Morning in Stonington. 11 x 14 in.,oil on linen (on gatorboard).
These are some of my recent plein air paintings from a trip to Deer Isle, Maine. I was teaching for the Waltham Studios, and they have a blog post on the course.
4th of July Parade, Deer Isle. 8 x 12 in.,oil on panel.
I always have a great time in Maine. The landscapes are beautiful, the towns are picturesque, the people are friendly, and the food is great. It’s also much cooler in the summers, so working outside is much more pleasant.
Lifting Fog. 11 x 14 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Hillside, Stonington. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Grey Day, Stonington. 11 x 14 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Greenhead Road. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Plein Air Painters, Sand Beach. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Driveway, Reach. 8 x 12 in., oil on panel.
View from Church Street, Stonington. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Lobster Boats, Burnt Cove. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Fog. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Sunset, Stonington. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
I spent a few days painting Ames Pond just outside Stonington. The colors and shapes were different from what I’m used to, and the views reminded me of some of my favorite Russian and Nordic painters.
Ames Pond #1. 14 x 11 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Ames Pond #2. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Ames Pond #3. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
Ames Pond #4. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen (on gatorboard).
I also did a couple of large plein air landscapes looking out towards the Eggemoggin Reach using my new carbon fiber easel and palette system. The idea was to create lightweight system that could fit into a small suitcase, yet would still be able to handle a big canvas in wind. You can see it in the image below:
Carbon fiber system for large plein air work.
So far so good, but there are some kinks that need to be worked out. In high winds I use a system of tent pegs for added stability.
Grays Cove looking toward Eggemoggin Reach #1. 36 x 48 in., oil on linen.
Grays Cove looking toward Eggemoggin Reach #2. 36 x 48 in., oil on linen.
Here are some of the recent larger plein air paintings from our hill above Florence. I did a couple timelapse videos of the progress this time.
Dawn over Florence #2. Oil on linen, 90 x 120 cm.
Olive Trees in May. 90 x 120 cm, oil on linen.
I’m working on a stable and portable system for working on larger paintings on site. I’ve just finished the first iteration and I’ll be taking it back to the US to try it out next week. These were mostly done with my older Italian steel field easel set-up, which also works really well.
The next two images are of the same painting. The first (below) was painting in the afternoon, but then I decided to glaze everything orange to capture the evening light effect.
Old Olive Tree, early version with afternoon light. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.
Old Olive Tree, final version with evening light. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.
Fruit Trees in Bloom. 60 x 80 cm, oil on linen.
Garden at Villa Schneiderf. 90 x 100 cm, oil on linen.
After my recent anti-technology rant, here’s a post on smartphone apps for landscape painters.
These apps wont make anyone’s paintings better but they can facilitate putting oneself in a position where the focus is on the subject. The only surefire way to improve your painting with a smartphone is to use it as a black mirror.
I’ve switched recently to Android, so the links are to the Google store. I’m sure there are equivalents for iOS.
Il Meteo Weather App
Il Meteo’s hour by hour prediction is usually very accurate.
Knowing what the weather will do is obviously incredibly useful. I wrote before about Il Meteo, the Italian meteorological website I use to predict weather for plein air painting. They also have an app. It’s the one I always check first as it’s accurate most of the time. It’s pretty general though, and for more specific information I use MeteoEarth ($10/year) which has cool little animations which show you wind direction, cloud cover, and precipitation for the coming days.
Meteo Earth’s animated cloud cover display.
It also shows wind speed and temperature but I prefer Windy for wind prediction, and after 25 years in Europe I still haven’t figured out what the numbers in celsius mean (I know 0 and 40). The third app I use for weather is Clear Outside, which forgoes the fancy maps and animations and just gives numerical values for everything. I find its prediction for cloud cover especially useful as it is normally accurate, and because it splits them into high, medium, and low clouds. It also gives the dew point, which can be useful for predicting how wet I’ll get when trudging to my spot in the early morning.
Windy wind-prediction app.
Clear Outside’s numerical weather forecast.
More Clear Outside, showing the dew point and humidity.
I usually check all three apps and follow the majority opinion.
For people in other parts of the world, RainToday (it only shows up in the UK app stores) seemed to work well for simple, short-term rain prediction in the UK, and NOAA and MyRadar get good reviews from painters in the US.
