Posted in Exhibitions on June 11th, 2009 by Marc – 1 Comment
La Vuelta de la Pesca. Oil on linen, 265 x 325 cm, 1894.
The Prado Museum in Madrid is having a huge exhibition of Joaquín Sorolla until the 6th of September. With over 100 works from one of the greatest plein air painters ever, this is a show not to be missed.
I remember seeing a black and white photograph of Sorolla painting the above painting (or a version of it) on site, with a massive wooden wind-block built to protect the canvas. This type of large scale plein air work is something I think we don’t see enough of these days.
Triste Herencia (Sad Inheritance). 210 x 285 cm, 1899
Triste Herencia was in the 1900 show at the Guggenheim a few years back and it really came off as the best piece in the show (Sorolla’s massive painting of the ladies mending the sails was a close second). The ‘sad inheritance’ is the crippling syphilis these children were born with from mothers working as prostitutes. The contrast between the joyous colors of the children’s bodies in the sun and the inky dark of the sea and priest’s robes is brilliant. Such a poignant subject matter as well, and at the time I found it interesting to be touched by the lives of these children from such a long time ago.
The Exhibition page on the Prado website.
Posted in Landscape on June 1st, 2009 by Marc – 4 Comments
Below are a few sketches from May. Always such a wonderful month to paint outside. The first is just a view I saw walking to the studio one day, the bright blue shadow in the muddy water struck me. The next two are from a series I’ve been doing in the Corsini Gardens here in Florence (I did a similar series in October a couple of years back, it can be fun revisiting the same scene in a completely different season). The last is from our rained-out trip to the beach this weekend.
I’m working on a couple of longer technical posts which I hope to get up soon.
Lungarno Serristori from the Bridge. Oil on board, 35 x 25 cm.
Corsini Garden sketch. Oil on board, 25 x 35 cm.
Corsini Garden sketch. Oil on board, 25 x 35 cm
Castiglione della Pescaia. Oil on board, 25 x 35 cm.
Posted in Landscape on May 27th, 2009 by Marc – Be the first to comment
Here are some photos from my trip to New York.
Painting with Jacob Collins and Travis Schlaht in Central Park
I was only in the city for a day and went to see the Grand Central Academy. The place looks great, definitely one of the top places to study traditional painting at the moment. Afterwards, I met up with Jacob Collins and Travis Schlaht to do some plein air sketching in Central Park. We even got a classical piano recital for the last half of the session.
Painting with Beth Rundquist near Hampton Bays
I spent the rest of the trip in Sag Harbor and the Hamptons. Beth Rundquist and I have painted together in the past, this trip she showed me one of the nicer spots to paint at a small commercial fishing dock on Shinnecock bay.
My set-up in a parking lot on Shinnecock Bay
Painting with Jim Albinson on Little Peconic Bay.
Jim Albinson and I did a plein air painting at a beautiful spot on the Little Peconic Bay, just northwest of Sag Harbor. There are so many great spots in the area for plein air paintings of water, with all the inlets and bays.
I suppose May is beautiful just about anywhere, but I found Long Island to be particularly inspiring this trip.
Posted in Materials on May 22nd, 2009 by Marc – 3 Comments
My current arsenal.
I didn’t bring any materials from Italy to paint with on this trip as everything is cheaper to buy in the U.S. these days. There are also a lot of excellent suppliers to choose from. I am really enjoying the Williamsburg paints which I found on sale. They are the best pre-made tube paints I’ve used for their hues, consistency and tinting strength. Robert Doak’s Florentine lake is a good substitute for my handmade alizarin, and I actually prefer its weaker tinting strength. He also sells my favorite vermilion pigment, though I’m only painting landscapes this trip and I find it less essential to have a specific hue outdoors. The Silver Brush Grand Prix are some of the best bristle brushes I’ve used, very similar to the Cornelissens I normally get in London. Zecchi’s sable brushes are still unbeatable for price and quality.
Luckily I had some of my medium left over in storage from the last trip, but normally I get my Canada balsam and sun-thickened linseed oil from Kremer in New York. Its a great shop, though I’ve always found it annoying that they don’t open until 11AM. Doak also makes a sun-thickened linseed oil, but it is too thick to be usable. New York Central had some good quality turpentine last trip so I’m still using that bottle. I never fly with turpentine so I usually have to buy that immediately upon arrival and I’ll often smell unfamiliar brands to check if they’re cut with mineral spirits (as many are). The shop clerks always think I’m getting high and come shooting across the store to stop me.
