For this post in this series on food and drink and scenery we are heading off to Northern Italy, well a few parts of it anyway. In Part two we will visit the Veneto area and Sicily.
Lago di Como
Our first stop is the beautiful Lake Como, a truly magnificent area of Northern Italy.
The sparkling waters of the Lake , which is surrounded by impressive mountains and then by the shore there are many delightful towns and villages.
We most recently stayed in Cernobbio where the town nestles against the southern end if the lake.
One evening we ate in a really very good and ever so friendly restaurant in the town called “Osteria del Beuc”. Amongst a delightful selection of food we enjoyed some great lake perch,lightly pan fried and really great.
We washed it down with some excellent Gavi di Gavi chilled white Italian wine.
It was a memorable evening enjoyed with great friends and we ended it with a stroll by the lake.
The next day we went in a motor launch along the lake, taking in the sights and lunching at Bellagio, a really lovely town, only rivalled in the area by Varenna.
There are so many great sights along the Lake with many famous gardens and Villas.
Here are some watercolours of Lake Como, a place we look forward to returning to.
Just the word Tuscany brings back wonderful memories of holidays spent in the lovely part of Italy.
Everywhere you turn in Tuscany there are great scens to savour, let alone the food and the stunning wine.
It is a region we love from the treasures of Firenza to the towers of San Gimignano it is all very stunning. Not to mention Pas and Sienna to!
One town I have loved to paint in is Lucca with such an iconic oval Piazza surrounded by cafes and restaurants. I am pleased to say that quite a few people around the world have original watercolours, each one different naturally, of this scene.
Just to sit and enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by is enough there to give you a great sense on calm and pleasure.
The towers of San Gimignano are really quite amazing. Although many have disappeared the are still a lot to admire.
Over 500 years old in many cases they dominate this delightful town with its many restaurants, and even more tourists!
One real food highlight there was a gelato enjoyed in the main Piazza with the towers all around us.
Here are a few more watercolours of Tuscany which i hope you will enjoy.
In Part Two of this post we will visit Venice, and the adriatic coast before travelling down south to beautiful Sicily
i hope you are enjoying this very selective visit to Italy and much as I am
With no travel outside of the UK really possible for us yet I have been painting a few watercolours of places that I love or would like be going too.
Firstly a watercolour pen and wash sketch of Polpero in Cornwall, somewhere we have been to, but, I am indebted to “The Hungry Travellers Blog” (https://www.thehungrytravellers.blog) for their permission to use the photograph from which this watercolour is based. I like the verticality of the buildings that they captured in the photo.
Next two recent commissions of Tuscany and Umbria. I have painted these scenes before but I do love to paint scenes like these again and again! Of course they are always a bit different.
The Lake District of England is very spectacular and so here is recent watercolour of Derwentwater there.
Again and again I love to try to capture Venetian scenes and this one, quite near to the Rialto Bridge is a view that I love with the Church tower adding height to the waterfront view.
Lastly two more views of Engalnd
This first one is a view across the Suffolk Fens and the second of a farm and Oast Houses in Kent. I hope you like them.
Maybe soon some real travel will let me post some “plein air” watercolours.
In the mean time stay safe and well and enjoy the summer if it is that time of year for you.
Best regards to all
PS Don’t forget if you see a watercolour here you would like to buy or commission a similar version just email me at –
Tuscany abounds with wonderful sights and scenery and especially some amazing Cities and Towns.
Right up there is the fabulous town of Lucca.
Its narrow streets, and the marvellous Piazza dell’Anfiteatro where cafes and restaurants abound is only one of the many interesting sites of this very old Town.
To whet your appetite here are two recent watercolours of the places in Lucca,somehwere for coffee and then a stop for lunch
I hope you will enjoy this brief visit to the lovely place.
Enjoy your future travels
I expect like me you are just wishing you could go somewhere, ANYWHERE I hear you say!
Well those days will return, but I have been travelling around the Globe quite a bit since the lockdown started.
It is of course Virtual, but by painting watercolours of various place I can almost escape there for a while. By the time I have trawled through old photos to find the one I want to paint the memories of these places come flooding back and the concentration of painting soon transports me to those far away places.
I have been posting these paintings recently so not many new ones but I thought I could put them together as a sort of Journal if only for my own amusement, and I hope yours too!
It all stared sitting in the garden in the lovely April sunshine thinking of all the gardening I should be doing, not to mention sorting out the shed, garage,study etc etc.
But soon the travel bug took over.
I had been worrying about a delivery of a variant of this watercolour of Porto in Portugal
to a customer in Toronto when I realised that I had not been to Toronto for a very long time and so the idea of a Skyline painting seemed the thing to do. Don’t ask why, even I don’t know!
One thing leads to another and so suddenly I found myself seeing once again the Skyline of Singapore.
We had stayed in the Ritz Carlton there the last time we were there and this is the skyline from near there. What a City Singapore is! I can even taste a spectacular meal we ate one evening there, in very authentic restaurant, of Beef in Black Bean sauce and Beef Rendang!
