Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Update: Below is the last larger plein air piece from the trip. It took three days, and I had to hold the canvas with one hand while painting to keep it still in the high winds.

Afternoon Light Korcula1 Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Afternoon Light, Korčula. 50 x 70 cm, oil on linen.

Vrnik Painting Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Vrnik. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.

Here are a few more plein air landscapes from this summer on the island of Korčula, in Southern Dalmatia.

As I said in the last post, the weather has been really difficult (it’s supposed to hail today), so I haven’t gotten as much done as I would have liked. I’m hoping for one more day of sun to finish up the other larger plein air pieces I have going. I’ll try to post them before I leave for Italy next week.

In the meantime here are a few more of the smaller sketches:

Terrace in Korcula Korčula Paintings, Part Two

The Terrace. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Market Stalls Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Market Stalls, Korčula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Afternoon Light Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Afternoon Light, Korčula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

New Korčula Paintings

Below are a few smaller paintings from this summer on the island of Korčula, in Croatia.

Adriana Lumbarda New Korčula Paintings

The Adriana, Lumbarda. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

The weather has been pretty bad for July on the Adriatic (it’s raining again as I type this), and I have a couple of larger projects I’m working on for gallery commitments, so I don’t have much to show for the first week.

Vrnik Croatia Sketch New Korčula Paintings

Vrnik Study. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

This is my third summer painting on Korčula. The last two years I focused on the town and never touched the car (you can see the previous year’s paintings here and here). This year I have a parking spot included with the apartment, so I’m moving around the island much more for views.

The problem with driving and painting is I end up spending much more time scouting. I always think ‘I’m sure there will be a better spot just around the corner’, and so often there is, which then leads to more driving.

Badija Korcula New Korčula Paintings

Badija. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

That said, sometimes the scouting pays off. These first three paintings are done from exactly the same (shaded) spot, just looking in different directions. Below is a photograph of the location:

plein air painting korcula croatia New Korčula Paintings

Plein air painting on the island of Korčula, Croatia.

The Croatians are very friendly towards plein air painters as well. The owners of the fishing boat above gave me a large shell as a gift for painting their boat, and in general everyone is very appreciative and complimentary.

The last couple paintings are sketches from just around the house.

Stairs Korcula1 New Korčula Paintings

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

Marko Polo Hotel Korcula New Korčula Paintings

Late Afternoon at the Marko Polo Hotel. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I’ll be here for another two weeks, so more to follow.

Weekend in Mechelen

voetbal op de vismarkt mechelen 600x397 Weekend in Mechelen

Watching the World Cup, Mechelen. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Here are a few plein air landscape paintings from the past weekend in Mechelen, Belgium.

kermis op grote markt mechelen 2 Weekend in Mechelen

The Fair in Mechelen #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

kermis op grote markt mechelen 600x398 Weekend in Mechelen

The Fair in Mechelen #2. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

paleizen van de margaretas Weekend in Mechelen

Palace of the Margarets in the Rain. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

A couple of years ago I lived on the Belgian border with Holland for a few months and I really enjoyed painting in the countryside here. For landscape painting, Belgium has an incredible variety of subject matter. A painter would never get bored working here.

ijzeren leen mechelen Weekend in Mechelen

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

Update: One more from Monday morning. I also made the local paper.

the dyle in mechelen Weekend in Mechelen

The Dyle. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Update #2: One last one from Brussels before the airplane home.

Musée Fin de Siècle Weekend in Mechelen

Entrance to the Musée Fin-de-Siècle, Brussels. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

We had 48 hours of rain in Brussels so I didn’t get much work done. Walking around though I felt the city had a tremendous amount of subject matter for plein air painting. Again, like Belgium as a whole, the variety is terrific. The spaces are often great for cityscapes, as the streets aren’t too narrow, or too wide. The parks have a huge variety of design, and the buildings are from every conceivable period of architecture, with many being wonderfully picturesque (there are also some sections of the city with more architectural harmony if that’s what one is looking for). There are also flags everywhere, which are always fun to paint. The people were very receptive to the plein air painter too. I was only working for two hours but twice people asked if they could bring me a coffee. Lastly, the art in Belgium is great, and I’ll try to do a post about some of their great realist painters when I get a chance.

