Enough about Me (Part II)

Let’s talk about some other living artists for a change. There is a lot of great painting being done at the moment, and I often feel that my colleagues and students in Europe aren’t aware of many of the great contemporary painters working in America, and vice-versa.

This post is mainly about the contemporary artists who have most influenced my own work. Before the internet and social media it was often hard to see work by contemporary naturalistic painters, but I was very lucky to stumble across shows from time to time.

I studied and taught on and off for ten years with Charles Cecil, so the technical side of my painting was most influenced by his training with R. H. Ives Gammell, as well as Cecil’s own research into historic painting methods. I later taught at the FAA for Daniel Graves, and they are producing both great work and great painters.

Joseph McGurl is probably the living landscape painter who most strongly influence my own landscape work. I saw a show of his at the Hammer Gallery in NYC when I was first starting out, and up until then I wasn’t aware that this level excellence in landscape painting was still possible.

Of the plein air painters working today, Joe Paquet is the one who’s work I like the most. We painted together this August in Ireland and in our discussions in the evenings I feel we have very similar ideas about the state of landscape painting today, as well as the direction in which we would like to see it heading. T. Allen Lawson is another painter who’s work I really admire.

The other landscape painters working in America today who I always looked at are Clyde Aspevig, Donald JurneyKevin MacphersonMatt Smith, and Skip Whitcomb. For anyone on Facebook, some of them are in an association called the Plein Air Painters of America, and they have regular updates on these as well as lots of other great artists. You can follow (or ‘like’) them here.

Stapleton Kearns has far and away the best painting blog on the internet.

Over on this side of the Atlantic, the painter who probably influence my work plein air landscapes was Julian Barrow, who passed away this week. I also saw a show of his in New York and was amazed by the variety of his work. In that exhibition I never saw a remotely similar light-effect, subject, or composition twice. The man never shied away from any subject, no matter how complicated or unusual, and it really showed me the vast range one could achieve with plein air painting.

The big realist painters over here who were on my radar from early on would be Odd Nerdrum and Antonio Lopez Garcia.  Though American ex-pat and, until recently, neighbor of mine Richard Maury‘s work always appealed to me much more.

Trevor Chamberlain and David Curtis are two great contemporary English plein air painters whose work I’ve always enjoyed.

Last time I did this, there was a valid complaint that I didn’t include any women. There are a lot of great female artists working today, but I only discovered them recently, or they didn’t paint landscapes. A very incomplete list would be Elena ArcangeliJuliette AristidesDaniela AstoneKim Casebeer, Kamille CorryKathleen Dunphy, Louise FenneRose Frantzen, Jill HooperSarah Lamb, Kate Lehman, Jennifer McChristian, Hazel Morgan, Lori Putnam, Roos (pronounced ‘Rose’) Schuring, and Alexandra Tyng. A good resource for researching others is the Women Painting Women Blog.

There are lots of other great painters out there who I look at regularly. These are just the ones who I came across early enough for them to influence my own work. If anyone has any others to recommend, please leave them in the comments.

Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

My exhibition at the Grenning Gallery opens this Saturday, August 24th. The reception will be from 6:30 to 8pm in Sag Harbor.

I’ve been painting on the East End of Long Island in the summers now for 14 years, and it’s always great to be back. Below are a few of the plein air paintings from this trip:

schiavonis iga sag harbor Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

The IGA, Sag Harbor. 12 x 8 in, oil on panel.

gibson beach sunset Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

Sunset on Gibson Beach. 8 x 12 in, oil on linen.

Sailboats Sag Harbor Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

Sailboats, Sag Harbor. 8 x 12 in, oil on linen.

municipal building sag harbor Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

The Municipal Building, Sag Harbor. 10 x 14 in, oil on panel.

sag harbor storefronts Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

Sag Harbor Storefronts. 12 x 8 in, oil on panel.

watch factory sag harbor Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

Scaffolding on the Old Watch Factory, Sag Harbor. 8 x 12 in, oil on linen.

main street 2 Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

Main Street, Sag Harbor. 8 x 12 in, oil on panel.

main street 1 Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

Early Morning, Main Street. 10 x 14 in, oil on panel.

