Archive 2008 - 2019

Artist’s Italy

by Richard Kattman

As Artist in Residence for May 2015, at La Macina di San Cresci, Greve in Chianti, Italy, I spent last Spring painting plein-air, enjoying the Tuscan landscape, foods and wines, and traveling with Barbara and Matt to Florence, Sienna, and Venice.

"Tuscanny", abstract painting 6' x 6' arcrylic on canvas.

La Macina is a renovated parish church dated 940 AD and contains traces of Etruscan architecture. Our living quarters occupied the priest’s house and overlooked the astonishingly lovely Pesa Valley and the cubist stone hill-town of Montifioralle. Mimma Verduci, an Architect, and Duccio Trassinelli, a renowned lighting and industrial designer/retired professor operate the Residence on an ongoing basis with many artists visiting throughout each season.

People attending Saturday market in Greve in Chianti.

Tuscany is beyond beautiful in May. The vineyards and olive groves are fresh lovely variations of yellow and silver green, and the mountains range from forest green to blue, burnt umber and black. Valleys are filled with mist, the sun beats down, and occasionally a wild storm precedes a double rainbow.

View of Montifioralle, a Tuscan hill town.

The landscape appears to be mountainous but is in fact only 1000 to 2500 feet above sea level. The lands are exceedingly steep with houses, vineyards, and roads situated in impossible locations. People drive s-turn one-lane gravel roads at astonishing, reckless speeds.

Residents engage in conversation in Montifioralle.

Boston to Frankfurt Germany to Florence is a long eight-hour trip, but the arrival in Tuscany exceeds all expectations. Arriving May 3rd, I settled in to scout out the environs. Everything is different in Italy from the US so the first few days are spent learning how to shop/pay for food written in Italian and paid in Euros, how to use the stove, oven and washing machine, and of course how to communicate on the web to stay in touch with family.

View of Siena.

Saint Catherine Church in Siena.

Matt arrived on May 10 and Barbara arrived May 12, both jetlagged. Matt (pedal to the metal!) immediately set us off traveling for nine days that encompassed wonderful trips to Florence, San Gimignano, Siena, and a two-day trip to Venice.

The Grand Canal in Venice.

A gondeliore in Venice.

Italy, for the Artist, is completely overwhelming for its beauty. The entire countryside is harmonic, with architectural ancient house forms and colors blended seamlessly into a most dramatic vineyard agriculture. Thousand year old Cypress trees shoot skyward and define open fields where wild boar and roe deer run wild.

Chiangalle (wild boar) Hill

Florence is over run by tourists and dominated by Brunelleschi’s Duomo. Narrow streets filled with shops, the Ponte Vecchio situated at the Arno River bridge crossing, and the Uffizzi Gallery are immediate fine introductions to Europe’s high culture.

Bruneschelli's Duomo in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio (bridge over the Arno River) in Florence.

A typical street in florence.

Siena is medieval, hidden in secrecy, centered on Il Campo, the town square, and offers up the striped black and white marble Church of St. Catherine embellished with gold. Siena’s colors are soft pastels pinks yellows greens.

Piano recital in Venice.

Venice is a floating world of villas and gardens and gondolas, and squares and international travelers, the international Art Biennial, Peggy Guggenheim’s Museum, and the Grand Canal. Here one could spend an entire year taking in the sights wandering narrow alley-ways.

A park in Venice.

All told, in the short month of May, during the residency, I completed nine abstract paintings, 6’x6’, all painted plein-air, and recorded 5000 images on the Nikon.

"Villa Bordoni", abstract landscape painting, 6' x 6', arcylic on canvas.

The photographs and paintings here represent some of the highlights of the Artist Residence at La Macina di San Cresci, Tuscany. Our dream/plan is to return September 2016.


Comments (1)

What an amazing selection of images! I can only imagine the inspiration you took from the visit. Congratulations.

Melissa Kershaw | 2015-08-07 08:12:04