was to be near the Sea. After this painting was completed, as I was pouring with sweat, from the warm sun on my skin, I didn't hesitate for a second, and went for a swim. Afterwards, I made a small seascape which is posted here below. We all had a tastey warm lunch at a beachside cafe, after a great session of painting. A close up of those two towers which form part of the cathedral is going to be my next posting.

Friday, 16 October 2009

View of Palermo, from the Port

Center of Palermo, as seen from a Pier
oil on canvas
20 x 40 cm
painted on location - Sat. 3 Oct 2009


Just a detail of the harbor, as it is enormous, hosting all kinds of sea going vessels; from elegant cruise ships to cargo ships of all sizes from far off destinations. As is demonstrated in this scene, no modern buildings, the highest towers, belong to cathedrals, and the splendor of nature engulfs the city, in an harmonies balance. And this is what adds to the charm of this Island, it still retains its uniqueness. Most of the structures are beautiful monuments, too good to knock down, and rebuild. In this city, as in most locations here in Sicily, Mother Nature decides, when it is time for a face change. And it comes in the way of an earthquake, for example; but also an eruption from the worlds most active vulcano, "The Giant Etna", can cause untold damage. Oh yes, I forgot to mention, the next envading culture, will also have to leave its trademark! If you don't know it already, Sicily has gone through at least 8 or 9 different invading forces, such as the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Normans, just to name a few.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Mercato del Capo, Palermo, Sicily

Vegetable vender and street scene, Capo Market, Palermo
oil on canvas,
30 x 24 cm
painted on location - Sat 4 Oct 2009


We arrived in Sicily, just after they had a few days of rain and high winds. You will not be seeing to many clouds in this series, but these featured on this painting ad a nice accent to the many colors of this exotic and truely colorful fruit,vegetable, fish and meat market. Nestled amount narrow accent streets with worn down buildings, the strong sunlight higlights objects, which have inspired me to set up at this busy location. Whitin minutes I had a crowd of about 24 kids and adults, making all sorts of enquiries. I could easily go back and just spend a week painting in this location!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Painting/Vacation Sicily Oct 2009

Wet Paintings made in Sicilia
cover of pizza box
40 x 30 cm

not for sale

Ciao a tutti, Hello everyone.
Just back from a fantastic week of Sunshine and warm weather, affording one with beautiful scenes of villages, cities, landscapes and seascapes. Great people, lively and friendly....and the food, well the food,..... divine, tasty, unbelievably nurturing... worth a trip to Sicily in itself. Along with my good friend Dimitris, and two of his friends from Colorado, USA, Kim and Andi English. The following 12 postings will be of work made on that trip. Why the pizza box? As most of you know, il pittore works in oils. Now this presented me with a logistical problem, moving them around, as we just stayed one night per location, apart from Palermo, the starting point. If you follow the sequence of numbers after the dotted locations, you should be able to figure out our journey, which ended up in that enchanting black city, Catania. Why black, you might enquire? That city was completely covered in firey lava two times in the 17th century, taking the life's of more than 50,000. They then rebuilt it with the hardened lava, which of course is black. Thanks to the skillful driving of Dimitris, and the navigational competence of yours truly, we managed to cover a vast amount of area, in a relatively short time. Most of the locations were on the coast, however a detour to a mountain top village, was quiet refreshing and offered some wonderful vistas. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

View of Cefalu from the beach. Taoromina, the Duomo with my night painting on the easel. And a painterly picture of my colleauges from Piazza del Duomo, Catania.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Panoramic View of The North Sea #7, 2009

A Nice Autumn day at Southbeach, The North Sea
oil on canvas,
30 x 150 cm
painted on location - Thurs. 24 Sept 2009  -   SOLD

Sorry folks, this is not really a wet painting, as it has had more than enough time to dry up! Made the day after the previous posting, and lucky it was, as it has been pretty rough on the North Sea, since then. This work is now on display at an exhibition, I was invited to participate in, in the European Patent Office, in Rijswijk. Finally decided to paint in one of the many oil tankers, that are anchored, just off the shore line, awaiting to get their marching orders, I suppose.
A grouping of vaporous clouds in the forground, add a nice accent to this spacious seascape.