Trajan’s Column was built in 113 A.D. at the edge of the Roman Forum to commemorate the Emperor Trajan’s victories over the Dacians in what is now Romania and its neighbors. What is so amazing is that it is still there, in the same place, looking much like it did two thousand years ago. It is the model for every memorial column put up ever since. A pope put a statue of Saint Peter on the top in the sixteenth century, but that didn’t have much effect. Susan and I were just returning from lunch in the café at the top of the Vittoriano, when we saw this scene from the front steps. It had rained several times that day and was about to pour again. The dark clouds that were coming out of the East were moving very fast.
This is a view over the center of historic Lisbon (the Baixa) to the Castelo São Jorge on the Alfama hill to the East. The castle was Roman, then Visigothic, then Moorish. The view is from the cliff on the Western side of downtown (the Bairo Alto) where we usually stay. We’ve spent months in Lisbon and it is one of the places I feel most at home in. It’s like a tiny New York with people from everywhere and lots of neighborhoods to explore.
There are miradouros (scenic view platforms) all over Lisbon. This one had a palm tree in the foreground in silhouette because of the bright sun flooding the city. I thought that it made the landscape much more interesting to cut it with the tree-trunk in the foreground.
This is the Canal de la Robine in the city of Narbonne, France. When the Canal du Midi was built by Louis XIV, the businessmen of Narbonne realized that it didn’t pass through the city and that their town would wither and die. So, they built a canal to connect to the new Canal du Midi. The bridge over the canal is the only bridge in France that is covered by buildings; and the city is a picturesque one with great public spaces.
My aim was to capture the mirror-like canal and the intense blue of the sky in the South of France, even on this winter day.
Carcassonne is a castle town on a hill in southwestern France. In the 1200s, the Pope and the king of France agreed to conquer this part of France. The locals were Langue d’Oc speaking Cathars. The Pope declared Cathars to be heretics and the French and Papal forces killed millions of Frenchmen. France got vast new territories and the Pope got to kill off millions who wouldn’t accept his authority. The fortified city of Carcassonne still survives from that period.
This is one of two small paintings of Carcassonne. I was trying to capture the otherworldly, medieval look if the town in late February.
Carcassonne is a castle town in southwestern France. In the 1200s, the Pope and the king of France massacred millions of Frenchmen in this area in the Albigensian Crusade. Though the history is terrible, Carcassonne is beautiful and like a fairyland version of the Middle Ages.
This is one of two small paintings of Carcassonne. I was trying to capture the otherworldly, medieval look of the town in late February.
I had to visit the Acme supermarket early one winter morning to get eggs for the bed and breakfast. When I came out, I noticed the dark mass of Our Lady Star of the Sea across the parking lot. The pavement was wet and the dawn was dark and misty.
The scene reminded me of James McNeil Whistlers’ Nocturnes, especially those of the Houses of Parliament. He used to say he used his “special sauce” to get the liquid night effect. I guessed that his “special sauce” is glaze made of linseed oil and ultramarine blue – which is what I used.
This is one of my favorite spots in Rome. For some reason Renaissance Popes loved obelisks. This one is supported by a statue of an elephant by Gianlorenzo Bernini. It is in front of a church called Santa Maria Sopra Minerva – Saint Mary on top of Minerva – because it was built on top of a temple to Minerva. The building behind the elephant is the back of the Pantheon – the temple to all the gods.
In this painting, the subject is already pretty dramatic. The color of the limestone elephant, the sandstone obelisk, the brick Pantheon and the basalt pavement were an exercise in modulating the colors to make them interesting, and tying them together to make the painting cohesive.