Painting on Vis

vis Painting on Vis

Street in Vis #1. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Here are a few paintings from last week on the Croatian island of Vis. This trip I was actually there for another project, and the weather was bad a couple of days, so I didn’t get a lot of my own work done.

vis painting Painting on Vis

Street in Vis #2. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

These first two are sketches for a larger painting I’ll do in the winter. I wanted to see the light effect at two slightly different times of day.

painting of vis Painting on Vis

Morning Fishing, Vis. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Other artists have asked me which Croatian town I think is the best for painting. I’ve only seen a fraction of them all, but at the moment I would put the town of Vis, on the island of Vis, in first place.

When you get to Vis and the locals find out you’re a painter, they all say that the town of Komiža (on the western side of the island) is the best place for plein air painting. Apparently, artists have said it has a special light. Every time I hear about a ‘special light’ it turns out they’re just talking about the sunset. At any rate, I think the subject matter is better in the town of Vis. Komiža suffers from the same problem that many of the prettiest towns in Croatia all suffer from: It’s too compact. Korčula, Zadar and Rovinj are the same. Don’t get me wrong, these are some of the most beautiful towns anywhere in the world. But from a painter’s perspective, there are only a handful of views from outside the town and then one is left with narrow streets, often crowded with tourists. They’re great to visit, and stunningly photogenic, but for a long painting trip I think one would get bored quicker than in Vis.

Stari Grad, on Hvar would be my runner up at this point. While small, it also has a lot of open views. Dubrovnik and Hvar are both incredibly beautiful, but the crowds of tourists make painting in the centers difficult (because of the cruise ships they roll over the historic centers like a wave of people in the mornings).

On the other hand, these places are all close together, and moving around is relatively easy in Croatia, so ideally one would paint in a number of locations. If anyone wants my recommended itinerary, feel free to drop me an email.

vis sunset Painting on Vis

Storm Breaking Up, Vis. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

New Florence Academy of Art Website

florence academy New Florence Academy of Art Website
The last few years I was in Florence I taught landscape painting at the Florence Academy of Art. They have recently updated their website to reflect better their professional approach to teaching painting and sculpture.

Their alumni gallery is especially impressive for the sheer number of professional working realist painters and teachers they have produced in their short history, as well as the high quality of the art produced and the great variety of style in the works. ‘Academic’ art is sometimes criticized for producing painters and sculptors whose work all looks the same. Looking through the work displayed on the FAA site, the director Daniel Graves and his faculty have clearly done an excellent job of allowing individualism to flourish, while at the same time giving all their students the proper tools to realize their vision.

The Florence Academy’s drawing, painting and sculpture departments are all excellent and their écorché program (originally set-up by Andy Ameral who currently teaches at the Golden Gate Atelier in the SF Bay Area) is something I regret not having taken advantage of while I still lived in Florence. The FAA is also alone among the schools in Florence in having a number of gallery contacts, so the best students are funneled into the gallery system and avoid the tedious process of getting someone to show their work.

Grenning Gallery Solo Show

Big Sur Cows Grenning Gallery Solo Show

Big Sur Cows. 55 in x 42 in, oil on linen.

My solo exhibition in Sag Harbor, NY opens today at the Grenning Gallery. You can see all the images of the paintings on their website here.

The works included in the exhibition are mainly smaller plein air landscape paintings from the last couple of years in Italy, Croatia, Russia, France, South Africa, Holland, Norway, and the US. There are also a couple of larger plein air paintings, and a few studio pieces as well.

There are articles on the show on Fine Art Connoisseur, Underpaintings, and Lines and Colors.

Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Bow of the Aurum Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Bow of the Aurum. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I spent the last week cruising around the islands of the Dalmatian coast with my gallerist Ann Long, her husband, and some friends. Before photography it was normal for British and American travelers in Europe to take a painter with them to record the trip.

