New York City

Chambers Street1 New York City

Andrea and Luella on Chambers Street. 12 x 8 in. oil on linen.

Here are some paintings from the past week on the streets of in New York City. I was there for a portrait commission and other business stuff, so I didn’t get a lot of time for plein air work.

It was fun painting on the streets, the New Yorkers (and tourists) were very complimentary about the work.

Freedom Tower1 New York City

The Freedom Tower from West Broadway. 12 x 8 in., oil on panel.

Central Park New York City

Soccer Players in Central Park. 8 x 12 in., oil on panel.

Larry New York City

Print Seller. 8 x 10 in., oil on linen.

I don’t normally sell prints of my work, but the above piece will be available for purchase as a print from Larry, the guy in the painting. He’s by the exit to the City Hall subway exit, near the Brooklyn Bridge.

Times Square New York City

Times Square. 8 x 12 in., oil on panel.

Manhattan Bridge New York City

Manhattan Bridge. 14 x 11 in., oil on panel.

Update: One more of the pile driver in Dumbo that woke me up every morning.

Pile Driver New York City

Pile Driver, Dumbo. 14 x 11 in., oil on panel.

A Dennis Miller Bunker Quote

bunker meadowlands A Dennis Miller Bunker Quote

Dennis Miller Bunker. Meadow Lands (1890).

Dennis Miller Bunker is considered to be one of the greatest American painters. He died tragically young, at age 29, in 1890. He studied with Jean Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, was one of the first ‘American Impressionists’, and he painted with John Singer Sargent.

Jessica A Dennis Miller Bunker Quote

Dennis Miller Bunker. Jessica (1890).

One of his best students was William Paxton, who taught R. H. Ives Gammell (who taught my teacher, Charles Cecil). Gammell wrote a biography on Bunker, published in 1953, and in the book there are a number of personal letters given to him by Bunker’s widow. I reread the biography earlier this year, and the following letter from Bunker to his then-fiancée struck me as being particularly insightful into the working life of the artist:

You must try to realize how dull and monotonous an artist’s life is. There is absolutely nothing but work, work, work. And there is nothing in the work of an artist that shows his personality. You are marrying a man whose highest ambition is to conceal his identity, to remain above his work and apart from it, not to appear in it in any way – to be as cold and calm as a machine. Oh! if I only could, I might some day learn to paint! What I am trying to tell you is not to nourish any any ideas of an artist people whom you see may expound to you. Don’t think, as they do, that the charm of an artist’s work must be found also in his own personality. It is always apart, or should be, should have nothing to do with it, and that is what makes it such an infernal trade. Never to play on ones’s own twopenny flute but to keep the big end in view always; to remain patient and cold and quiet and work like a dog from morning ’til night; there is no other way of arriving even at talent, unless one is cut out of larger stuff than I am.

bunker tree A Dennis Miller Bunker Quote

Dennis Miller Bunker. Tree (1884).

That’s it really. That’s all I wanted to say. Since you took the time to get here though, I’ll leave you with this passage from the book as well. In it Gammell beautifully express the idea of breadth and detail in painting:

People untrained in the art of painting often believe that finish is attained by simply adding detail to detail and consequently they dismiss it as a mere by product of industry and patience. Unfortunately this view does not correspond with the truth. For an essential characteristic of all fine painting is unity of effect and this unity is destroyed by any detail stated in a false relation to the other component parts of the picture. This is particularly true of the type of painting we are here discussing, the purpose of which is to recreate on canvas the impression made on the painters’s eye by the landscape before him. To achieve this end, each detail must be set down with just the degree of definition and coloration which it holds for the eye when the focus of vision is adjusted so as to include the entire scene depicted. Piecemeal notation of individual detail immediately destroys the requisite unity of impression and turns the canvas into a compilation of separately observed visual facts. This invariably results in a hard, dry look, destroying all breadth of effect and offensive to those who are quite unaware of its technical cause. It is, in fact, one of the most serious defects which a painting can have and perhaps the most difficult defect for an earnest painter to avoid. The ability to carry a picture to a high degree of finish without losing its unity of impression is the mark of a master and requires artistry of the highest order. It is the central problem of the type of painting which takes for its main theme the interpretation of the beauty of the visible world.

bunker boat A Dennis Miller Bunker Quote

Dennis Miller Bunker. Beached (1882).

For those of you noticing the wide range of style in the posted images of Bunker’s landscapes, Darren Rousar has an interesting post on Bunker’s move from the more Academic influence of Gerome, to the Impressionism of his later style.

Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

burnham overy staithe Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Boats at Low Tide, Burnham Overy Staithe. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Here are the paintings from last week in Norfolk, England.

