A few years ago, while I was visiting Urbino, I had the opportunity to visit Raffaello’s house. Following that visit I was invited to exhibit some of my watercolours in that location. This invitation initially took me by surprise and even amused me; I had decided to refuse. However, after some reflection and after having discussed it with some acquaintances who were professional artists, I decided to accept. I really love Italy, its people, its landscapes, and the way that art seems to naturally permeate all aspects of life, creating an atmosphere that I find to be absolutely irresistible. I also thought that such an exhibit could be a small contribution to the development of an increasingly friendly relationship between England and Italy.
I began to paint watercolours about 20 years ago, after an unsatisfactory encounter with photography. I simply felt the need to use this medium to express what I saw. It didn’t take me too long to discover how difficult watercolour painting can be and just how frustrated you can feel by your inability to reproduce on paper the image that is before your eyes. When I look at those sketches, I am dismayed by they mediocrity. However, the beauty of painting is that it represents a personal interpretation of the view that one has chosen. When you are forced to sit and carefully study the subject you have chosen, you can discover a lot more than you would if you simply used a camera.
Consequently, you gain a greater awareness of the quality of light and shadow, and of the tone, texture, and shape of buildings. In short, watercolour painting revolutionised my life, and due to the intense concentration that it requires it has become one of the most relaxing and therapeutic activities that I know of.
I paint all of my sketches out in the open, regardless of the weather (this is why some of them have been exposed to the rain) and because of this I find it easier to paint on small pieces of paper. My sketches are the immediate expression of a true dilettante. If I manage to paint at least once every day for, let’s say, five days straight, I realise that I am making some progress. It is really a question of practice, and I just don’t have enough of it! I think that now it is easier to understand why it was extremely difficult for me to decide whether or not to accept the invitation to participate in the exhibit. These sketches are truly a part of me, and I am sure that other painters will understand just how difficult it is to separate yourself from something into which, during a moment of inspiration, you have poured all of your being. I hope that this small exhibit will be pleasant and interesting for visitors. This is a token of my great gratitude to the Government and the people of Italy for the hospitality and friendship that they have always shown me.
HRH Charles Prince of Wales