There are usually good reasons why a few celebrated painting spots are beloved among artists. Ohio artist Dino Massaroni’s favorite spot to paint not only meets his — and other artists’ — standards of beauty, but it reflects his heritage.
“Positano Beach,” by Dino Massaroni, oil, 14 x 11 in.
It’s unlikely that any fan of plein air painting hasn’t seen images of the Amalfi Coast, in Italy. Massaroni says he loves to paint anywhere, but especially anywhere in Italy, and especially on the Amalfi Coast. Even more specifically, he recommends the small village of Positano.
“It’s just beautiful, with stunning topography — cliffs plunging straight into the Mediterranean,” says Massaroni. “I’ve shot a lot of photography there and painted there quite a lot. It’s not hard to find a vantage point, whether up above the sea level looking across the undulations, indentations, and spurs of land that jut out into the Mediterranean, or on the beach line looking up toward the mountains. Sometimes the cliffs go right up into the clouds. A person really needs to visit that part of the world to understand the magnitude of the experience.”
Positano, Italy, on the Amalfi Coast
Dino Massaroni on Capri
Massaroni says he is used to mixing a lot of greens when he paints in Ohio, but in Positano, the artist needs to add a few specialty colors to his palette: “The Mediterranean waters are very deep, with turquoise and emerald blue. I need a strong phthalocyanine-based color. Winsor blue, red shade is almost essential to paint the Mediterranean. And I need a red that is close to a true magenta for the bougainvillea — quinacridone red.”
The Amalfi Coat is known for the small, colorful buildings perched on its cliffs, but Massaroni says one can also paint scenes along the coast that barely show the mark of humans. “There are areas of the coastline where you could set up and feel like you are hundreds of years back in time,” he says. “Between cliffside towns, the coastline is very much the way it would have been. These spots are not difficult to find as you travel along the Amalfi Drive. You can find yourself out in very pristine nature without much indication of human presence.”
“Capri,” by Dino Massaroni, oil, 8 x 10 in.
“Cafe in Ravello,” by Dino Massaroni, oil on panel, 14 x 11 in. “Toward the eastern end of the Amalfi Drive is the hill town of Ravello, with a charming piazza and dizzying views from the terraces of palatial villas,” comments the artist.
But Massaroni is a sociable person, and he prefers to have some indication of human life in his paintings. Sometimes this element is subtle, as in the small, ivory-colored rectangular shapes representing houses in his painting “Capri.” Other times he paints the iconic cliffs. “There’s a magical, whimsical charm to those little towns, with little clusters of buildings, just six or eight homes in an area,” says the artist.
“This view of the cliffside town of Positano is from an lookout point along the Amalfi Drive west of the town,” says Massaroni.
Massaroni says the local population is supportive of the steady stream of artists working or visiting in the area. One can often come across a painter set up along the Amalfi Drive, be it a local artist or a tourist. “All across Italy the general population is not surprised at the existence of artists,” he says. “It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise here in the United States, given the increased popularity of plein air painting, but it is. In Italy being an artist is a common occupation, like an accountant, baker, or butcher. Italians are delighted when they are walking down the street and come across artists, delighted to see them working in their area.”