Here are a couple of larger studio landscapes done from smaller plein air studies done on site in central Tuscany in September. I realize I haven’t posted anything in a while as I’ve been working on these larger studio paintings and they take a long time. I have three more on the easel and I’ll try to update the post as I finish them.
Castelmuzio. 120 x 150 cm, oil on linen.
Scrofiano. 90 x 110 cm, oil on linen.
Update: Here are a couple more, I’ll keep posting them here as they come off the easel. Some are heading for the Grenning Gallery this summer, one is off to Constantine Lindsay in London.
Sinalunga from the Valley Below. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
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.
Castelmuzio #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Castelmuzio #2. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Castelmuzio #3. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
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.
Scrofiano. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Tuscan Sunset. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
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 quick post with some of my paintings from last week in Tuscany.
Late May/early June is my favorite time to paint in the area south of Siena, as the wheat fields are at their best, just before the harvest. The Senese is probably one of the more picturesque places on earth, and it is arguably the place where the first landscape paintings since antiquity were painted in the Allegory of Good and Bad Government frescos by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the town hall of Siena.
Fiat Panda. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Mario. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Castelmuzio. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Montisi (unfinished). 20 x 30 cm.
We were lucky with the weather. There were thunderstorms around Montisi (where we were staying) but with the big skies of the Senese we could see where they were growing and move around them.
Sant’Angelo in Colle #2. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
On the Beach, Roccamare. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
The last few paintings are of the sunset every evening from the farmhouse where we were staying outside of the village of Noce, near Tavarnelle val di Pesa. It’s part of a continuing series I’ve been working on which I intend on framing all together in one large frame. You can see some of the ones from last year here.