Tuesday, 16 August 2011


I am writing during my long holidays in Italy, when I always try to sneak in a little painting time among sun bathing and chatting with family and friends.

Just in case, I store some painting supplies both here and in Spain, where I just spent five weeks. Painting outside my studio and without my usual tools has been interesting and made me think about what I do and why.
Working on these few mediterranean pictures has been very beneficial, mainly because I consider these my holidays and I am not concerned if the paintings might be sellable or not, besides I am not even sure I'll be taking them back home.
For a not very prolific painter as me, getting into this state of mind is rather unusual, the idea of showing is always at the back of my head. During my otherwise rather idle summers it proves me yet again how the activity of painting for me is a real necessity, something that lends a meaning to the day.

On a more practical level, stepping outside the studio makes me work without my safety blanket: my sturdy easel, my huge weighted palette, favourite brushes and what I found was the most difficult element to substitute, my usual solvent!

In my local shop in Spain I only found aguarras, some sort of turps, aqua ragia in Italian, which is thicker and more oily that the OMS I normally work with. It affected the brush work very much, the areas of paint that I normally keep separated and overlapping instead blended together like mayonnese !
Despite the heat and the wind, I was working in a sheltered area outside, with aguarras drying times were longer than usual and I ended up trying to include a little Vandyck Brown in mixtures where possible, it was the fastest drying colour I had.

In Spain I worked on a few tiny landscapes from which I tackled a very large canvas, 1,90x1,30m. I am really starting to like painting big! It becomes all about design and the texture of large areas.

Since I arrived in Italy last week I just painted a small self portrait ( forgive the photo taken with point and shoot camera). I had a headache that morning, which rarely happens to me. The headache was still there the day after, when I finished it.

That afternoon I received the news that my dog, as she was staying with my mum, fell ill and died suddenly despite the efforts made to save her.
She was my studio companion, a quiet and loving presence that enlivened my days. Looking back at this painting I now see a sense of foreboding and nostalgia in it.

Bye, Topsy

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