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The Well Travelled Painting: Overlooking Cefalù from La Rocca, in Sicily

I’ve recently created this new blog post series of Well-Travelled Paintings, to share my progress with re-learning to paint, draw out the memories of the places and travel destinations I paint, and also keep myself accountable to my goal to paint more often. Each painting featured comes accompanied by a mini-guide to the place depicted – a taster to whet your appetite for when we can travel once again. The first painting in the series was of Hurst Point Lighthouse in Hampshire, and it includes the back story behind my rediscovery of art and painting, so head there if you’d like to find out more, and all paintings can be found here.

What does this painting depict?

Today the series continues with a painting of Cefalù, a coastal city on the north coast of Sicily. This view is reached by climbing up La Rocca, a 268m-high cliff overlooking the city. ‘La Rocca’ was first an Arab citadel, followed in 1061 by a Norman castle whose ruins can still be seen atop the summit. Entrance costs €4 and the hike takes a good hour to reach the top, passing the ruined 4th-century BC ‘Temple of Diana’. It’s best done early in the morning to avoid the wrath of the midday Sicilian sun. From this vantage point, you look down over the terracotta roofs of Cefalù and the city’s Cathedral dating from 1240, the turquoise waters of the sea, and far along the coast from Palermo in the west to Capo d’Orlando in the east.

I visited the city and took this photo in September 2017, near the end of a 2.5 week trip exploring Sicily with my then boyfriend. We took a day trip to Cefalù from nearby Palermo, as it’s pocket-sized and most of its attractions can be absorbed in a day. You’ll find the whole of my itinerary for Sicily here. I was particularly happy at this point in time. I was nearing the end of almost 2 months of travels around Europe, and Sicily had enchanted me every ounce that I’d expected. I was shortly due to return to London after a year living abroad for my Master’s, about to begin a job on a graduate scheme I’d lusted after for 5 years, the UK Civil Service Fast Stream. I was reluctant to finish my summer of travels and cut short my study experience abroad, but I was also excited and motivated about the career stage ahead of me. In these final days of freedom I soaked up everything with such intensity. I had long relaxed into the rhythm of travelling, was fully re-adjusted to the lifestyle of moving from place to place every few days, researching on-the-go, exploring new places with an open mind and curiosity to learn and experience.

What about the painting itself?

This painting was a lot of fun to create. The sky, sea and horizon are a divine colour, and I tackled the rooftops of the town with an impressionist style and a palette full of rich colours. Just as it’s easy to lose yourself in the narrow and ancient alleyways of a city like this, the rooftops of the painting aren’t easily navigable and the roads indistinct. The foreground of the cliff cast in shadow was the final and trickiest part, but frames it nicely. The vibrancy of the colours is a product of that unique Mediterranean light and I can feel the glow of the sun on my skin just looking at this painting.

Do you get that same impression of warmth? Do you like the impressionism of the rooftops compared to the structure of the rest of the painting, or do they not appeal? Does the darker cliff edge confuse the perspective of the painting or help to frame it?

Finally, I’m toying with the idea of selling some of my paintings if there’s interest. The places I paint hold memories for me but also no doubt for others who have visited or have a special connection to a place. If you’d like to discuss purchasing this piece, or any of the other Well-Travelled Paintings, then just hit the ‘Enquire’ button below and I’ll be in touch. 

This piece is acrylic on sketch paper, 13.7 cm x 21 cm.

Price upon enquiry.


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