An interview with local artist Lynda Stewart
In amongst the market stalls and the bakeries of Piazza Garibaldi in Sulmona, placed strategically between two popular bars, you’ll find a small smiley, blonde lady, working away at her easel.
We chatted with Lynda Stewart, Bugnara-based painter, and asked her a few questions.
Where are you originally from?
I left New Zealand when I was 19 to live in Australia where I spent the next 22 years.
So what brought you to Abruzzo?
Many years ago I spent 3 years in Florence. I went back to NZ for family reasons and when I did finally return to Italy 5 years ago I bought a property in Abruzzo. I came here because first it was affordable in comparison with Tuscany and I didn’t want to have a mortgage and secondly because it was so accessible to Rome.
And why Bugnara?
The agent who was showing me around the area first brought me to Bugnara. I live here all year round. It’s a small village with the majority of people are elderly, so it’s fairly quiet and a good environment for painting.
When did you first start painting?
I only started painting a couple of years ago and I’m self-taught. I have however been involved in the art world for many years and my last business was an art gallery, promoting Australian artists overseas.
Tell us about your choices in technique and subject matter.
I paint with oils and have never tried the other techniques. I do love oils though because if you make a mistake, it can be easily remedied, not like water colours where you have to be correct first time around. It’s very forgiving. The oils take a while to dry so I work on several at one time. You need to let them dry a little after a day’s work so the paints don’t blend too much. With regards to subject matter, this region is bountiful in gorgeous villages, mountains, and architecture. Although I enjoy many places throughout Italy, my passion is Abruzzo and I love nothing more than to capture the images of different places on canvas. Anyone who paints and lives here is spoilt for choice. I paint buildings, monuments, houses, landscapes but not people. That’s one thing I haven’t mastered yet.
How do you find buyers for your work?
Last year I opened a tiny gallery in Introdacqua for three months over the summer period. At the time of opening, I didn’t know if I would even sell even one painting, but by the end of the summer, I had sold so many I was totally thrilled! The people who purchased them were a few locals but mostly foreigners who had holiday homes there and visitors who were returning to their village after many years away, taking back a memory of their visit. My work is now in collections in Australia, USA, Canada, England and various places throughout Europe as well as here in Italy.
This year I have opened a gallery in Piazza Garibaldi for the month of April, just to try it. I get many local people coming in saying complimentary things, but they’re not buyers. I intend to open again in Sulmona in the last two weeks of July and first two weeks of August as well as doing the summer season in Introdacqua again.
Tell us about your commissions.
A lot of my current work is commissions. I’m often asked for a painting of a client’s village or I paint their family house or holiday home or a landscape of the area where they lived before moving away. If I can create a painting to remind them of precious memories, then I am happy. I sometimes paint on site but mostly I paint from photographs. Once the painting is completed, if it needs to be shipped then the most effective way is to roll the finished work into a tube for postage. Once they arrive at their destination, the client then takes it to a framer, who will stretch it back onto a wooden frame.
What are your feelings about your adopted home?
Before I came here, I had never even heard of this region and how wonderful it is. I have travelled to most places in Italy, but I love this region of Italy. I think it’s Italy’s best kept secret and I want to do everything possible to promote and advance the knowledge of it to others around the world.