Update: Here are a couple more:

watch factory Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

The Old Watch Factory, Sag Harbor. 8 x 12 in, oil on panel.

sag harbor yatch club Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

Sag Harbor Yacht Club. 10 x 14 in, oil on panel.

 

Korčula

Below are a few plein air pieces from the island of Korčula, on the Dalmatian Coast in Southern Croatia.

pizzeria on korcula Korčula

Pizzeria on Korčula. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Laundry in the Wind Korcula Korčula

Laundry in the Wind, Korčula. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

crane korcula Korčula

Boat Crane, Korčula. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Boats at Sunset Korcula Korčula

Late Afternoon on Korčula. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

korcula Korčula

Doorway, Korčula. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

I also worked on a larger piece en plein air, but it needs some polish still before I post a photo. Next year my plan is to park myself for a couple of months on these islands to get more larger plein air work done.

AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

slade harbor AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

The Harbor at Slade. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

Here are some of the sketches from the last week at the 2013 Art in the Open Festival in Wexford, Ireland. I would highly recommend the festival to anyone interested in plein air painting with some of the friendliest people in the world. This was my second year participating and again the organisers had found some great locations for the paint-outs over the course of the week. There was even sun most of the time this year.

slade AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

Boat on the Road, Slade. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

bunclody AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

The Sunken Garden, Newtownbarry House, Bunclody

stables AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

The Stables at Newtownbarry House. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

tmorris AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

Musicians at the T. Morris Pub in Wexford. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

I love traditional music as much as traditional art. The pub where all the painters meet in the evenings, T. Morris has great musicians playing during the week. The above sketch I did one evening, painting alongside Antti Routiola and Leon Holmes. I was working under an orange light, so the painting came out a bit blue. Here is a short video of part of it, to give a feel for the scene:

ballyhack AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

Boat in Ballyhack. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

irishfarm AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

The Old Tractor. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

field AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

Oak Tree, Ballymore. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

hook head AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

Wheat Field, Hook Head. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

This last one is of a very picturesque old sheep dog.

nelly AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

Nelly. 18 x 25 cm, oil on linen.

Rocco says ‘hi’.

The Tuscan Summer

woman under an olive tree The Tuscan Summer

Tina Reading under an Olive Tree. 110 cm x 90 cm, oil on linen.

Here are a few paintings from the last week in Tuscany. I did this large portrait of my wife reading under an olive tree. Being able to get far back is really great for painting portraits, even outside (I’ve discussed this before).

Here was the set-up:

portrait in chianti The Tuscan Summer

Plein air portraiture in the Tuscan countryside.

As idyllic as it looks, it was ridiculously hot. After the last four hour midday session I got sick from the heat and had cold sweats, nausea and a headache. An occupational hazard.

These were some of the smaller sketches:

cloud studies The Tuscan Summer

Three Tuscan Cloud Studies. 20 x 14 cm ea.

laundry and lemon trees The Tuscan Summer

Laundry and Lemon Trees. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

haybales in chianti The Tuscan Summer

Hay Bales along the Road, Noce. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

pistoletto headache The Tuscan Summer

Pistoletto’s “Headache” at Porta Romana, 20 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

The above painting went face-down into the dirt when the dog pulled the easel over, hence the debris. Another occupational hazard. The trick to getting much of the dirt or sand out is to let the painting dry completely, then clean it.

piazza santo spirito The Tuscan Summer

Piazza Santo Spirito on a Sunday in July. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Il Meteo (.it)

Knowing what the weather will do is always very important for the plein air painter, so I thought I would throw out a quick plug for my favorite meteorology website: Il meteo.

I don’t know where they get their data from, but it has worked great for me in Italy, Croatia, Holland, Ireland and California over the past few years. I check it always before deciding what and where to paint.
ilmeteoit Il Meteo (.it)

They say little children who lie grow up to be meteorologists, but twice I’ve won bets when fellow painters didn’t believe my weather prediction source could be so accurate.

It can be set to various languages, and clicking on the times on the left will give an hour by hour prediction, which can be very useful.

I’d be curious what other websites artists use as well.

Weekend in Maastricht

Here are a few plein air sketches from this past weekend in Maastricht. I lived there for a few months last year and you can see all the sketches from the period here.

