Regenerating My Creative Juices In Cinque Terre
Who knew that indulging in a hiking trip through the Ligurian coastal area of Cinque Terre could re-awaken your semi-dormant creative juices?
I’m sure most of us have heard the term “Writers Block”. An author, journalist or blogger has a deadline coming up. They’re sitting in front of their word processor and a blank screen is staring back at them. No words are coming to mind. Stuck.
Well, over the years I’ve gotten the occasional “Artist’s Block”. I feel I should be painting something, anything, but nothing is inspiring me. No spark. In the past, I had many things to inspire me, especially being surrounded by some incredible urban and rural scenery.
Remembering the visual delights of Italy
As a kid, I spent a lot of time in Rome, Italy right up until my graduation from high school. I knew central Rome, pretty well inside out. My interest in working as an artist in some capacity was sparked by what the city had to offer.
Sculptures and paintings wherever you turn! I started drawing in earnest, inspired by my surroundings. But my conversations with art students I’d met pushed me over the edge. Viewing their artwork inspired mine. I loved what the Rome had to offer. Eventually, however, I moved away to start art college in Canada.
Travels to Italy still happened for a while, but eventually, I spent most of my time in Canada. I did, however, make the occasional foray into Southern Africa and areas of North America.
Returning to creativity
Europe remained elusive for years until I put my foot down and decided it was time for an encore visit to Italy. Having researched unique places to explore, particularly with the help of Rick Steves’ guide books and videos, my wife Gail and I decided one of the locations had to be Cinque Terre in the Liguria region of Italy.
This portion of the Italian Riviera is composed of the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
These villages seemed carved out of the Italian Riviera coast, with buildings stacked on top of buildings with a flotilla of fishing boats anchored at the villages’ waterfront.
I also needed to re-inspire myself with my art and the best way in my mind seemed to be travel. Strangely enough, as an artistic dabbler, I would go long stretches without creating any artwork at all.
I would get busy with my regular work as a graphic designer/art director and not create any art for art’s sake. Design work can be fulfilling, but sometimes you need a little more of your own personality infused in a project. Let’s do this!
Cinque Terre’s “Sentiero Azzuro”
I like sunny climes and I love the outdoors. Cinque Terre virtually forces you to be outside in the sun. All 5 villages are connected by the “Sentiero Azzurro” (the azure trail, or blue path). This mostly rugged narrow path winds among the villages amidst the terraced grape vines and olive trees.
Because the landscape is so different from the Atlantic Canadian coastal area where I currently reside – the different sights, sounds, smells – inspiration is enhanced to paint what you are newly experiencing.
Viewing the towns hanging from cliffs was awe inspiring. Buildings seemingly are growing out of the roof of another. Narrow winding walkways between buildings offer up surprises at every turn.
Inspiring Views of Cinque Terre
We stayed at L’Eremo sul Mare, a B&B and former monastery, right on the Blue Path that connects the five towns. Just outside and above Vernazza, we had a commanding view of the Italian Riviera coastline, surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and cacti.
As incredible as the view from the Blue Path is, a daily shuttle boat connecting the five towns shows Cinque Terre as a whole. This offers an alternate perspective that lets you take in the vistas and buildings in an all-new light. This is the view the marauding Turks had during the 16th century, as they attempted to loot the various towns.
Seeing the various villages from the sea inspired me to paint the town of Riomaggiore. It was like this town in Cinque Terre was designed with stadium seating. Every building and inhabitant has an uninterrupted view of daily drama unfolding at sea and in the adjacent harbour.
The from-the-sea viewpoint let me re-interpret a familiar scene or activity in a totally new light and awaken the creative juices.
Re-awakening your creativity
As a result of this visit, Cinque Terre was my artistic re-awakening. When you get a chance to change your perspective, your mind and creativity are now open to endless new ideas and concepts. I suppose I don’t need to take a trans-continental trip to get inspired, but why not if the opportunity arises?