Travel is a vehicle for inspiration for an artist. Inspiring and overwhelming at times with all the visual stimulation. Patterns abound. Even the mirrored images of buildings seen reflected in the the Arno River in Florence or the floor tiles in a gallery located in an ancient palazzo in Venice can provide ideas for earrings, pendants and rings. There are also beautiful displays of gelato and sorbetto! This is why Ellen Lyons carries a sketchbook at all times. From Venice, to Florence, through both the Tuscan and Umbrian hills and all the way to Rome. Always. A sketchbook, a camera and a notebook accessorized with many drawing pencils, sharpeners and markers.
My recent October trip to Italy has resulted in a deluge of inspiration. Over the course of nearly a month, I visited Venice, Florence, the Tuscan hill towns of Sienna, Volterra, San Gmignano and Poggibonsi. While in Umbria, the green leaves of summer gave way to gold, umber, orange, purple and red while the olive trees yielded both sage green leaves and jet black olives with a tinge of deep eggplant. The medieval town of Gubbio and the other cities of Perugia, Assisi and Spoleto will provide months of inspiring designs from window displays to modern street lights that will be translated into earrings and pendants.
The ancient is juxtaposed next to the modern throughout Europe, Turkey and Israel, but no where is it more apparent than in many of these medieval cities in Italy. Driving through a medieval arch in Assisi is both thrilling and terrifying. Then in Rome, while walking the Appian way, one sees the ancient cobblestones alongside their modern day replacements. Maritime pines and Italian cypresses line the way like the icing on a cake or lace fringe.
The ancient works of the Etruscans also inspire. The Etruscans first inhabited Italy some 5000 years ago and left behind many relics. They flourished in Northern Italy between the 8th and 5th centuries, BCE. Tomb wall art and bronze art are two of their specialities as well as distinctive gold jewelry. Multi-layered gold earrings as well as their distinctive black pottery pieces known as bucchero whose shapes like the kantharos cup inspired many Greek potters.
But back to the gold jewelry. Sometimes the Etruscan pieces were very simple and elegant, but also many layered with the repousee and granulation techniques that add vital visual interest and texture. In the months to come, Ellen Lyons will be adding gold granulation to her work to embellish the reticulated silver that her current pieces embody.
Stay tuned. Ellen Lyons Jewelry Designs is now sketching and working on new pieces to be unveiled soon.