The mechanics of painting on a boat took some getting used to. The boat turns a lot when at anchor, which restricts the choice of foreground. Then there is a lot of wind and the movement of the waves is annoying. Next, the decks of boats are notoriously fragile, so I had to be very careful not to get any paint on anything. I also cut corks to fit on the bottom of my easel so as to not scratch or scuff the deck. While I’m used to painting portrait commissions in houses where I have to be careful about my paints, the wind and the movement of the boat add new challenges. Later the crew explained that since it’s a working charter boat, their decks are designed to take any stains or damage as the crew will quickly sand it off.

Morning on Sipan Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Morning Light, Šipan. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Two of my favorite plein air painters, Charles-François Daubigny and Edward Seago, both owned boats that they painted from. I was looking through their work before I left on the trip. One of the problems with painting from a boat is the foreground is always going to be water, which is a view that I don’t really associate with.

Cruising to Vis Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

En Route to Vis. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Afternoon Vis Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Afternoon Light, Vis. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

The rest are painted from solid ground on the various islands where we stopped.

Mljet Painting Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

By the Lake, Mljet. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Aurum in Korcula Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

The Aurum in Korcula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

knick knack seller hvar Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Tourist Stands, Hvar. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Sailboat Mljet Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Sailboat, Mljet. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Street in Korcula Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Hydrangeas, Korcula. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Hvar Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Hvar. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Stari Grad Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Stari Grad. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Hvar Street Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Street in Hvar. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Cafe in Hvar Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Cafes, Hvar. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

On Green

Greguric Breg Hrvatska On Green

Gregurić Breg (still unfinished). 100 x 80 cm (40 x 32 inches), oil on linen.

Three different people have written to ask me to clarify my video on mixing greens for plein air landscape painting lately. Apparently I mumble. So here it is again, written down, my mixes and recommendation for greens.

First off, I should mention that there are many people whose opinions I highly respect that think my greens are terrible. Acidic, garish, too bright, too yellow, etc… That said, I try to honestly paint what I see and I like my greens. I was always partial to the story of John Constable who, when painting at a time when artists would cover their finished paintings with brown violin varnish to make them look Old Mastery, took a violin and laid it on the bright green grass to show the difference between the accepted pictorial norms of his contemporary artists and the colors of real life.

Secondly, I only mix my greens, so I don’t use viridian. I’ve tried putting it down on my palette but I end up never using it. However, it was on Gammell’s recommended landscape painting palette and you can see it in the work of many of the best painters so, if you like it, you’re in excellent company.

There are two blues and two yellows on the palette I was taught to use: Cerulean blue is a greenish blue, ultramarine is a purplish blue, cadmium yellow light is a pure, bright yellow, and Roman (or golden ocher) is a dirty yellow.

With these four colors you can get four different greens:

  • For a light, spring green (grass, or light coming through leaves as in the painting shown) I use cerulean and cadmium yellow. This is the bright, acidic green. Adding white or a touch of red or ocher is often useful to knock the chroma down.
  • For the dark greens in the shadows, I use ultramarine and cadmium yellow. Even though the ocher looks darker, the chalkiness of it will make a lighter green. Cadmium yellow gets a rich dark shadow green. I’ll add cadmium red medium to darken it even more.
  • My favorite foreground or middle-ground ‘tree’ green is cerulean and ocher. It gets the perfect color of cypress or oak trees in sunlight. More ocher if it’s late afternoon or sunset.
  • The last possible green is ocher and ultramarine, it gives a grey, chalky green which I almost never use for foreground or middle-ground greens. I’ll sometimes use it as a base color for olive trees. On the other hand it is very useful for distant tree-covered mountains.

The brand of paint is very important for getting the right colors.

  • For cerulean blue, Old Holland makes the best one but it is outrageously expensive. For less important projects, Williamsburg or most other brands are just as good.
  • Ultramarine Blue Deep by Old Holland is the only functional ultramarine I’ve found. It’s better than hand-ground ultramarines and is probably the one absolutely essential color on my palette.
  • In my opinion, Williamsburg makes the best cadmium colors and their cadmium yellow light is perfect. Lately I’ve been using both their cadmium yellow light and cadmium yellow medium to vary my bright greens a bit.
  • Zecchi’s Roman Ocher is the best yellow ocher I’ve used, though Old Holland’s golden ocher is a similar hue (if a bit stiff to work with, and slightly cooler).

