Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Why I love Italy - by painting tutor, Brian Steventon

Painting tutor Brian Steventon leads a painting group in Puglia


I was born in the Black Country, a small area on the edge of what is now the West Midlands. It was an area steeped in industrial history where all the major products that we all know so well were manufactured. The down side of that was the smoke and dense fog in the winter with an occasional glimpse of sunlight. Hence the expression washday Mondays as it was the day when the air was cleanest. So when I started painting its hardly surprising that I was attracted to light seeing as it was a rareity when growing up.


I first painted Venice when I was in my late teens using an Italian calendar photo’s as reference. I was intrigued by the place. We lived near canals but nothing a grand as what I imagined. After seeing the works of Turner, Whistler and then Seago it became a life long ambition to go there. My first visit was a taster taking in Rome, Sienna, Florence. I was hooked, returning to stay in the Italian Lakes, with visits to the Dolomites and Venice. I remember standing by the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal visualising that painting that I produced some twenty years earlier, amazing !! I have since returned to Venice to stay there and absorb its character and paint it. After further trips to Tuscany, I had to sample the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Capri and Pompeii. At this stage it was sheer infatuation but the more you get to understand it the more you fall in love with it. Then visits to Cinque Terre, Sardinia, Puglia all go towards enhancing that feeling.


I love their approach to life and the fact that nothing changes it. The friendliness of all the people you meet, their love of food and celebration, their incredible fashion sense and style. But I guess from a painters perspective it has to be the clarity of light, colours and textures of buildings, its atmospheric landscape and the grandness of its big cities. Once you have fell in love with it there is no going back, but who would want to !!!

Enjoying a day sketching in the masseria

Masseria - by Brian Steventon
Painting in the shade of the olive trees

Amalfi, Cinque Terre, Abruzzo, Casentino and Puglia in 2015.