Friday, 5 October 2012

Watercolour painting in Florence, Italy

" Florence through the trees. 3" ©StevePP watercolour on paper 12 x 9 inches

After a short train ride from Pisa, Paul Kenton and I pulled into the bustling station of Florence. Finding our way through the crowds to our hotel, which was conveniently only one block away from the station, we grabbed our cameras and headed out to explore the famed city.

Instantly we were amongst a sea of scooters, taxis and beautifully dressed people on bicycles. Swept along we found ourselves in the heart of an outdoor market , alive with activity, haggling and hawking, the colours and smells were intoxicating, especially all the leather goods.

After a few hours of wandering around soaking up the atmosphere we found ourselves south of the River Arno in a glorious little Piazza at a busy ristorante. The food was sublime, simple yet exploding with fresh flavours and tastes that you come to expect from good Italian cooking. The square was steadily filling with local people taking their "passeggiata" , the evening stroll, small children chased each other around and round and mums and dads chatted and gesticulated animatedly, whilst beautiful young couples strutted and preened in their finest fashions.

After a three courses of fine food , and a few glasses of wine we made it back to our hotel, excited to paint the next day.

"Florence through the trees.2"  "Florence through the trees.3" ©StevePP watercolour on paper 12 x 9"
The view from the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte greeted us with panoramic views of the city, it was so peaceful up there that Paul and I decided to spend the day painting from the courtyard there. We managed a series of studies from the same spot, each highlighting the difficulties in painting a city scene in watercolours.
Trying to capture the essence, yet simplifying the scene enough to keep it from becoming overworked was a challenge. The light and sky changed almost every fifteen minutes. From stormy, to flat light, to bright strong sunlight.
"Florence through the trees 3" was my favourite, after exploring the scene in the first two, I opted to simplify and lighten the overall look to capture the heat, light and values and at the same time leave something for the viewer's imagination to fill in.

Whew!, after all that, we needed a glass of vino and a good meal.
More to come!

Look out for a series of original oil paintings to come from this trip soon on my fine art website.