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A year of progress – Catania, Sicily


I painted this first painting about a year ago but was very unhappy with it because it did not really
catch the feeling of Catania.

When I was a little girl, I often asked my grandmother Maddalena where she was born. She always answered me and I always promptly forgot what she said. I knew it was in Sicily, but the rest I continued to forget. I could tell from the way she answered that she wanted me to get it right, but little girls are fairly thoughtless and it went in one ear and out the other. One day, when I was a teenager, I asked her again and this time, I wrote it down. I had finally gotten the message. It’s important, write it down! Maddalena was was born in a little town called Agira, in the province of Catania. There were many other things she didn’t tell me, like the fact that there was a castle on the top of the hill her birth town was on, or the fact that you could see Mount Etna almost every day from her house. As I stood in the street where she was born, and looked at that mountain, I could not imagine NOT telling my grandkids about living next to a belching volcano.
So when I turned 50, I flew to Sicily myself to check it out. Agira was a pristine little town built on a hill. Only Agira is no longer in Catania, it’s now considered to be in Enna. And Catania is a city so ancient that its ruins are Greek, not Roman. Two blocks from the scene I painted sit the remains of an ancient coliseum which was made of tufo (a type of sandstone) long before the Romans thought to conquer the world.

I include two different paintings of the same scene here so you can see the progress I have made this year. The lighter colored one is actually one of three attempts, none of them pleased me and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I used nice colors and got the shapes right, but I never got the richness of the scene. That is, until today. I am extremely happy with how this painting came out. What about you? Can you see the difference? This is a large (14″ x 20″) watercolor painting on Arches paper.

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  1. April 22nd, 2011 at 17:57 | #1

    Totally different feeling between the two. But I like both. To me, the first one feels more design focused-individual shapes stand out graphically. The second one has more atmosphere to it-softer elements blending. Maybe feeling different things each time while working on it?

  2. April 17th, 2011 at 21:49 | #2

    Most definitely I like the 2nd, more recent version of the scenery. It seems to convey a “patina” about the place. 🙂

  3. Tricia
    April 12th, 2011 at 19:01 | #3

    I definitely like the second one better. It has more vibrance to it. Amazing!

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