I have some paintings on display at the Florence Academy of Art‘s New Jersey campus. They’re having an open studio today in their new space in the MANA Contemporary art center. If anyone is in the neighborhood, be sure to pop over. The teaching staff is excellent at the FAA’s new space, and it looks like a very promising endeavor for the school.
These plein air paintings are actually from a few weeks back, but I never got around to posting them. I was working in the area around Montisi (east of Siena), and looking for views that would work as larger compositions for studio paintings to be done over the winter.
As I’ve discussed before on this blog, the Holy Grail of landscape painting is a view where the foreground, middle-ground, and background compose well and I spend a great deal of time every year driving and walking in search of such a view. An obvious question would be ‘why not just invent it from parts of views taken elsewhere?’ The answer for me is that, in part, my training makes it difficult. I was trained with the more ‘Impressionist’ methodology of sight-size, which requires the subject to be in front of the artist (as opposed to a ‘construction’ based painting system). In part though, it’s also a component of my philosophy on painting of taking a more humble and reverent approach to viewing the natural world. Furthermore, there is a historic precedence as seen in the work of a great number of plein air painters, and Henry Fuseli said it best: “Selection is the invention of the landscape painter”.
It means a lot of driving though.
I’ll often do a number of paintings of the same view when I do finally find one that will work on a larger canvas. This is in addition to a number of pencil sketches to figure out the balance and composition of the final piece.
One of my favorite ‘tricks’ to finding good views in central Italy is to look for the cemetery. They tend to be placed just the right distance from the town, usually with a very good view on the town, and they have parking and shade to work under.
Overall I was quite happy with this short excursion and I think I can make at least three larger studio pieces from a few days worth of scouting.
A few plein air paintings from earlier in the month in Salzburg and Hallein. These are part of a continuing series of paintings I’m doing in the area for an exhibition in Hallein. The show was supposed to be coming up fast, but I’ve pushed it back a year to next October, so I can try to get four seasons worth of work into it.
I really enjoy painting in the valley west of Hallein as well, (even though it’s Germany and I’m supposed to be working on an Austrian show).
I painted a lot in Salzburg again. I tend to focus on smaller areas as walking a lot to scout can take up too much time for these short trips. In this case I was in the Mirabell Gardens for a couple of days.
This last one is unfinished as I didn’t calculate the shadow of the bell tower blocking out my light for an hour. It was my last morning there so I didn’t get a chance to go back this trip.
These are some of the small plein air paintings from last week on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. We stayed with the excellent landscape painter Joseph McGurl and his wife, and he showed us the good spots for landscape painting.
Some of these paintings will be going to Collins Gallery in Orleans, MA.
For the last stop of our two month trip to America, I taught a couple of three day plein air workshops in Boston for Leo Mancini-Hresko’s Waltham Studios. Boston is gorgeous. Probably the most beautiful large city in the US. I had been there 25 years ago for a couple of days, but didn’t remember it being so picturesque.
I didn’t have time to paint any cityscapes, unfortunately, but here are the unfinished demonstration pieces from the plein air classes. I painted the same view twice as it worked technically for the points I was making during the demo.
Here are the paintings from the last week in Nova Scotia, Canada. We rented a place just outside of Mahone Bay and painted up and down the coast from Blue Rocks to Chester.
Lunenburg was a particular favorite. There was a wide selection of views in a small area, the weather was great (the food too) and the people were very friendly.
Because of the microclimates in the area, we often had sun all day in the town of Mahone Bay, when other parts of the coast had the fog.