Posted in Teaching on May 21st, 2009 by Marc – 1 Comment
I gave a portrait demonstration two days ago at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art in Riverhead and talked about why sight-size is the best thing to happen to oil painting since lead white. The whole thing was filmed so I’ll try to put up a digital version when I get an edited copy.
For anyone looking for art lessons on Long Island, Jim Daga Albinson and Robert Armetta have done a great job setting up a couple of traditional painting ateliers in Riverhead and Glen Cove. They also get some excellent teachers for short workshops on a regular basis, and I know a few of the Florence Academy instructors will be doing short courses during the summer break this year, for those of you who can’t make it over to Italy.
Posted in Exhibitions on May 7th, 2009 by Marc – Be the first to comment
San Marcellino a Monti. Oil on linen, 2009, 70 x 54 inches.
I’m off for New York today and I’ll be away for three weeks, so most likely no blog updates. I did the catalog myself for my upcoming solo exhibition and exported a pdf if anyone would like to see it online (its just under 1 megabite). The show will be Tuscan landscapes from last year as well as a few of the sketches from Myanmar in February.
Chinthe of Lawkananda Paya. Oil on panel, 2009, 10 x 14 inches.
Posted in Materials on May 4th, 2009 by Marc – 29 Comments
Sun-thickened walnut and linseed oil preparations.
Yesterday I put out a batch of linseed and walnut oil to thicken in the sun on lead trays.
For many years I made my own, but after Zecchi finally got their sun-thickened linseed oil to the right consistency I started using theirs. Store bought sun-thickened oils are usually ‘August’ oils however, meaning they put it out in the very hot summer months where it thickens very fast. This year I wanted to try a ‘Spring’ oil, which takes much longer to thicken, but should absorb more oxygen at the same time. My medium is one part sun-thickened linseed oil mixed with one part thinned-down Canada Balsam (cut 1:1 with turpentine) and I use a lot of it, so its important that the quality is very high.
Thickening oil in the Mutus Liber?
Years ago I stumbled across an old alchemical treatise called the ‘Mutus Liber’ , or ‘Silent Book’. Its called this as no one knows what exactly the book is about. One image stood out because it looked like they could have been thickening oil for a painting medium. The accompanying text said the ram and bull represented Aries and Taurus, and that the trays were put out in April and May to collect the creative energy of the Spring. Any little edge helps I suppose…
Posted in Landscape, Materials on May 3rd, 2009 by Marc – 6 Comments
The clothesline at the Torricella.
My wife asked me a year ago why I only own blue shirts.
It is actually for landscape painting. If you paint with the canvas in the shade you are probably standing in full sunlight (I don’t use an umbrella), in which case the color of the shirt will reflect on your painting and affect the hues. A few years ago I had a favorite orange T-shirt my brother gave me, and a couple of times I went painting with it on and had to go back to the house to change as the reflected orange was so distracting. I’ve also tried with black, but if I’m up against a hedge or in an area with very little reflected light I find the canvas can be too dark. White can also be annoying as you see your shirt reflected in the painting.
At the end of the day, a sky-blue shirt is the best for plein air landscape painting. I like mine with long sleeves in case of excess sun or mosquitoes. A shirt-pocket is useful for glasses or my superior Korean ipod.
Posted in Landscape on April 28th, 2009 by Marc – 1 Comment
Larry Groff , the creator of the excellent painting blog Painting Perceptions, has just posted an interview with me on the site. You can check it out here.
His blog is interesting as he talks about painters working from life who aren’t doing the traditional subjects seen in most realist painting galleries and magazines. Artists like Ben Aronson and Michael Karaken, who are producing stunning landscape work, but with a more modern sensibility.
Definitely worth a bookmark or RSS subscription.
Posted in Exhibitions, Studio on April 27th, 2009 by Marc – 4 Comments
This week I had a professional photographic studio (Industrial Foto) come to photograph my latest paintings for a catalog. It was interesting to see their set up, and the results are so much better than what I can do with my Panasonic Lumix LX2. It was very expensive though, for a little more money I could have bought a new entry level DSLR. The photographers used a Hasselblad 555 ELD with an Imacon ixpress digital back. They explained that the cameras need to be upgraded less often than the digital processors, so this way they can upgrade each separately. The whole thing was hooked up to a Macbook Pro and everything was done from the computer (checking the light and releasing the shutter) with the proprietary Imacon software.
Industrialfoto running the shoot from a Macbook
They used artificial light and some of the photos came out with a yellow tint. I can color correct them myself but I would have preferred to work from the RAW camera files rather than the TIFFs they sent me.
For the internet the high-resolution photos really don’t make much of a difference, here is a side by side comparison between my little Panasonic and their system:
The Hasselblad is on the left, my Panasonic is on the right.