young guns go to italy

 

 

For a band of U.S. artists touring the Mediterranean and Swiss Alps, an infinity of sublime scenes and subjects begged to be painted. What made it to the canvas will be seen in exhibitions and galleries. But the lifeblood of this exceptional experience—the sights, sounds, the human moments, the happy accidents—is on display in Young Guns Go to Italy.

This freely available, five-part video series invites artists, appreciators, and armchair travelers to join four veteran outdoor painters in witnessing the arresting beauty of Italy and Switzerland. Daniel Keys, Michelle Dunaway, Richie Carter, and Tyler Murphy lead the way, painting from street corners and alleyways, bustling plazas and riverbanks, peaks and valleys.

Daniel, Michelle, Richie, and Tyler hope telling this story will inspire anyone with the inclination to paint, travel, or appreciate history to follow suit. Painting from life, while witnessing the breathtaking human achievements of Venice and Florence, or the natural majesty of the Alps, can build transcendent connections beyond the here and now.

Richie was struck by the connection he felt with master artists from throughout history. “It’s incredibly valuable to commune, to join in the legacy of realist painting we all love,” he said. “It feels important to link to these artists. Capturing the same subjects, maybe having similar thoughts, meeting people in the same places, the smells, the food, the whole experience together.”

Indeed, many of the most impactful moments from the trip had little to do with painting. People to meet, trains to catch, food and drink to try and try again…this group found a healthy balance between work and play. After painting nonstop throughout the day, Tyler remembers enjoying late nights getting lost in the maze of Venice, serendipitously reconnecting with new friends on this romantic, manmade island built on a blue lagoon.

“There is no land anywhere, just stone.” Tyler said. “It’s the foundation of western art. There’s a cathedral around every corner. Everyone is on foot; you don’t have to worry about getting hit by cars, which made me feel more free to wander and explore. We drank spritz, ate prosciutto, bread, pizza…it felt like an unbelievable place.”

Of course, one may have to see such a place to believe it. But through film and art, we can get close. Daniel views painting as a way of seeing a place fully, of deeply internalizing an experience, giving others access to such an indelible experience.

“You always see more when you paint it,” he said. “You’re forced to take the time to analyze it and see it for what it is. I’m always amazed—as flawed as humans are, what they’re capable of creating and doing if they channel that energy they have, the abilities and capabilities they have into something beautiful and wonderful. It was crazy, the light changes really fast, it was hard to keep up. So the goal was to simplify—light and shadow, a little bit of color.”

 

-Peter Tolton