The trip back to the UK included a quick diversion to Chateau Chalon in the Jura in France. (That thanks to watching Rick Stein on TV). A wonderful area of that equally wonderful country with stunning ,and rather special Wine!
And just to make sure the days were fully filled up, a return visit to Amsterdam, another great place to be.
But soon I was back in the UK with view of the Countryside in Kent that I can’t now visit and another view across the Oxfordshire countryside as the sun bursts through.
Being back in the UK brought on another attack of the travel bug and a long weekend in Tuscany seemed just the right thing to do. So after a brief stop in Florence to look at the the house located on the Ponte Vecchio —
—I drove into the heart of Tuscany. It has been warm here in Kent and so the warmth of Tuscany seemed just so good.
Basing ourselves near to San Gimignano, as we have done before, gave me some time to enjoy painting some watercolours, first of Piazza della Cisterna in the heart of San Gimignano and then the view from San Gimignano across the wonderful Tuscan landscape.
Luckily there was time to return to Lucca. A real gem of a City in Tuscany and a painters paradise!
And so the first 5 weeks of Lockdown have let me cover a lot of miles without even stepping outside!
I hope that this Lockdown won’t go on too much longer but if it does my Virtual bags will have to be repacked and put into us again.
Happy Virtual Travelling Everybody!
Stay safe and well too.
Thanks for reading my Blog posts!
This post has just two watercolours, but ~I hope you like the increased frequency of my posts during the Worldwide Pandemic.
One is a pen and wash sketch of some houses located right on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and which is just 10 inches by 7 and another which is much larger at 22 inches by 16.
The Ponte Vecchio is a very unique bridge still retaining the style common in the Middle Ages where houses were built right across the bridges in major European cities.
Very few remain and the Ponte Vecchio is probably the best example today.
Pen and wash is a favourite way for me to paint and usually they are, painted in my sketchbook, this painting is no exception.
However I also like the challenge of larger watercolours, with no pen involved, and this scene is of a view across the Oxfordshire countryside as the sun breaks through the clouds.
With the larger painting multiple washes are employed compared to fewer on the sketch of course.
I have developed this style of painting since spending a week last year with the wonderful watercolour painter Herman Pekel and I am very grateful for his help with my technique. Not quite up to his standard through!
We met at Big Sky Arts at The White House Hotel in Norfolk in 2019 , a great location for a really superb watercolour course.
Anyway stay safe and keep well
I will be back to the easel!
The City of Towers
In my last post I featured a watercolour from San Gimignano, so today I have painted a watercolour sketch of the Piazza del Cisterna, right in the centre of San Gimignano. This Cisterna in the Piazza was originally built in 1273 was enlarged in 1346 and painted by me in 2020!
This watercolour pen and wash sketch is painted across two pages of my Sketch book and measures 24 inches by 8.
I was a little surprised that I had not painted this scene before but by making it a large panorama I have been able to include a lot of this lovely Piazza. The Towers of San Gimignano are so unique and amazing ,”Manhattan of the 13th Century”.
Originally there were over 70 towers but today only 14 of them still exist. Only 6 are in this painting. Some of the Towers are over 150 feet tall.
In this painting I have included an artist, maybe we will be able to get back there before too long to soak up the amazing atmosphere, not to mention the great food, warm welcome and really super wine!
Also I have included a couple of previous paintings of San Gimignano produced whilst visiting there in 2013.
I hope you like them.
I am trying to post much more often that I normally do so that there are frequent new paintings for everyone to look at, and as I am painting a lot more than normal it lets me have an outlet for all my artwork!
Anyway stay safe, and thanks for looking at my blog posts.
All the best.
With travel now not possible for the time being anyway, Tuscany will be very quiet, and we all feel for the awful situation in Italy and well as here in the UK and around the World.
But we will all return to Tuscany with its wonderful Cities and Towns, the Countryside, very friendly people, and the great food and delicious wine.
Just as soon as we all can, because it is such a magical place to visit and enjoy.
With that in mind I decided yesterday to paint a large watercolour (well for me ) of the sun rising across the Tuscan countryside. Derived partly from photos taken from San Gimignano looking East and other photos taken on our last visit to the area.
Larger watercolours are exciting and challenging and this one has come out fairly well. It is 19 inches by 8 and will look nice mounted and framed I think. Something else to do!
Also here are a couple of very quick sketches, also from photos taken on that last visit to Sienna in Tuscany. These are both of the area away from the Campo in Sienna. There are so many wonderful sights there to paint but these two smaller sketches were also painted very recently whilst at home, sitting in the garden in the sun thinking of Sienna!
In these days of isolation I am very lucky to have such an absorbing pastime of watercolour painting to while away the hours.
Maybe soon we will be able to get back to some golf!
Stay safe wherever you may be and lets all look forward to travel in the future.
All the best