One of the best things about painting in the UK, I think, is that there is a large number of excellent plein air painters to work with. This trip was organized by David Bachmann, and we were joined by Roy Connelly, Tony Dakin, Jory GlazenerTim King, David Pilgrim, Mike Richardson and Karl Terry. (One evening the English artists were insisting that there aren’t really that many plein air painters in the UK, but then the two spots where we painted had large groups of plein air painters from the Norfolk Painting School, run by Martin Kinnear, and David and I saw another group earlier in the week at Pin Mill).

burnham market Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Saturday in Burnham Market. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

While the weather in the UK was beautiful all week, we had a marine layer over northern Norfolk. I enjoyed the grey skies though, after a very hot August in Italy (well, the second half of August at any rate).

Driving inland a bit I was able to find some sun.

norfolk bull Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Bull in a Norfolk Field. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

sheep Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Sheep in a Field, Cranworth. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

norfolk garden Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Teal Cottage Garden. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

brancaster sky Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Norfolk Sky. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Norfolk is famous among artists for its skies. The flatness of the land combined with the unstable English weather makes for some great sky paintings. Or so I’ve been told. We only had one day when the clouds were distinct, most of the time it was hazy or a flat grey.

burnham market church Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

The Church at Burnham Market. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I spent a lot of time painting the boats at low tide, I guess since I find it such an unusual subject.

sailboat norfolk Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Sailboat, Burnham Overy Staithe. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

boat brancaster staithe1 Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Boat at Low Tide, Brancaster Staithe. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

brancaster staithe cornfield Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Cornfield, Brancaster Staithe. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Norfolk has a lot to offer for subject matter. It’s also a really nice place to work as the people are friendly, it feels really empty (at least in September), and there are very few fences anywhere.

norfolk morning Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Norfolk Morning. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Pin Mill

boat pin mill Pin Mill

Boat at Low Tide, Pin Mill. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Pin Mill is a couple of small buildings on the south shore of the the tidal River Orwell, in southern Suffolk, England.

pin mill boat Pin Mill

Sailboat at Low Tide, Pin Mill. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I recently spent three days painting there with three other plein air painters: David Bachmann, Roy Connelly, and Paul Rafferty.

The English painter Edward Seago did some of his best paintings there of the Thames barges. Since I spend a lot of time talking to other plein air painters, and Seago is seen as one of the best plein air painters of the 20th century, I assumed everyone in England had heard of Pin Mill, and that it was something of an English Giverny. So I was surprised when I called my studio painter friends in England to brag about going to paint at Pin Mill and no one had heard of the place. Then, at the B&B where I stayed up the road, they had never heard of Edward Seago.

pin mill Pin Mill

Grey Morning, Pin Mill. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

The place should be more well-known. It is one of the more picturesque quarter miles anywhere in the world. The Thames sailing barges that Seago painted are still there, and often have their sails up still.

Unfortunately, when we were there the barges were all up at the nearby town of Woodbridge for a maritime weekend. We drove there to try to paint them on the last day, but they had just left to go back to Pin Mill.

pin mill morning Pin Mill

Late Morning, Pin Mill. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

pin mill sunset Pin Mill

Pin Mill Sunset. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Cala di Forno

cala di forno maremma Cala di Forno

Afternoon on the Beach, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

cala di forno morning Cala di Forno

Morning Clouds. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Cala di Forno is a magical little spot on the southern Tuscan coast. It’s a tiny clump of buildings just next to the beach, in the middle of a large natural park. Much of the park is off limits, even to those staying in the houses, so there is a lot of wildlife around. Down near the houses there are tame deer that stand under the fig trees, waiting for the kids to pick the figs for them (though they don’t stand still enough to paint with any accuracy).

deer uccellina Cala di Forno

Deer and Olive Trees. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

deer well Cala di Forno

Deer by the Old Well. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

We spent last week there with a few other painters. After walking all over Rome in the heat, it was nice to be restricted to a tiny area in which to work. Many of my paintings were done within 10 meters (30 feet) of the front door.

cala di forno well Cala di Forno

The Old Well, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

stone pine maremma Cala di Forno

Stone Pine. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

cala di forno casa Cala di Forno

Houses in Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air painters often look for people who are going to be in the same place for long enough to paint. Fishermen, for example, work great as subject matter as they move very little over the course of hours. I spent a few sessions painting the other artists while they worked. Other painters make great subjects since I have a good idea of how long they take to finish a piece, and thus for how long they’ll stay still.

beach cala di forno Cala di Forno

Tina Painting a Watercolor. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

ben painting beatrice Cala di Forno

Ben Painting Beatrice. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Ignazio Painting Cala di Forno

Ignacio Painting on the Beach. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

fenske painting Cala di Forno

Ben Painting. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

The beach can be accessed by boat, so many arrive and park their boats in the little bay. The water is so shallow, they often just walk from their boat to the shore (swimming the first bit, obviously).

boats at cala di forno Cala di Forno

Boats in the Surf, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I spent a lot of time trying to paint people on the beach.

