Made in Italy


A picture is worth 1,000 words. A painting made from a picture taken during a trip to Italy… well that speaks even more volumes. Art is such a common souvenir to buy from street vendors in your favorite holiday destinations, but why not have a crack at it yourself? The above painting is a scene so iconic of Florence, Italy, yet has a very special personal touch. The Duomo was painted by Erik Scalavino, and is based on a photograph he took from a rooftop cafe at the Uffizi Gallery (read full story here). How amazing is that?


Italy is one of the most photographed places in the world. Again, this painting of the Trevi Fountain in Rome portrays a detail of a well-known landmark, first captured in a photograph. Again, Scalavino has preserved a part of his Italian holiday in a more connected way than snapping photos and then watching them flip through on your screen saver (guilty…). By taking that extra step of converting a photograph into a piece of art, you are deepening the connection you have with that time and place, and it creates an even more meaningful representation. It’s as if your own blood, sweat and tears are in the brush strokes – it feels more like “yours” and less like a surface capture. Does that make sense? Spend a few hours pushing paint or pencil around a canvas or paper, then see how much more connected you feel to what you were doing. Or you can sit on the floor of Louvre every Wednesday for a month and capture a pencil drawing in person, like I did for school… Or how Scalavino did again for the Colosseum in Rome.


Scalavino does a fabulous job of transferring his travel photos to canvas. He uses mainly oil paints, and has a distinct style that remains consistent throughout his artwork, whether it be travel-based or portraits. Anyone who has been reading this site for a little while knows my love for the creative process, and how the creative mind is influenced by jumping outside the box. And you don’t have to be a “professional artist” to try. The process is a large part of the enjoyment. Experiment a bit. Find a method and style that works for you. And who knows, you may just create a piece yourself that’s deemed worthy of the living room wall. That’s the beauty of art and expression – there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just have fun, and bring that moment standing in front of whatever view back to life.

  • That’s so cool! Really beautiful and that first picture in your post is stunning.

    • Yes he’s a really talented artist!! A jack of all trades really – journalist, artist, photographer, traveler, writer – you name it!! 😉

    • Erik Scalavino

      Thanks, Deanna!

  • I’ve tried my hand at painting, I’m not very patient. My bf however has turned a few of my photographs into paintings, and they are great! I guess we all have different abilities and just have to work with what we’ve got.

    • Absolutely we all have our own strengths! I work best in charcoal drawing, but I do enjoy a good pencil drawing as well. I never used oil paints – stuck mostly to acrylics – but hey, maybe one day when I’m more settled in one place I’ll gather some supplies and see how it goes! 🙂

      • art supply buying is such an expensive and never ending habit, but I def think there are worse things to spend money on!

        • I couldn’t agree more!! It’s pricey to start from scratch and build up supplies, but after that it’s just replacing things as they run out. And the things you can create! Arts & crafts hour is the best, especially with wine! 🙂

  • This really makes me wish I had some artistic talent. I would love to turn some of my travel photos into paintings.

    • It just takes practice! And finding your preferred style. I am not a photorealist by any definition, but I do like experimenting and capturing more of the essence of a place rather than the exact scene. It’s really all about giving it a try and enjoying the process. 🙂

  • Beautiful paintings! I am definitely not artistic but I love seeing the work of talented people!

    • Aren’t they lovely!! He’s so good at capturing the feeling of being there yourself! 🙂

  • Amy Ruffo

    I have a design degree and used to sketch or do water color paintings while on vacation. By stopping to take in your surroundings with a different media it helps create lasting memories of a place. I think I will bring some of my art supplies on my next trip! Beautiful paintings

    • Erik Scalavino

      You should, Amy! You’ll love it… and thanks for the compliment!

    • I couldn’t agree with you more!! It definitely helps you absorb your surroundings on a deeper level. I love photographs as well, but something about your own handiwork makes that connection so much stronger. 🙂