Painting during Coronavirus Lockdown
Today the news arrived that we are not even allowed to step outside the house anymore unless necessary so I’m glad I decided to go out to paint yesterday, the day after the whole country went into quarantine. Piazza dei Miracoli, the square with the leaning tower and cathedral, has never been so empty. There were only a handful of people around, where normally even on the least busy of days you would have to look through all the tourists pretending to hold up the tower for a photo if you wanted to paint anywhere near it, and at the same time worry about people bumping into you or your setup. I tried to find an angle that could showcase the emptiness of the famous site, opting for a close up view of the base of the tower and the side of the cathedral, with in the foreground the areas where all the tourists would normally be crowding together for pictures. I was able to set up and paint in peace, with only a few people walking by now and then. The military is always present at italy’s most famous sights but in these conditions their presence feels ever so slightly more ominous. Police were patrolling around the square as well and some ambulance personnel walked by a couple times. I put a bit more time than usual, and more than expected, into this painting of the leaning tower, considering its small size, but I often get a bit caught up in all the details of architectural subjects like this. I sometimes find it hard to tell when I’ve added too much detail, or too little, and end up fussing over small things, making too many small tweaks. After 3 hours or so I called it and packed up, Not wholly dissatisfied with the end result, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind either.
Until today I would have said this outbreak is the best thing that’s ever happened to urban plein air painting, but now that we’re not allowed to go out except for groceries and other strict necessities, I hope it will be over soon. Or at least that the lockdown will be lifted while we’re still in quarantine so I can still go out to paint the famous sites undisturbed by throngs of tourists. I went to Florence earlier this week and the cathedral square there was nearly abandoned as well compared to before, and I’d regret not being able to take advantage of that before this is all over.
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Artwork and Photographs by Thom Rozendaal