More Green Noise

Oil painting of a birch grove in Plyos, Russia.

Birch Grove. 60 x 80 cm, oil on canvas.

Here are a few more paintings from my two weeks in Plyos, Russia. The weather has been really uncooperative, with rain and/or wind pretty much everyday.

Green Noise is the name of the cultural exchange event here in Plyos. This year is eight ‘Italian’ plein air painters working together with eight Russian artists. The exhibition of our work opened yesterday and will be on display until mid-October.

Oil painting of a rainy day in Plyos.

Rain, Plyos. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

We went out as a group to paint nocturnes in the rain on a few occasions.

Nocturne of the bridge in Plyos, Russia

The Bridge in Plyos, Nocturne. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Evening, Plyos. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Evening, Plyos. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

plein air landscape painting of autumn trees in Plyos, Russia

Autumn Trees. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Below is the updated version of the trinket seller, I needed to change the value on her shawl.

oil painting of a trinket seller in Plyos, Russia.

Trinket Seller. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

We had a lot of fun in the evenings, drinking vodka with the Russian artists and discussing painting and painters. There are a lot of great artists working today in Russia and I’ll post some links to their work in the future.

In the meantime, here is a short video of us painting in the common room one evening:

Oil painting of an accordion player in Russia.

Accordion Player. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Plyos, Russia

Here, quickly, are some of the paintings from my first week here in Plyos, Russia.

Landscape painting of a street in Plyos, Russia

Street in Plyos. 60 x 80 cm, oil on canvas.

I’m here as part of a cultural exchange, organized by the Landscape Museum in town, between Italy and Russia (I snuck in by living in Italy for 20 years). Past years have included Cyprus and France, and next year will be an exchange with Dutch landscape painters.

Plein air sketch of the The Church of the Resurrection in Plyos.

The Church of the Resurrection (sketch). 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air oil painting of theChurch of the Resurrection in the Rain, Plyos.

Church of the Resurrection in the Rain. 50 x 60 cm, oil on canvas.

Plyos is the small town on the Volga where Isaac Levitan lived and painted and it’s become something of a Russian Giverny for realist painters working today.

Plein air sketch of a grove of birch trees in Plyos, Russia.

Birch Grove. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

As Isaac Levitan is a favorite landscape painter of mine, it’s wonderful for me to come here and see where he worked.

Oil painting of a Trinket Seller in Plyos.

Trinket Seller. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Oil painting of the roofs in the village of Plyos

Above Plyos, 40 x 60 cm, oil on canvas.

Oil painting of the little wooden church above Plyos, Russia.

The Church above Plyos. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

This is just the work from the first week. I’ll post again when we’re finished. The weather has been terrible, and promises to be terrible the whole trip.

Edit: Below is a photograph of my working situation for the “Church of the Resurrection in the Rain”.

Plein air painting in the rain in Plyos, Russia.

The joys of plein air painting.

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.

Sag Harbor Paintings and My Grenning Gallery Solo Show

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. This show will include the following Sag Harbor paintings from the week before the show.

Plein air painting of the IGA in Sag Harbor

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

Plein air landscape of sunset on Gibson Beach, Long Island.

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

Plein air landscape of sailboats in Sag Harbor.

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

Plein air landscape painting of the municipal building in Sag Harbor.

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

Plein air painting of storefronts in Sag Harbor, NY

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

Plein air landscape painting of the old watch factory in Sag Harbor.

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

Plein air landscape painting of main street in Sag Harbor.

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

Plein air landscape painting of Main Street in Sag Harbor.

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

Update: Here are a couple more:

Plein air painting of the old watch factory in Sag Harbor.

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

Plein air painting of the Sag Harbor Yacht Club.

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.

Plein air painting of a pizzeria on korcula, croatia

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

Plein air sketch of laundry blowing in the wind.

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

Plein air painting of a boat crane on Korcula island.

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

Plein air painting of boats on the island of Korcula, Croatia.

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

Plein air painting of a doorway on Korcula.

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

plein air painting of the harbor in Slade, 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.

plein air sketch of a boat in Slade

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

Plein air painting from Newtownbarry House

The Sunken Garden, Newtownbarry House, Bunclody

plein air painting of the stables at Newtownbarry House

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

Painting of musicians in a pub in 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:

plein air sketch of Ballyhack, Ireland

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

Plein air sketch of an old tractor in Ireland.

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

Landscape painting of an oak tree near Ballymore.

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

Plein air landscape painting of wheat fields near hook head.

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

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

Nelly. 18 x 25 cm, oil on linen.

Nelly. 18 x 25 cm, oil on linen.

Rocco says ‘hi’.

The Tuscan Summer

Plein air painting of a woman reading under an olive tree in Chianti.

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:

Plein air portraiture in Chianti

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:

Plein air cloud studies from the Tuscan countryside.

Three Tuscan Cloud Studies. 20 x 14 cm ea.

Plein air sketch of laundry and lemon trees, Tuscany.

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

Plein air sketch of hay bales along a road in Chianti

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

Plein air painting of Pistoletto's sculpture at Porta Romana

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.

Plein air painting of piazza Santo Spirito, Florence

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.
il meteo weather forecasting

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.

Paintings from a Weekend in Maastricht

Here are a few plein air paintings 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.

Painting (schilderij) of the Vrouweplein in Maastricht

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

My gallerist once asked me why I often paint fishermen. The fact is they stand still for a very long time. I asked this gentleman if I could paint him before I started.

Painting of the Stadspark in Maastricht

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

Sunday mornings are always a great time to paint in cities. There is never anyone around.

Painting of the Boschstraat, Maastricht.

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

It’s a very painting-friendly city to work in. The Dutch are polite and complimentary but leave you your space. This sketch was from the very crowded market. I set up next to a pole so as to stay out of people’s path.

Plein air landscape of a herring stand 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.
traveling with wet paintings

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).

traveling with wet oil paintings

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
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.