21 July 2013

progress between thunderstorms

The colour is antique brown, which sits better with the house than the peeling black and white did. No doubt the "ringhiera" looked very smart in the 50s or 60s, but I like the softer more neutral colour it is going to be. 

Today I am grateful for anti-rust paint. 

20 July 2013

six guests from four countries

...and five of them will arrive from three different directions on the same day.

Roll on Tuesday... but in the meantime, there are a few things to attend to!

You may not be hearing from me for a while...

Today I am grateful for my interesting life. 

19 July 2013

concert at Arce

When I figure out how to get the videos onto the computer (they are not copying across at all) then I'll try to upload a little bit of the concert. 

Today I am grateful for visitors and animated discussion. 

guess who is back in town...

I thought I was out having a leisurely after dinner walk.

And then I received a phone call, the voice I had been waiting to hear :-)

I didn't know that I could walk so fast! Vrooooom! I was home in record time.

Walk was abandoned, quick change, and off to the concert...

Today I am grateful for a phone call from my favourite tenor. 

15 July 2013

time for other things...

That's it for now, I need to do other things. Hopefully I can paint again tomorrow morning.

As you can probably see, there are still a lot of weaknesses to be sorted, and of course all the detail of the ornate parts of the arches is still to be done. The landscape in the bottom section is still evolving in my mind. 

But overall I am starting to feel good about the work and am really looking forward to working it up more when I next get a chance. For now, though, the brushes are washed and the painting is off the easel and leaning on the wall where I can contemplate it at my leisure. 

Today I am grateful for a gentle breeze in the studio. 


As soon as I pulled up this photo on my computer I could see a glaring error that I hadn't noticed on the canvas. Can you spot it? (No, not the angle of the pillars, that is because I had to photograph at an odd angle to avoid light reflecting off the wet oil).

I have decided today, after contemplating it for a few days, to paint the roman road in under the present day water. There is a hugely exciting new dig going on very close to this arch, and the road being uncovered is pristine. The baths are complete, so much new information coming to light. Open day is coming up... I will be there! So, in honour of that dig, I am putting the road back in under this arch and letting the water flow over it. 

PS: I am tempted to paint Rome in the background instead of my beloved hills... well, after all...

Today I am grateful for a little self discipline :-) 

14 July 2013

in the real

I can't believe I just wrote that! (Previous post).

In the real.

What has happened to my mastery of the English language?


Bloomin' 'eck!

I'm a lost cause...

mamma mia!

Slopes away to paint some more...  muttering as she goes "I will not edit that last post... I will not edit... I will not... 


trying to be good

But failing. I couldn't wait... instead of doing more basic work on the last segment I started some of the refining I wanted to do right in the middle... oops!

No self discipline, yes, I know!

Here is this morning's effort...

Some of the metaphor was a bit too subtle perhaps, so now there is no mistaking how horrible the industrial abuse is. (Photographed from a distance because the light was shining too much on the wet paint. The teal blue is not quite so bright in the real). 

Now for lunch... hungry work, painting is, with all the smells of Sunday pranzo around the neighbourhood floating in. The village is filling up with returning residents, and I can hear calling out, French language, people leaning out of windows to chat...gotta love village life! 

Today I am grateful for new energy. 

13 July 2013


I think that it is apparent what I am wanting to do with this work, but I did set myself rather a challenge. 

The first two arches set the scene I hope, ancient Aquino (post Roman though, as the church is made from Roman ruins). While no longer serving the Romans, the arch still stands proud, its full height. I need to sit patiently and work at the detail on that when the work is dry. But dominating (gently, soflty), is my favourite church, Madonna della Libera. I have taken liberties and simplified the town (in Roman times it was protected by a moat). 

The second arch is based on a fabulous watercolour from the 1800s. It is evidence that the water has long been flowing along what was once a Roman road. In the original it is an idyllic scene, very romantic. Again I have simplified it, and taken only what suits my purposes. 

The viewpoint for the first two arches is looking up at them, as we look at the ancient past. The second two arches are taken from photographs, so the viewer is looking directly at them.

The third arch shows the industrial use of the water, with the means of controlling the flow established. It is still an attractive sight, if one forgets about what it should really look like. 

The fourth arch is surrounded by the ugliness of the current industrial buildings. The more the vegetation is cleared to protect the arch the more ugly industry is exposed. I have painted this in a darker setting, as it is very much a dark period in the history of this monument.  

The fifth arch, looking ahead to the future, has the viewer slightly above with a lower vanishing point (compositionally) so he gets an overview of what might be achieveable. I have reluctantly left out the base of the arch for two reasons: to put it in to scale I would need to have taken up too much of the canvas, and I don't believe that this will be fully uncovered in my life time. I have " uncovered" as much as I think is feasible in the current situation with the paper mill using the water and taking up so much of the area in front of/behind the arch. 

I am impatient to do more, but must wait to push and pull the colours back and adjust the tonal values. It is a really hot day and the painting is all quite "tacky"... the paint wont flow on that surface, so it's time to take a break. 

I think that tomorrow and Monday morning will see the basis of this all completed, and then the task of bringing it to life has to wait until next weekend. That is the biggest challenge, but also the most rewarding part. 

Today I am grateful also for good drying weather for oils. 

coming together now

Still a very long way to go, but I think I can see some progress. Just a small image because it is nowhere near my own expectations yet. But it's getting there...

Now for yet another break...

