Rome

A few paintings from a four day trip to Rome. I was looking for bigger views, where the foreground, middle-ground, and distance work together, so I walked a lot. The August heat and the mass tourism made work difficult.

Plein air painting of the gardens of the Villa Borghese in Rome.

The Gardens at Villa Borghese. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

For the first time in my life I also had the police tell me to put my painting equipment away in Piazza Navona. Another Italian cop later apologised to me and said there was a problem with that particular spot as there was some issue with the guys who sell paintings there. At any rate, plein air other painters should be aware of the situation. Despite 400 years of painters depicting Rome and its beauty, the police might hassle you if you’re painting in the more famous areas.

Plein air painting of the piazza dei Monti in Rome.

Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I painted a couple days with Kelly Medford, Marco Carloni, and the local plein air painting group. It’s always much easier to find to good places to work by traveling around with the locals. Rome has just a ridiculous amount of subject matter, one would need 4 years there to do the place any justice. 4 days is way too little.

Plein air painting of a Roman ruin in Rome.

Roman Ruin #1. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air painting of ruins in the Foro Romano.

Roman Ruin #2. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air landscape painting of the entrance to the Colosseum in Rome.

Cypresses at the Colosseum Entrance. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air painting of the Colosseum in Rome.

Colosseum in August. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Postcards from Italy

Below are some paintings from my week here in Italy. I was supposed to be on the lakes up North this week, but I got rained out. Here in Tuscany the weather is a bit more summery, even if there is an early Autumn chill in the air (and we’ve had a few days of rain here too).

Plein air oil painting of San Gimignano.

San Gimignano. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I lived in Florence for 20 years and never painted the classic, postcard view of the Duomo. I also spent my summers about 20 minutes away from San Gimignano and never painted the towers. I thought this year I would get them both out of the way.

Plein air landscape painting of the Duomo of Florence from Piazza Michelangelo.

Tourist Stands, Piazzale Michelangelo. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Most of the time I stayed in the countryside working on this larger piece:

Plein air painting of a mulberry tree in Tuscany.

The Mulberry Tree. 90 x 110 cm, oil on linen.

I’m hoping for one more day of sun to finish, but it’s not looking good.

Here is the sketch:

Study for a large painting of a mulberry tree in Tuscany.

Mulberry Tree Study. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

And in the evenings I painted a series of sunsets from the house:

Plein air landscape painting of sunset in Tuscany.

Torricella Sunset #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air landscape painting of a Tuscan sunset.

Torricella Sunset #2. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air landscape painting of a sunset near Noce, Tavarnelle val di Pesa.

Torricella Sunset #3. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Turban Portrait

Portrait of my wife wearing a turban.

Tina with a Turban. 70 x 50 cm, oil on linen.

Here, quickly, is a portrait I did last month during the overcast and rainy days we had on Korčula. It’s for a turban/hat-themed group show this fall at Ann Long Fine Art in Charleston, SC.

Below are a few of the sketches we tried with various styles of turban. The one we settled on was bought on Ebay, and shipped from Turkey. I had actually wanted a more Venetian-style turban, as it fit with our setting, but getting turbans right is more complicated than one would think.

Turban Sketch #1.

Turban Sketch #1. 25 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

Turban Sketch #2.

Turban Sketch #2. 25 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Turban Sketch #3.

Turban Sketch #3. 25 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

Pelješac Paintings

Plein air landscape painting of Mali Ston, Croatia.

Sunset, Mali Ston. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Pelješac is a peninsula in Southern Dalmatia and it’s probably my favorite area on the Croatian coast. While there are other islands and areas with more beautiful cities, they also tend to get a lot more of the cruise-ship crowds. Pelješac manages to have more of that slow-paced beach feel to it, and the people seem much friendlier. They also make the best red wines in Croatia, and the food in general is excellent (they have these great little oyster stands by the side of the roads with the local Adriatic oysters).

Plein air landscape painting of Ston, Croatia.

Ston, Midday. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air landscape painting of a church in Broce, Croatia.

Church in Broce. 32 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

There is a wide variety of subject matter on Pelješac, as there are relatively high mountains on the western side, whereas the eastern part has a much more gentle slope to the sea. Though the towns may not be as postcard-perfect as the other places along the coast, they are still exceedingly picturesque for painting. They are also very small, and the views are concentrated. When one is scouting with equipment in the August heat in Southern Europe, smaller is better.

Plein air painting of a BBQ in Mali Ston, Croatia.

Street Barbecue in Mali Ston. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air painting of a sleeping dog.

Sleeping Dog. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Vrnik Painting Timelapse

Here is a quick, 30 second, timelapse film taken over the course of five days while working on my large plein air landscape painting of the village of Vrnik. I was standing on the island of Korčula, across the small channel seen in the painting. The footage is of five days, but I was actually there six, and I have no idea what happened to the photos from the sixth day, sorry.

Below is an image of the final painting.

Plein air landscape painting of Vrnik, Croatia.

Vrnik. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.

It was a great spot to paint as I could stand in the shade the whole time. Also, in the painting I’m looking east, so the shadow of the tree is pointing north. This allowed me to work for up to six hours a day without the effect changing too much. The only really dramatic change was the sun came around and put Vrnik in full sunlight, whereas I wanted the buildings to be half in shadow for the effect. In the afternoons I could work on the foreground and the water, provided the wind didn’t get too strong. Finally, the clouds did the same thing, with only a slight variation, almost every day.

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.

Plein air seascape of Korcula, Croatia.

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

Plein air landscape painting of Vrnik, Croatia.

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:

Plein air sketch of our terrace in Korcula, Croatia.

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

Plein air painting of the stalls in Korcula.

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

Plein air painting of afternoon on Korcula.

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.

Plein air painting of the fishing boat Adriana, Korcula, Croatia.

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.

Study for a larger painting of Vrnik, Croatia.

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.

Landscape painting of Badija, Korcula.

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:

Landscape painting on Korcula.

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.

Plein air painting of stairs in Korcula, Croatia.

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

Plein air painting of the Marko Polo Hotel, Korcula, Croatia.

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

Plein air painting of Red Devils Fans watching the World Cup 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.

Plein air painting of the Fair in Mechelen, Belgium.

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

Plein air sketch of the Fair in Mechelen, Belgium.

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

Plein air painting of the Palace of the Margarets in the Rain, 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.

Plein air painting of Sunday Morning in Mechelen, Belgium.

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

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

Oil painting of the Dyle river in Mechelen.

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

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

Plein air sketch of the Musée Fin-de-Siècle in Brussels, Belgium.

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

Plein air painting of a street in Vis, Croatia.

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.

Plein air painting on Vis, Croatia.

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 a fisherman 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.

Painting of a storm breaking up on Vis.

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