16 days of magic in Pisticci

I am so going to miss painting my wall. ……….

I have had the best time over the last 16 days painting a street scene outside on a wall  – about 25m  long, in rione croci , in Pisticci.

The weather has been amazing . I have got a tan- in november! It has been the little summer of st. martino- I think that is what it is called- and the space where my wall is, is south facing so I have been working in a teeshirt and wearing a sunhat. At some times I had to stop and sit in the shade because the paint was drying almost before it left the brush.

The project was organised by an organisation called IMAGO . We put forward proposals to the commune to paint in public spaces and 3 of us have been working in Pisticci.

My proposal was to fill the wall with a row of houses which would look a bit like a street. All the buildings were taken from real buildings around Pisticci.  It seemed the obvious way to fill the space and also as its immediately in front of a row of houses it would really blend in.  At that time I didn’t really know all the story of the area  and I had never done anything on this scale before- or even drawn something  to be approved, so it was all very scary and exciting.

I was rather apprehensive before I started and the first day I decided I had to draw out all the buildings to see if my design would fit. I am not very good at measuring…….. I had to add an extra 3 houses. (not a problem.)

I  made a paintbrush thingy from a hollow metal curtain rail and cut the end of a long handled paintbrush for doing edges, to jam in it.  I am so incredibly proud of this simple but very effective tool. I managed to reach all the roofs from the ground and was surprised how well it worked. (have a bad habit of falling off ladders – so didn’t want to use one.) I bought several long handled  cheap paintbrushes and used them for everything.

Once I realised that my plan would work ( big relief!)  I had a friend come and help me a couple of times, but after that I did all the rest myself and loved it.  At home I was working on a painting with lots of people in it and painting very small faces so to spend the whole day painting with a one or 2 inch brush on the end of a curtain pole was really liberating.

The commune paid for the paint and I had , dark grey/black, magenta, yellow, blue and white.  As I use the same number of colours at home that was not a problem. I learned  about mixing different shades as the colours were different from my normal ones  and ultimately learned how to make a sort of purpley black  when the black began to run out. ( mainly thanks to me- I like black.)

I can’t really describe what it felt like to paint on such a large area in the sunshine with the most fantastic views around me. I was high up and sometimes I just leaned on the fence and looked over at the sea and the mountains.

I got on far faster than I thought I would- brilliant weather  – and I couldn’t keep away as it was so much fun.Some days I started around 8 and apart from  some time off for lunch I worked on till it got too dark around 4.30. ( note to artists painting with sunglasses on- its not as dark as you think it is, so check before you pack up half an hour too early!)  The other thing about sunglasses was that I realised I needed to check the colours as I mixed them as the glasses tinted everything reddish. However as the colours changed with the light it wasn’t too much of a problem.

I had quite a few visitors while I was working and wished I could look rather more glamorous and less paint spattered. Oh what a mess I got in. I bought plastic gloves but forgot to use them. My boots are ruined I think,  and possibly my trousers, and my hands will need some serious attention if they are ever to be back to normal. But I don’t care.

I am very pleased with the way the buildings have turned out. It was a mixture of working from photos, but making all the shadows the same and also working from life as two of the houses are in the street above. I added my house and the house of the young man who is filling the area with plants as a sort of signature and felt confident enough to paint in a part of my valley . I was surprised at how confident I got and how much I already know.  How many artists get the chance to paint on such a grand scale.. Its so different from painting on a small- or even a large canvas.

I feel amazing! I have done something way beyond anything I ever imagined. I have had a lovely time doing it and I am looking bronzed and healthy- according to friends- nice!

And nearly forgot the  incredible sunsets and the bright blue shadows. wow! Fantastic!






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