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Overstimulated by Italy

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

"Riomaggiore, Italy"

Embroidery thread

6 inches


Fishing village realness

Hiking, calamari and whimsical Italian beauty come crashing together in the five fishing villages of the Cinque Terre National Park, located on the northwest Italian coast. With amazing compositions at every angle, I found myself more overstimulated than my two-month old baby after five minutes of tummy time! As soon as I returned from this glorious vacation I knew I had to stitch it up ASAP! But which composition to choose??

There were amazing views all along our trek through the five villages that make up Cinque Terre (Monterosso a la Mere, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore). Maybe because it was the last stop of our hike, but the beer tasted colder and the views were more glorious than ever in Riomaggiore. The fact that the sun was beginning to set didn't hurt the situation either.

Composition, composition, composition!

When it comes to what I love most in a landscape, this view has it all! Vibrant, pattern-like architecture pushing into rugged, landscape forms. Close, organic plants juxtaposed next to tiny, far off figures embed so much visual distance into this already complex composition. It really is too much to even attempt to recreate... challenge accepted!

Searching for patterns

Now how to even begin with this too-complex-for-its-own-good composition? I approached it the same as I do with landscape painting and reduced the complex subjects to their most basic shapes. A cluster of buildings became a puzzle of triangles and rectangles and the endless sea of windows transformed into a pattern of squares. The jagged coastline became a mash up of stripes and I even perched a tiny person on top of the stripe-rocks for scale. Typically I avoid including tourists in compositions but this little guy made the cut. I think he (or she?) is made up of nine whole stitches! How cute!

Directionally not-so-challenged

It was clear to me from the beginning that the direction of each group of stitches would be super important in distinguishing all of these complex forms from each other. So I more or less assigned a direction to each different element: buildings were vertical, rocks were diagonal, and water and sky were horizontal. I had to create some kind of logic in the middle of all this chaos!

Cinque - where-A? (I promise this rhymes in Italian)

The five fishing villages of Cinque Terre may have been off the radar in the past but in recent years the tourists have definitely discovered them, particularly Americans. We visited it during the first week of October in 2016 which was shoulder season and less crowded. I can't imagine hiking those narrow paths in summer! Recent mudslides have made the hike a bit more tedious in parts and the stretch between Manarola and Riomaggiore was completely closed in 2016. Not to worry though, there is a train along the coastline that can whisk you from village to village so you don't even have to break a sweat!

I mean talk about eye candy! If you ever have to the opportunity to visit Cinque Terre, or anywhere along the Italian coast, drop what you're doing and go! You won't be disappointed!

As always, don't forget to visit my instagram page @libbywilliams to find out what I'm working on these days and where I'm traveling next!



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