Sunday, 29 March 2015


"Spring Sunday"  Oil on Canvas cm 25x30

Today we set the clock forward by one hour for Daylight Saving Time. 
This really  makes us feel we are in Spring, and everything is starting all over again.
I think also the sketch I painted just before lunch shows a lot of the changes that are going on in nature!
The plum trees are in flower, the grass is growing quickly and wildflowers are starting to pop up (even though the poppies are not actually there yet...I made them up to break all the green in the foreground a little bit.) 
I liked this spot especially for the way the white road disappeared out of view, making me wonder what would be behind the curve...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


"Flavio's Tractor" Oil on Canvas cm 25x35
Last week I painted this small tractor, parked just in front of home. My plan was to paint outdoors for three days in a row but then I was busy with other things and the weather was nothing special, so this is all I did in the end.
However, from now on I am planning to paint from life, outdoors, at least once a week, and possibly increase later on. I will probably do most of this plein air activity in the village where I live. Why bother driving around when I live in such a cool place which offers so many interesting subjects..

Thursday, 19 March 2015


" Spring Colors", cm 70x90 Acrylic and Oil on Canvas

I have been wanting to paint this house for a while. It is just outside of Buonconvento, a medieval village about twenty minutes south of Siena, in an area called Val d'Arbia.
This area, just like other parts of the Tuscan countryside, is full of these large farmhouses, a lot of which have been abandoned at the time when Italy became an industrial country, and many people went to live in the new city outskirts (and at that time they even thought that was great!)

I used a photo I took a few weeks ago as reference only for the house and composition, and completely made up the flowers in both versions. I did so to make the paintings prettier, (I hope!), but also to create more sense of perspective in the middle and foreground.

If you wish to see more of my paintings, please visit my website.

" The First Day of Spring" Oil and Acrylic on Canvas cm 60x80

Friday, 13 March 2015


Oil on Canvas cm 25X35

Today I finally started painting outside again, after quite a few weeks. I consider most of my outdoor paintings studies which I can use as reference for more polished work later in the studio.

If you haven't tried "plein air" painting before, you might not know how stressful it can be. It involves dealing with heat, cold, wind, bugs, and, if you are not well organized, hunger and thirst. For Tuscan people, like me, it  usually involves a lot of swearing, too. If you have ever been to Tuscany you probably know that here everybody swears all the time, particularly in stressful situations (like beeing stuck in trafic, for instance), and it is considered perfecly accectable. 
All my swearing is concentrated during my plein air painting sessions. At least at the beginning, while I try to figure out how to prevent stuff from flying and falling  all over the place, and before starting to actually concentrate. Then I shut up.

Today, luckily, was the perfect day to start getting accustomed to the "outside world" again. No wind and perfect temperature. I found this very secluted spot, at walking distance from home, where I was undisturbed the whole time, and this shed attracted my attention.
I especially liked the contrast with the dark greenery behind it, and the shadow of the olive tree. The rusty bins were also very interesting, and useful to add cromatic variety.
I will certainly paint this again, both from life and in the studio..

My "Plein Air" Studio

The final result

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Giovanni Fattori "Silvestro Lega che dipinge sugli scogli", 1866, Oil on Board, cm 12x28 

Tuscany is not only famous for its breathtaking landscape and delicious wines, but also for its artistic legacy. It is considered the birthplace of Renaissance and has been home to many figures influential in the history of art.

Whereas everybody knows Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, probably fewer people outside of Italy are familiar with the "Macchiaioli" painters.
This group, of about 20 artists, started an artistic movement which is now considered to have been the most important in Italy in the 19th century. Among them were Giovanni Fattori (1825–1908), Silvestro Lega (1826–95), Serafino da Tivoli (1826-92), Giuseppe Abbati (1836-68) and Telemaco Signorini (1835–1901). 
Not all of them were Tuscan, but the movement developed in Florence, mainly between 1855 and 1870, around the central "Caffè Michelangelo", where the artists used to meet up to discuss art and politics. Their main supporter was the critic and art collector Diego Martelli, who was also the group's theorist, and who often hosted them in his house in Castiglioncello, by the coast, for painting retreats.

The name "Macchiaioli" derives from the term "macchia" (patch) and initially it had a negative and denigrating connotation. It refers to the fact that these artists used to apply colour in bold patches, creating strong contrasts,  as they considered the areas of light and shadow to be the key components of a work of art. The result was  a fresh and spotaneus simple construction.
This tecnique was very different from the conventional stlyle of the time, propagated by the Academy, and for this reason they were not appreciated by the critics of their time. 

Raffaello Sernesi "Tetti al sole" 1860 ca. cardboard, cm 12,3x19.  Roma, Galleria Nazionale
d'Arte Moderna e Contemporeanea

Their subjects were not conventional eighter, as they chose to represent everyday life scenes instead of literary or historical subjects. They were mainly landscape painters but also produced a quantity of portrait art, as well as a few historical works, due to the fact that some of them were involved in the uprisings of 1848 and the ongoing Risorgimento struggle, which would eventually lead to the unification of Italy.

Giuseppe Abbati  "Stradina al sole" 1863-64. Milano, Jucker Collection

The Macchiaioli painters have often been compared to the French Impressionists, who were active about twenty years later. The two groups had many things in common, like the  passion for plein-air painting in order to better capture natural light, shade, and colour. However, due to a number of factors, the Tuscan painters never achieved the same fame and success as their French collegues.

Works by the Macchiaioli can be seen in several of the best art museums in Italy. If you happen to be in Livorno,  you can visit the Giovanni Fattori Museum, which houses a beautiful collection of some of the most meaningful works of the group. 

Among my favourite paintings, I chose three images which, in my opinion, are particularly emblematic of their approach and style.  

Monday, 2 March 2015


"Lawn with Poppies" Oil on Canvas cm 30x40

This little painting is on its way to Malta.
Hopefully it will be delivered in time and in good conditions (with Poste Italiane, you never know..) to be exhibited in Valletta at the SHout Art Exhibition, organized by the Malta Organic Agriculture Movement to raise funds to support SHout, the official NO campaign for the referndum on Spring Hunting.
 The referendum, which will be held on 11th April, will be the first referendum to be held in Malta, following a petition signed by over 40,000 people.
The purpose is to abolish Spring Hunting, a cruel hobby which kills thousands of migrant birds every year, when they fly over the island on their way to other european countries.
A lot of artists from Malta and other countries have already donated one or more pieces of work for this cause. I am half Maltese but since I don't have a Maltese citizenship and cannot vote, this will be my small contribution.
The exhibition will be at Din L-Art Helwa, Old Bakery Street Valletta, from Friday 13 March at 18:00, until Friday 27th March at 18:00
The painting is a very simple view of a lawn with red poppies, one of my favourite subjects. I am working at a large poppy-painting right now, which you will see when it will be ready, next week suppost...