Lately I’ve started using cobalt blue (any brand), but I don’t have any clever green mixes with it to speak of. I mostly use it for skies, shadows, or to mix a quick grey with cadmium orange.

 

Copenhagen

Here are my plein air landscape paintings from last weekend in Copenhagen. Technically it was really four days.

Cafe in the Kongens Nytorv Copenhagen

Cafe, Kongens Nytorv. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

The weather was beautiful but very windy. After a couple years of painting with the Art in the Open in Wexford, Ireland I have no problem painting in heavy rain, but wind still annoys me to no end as the panels move the whole time. Many of these views were picked because they were sheltered a bit from the strong winds.

Back of the Glyptotek Copenhagen

Back of the Glyptotek. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Path in the Ørstedsparken Copenhagen

Path in the Ørstedsparken. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Towards City Hall Square Copenhagen

Towards City Hall Square. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Market in Christiania Copenhagen

Market in Christiania. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

They don’t allow photography in parts of Christiania, but they let me set up and paint. I did have a few ‘guards’ come by to check the tripod though. That said, everyone was very friendly when they saw what I was doing.

Grafitti Artists Christiania Copenhagen

Grafitti Artists, Christiania. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Boats behind the Opera House Copenhagen

Boats behind the Opera House. 20 x0 30 cm, oil on panel.

After my last post on painting back-lit paintings, these were almost all done with front-lighting. Not for any particular reason, that was just the effect that I found inspiring.

Bus Stop Copenhagen

Bus Stop, Copenhagen. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

English Garden in the Rosenborg Castle Gardens Copenhagen

English Garden in the Rosenborg Castle Gardens. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

I had been to Copenhagen 25 years ago, but remembered nothing of the city. It’s much prettier than google images would have you believe. The hotel had bicycles to rent which made it much more convenient to navigate the city with all of my landscape painting kit, though I always find bicycling in places like Denmark and Holland scarier than driving in Southern Europe.

Along the Peblinge Sø Copenhagen

Along the Peblinge Sø. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Rickshaws Copenhagen

Rickshaws, Copenhagen. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Morning on the Nyhavn Copenhagen

Morning on the Nyhavn. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

De Mayerne Medium in America

greguric breg De Mayerne Medium in America

Gregurić Breg (unfinished). 100 x 80 cm, oil on linen. Painted with the new medium from Blue Ridge Oil Colors.

Blue Ridge Oil Colors is going to start pre-making the medium I use and selling it in the US. (For people in Europe who don’t want to make their own, I would recommend getting it from Zecchi). If you want to make your own I also have a youtube video showing the process.

I was trying it out recently on this large plein air figurative piece, and in my sketches from Copenhagen. The Blue Ridge version dries faster than what I’m used to using. I know that’s a plus for a lot of artists and it certainly is for me when I travel. During longer projects though, like the one posted above, I sometimes like to scrape down a fresh painting at the start of the next session, and this medium dries too quickly for that -just a heads up.

The recipe is a variation of the medium developed by Charles Cecil and is originally based, in part, on the writings of Theodore de Mayerne. De Mayerne was a Swiss doctor who was friends with Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck. He wrote one of the rare documents discussing painting materials of the 17th-century, and he appears to have consulted with both Rubens and Van Dyck regularly on their opinions. His writings discuss straw-colored Strasbourg turpentine and thickening oil with lead in the sun, as well as many other art material related topics. You can buy an English translation online De Mayerne Medium in America.

While I much prefer the smell of Strasbourg turpentine to Canada balsam, the Strasbourg turpentine sometimes beads a lot when beginning again on a dry painting. (Looking closely at Isaac Levitan’s paintings you can see the same beading, which makes me wonder what he was using).

At any rate, it’s a great medium for laying-in (add some turpentine), as well as glazing at the end of a project. I’ve been using it for over twenty years now and my early pieces are all in fine condition.