Onze Lieve Vrouweplein Maastricht Weekend in Maastricht

The End of Saturday’s Shopping, Onze Lieve Vrouweplein, Maastricht. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

Stadspark in Maastricht Weekend in Maastricht

Fisherman in the Stadspark, Maastricht. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

Boschstraat Maastricht Weekend in Maastricht

Sunday Morning on the Boschstraat. 35 x 25 cm, oil on linen.

Nieuwe Haring Maastricht Weekend in Maastricht

Nieuwe Haring (unfinished). 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

Traveling with Wet Paintings Using a Wine Cork

This is the lightweight, and dirt cheap method I use for traveling with wet oil paintings on panel. I find the specifically designed wet-painting carriers add too much weight, especially if you have 20 or more freshly painted panels to pack, plus no one in Europe makes them for panels cut in centimeters. Like my cigar-box, it’s not my idea, and I can’t remember where I learned it.
wet painting Traveling with Wet Paintings Using a Wine Cork

You’ll need a wine cork, a knife or x-acto blade, masking or sellotape, and two or more panels of the same size. (Sometimes finding a wine cork isn’t as easy as it sounds. In Myanmar for example it took us forever to find decent wine, luckily there is a German producing some great stuff in the hills north of Inle lake).

wet painting and cork Traveling with Wet Paintings Using a Wine Cork

First, I cut the cork into slices about the width of a toothpick, then cut those into halves (if I don’t have a lot of cork, slicing into quarters will work too). I put those into the corners of one wet panel, then put a second panel on top, with the two wet paintings facing each other. If the panels are flexible or I’m worried they’ll get pushed together, I’ll put another small piece of cork in the middle of the paintings – trying to make sure it wont ruin something important. Cork works great as it’s soft enough to not damage the board, but hard enough to keep the panels separate. Metal objects (coins or metal washers) can leave an indent in the panel.

cork with paintings Traveling with Wet Paintings Using a Wine Cork
I then tape the corners of the panels together as tightly as possible so the cork doesn’t slide around. If I have an odd number of boards, three can be taped together as the last group.

Obviously for this system I need multiple boards of the same size. I also have to repaint the corners after the cork is removed, but there shouldn’t be anything important painted in the corners anyways.

At any rate it’s a cheap and easy way to move around with wet paintings without adding weight to your set-up.

Stockholm Sketches

Slälagårdsgatan Stockholm1 Stockholm Sketches

Slälagårdsgatan, Stockholm. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

After three weeks of painting in Norway and Sweden, I was pretty exhausted in my last stop of Stockholm.

Sunday Fishermen with the City Hall Stockholm1 Stockholm Sketches

Sunday Fishermen with the City Hall, Stockholm. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

As a plein air painter I often feel guilty if I see a great subject for a painting and then don’t paint it for whatever reason. With the 19 hour days they have in Scandinavian in the summer it is very difficult to paint the whole time though, so one ends up feeling guilty a lot.

Stortorget Stockholm Sketches

The Stortorget. 30 x 20 cm, oil on linen.

Cafe on the Riddarholmen Stockholm Sketches

Cafe on the Riddarholmen. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

Sawmill Laknäs En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

Sawmill, Laknäs. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

After struggling with the majesty of the Norwegian fjords, the Swedish countryside around the Siljan Lake in Dalarna county was pretty easy painting. The parts of Sweden I saw in the past ten days were all exceedingly picturesque. Small farms and lots of very pretty lakes and fields.

The Parking lot at the Tällberg Forum En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

The Parking Lot at the Tällberg Forum. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

The Church at Rättvik1 En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

The Church at Rättvik. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

I was staying in a cabin in the village of Tällberg with my student Louis Ryan. We were shown around a bit by the local talent Anders Ståhl, and the weather was beautiful for much of the time.

Above Lake Siljan1 En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

Above Lake Siljan. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

The Belltower at Mora En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

The Bell Tower at Mora. 30 x 20 cm, oil on linen.

Birch Trees on the Banks of Lake Siljan En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

Birch Trees on the Banks of Lake Siljan. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

 

Preparing the Maypole1 En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

Preparing the Maypole. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

June Gloom in Tällberg En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

June Gloom, Tällberg. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

Last light Rattvik1 En Plein Air on Lake Siljan, Dalarna County, Sweden

Last Light, Rättvik. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.