tamara and moss Cala di Forno

Tamara and Moss. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

tina backlit water Cala di Forno

Backlit. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

I even tried painting kids, though I have no idea how Sorolla did it, they moved much to fast for me.

beach cala di forno1 Cala di Forno

Irene on the Beach. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

kid on a log Cala di Forno

Kids Playing on Driftwood. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

In plein air painting, sometimes I find restricting myself to a small area in which to work can be better than moving around a great deal. The extra time not spent scouting and traveling means more time for the paintings.

cala di forno sunset Cala di Forno

Sunset, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Rome

A few paintings from a four day trip to Rome. I was looking for bigger views, where the foreground, middle-ground, and distance work together, so I walked a lot. The August heat and the mass tourism made work difficult.

giardino villa borghese Rome

The Gardens at Villa Borghese. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

For the first time in my life I also had the police tell me to put my painting equipment away in Piazza Navona. Another Italian cop later apologised to me and said there was a problem with that particular spot as there was some issue with the guys who sell paintings there. At any rate, plein air other painters should be aware of the situation. Despite 400 years of painters depicting Rome and its beauty, the police might hassle you if you’re painting in the more famous areas.

piazza monti Rome

Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I painted a couple days with Kelly Medford, Marco Carloni, and the local plein air painting group. It’s always much easier to find to good places to work by traveling around with the locals. Rome has just a ridiculous amount of subject matter, one would need 4 years there to do the place any justice. 4 days is way too little.

untitled 13 Rome

Roman Ruin #1. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

roman ruin Rome

Roman Ruin #2. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

cypresses colosseum Rome

Cypresses at the Colosseum Entrance. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

colosseum1 Rome

Colosseum in August. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Postcards from Italy

Below are some paintings from my week here in Italy. I was supposed to be on the lakes up North this week, but I got rained out. Here in Tuscany the weather is a bit more summery, even if there is an early Autumn chill in the air (and we’ve had a few days of rain here too).

san gimignano Postcards from Italy

San Gimignano. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I lived in Florence for 20 years and never painted the classic, postcard view of the Duomo. I also spent my summers about 20 minutes away from San Gimignano and never painted the towers. I thought this year I would get them both out of the way.

piazzale michelangelo Postcards from Italy

Tourist Stands, Piazzale Michelangelo. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Most of the time I stayed in the countryside working on this larger piece:

mulberry tree tuscany Postcards from Italy

The Mulberry Tree. 90 x 110 cm, oil on linen.

I’m hoping for one more day of sun to finish, but it’s not looking good.

Here is the sketch:

mulberry tree study Postcards from Italy

Mulberry Tree Study. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

And in the evenings I painted a series of sunsets from the house:

torricella sunset 1 Postcards from Italy

Torricella Sunset #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

torricella sunset 2 Postcards from Italy

Torricella Sunset #2. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

torricella sunset 3 Postcards from Italy

Torricella Sunset #3. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Turban Portrait

tina in a turban1 544x700 Turban Portrait

Tina with a Turban. 70 x 50 cm, oil on linen.

Here, quickly, is a portrait I did last month during the overcast and rainy days we had on Korčula. It’s for a turban/hat-themed group show this fall at Ann Long Fine Art in Charleston, SC.

Below are a few of the sketches we tried with various styles of turban. The one we settled on was bought on Ebay, and shipped from Turkey. I had actually wanted a more Venetian-style turban, as it fit with our setting, but getting turbans right is more complicated than one would think.

portrait with turban Turban Portrait

Turban Sketch #1. 25 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

turban painting Turban Portrait

Turban Sketch #2. 25 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

girl with turban Turban Portrait

Turban Sketch #3. 25 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

Pelješac Paintings

Mali Ston Sunset Pelješac Paintings

Sunset, Mali Ston. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Pelješac is a peninsula in Southern Dalmatia and it’s probably my favorite area on the Croatian coast. While there are other islands and areas with more beautiful cities, they also tend to get a lot more of the cruise-ship crowds. Pelješac manages to have more of that slow-paced beach feel to it, and the people seem much friendlier. They also make the best red wines in Croatia, and the food in general is excellent (they have these great little oyster stands by the side of the roads with the local Adriatic oysters).

Ston Shadows Pelješac Paintings

Ston, Midday. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Broce Croatia Pelješac Paintings

Church in Broce. 32 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

There is a wide variety of subject matter on Pelješac, as there are relatively high mountains on the western side, whereas the eastern part has a much more gentle slope to the sea. Though the towns may not be as postcard-perfect as the other places along the coast, they are still exceedingly picturesque for painting. They are also very small, and the views are concentrated. When one is scouting with equipment in the August heat in Southern Europe, smaller is better.

Mali Ston BBQ Pelješac Paintings

Street Barbecue in Mali Ston. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

sleeping dog painting Pelješac Paintings

Sleeping Dog. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.