I have always loved to make things with my hands and from the time I was very little I used to write, illustrate and hand bind my own books. I did not study art until I went to college, where I was meant to study photography. My first semester though all of the photography classes were full, so my advisor recommended that I take a beginning painting class with a new and young professor from Yale. I did take that painting class and I never looked back. Handling the paint was so exciting and exotic, but seemed like something that came naturally to me. I was (and still am) endlessly curious about applying paint, putting colors and shapes together and creating a world and a story through light and color and paint.
I went on to study drawing, painting and printmaking first at Antioch College, then at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and then at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. I also apprenticed to several successful painters over the years before moving to Italy.
This was painted on commission for a family who comes together to stay here each summer. It was once a monastery converted to a farmhouse just outside Torigiano near Perugia in Umbria. The place is called Villa Chiara and has the most gorgeous view to the valley stretching out for miles below.
I spent the day with the family here and did loads of sketches, mostly in watercolor. At the end of the day we came together to look at the various ideas and sketches to decide on what should be in the final painting, which is what you see here.
This painting was a complete joy to create, since it has a special meaning to this family and is where they take the time to all come together once a year. It is a serene spot, with centuries of history and most appropriate that it goes on in history as a gathering place for friends and family.
(Receive an 8″ x 10″ print of of Kelly’s painting Umbrian Farmhouse when you join Dream of Italy or give a holiday gift membership package to a loved one – includes a bonus print of Umbrian Farmhouse – $25 value.)
When I moved to Rome and met loads of people working in tourism I wondered why there was not more offered based on art. Rome has such historical importance as a place on The Grand Tour and for the study of classical architecture, it is also a city that has been documented through the centuries by foreign artists. I want to continue that tradition, so in 2012 I started Sketching Rome Tours as a fun, creative and alternative way to see Rome through an artist’s eyes and to bring a new level of appreciation to the beauty of The Eternal City.
I have traveled and painted all over Italy and every place is unique and beautiful. Some of my favorite places in Rome are the Aqueduct Park, it seems like you have stepped back in time with herds of sheep grazing along the ancient Roman aqueducts. The winding narrow streets of Trastevere and behind Piazza Navona are wonderful and give you a feel for what Rome was in times past.
Yes, certainly. Mainly plein air painting (painting outdoors on location) is not popular in Italy like it is in America. It is something that Italian artists with a classical training did in the early 20th and 19th centuries. Now Italian artists are looking to become more a part of the contemporary art scene. Going back to the past of plein air painting mostly evokes a nostalgia that is no longer relevant to the Italian contemporary sensibility.
I paint in oils and watercolors, draw in pen and pencil. These are my main mediums and what I carry with me everywhere I go.
Kelly Medford from Kat Tan on Vimeo.
Wow, there are too many wonderful things about Rome. One suggestion I have is to take time here, don’t try and see everything in just a couple of days. See the main sights and then spend time in some off-the-beaten-track neighborhoods. Sit in a cafe and watch people. Eat at a hole in the wall and order what an older gentleman at the next table is having.
There are loads of great museums in Rome, but I think hands down the best is Palazzo Massimo just next to the Termini train station. This is the most wonderful museum full of ancient Roman sculpture, painting, mosaics and so on. It is always empty, so you feel like you can really enjoy it. This is an amazing place to sketch and you cannot believe the colors and decorations of the paintings and mosaics. For me it is a must see if you are coming to Rome.
There are also loads of great parks, which I frequent daily. The best views are from Pincio and Parco degli Aranci. My studio is just around the corner from Rome’s largest park, Villa Pamphili, which I absolutely adore and explore regularly.
I think the 1 place that I have not painted yet is in the Alps around Val d’Aosta and Bolzano. Since I love to be outdoors I have backpacked through four of the 13 chains of Alps (with just a watercolor sketchbook), but have yet to get to these area of the Alps.