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Paintings of Tuscany: Joanne Short and John Dyer Paint the Italian Sun

  • 8 min read

Artist Joanne Short painting in Tuscany, Italy

Above: Artist Joanne Short at work painting in Tuscany, Italy

A painting trip to Tuscany

We had been looking forward to this painting trip to Tuscany for a long time. We had both been dreaming of painting under the Italian sun, and enjoying the delicious food. As we drove down the winding roads, we were filled with anticipation. The Tuscan landscape is so beautiful, with its rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards. We couldn't wait to get started painting!

Tuscan landscape with sunflowers

Photo of the Tuscan landscape with sunflowers

In 2003 John and I headed off to the Italian hills in Tuscany and started to create what would turn out to be one of our best collections of paintings. Our Tuscany paintings were vibrant images full of colour - wall art to brighten anyone's home!

Italy is a stunning country; for artists like us, it's a paradise waiting to be captured on canvas.

Artist Joanne Short painting in the Italian landscape
Photo of artist Joanne Short, painting the Italian landscape, 2003

The first few days were spent painting 'en plein air', enjoying the sunshine and the fresh Mediterranean air. We visited Pisa, Florence, Siena, Vinci and San Gimignano. Everywhere we went, there were beautiful scenes to paint - we didn't have to search far to find something new to paint each day. The fields of sunflowers were a particular highlight. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by such beauty and colour.

Starlight over San Gimingnano - Italian art print by John Dyer

Above: 'Starlight over San Gimingnano' by John Dyer. Available as an open edition fine art print.

The Tuscan landscape is characterized by rolling hills, olive groves, and vineyards. Flowers grow in abundance and there are vegetable gardens all around, full of beautiful Mediterranean produce. It is such a beautiful region of Italy and a very popular holiday destination.

About Tuscany

Tuscany is one of Italy's finest destinations and has a reputation for its excellent wines, rolling vineyard landscapes and unique architecture. Rows of vines line the landscape dotted with quaint architectural and iconic cypresses filling the landscape. Paintings featuring renowned characteristics from Tuscany give a unique and beautiful feel to any room.

 Artist John Dyer painting in Tuscany in Italy

Artist John Dyer painting in Italy, 2003

In addition to the beautiful landscapes, we also enjoyed the delicious food. The fresh vegetables and fruit were a real treat. And of course, the wine was excellent! We had such a wonderful time on this painting trip. It truly is a magical place. We can't wait to go back one day!

Setting up to paint

When we are outdoors painting in a country with a climate like Italy has, the main advantage is that the chances of getting rained off are much less likely and the paint will always dry!

Initially, it is important to find a comfortable site with a view that inspires you. You need to have plenty of space and feel comfortable - not all artists feel comfortable setting up an easel in the middle of a town square for example (especially not new artists!). For John this isn't a problem - he has always been happy painting in front of people. I used to find this more intimidating - on a painting trip to Tresco once I literally buried myself in the undergrowth to avoid a camera crew who were there to film us. It turned out that it made the image even more attractive to them and they filmed me anyway! However, I have learned over the years to relax and enjoy painting anywhere, as long as the view is a good one!

'Mountain Flower Garden, Italy', by artist Joanne Short, oil on canvas

After the initial search for our painting spot, we each set ourselves up in our own way. At times it has taken a while to choose a spot that suits us both. On the whole, John is happy to sit on a rug, surround himself with all the tubes of paint he needs, and just get started. Given the option, I prefer to work with an easel.

I work more comfortably with my canvas or board upright, either while standing or sitting; having a chair to sit on is ideal for me, but not always available (we have a trusty deckchair we bought over 25 years ago in France which has short legs. It means I can sit comfortably, but at the same time it is an easy way to reach all my painting equipment around me on the ground) However, on a painting trip like this, we would just make do with what we had and get started. You always need to check that the beautiful view you have chosen doesn't actually disappear behind a hedge as soon as you are at ground level!

Artist Joanne Short painting in Italy

Artist Joanne Short painting in Tuscany, 2003

The size and shape of a canvas depends on the subject and the portability of the finished work. Canvases are great because they can be dismantled from the stretcher bars and rolled in a tube to transport.

Painting back at the studio

Many beautiful paintings were created while we were on our trip, several of which have since been created as posters or signed limited edition prints. However, the work wasn't over; it was back to business... once back in the country it was time to concentrate on the bigger pieces of work that couldn't be transported home.

Some of John's most spectacular paintings of Tuscany were done in the studio.

Painting the crops

The focus in a lot of John's Tuscan paintings, when not concentrating on particular locations, was the plants and produce.


Sunflowers are an important crop for a number of reasons. They are a key source of food for both humans and animals. Sunflowers are also a beautiful flower, and their large blooms make them popular in gardens and bouquets. They are an iconic image of the Mediterranean and many people visit this area to see the rolling hills, lit up with these beautiful vibrant yellow flowers.

