Gmail’s spam filter has become over-zealous of late and is sending lots of real emails to the trash (including family and gallerists who I would never mark as spam). I’m aware of the problem now and have been digging through the muck to find your unanswered emails.
Just so you know I’m not ignoring people and will get around to replying very soon.
It’s that time of year again. Days are shorter, the rain is back, and the trees have all gone garish reds and yellows. I’m not a big fan of Autumn landscapes, but as I still have to paint outside, I thought I’d try to find some inspirational paintings to help me along. Inness was probably the greatest painter of fall, and by the sheer amount of scenes he did this time of year, it would appear he really enjoyed it.
George Inness. Early Autumn, Montclair. 1888.
The problem I have with painting fall scenes is that is very easy to end up looking like a Sierra Club calendar (no offense to the Sierra Club) in the sense that the views can be too beautiful. A story I often tell my students is about the time I watched dolphins jumping in the Pacific at sunset, a stunning thing to see, and very moving, but under no circumstances would I ever recommend anyone try to make a painting of dolphins jumping at sunset. Some things can be inspiring and beautiful without being remotely picturesque and it is part of the landscape painter’s job to decide which is which.
Here are a couple of Levitans as well:
Isaac Levitan. On the Volga. 1887-88.
Isaac Levitan. Golden Autumn, 1895.
If anyone has more good Autumn landscape paintings to recommend, I’d love to see them.
I recently got a new DSLR camera capable of filming in 1080/24p full-HD (a Panasonic Lumix GH1) for some video projects I want to do. Having never filmed anything before (and I’ve only owned a regular camera for a couple of years), I’ve been using the forums over at DVXuser and youtube tutorials to learn a bit about shooting and editing the footage after.
Here is a road trip made last week with Leo Mancini-Hresko and Joe Altwer to find where Corot painted his ‘Bridge at Narni‘ in southern Umbria.
My hope is to start using video to do tutorials, so stay tuned.
There is an article about me in the new December issue of American Artist. It focuses on my method of using sight-size for plein air landscape painting. It should be on the stands this week if you have a chance to pick one up.
Update: You can download a PDF of the article here.
This week my traveling painting group will be having our first exhibition in Munich. Our goal is to raise funds for the Myanmar Foundation and Interplast München, both of whose incredible work helping the people of Myanmar we witnessed on our trip there earlier this year. A beautiful gallery space has been donated for the show by the Dorotheum.
We also have a new website with examples of the work, short biographies of each of the artists, and a short film on the Myanmar Foundation.
Joseph Altwer helping me with my frames this weekend.
Two coats of gesso, sand them forever, red bole, buff them forever, masking tape, glue, gold leaf, shellac, black bole, buff again, wax, two coats of bitumen, buff again, retouch, then clean the gold leaf from every nook and corner of the studio. I’m probably forgetting something, anyways, not worth it. This was my first time making frames and while I think its good for painters to understand every aspect of their materials (and making paints, mediums and canvases is definitely worth it for the cost savings and the control), I’ll draw the line at framing and leave it to the experts.
Leo Mancini-Hresko showing us how its done (on his birthday no less, what a guy).
Here, quickly, are a few of the sketches from my trip to lake Como this week. We stayed above Varenna at the beautiful Castle di Vezio (if anyone is looking for an exceedingly picturesque agritursimo around the lake).
View of Bellagio. Oil on panel, 20 x 30 cm.
Monte di Tremezzo. Oil on panel, 25 x 35 cm.
Ben Fenske and I had a painting competition for the view above. We bet our cars and I thrashed him. Too bad I wouldn’t know what to do with a purple Opel station wagon. (To be fair, the last time we had a paint-off he won by a mile).
The Ferry Landing at Varenna. Oil on panel, 20 x 30 cm.
A few artists have asked about the technical side of doing a blog so I thought I’d do a quick post. This blog is running off the free WordPress software and its all hosted on Bluehost, which I have been happy with. Bluehost has all the tools you need and is pretty easy to get running, and its cheap. It won’t handle getting on the front page of reddit, but you can sign up at MediaTemple for twice the price if that’s a possibility. The theme for the blog is Simplex, and the gallery plug-in is NextGen Gallery which, to be honest, is less than stellar, but its the best gallery of the ones I’ve tried.
For the hardware, I try to only buy gadgets and computer gear that have a large community of online users as I find active forums better than relying on the manufacturer’s support. The camera I’m currently using is a Panasonic GH1 as I want to start adding more video to the site, the active forum I follow for it is DVXUser. For blogging while I move around, I have a small Dell mini 9 which is souped up and hackintoshed thanks to the guys over at the MyDellMini forums. The cellphone is a Nokia N82. Its a good phone with real GPS and a decent 5MP camera (and it geotags the photos), it also doubles as a mobile wi-fi spot using JoikuSpot which is the most useful data-tethering program I’ve found. (It takes your 3G data connection and broadcasts it as wi-fi, much easier than fussing with cables and drivers. It works with all smart phones, except the iphone of course -ha ha suckers). My home computer is home made and built around a Gigabyte EP45-UD3R motherboard which I love, 8GB of ram, 2.8 ghz core 2 duo (Wolfdale), 2 TB of storage in Raid 5 and dual boots windows7 and osX.
The painting itself was the largest plein air cityscape I had done at the time. To get the view I wanted I also had to stand in the road on a rather busy street which made things difficult. As the subject was a commission I first tried to get the Piazza with sunlight on it but, like painting flower gardens, to get the colors to come out it was actually better on overcast days. To paint the empty parking lot meant working on Sunday mornings every other week because of the street cleaning.
The great failure for me in the painting is the white car, which everyone recognizes immediately as a Fiat Panda, but it was a Fiat Uno and I botched the shape.