Sun Seeker’s sun-prediction augmented reality view.
There are a bunch of these for landscape photographers. My favorite is Sun Seeker as it does an augmented reality view where it uses your camera to overlay the sun’s path through your view. It also gives the positions at other times of the year, which can be useful if you have a particular subject that you want in a particular light. The other one I check occasionally is Exsate Golden Hour, but really just to check the sunset and sunrise times. It gives the time for the ‘golden hour’, but I think it’s different for painters than photographers as I consider my golden hour to last much longer than the app does. It also predicts stuff like ‘expressive skies’ based on whether it’s going to be partly cloudy at sunset. For calculating sunrise and sunset The Photographer’s Ephemeris can also calculate mountains that will shorten the day at either end, but it’s a confusing app and I don’t use it. I mention it because landscape photographers seem to love it. They have a desktop version you can try for free.
Kompass topographical maps
I find topographical maps to be very useful in scouting for landscapes. I can often calculate a good view by studying the lay of the land before I even start driving to the location. And they are especially well-suited to scouting in Italy as I can often predict the picturesqueness of a view based on the layout of the buildings (older buildings are rarely on a grid, and are usually much better for landscape painting). My favorite paper maps of Tuscany are made by an Austrian company called Kompass and some of my favorite painting spots were found using their maps, so I was quite happy to see they now have an app. It’s not as nice as having a paper map, but it’s certainly more convenient. Their library isn’t very extensive, but they do central Tuscany quite well (the only building they don’t have is the one I live in now). When I couldn’t find Kompass maps for an area, I would often use the Italian state’s (IGM) maps which are available via other apps like MyTrails and BackCountry Navigator.
MyTrails using the Istituto Geografico Militare maps.
Istituto Geografico Militare map on BackCountry Navigator
The other map app I’ve played around with is Komoot, which has navigation instructions for hiking and mountain biking, and does a good job of knowing actual trails in the areas around Florence where I’ve tried it.
Komoot’s trail navigator.
Gaia GPS gets very high praise from hikers but, as it doesn’t show the buildings here in Italy, I prefer the other apps.
Lastly, Peakfinder and Peaklens can show you the names of mountains in your view, which can be useful for titling work.
Screenshot of Peakfinder pointed over the rather uninteresting Arno valley.
Peaklens’ augmented reality view (more or less the same view as Peakfinder above).
I bought a Jot Pro stylus and tried a few drawing programs. I can see how it would be useful for thumbnails and for artists who feel more comfortable with digital media, but I still prefer a pencil and paper. I tried Autodesk’s Sketchbook, PaperOne, and Bamboo Paper. I think PaperOne was my favorite of the three as it felt the most like an actual pencil. Their lay-out leaves much to be desired though as the tools take up too much of the screen space. Autodesk felt the most polished of the three.
Here are images of some of my recent smaller plein air work from around where I’m living in the hills of Tuscany, just outside of Florence. The small village is called Vicchio di Rimaggio.
I’ve been slacking on the blog so there is quite a bit to post. I also have a lot on the burner at the moment as late May is always such a fun time of the year for painting outside.
The Old Road. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Urn, Late Morning. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Irises, Villa Schneiderf. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Terracotta Statue. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
Garden Study #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Garden Study #2. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Garden Study #3. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Wisteria and Scooters. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
I’ve been painting a lot of olive trees.
Olive Trees, Midmorning. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Edge of a Cut Field. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Olive Trees over Florence. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Olive Grove Sketch. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Some of these were color studies for larger pieces which I’ll post soon. Not all of my smaller studies get enlarged, but I find it useful to see how the view will look in paint before I launch into a big canvas. It also helps me to visualize scenes in paint, which is so useful for completing more finished work on a bigger scale.
Olive Trees, Late Afternoon (color study). 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Sunset, Vicchio di Rimaggio. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
Concert in San Lorenzo a Vicchio di Rimaggio. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Colclough Walled Gardens #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
I’ve been moving around a lot and haven’t been posting much, so here are paintings from the last three months. The first few are from the AITO plein air painting festival in Wexford, Ireland. It’s always a great to be back in Wexford and they always find us great spots to paint. I focused on gardens this trip, as subjects to enlarge in the future.