From paintings to silk. A project born during my Long Covid.
April 2022. Milano. My body is slowly coming back to life, my brain can take finally a break from the survival mode and restart thinking about the possibility of making something beautiful and creative. Surely it's in need of distraction :)
The way I paint is physically intense. Not using brushes it means I have to move the big pieces of watercolour paper in a sort of yoga/acrobatic poses in order to let the paint move around. Unfortunately, even if months have passed, I'm not ready for this yet.
As they say "Flowers must grow through dirt". It's from this dark period of my life that the silk scarves are blooming. Through them, I hope to give you a feeling of warmth, care, love, beauty and poetry. Silk is also the symbol of self love. Self love is truly needed around the world.
I'm fond of this project for two main reasons:
Symbolically it marks my resurrection from Covid
It has given me the opportunity to work with amazing people, something quite rare for painters who usually work in solitude.
Being in Milan for so long, it's been easier to search for nearby manufacturers around Como Lake. Google geo-localisation has been a good starting point for my research. Being in Italy local results have been more relevant to my research. I was looking for somebody who could match my approach: slow, small, with attention for quality, and care for our planet.
After finding a few, I needed to get from them some samples with my paintings.
I've created the images for the four scarves from four of my original paintings inspired by my travels to the Scottish Highlands. A land that has struck me with its wild and rugged landscape, its blueish hue, the ancestral sounds of deers and rivers ... and unexpected joyful vast pink heather fields... I travelled there a couple of times in 2019.
Some shots I took in Scotland
The four painting I've chosen for the scarves
A bit about my painting process
When I paint I don't refer at all to my photos or to the sketches I do on site. Between my trips and the moment I paint the actual painting, some months can pass... I like to let smells, sounds, visual memories, feelings, the mood of the nature I experience, to be slowly absorbed by my soul... I like what the visual selective memory is able to do after some time.
To recall the memory of the place, I do meditation and visualisation. I am in silence for a bit, anything between 10 minutes and half an hour. It's like bringing the memory back to life. Often I visualise the landscapes to portray with the help of minimal piano or biologically inspired electroacoustic music. Especially the latter has the power to bring me directly into the dimension of Nature... An example is Mikael Hwang who makes music from living, breathing microorganisms.
Once the visual memory is activated, it is able to help me to abstract the image naturally and select mood, shapes, lines, colours of the place I’ve experienced.
Recently I was going through the photos in my camera, photos I took 3 years ago in Scotland, and this one (below on the left) caught my attention. Isn’t interesting how visual memory translates and selects elements and moods?
In my painting (on the right) seems that my brain after a few months has flipped some elements... still the general composition and the mood I portray match the place I experienced. Such an interesting neurological process!
From paintings to silk scarves
I reworked the scans of my painting digitally in order to prepare them for a high quality printing suitable to be worn as scarves. I then ordered a few samples that have helped me to choose which manufacturer to work with and which scarves to print. Overall this part has taken me 5 months.
The winner it's been a small family business founded in the early 1900s. The family carry out the crafting process according to local tradition and historical know-how in an environmentally sound manner.
I then ordered 4 full scarves in order to test them out. I washed and ironed them multiple times. I wanted to make sure they are truly durable. Well, they have gone through quite a bit of tests. All greatly passed!
The four scarves: The Highlands Collection
This painting is inspired by the sounds and views of the landscape and wildlife surrounding Braemar. Love was quite literally in the air as rituals of rutting deer echoed above the hurried whispers of the Dee and Clunie dancing beneath steep pine hillsides.
This was one of the pictures I took in my travels in 2019
Scent of Winter
It captures a landscape where the colours and textures narrate the transition of the seasons. From the mercurial atmospheric conditions, to the autumnal hues of the flora overshadowed by snow-peaked mountains.
It depicts the enchanting vistas glimpsed through the cold mists lifting off the lochs, moorlands and pine forests. Witnessing the landscape’s blurred colours and shapes slowly come into focus to the soundtrack of the dawn chorus.
This painting is a celebration of the incredible explosions of blooming heather blanketing the Cairngorm moorlands in the prettiest shades of pinks and purples. It’s an enchanting and joyful sight that stays with you forever.
The photos with the model have all been taken by my lovely and creative friend Jenia Broggi. www.jeniabroggi.it/
Jenia and I met in London more than 10 years ago during a photography course at the London College of Fashion. We clicked straight away. No pun intended ;) Since then we've always been in touch. Coincidently Jenia moved to Milan a few years ago. Meeting her again while I was going through my long Long Covid has been the highlight of my 2022. And brainstorming together about her photoshoot has definitely raised my vibrations. I like her photographic interpretation. It gives that sense of being as free as Mother Nature.
The model we chose, Paola Fiorido, is interesting too. She is an actress and an art critic. Her untamed look perfectly matches the wild landscape of my paintings.
photography (with model): @jeniabroggi.ph
make up artist: @la.paolette
photography (without model): me
I hope this project can also be an inspiration for those of you who are going through a difficult time, when life seems swept away. There is always a sparkle ready to be lit up behind the corner. A little flicker that can be our lifeline anchor to help us re-emerge and get back on our path.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and on my scarves :)