John Dyer painting of the Italian sunflower harvest in Tuscany

"Sun Dried Faces, The Sunflower Harvest in Italy', acrylic painting on board by artist John Dyer

The sunflowers in this painting by John Dyer, filling the fields, are a beautiful sight. The Tuscan hills in the background, cypress trees on the skyline, and people harvesting the seeds, all a sign of a new life cycle. The small pale stone farmhouses in the field, blackbirds in the sky while a dog watches on. All of these elements come together to create a stunning work of art. The sunflower acrylic painting captures the essence of this serene scene and is sure to add a touch of beauty to any home.

Garden produce

Gardens in Italy are abundant with a variety of fresh produce. Sunflowers, tomatoes, courgettes (zucchini), aubergines (eggplant), peppers, beans, and onions are just some of the vegetables that grow in the country. The benefits of eating these garden-fresh vegetables are numerous. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential to our health. Additionally, they contain antioxidants. Because all these colourful vegetables are readily available, famous Italian cuisine is one of the most healthy diets to be found.

Eating locally grown produce is also beneficial to the environment. It reduces transportation emissions since the food doesn't have to travel far to get to your plate. This is why there is always a huge selection of fantastic fruit and vegetables at the local village markets, all grown locally in small 'orti' - Italian smallholdings.

A Feast of Food, Tuscany, Italy painting by John Dyer

'A feast of food, Italy' original painting by artist John Dyer

The Tuscan landscape is characterized by rolling hills, vineyards, olive trees, and cypress trees in this painting. Small farmhouses are dotted around the countryside, and the fields are often striped with different coloured vegetables. The colours in this acrylic painting are very vibrant, from the purple aubergines to the red peppers and tomatoes. The background hills are a beautiful green, and the blue sky is clear and bright. This painting captures the essence of Tuscany perfectly. It would make a wonderful addition to any home or office.

Grape vines

Tuscany is definitely famous for its wine! The region produces some of the most well-known and highly regarded wines in the world. Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are all produced locally. The climate and soil in the region are ideal for grape-growing, and the tradition of winemaking in this area dates back centuries. If you're a fan of Italian wine, a trip to Tuscany is a must!

John Dyer painting of Tuscany in Italy and the grape harvest

'Juicy grapes and shooting stars', acrylic painting on board by artist John Dyer

This stunning painting captures the essence of winegrowing Italy. The rolling hills, lined with grapevines and olive trees, are a beautiful sight. The farmers picking grapes by hand add to the rustic charm of the scene. And the starry night sky, with its shooting stars, is simply breathtaking. The orange-coloured earth and the juicy purple grapes give the painting a warm, inviting feel. It is a large acrylic painting on board, and John has managed to capture the vibrancy and richness of the Tuscan landscape. The painting would make a beautiful addition to any home or office, and it would be sure to bring a touch of Italy to any room in the house.

Paintings, prints and posters of Tuscany for the whole house

One of the great things about a painting trip is that it is so inspiring, resulting in such a variety of different and new images. Many of the pieces of work produced on this fabulous trip away are available as prints and posters. You won't have to search far to find something to suit your room.

Limited Edition Print of the Italian Landscape by Artist John Dyer. 'The Family Fig Tree, Italy'.

Above: Limited Edition Print of the Italian Landscape by Artist John Dyer. 'The Family Fig Tree, Italy'.

'House in the Sunflowers, Italy' by artist Joanne Short

It's so easy to choose paintings and pictures of the italian landscape for every different room in your house. You can pick paintings of sunflowers for the kitchen, fresh fruit and vegetables for the dining room, grapes for the sitting room. Something to fill your rooms with colour - there is a space for everything.

Signed limited edition print by artist John Dyer, 'Girasole, Italy'

And of course, you can always find beautiful pictures of the Italian countryside to hang in your hallway or bathroom and even office. My favourite part of choosing a painting is finding that one perfect picture for the bedroom. For me, it would have to be a scene of the Tuscan sun setting behind the hills.

'A Villa in Tuscany' by artist Joanne Short, oil on canvas

It's so peaceful and calming, and it reminds me of all the wonderful memories I have of my time in Italy. It's an easy way to bring your holiday in such a beautiful country back to the united kingdom to enjoy at your leisure in the privacy of your own room!

'The Olive Route' original painting by John Dyer. As featured on Carol Drinkwater's book of the same name

Above: Original Painting by John Dyer. 'The Olive Route'.

Inspiration from around the world

Cornwall may be a stunning place to live, it offers so much in its ever-changing scenery, and we wouldn't change that for the world! We feel privileged to play such an important part in the Cornish art scene. But it is always good to have new things to see and work on.

John has traveled to many locations in the world to paint their major crops, including bananas and cacao in Costa Rica, rice in the Philippines, and potatoes in Peru. Painting new things helps to refresh one's view of the world and can help us appreciate what we have around us at home too, hence always refocusing on our Cornish paintings.

Vintage style poster by artist John Dyer 'Flutes in Tuscany'

I hope you enjoyed reading about our painting trip to Tuscany. If you're ever thinking about taking a trip like this, I would highly recommend it. It's an experience you won't forget! Thanks for reading

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends! And if you're interested in seeing more of our paintings of the Mediterranean or shopping online, be sure to check out our gallery website. We sell original paintings, limited edition prints, open edition prints, and posters, so visit our site and we are sure you will be content with whatever you choose to purchase. Please feel free to contact us with our email form for any information about the paintings and prints shown in this blog.

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