The Italy Collection is expanding with a new arch painting of Pienza, in the region of Tuscany. Many of my recent paintings have represented medieval archways which I observed on my most recent trip to Italy. Over my years of travels there, and specifically on the 2017 trip, I took many reference photos of archways. I have been sketching arches ever since I studied in Italy while in college. The theme became especially clear during my graduate school thesis work, as I was reviewing sketchbooks. Those sketches evolved into a extensive series of paintings, drawings and prints of church interiors. No one has been able to take pleasure trips to Italy for the last year, and I have found myself longing for new fodder in the studio for inspiration.
A couple of years ago my architecture paintings shifted from paintings of church interiors to paintings of outdoor archways. The Roman arch is quite common in civic and residential architecture throughout medieval and Renaissance Italy. This is in contrast to the United States, where we rarely find this structure outside of churches. Because of my long history with the country of Italy, the image of light pouring through an archway has come to hold many layers of meaning and metaphor for me. I gathered as many images of archways as I could in our most recent trips to Italy… but those trips had been very infrequent (even before COVID) due to having a young family. So what a joy when, after releasing the Assisi painting, I received an email with a wonderful photo from Pienza. One of my longtime collectors, she asked if I would paint it for her.
Painting A Commission as Collaboration
The image is striking because through the archway you only see the landscape in the distance. Pienza is a hilltop town, and past this doorway the ground drops steeply into stairs. To me this painting represents how we look at the future in this moment. We see something beautiful, but hazy right now. Because of the pandemic, it is difficult to discern how far off that landscape may actually be and how we might arrive there.
Usually I respond to a commission inquiry with a quoted price for a variety of sizes. Then, before I begin work, there is some back and forth, I send an invoice with the contract obligations outlined, and receive payment. In this case I was so excited about this beautiful photo that I ran right into the studio. I started sketching out the painting even before I had responded to her with an estimated price! I really feel like this painting was a collaboration – I needed her experience and her vision in order to make this painting. The painting resonates meaning and emotion to me, too, while harmonizing with the work I have been pursuing for several years. She says: “This has been such a gift for me to have you create this for me. It captures my deep love of Italy because I know how much you love the country too. Thank you for sharing your gift with me. “