Every time I stop, back aching, eyes tired, exhausted from so much concentration, I remember that so many people think that painting is just a cruisy hobby, and I am soooo lucky to have a talent for it. They have no idea how exhausting it is, how all consuming it can be, and why I now look as though I haven't slept in a week when really it is only four straight days of painting that has done this to me!

PS more progress has been made with the greenery and transition from the middle arch to the next one down. (We had an unexpected power cut before I could post this. It seems there was an accident, but I don't think anyone has been badly hurt, judging by the "meno male" comments floating up into the studio). I'll post another painting update photo later.

Today I am grateful for time to paint. 

the last segment

It's not even lunchtime and I am needing a break. It's been a busy morning, up early and I've worked on the painting (not just this segment) for hours already. 

Oh to be a fast painter, sometimes, but I do like my slow way of working, really! If I spent longer in the drawing up stage and less time painting it would feel like colouring in. This way I feel totally immersed in the work even if I sometimes have to rework things to get them right. 

I'll soon be ready to show you all the bits together, just a bit more linking to do before you see the "whole". The finishing off can't happen until this is dry enough for me to lean all over it.

Today I am grateful for my painting shirt :-) . 

12 July 2013

and another section...

(bottom photo taken in less light, one above it is better colour).

Just one more section to get up to this stage and then I will let it dry a bit before I start on the fine tuning. I'm really pleased with how fast it is coming together as it really is the equivalent of five individual paintings. Whew!   

Today I am also grateful for progress. 

another snippet...

This is undergoing a few changes today. Check back in a few hours for the result, I'll add the updated photo below. Kris, it's going to be a spot the difference for you :-)

Later, still not completed but now this part has to wait. 

Today I am grateful for motivation.

11 July 2013

into the turps again

No, not what you are thinking!

I'm back in oils again; it seems like an age since I last worked in oil. I'm loving it, but still expecting the layers to dry as fast as acrylic does... patience, patience!

Now, do I show you progress shots or surprise you at the end? This is the painting of the triumphal arch at Aquino. I wanted it to be a bit special. The painting is well underway, but there is a long way to go.

Perhaps I'll just tease you with some details for now... :-)

This is about one fifth of the work, and about one quarter completed.

Looking at these photos I can see some structural changes I need to make. That objective space is what prompts me to post progress photos. Somehow I see the errors more clearly once I have made them public!

and another fifth to about the same stage: 

And added one day later: 

Today I am grateful for brushes, paint and canvas. 

10 July 2013

in the dog box...

No, not the dogs.

I didn't have an exhibition during the festa this year. I had guests and had an exhausting day driving around battlefields and cemeteries on the Saturday. On Sunday I had opened my house to the female violinists who needed somewhere to rest and change, and prior to that when I was contemplating putting the Monte Cassino paintings outside somewhere there had also been a fierce storm - I was reluctant to put easels out after that!  But the truth was, in fact, that I was all exhibitioned out!

The year so far has had so many trips up and down the stairs with paintings that I needed a break. My wrist has one of those little over-use cysts in it, causing me a few niggles and pains, and I have recurring tendonitis in my elbow.

But despite my protests I was urged to exhibit even somewhere outside (I gave a flat refusal to inside the building with security issues, and I have learnt that it also makes my house the only available bathroom for the whole festa for passing women and children).

I said no, and then, under duress agreed to a "maybe, perhaps the second night".

But by the second night the excuse of being open home to musicians was enough for me to opt out.

Yesterday I was accosted again. Why didn't I exhibit? People were expecting to see my paintings... they were asking where I was...


Next year, there's always next year. It seems that you can become an institution in a mere six years in this land of ancient history!

Today I am grateful for integration. 

8 July 2013

it smelt just soooooo goooood!

The hot roast pork sandwiches were just across the road, upwind from the balcony was BBQ lamb... and all I could do was watch with twitching nose from upstairs!
 I tried everything... sniffing up in the air, licking my chops, looking appealingly at mum. I even tried sitting down being perfect...
 And sitting up really concentrating on that BBQ... just in case, you know, mum hadn't twigged...

 Finally I gave up. Mum said that if there were scraps on the road when we went for our morning walk I could eat them then. As if the nasty big stray dogs would leave them for me...

I went out onto the terrace and tried a snail.
 What do you mean, I can look but not lick?
 That didn't go down too well... I think Mum wanted that snail for a painting. Oops!
 Sigh! I'll just sit inside on the floor and pretend that wonderful aroma is not real :-(

Oh, and mum says to tell you that she is not playing favourites, it's just that Pickle was hiding under the bed still after the canon balls fell out of the sky with huge booming sounds that rattled the balcony. She's a wimp, that Pickle... 

Today Mum is grateful for her obedient perfect handsome and adorable little dog.


7 July 2013

it's thunderstorm time

and the local festa!

These photos were taken at about 11pm last night when the stall holders were packing up but the concert continued.

Tonight the musicians change for their performance in my apartment... it's a pity that their fame is wasted on me! 

(And right now, at 4.30pm, it is "fair hosing down"... it needs to be dry by 7.30 for the procession!)

Today I am grateful for music and laughter.

5 July 2013

my favourite things

These are a few of my favourite things... at least when it comes to things Roman.

More photos from the lovely church in Aquino. I am a bit of a greenie so I love all the recycling that has gone into this building. When I enter the church I can smell the earth, There is rarely anyone else there. I can take all the time I need to contemplate, meditate, reflect. Here I am not of any time, I can just be. This is what I think of as being totally in tune with past and present, with life. 

Today I am grateful for happy friends.