It would be logical for me to say that as the weather gets colder and more miserable, I get drawn towards painting sunny countries as a reminder that summer isn’t far away.
And yet, neat as that sounds, this painting is more about my longing and fascination for all things Italy, whether or not it’s cold over here (after all, it can get pretty freddo there too). I was lucky enough to travel a lot in Italy when I was younger, and I have to say, it is still up there with my top 5 most beautiful, sunny, delicious, and stunningly-fabulous places I’ve ever been. Its landscapes, food, language and architecture take my breath away.
More generally, I also love the shape and look of higgeldy-piggeldy buildings, whether clustered over a mountainside or coastline, as they are here, or Victorian brick buildings raggedly arranged alongside a railway line, which I see on a daily basis on my journeys in and out of London’s suburbs. There’s a sort of awful, crazy-beautiful, intensely organic, human element to them, as patchwork and ad-hoc and shambolic – and yet still standing – as they are.
But for this, it was something about the Italian coastline, in particular the Cinque Terre, that I wanted to capture. It just makes me want to paint stuff. How can you not look at all that colour and blue sky and sea and shapes and not be inspired?
Painting-wise, this just about turned out how I wanted, although I’m never bloody 100% happy, of course! The sea and sky are a bit more impressionistic than I had envisaged, and perhaps the sea should be less navy, more turquoise…on the whole though, it came out OK. The flowers don’t look so amazing in this photo, but overall they gave the impression that I wanted….more or less.
And maybe there’s some truth to the whole rubbish-weather-paint-sunshine thing, because thinking about Italy, roads across seas, and a blue/yellow sky is making me feel warmer already…