Using light and watercolor, I love depicting people. A passion driven by manuals since childhood, in particular those of Betty Edwards and Charles Reid, gifts from my father.
I love to squint my eyes and appreciate the light that warms my wife’s face, or to observe the anonymous form that separates two objects, that once drawn describes everything that surrounds it. I am overjoyed as I set the block of paper on my lap, and seated on a rock, I fill the plastic beaker from the bar with water and recycle the serviette. When I hear someone commenting as they pass. When I convince my friends to let me paint them.
I admire shadows full of colour, the white light of the paper, the shapes that appear, abstract or simply leading to imagination. The freshness of a painting completed in a single sitting, the surprise of wet on wet and of pure colour mixed directly on the paper. A pigment which as applied blotted with a serviette, absorbed with a dry brush, grated away with fingernails, to reveal the volume of an eyelid or the flick of a lock of hair. I am thrilled to once again discover that a single stroke can tie a face to an arm, a table to the wall, and it all seems so real, but also a dream. It all seems as real as a dream.
I was born in Milan, Italy in 1976. At nine years old I received three manuals, gifts from my father: Drawing on the right side of the brain, (Betty Edwards), Portrait painting in watercolour, and Figure painting in watercolour (Charles Reid). I remember my surprise as, carrying out the first exercise, I reproduced an upside-down version of a line drawing by Picasso (portrait of Igor Stravinskij). The manual proposed this method in order to activate the process of what is known in the artistic world as ‘non symbolic’ vision, a form tied to the (less rational) right hemisphere of the brain. Awaiting my tenth birthday outside the hotels during the summer holidays from school, I approached some of the elderly holiday makers for my first rudimentary portrait painting experiences. The men reacted better than the women (justifiably I might add, the women also looked like men in my paintings), but they all seemed happy to pass an hour in company. One of my ‘subjects’ left me The adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Jonathan Livingston Seagull on departure, with a warm dedication.
The stationers in Lavagna, in Liguria, had been flooded. They didn’t want to have to throw the paint sets and drawing paper away, so they gave them to me as a present. It all smelt a bit musty, but provided for my first paintings. A trip to the nearby town of Chiavari and my collection was complete: God Bless art suppliers. Grandma Ada loved painting. She had learned to use oils during her childhood in the early Twentieth Century in Argentina. Her son Tito (my father) was no less skilled. His acrylics were beautiful. My mother Germana wrote stories and poetry and was naturally one of my early models. After completing art school a passion for history took over. A degree, PhD, and career that I love led to less brush work, just a few sporadic moments, until …. yesterday.
Cristina is my greatest critic. Our golden retriever Lenù is the unwitting protagonist of the most intimate portraits, and amongst all of my friends and acquaintances, the one who spends most time on the sofa (without moving), which certainly helps. Maybe the definitive quote from David Hockney says it all: “I thought, if I want to, I could paint a portrait; this is what I mean by freedom …"
Domenica in controluce, Watercolor on paper, 21x29cm
Germana, Watercolor on paper, 21x29cm
Nonno e nipote, Watercolor on paper, 13x19 cm
Prima della scuola, Watercolor on paper, 41x60cm
Tito a San Fruttuoso, Watercolor on paper, 24x30cm
Retriever in poltrona verde, Watercolor on paper, 41x33cm