New Korčula Paintings

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

Fishing Boat Korcula New Korčula Paintings

Fishing Boat, 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 Study 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 Korcula New Korčula Paintings

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

Marko Polo Hotel 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.

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.

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.

Zagreb Paintings – Spring 2014

Ribnjak Ulica Zagreb Paintings   Spring 2014

Afternoon Shadows, Ribnjak. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel

Here are some recent plein air landscape paintings from Zagreb and the surrounding countryside.

Tina Speech Zagreb Paintings   Spring 2014

Tina Practicing a Speech. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Ribnjak Sculpture Zagreb Paintings   Spring 2014

Modern Sculpture, Ribnjak Park. 20 x 15 cm, oil on panel.

Zvijezda Garden Zagreb Paintings   Spring 2014

Garden, Zvijezda. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

While the Croatian coast is rightfully famous for it’s beauty, the countryside inland has a lot of charm to it as well. It’s a very peaceful place to work since there is a real emptiness in some areas. Often I’ll paint on the side of a road and no more than one car or tractor will pass during the hours it takes me to finish a painting.

Sisinec1 Zagreb Paintings   Spring 2014

Šišinec. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Brkisevina Chapel Zagreb Paintings   Spring 2014

Chapel near Brkiševina. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Below is an updated image of a large plein air painting of a path in Maksimir park. It’s for an even larger studio painting that was requested by a gallery I work with.

Maksimir Park Zagreb Paintings   Spring 2014

Path in Maksimir (updated) 60 x 80 cm, oil on linen.

 

Recent Larger Landscape Paintings (2014)

Korcula Boats Recent Larger Landscape Paintings (2014)

Korčula. 29 x 37 in. Oil on linen

Here, quickly, are some of the recent larger landscape paintings I’ve been working on. A couple are plein air landscape paintings, the others were done in the studio.

These are off to Sag Harbor for my solo show at the Grenning Gallery in late June.

Laundry in the Wind in Korcula Recent Larger Landscape Paintings (2014)

Laundry in the Wind. 36 x 28 inches, oil on linen.

Big Sur Cows Recent Larger Landscape Paintings (2014)

Big Sur, Afternoon. 42 x 55 inches, oil on linen.

The portrait of Tina under an olive tree will be in the show, as well as a number of small and medium-sized plein air pieces from the last year.

I spent much of the winter on the painting below but I can’t figure out how to resolve it. I hate abandoning large pieces after months of work, but sometimes artists have to cut their losses.

Afternoon in the Tuileries Recent Larger Landscape Paintings (2014)

The Afternoon Chat (unfinished). 42 x 55 inches, oil on linen.

I have a few more larger pieces on the burner which I’ll add soon.

Korčula

Below are a few plein air pieces from the island of Korčula, on the Dalmatian Coast in Southern Croatia.

pizzeria on korcula Korčula

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

Laundry in the Wind Korcula Korčula

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

crane korcula Korčula

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

Boats at Sunset Korcula Korčula

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

korcula Korčula

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.

Spring in Zagreb

Below are a few plein air cityscapes from the last week in and around Zagreb. Here in Croatia Spring has finally started in all it’s glory.

Maksimir Spring in Zagreb

Path in Maksimir Park. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

maksimir oak Spring in Zagreb

The Old Oak, Maksimir. 30 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

I have a show of Zagreb cityscapes on May 9th here in the Upper Town at the Laval Nugent gallery. In the meantime the weather is too beautiful not to be painting plein air landscapes outside.

flower market Spring in Zagreb

The Flower Market at the Train Station. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

dolac Spring in Zagreb

Dolac. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Špica Spring in Zagreb

Špica. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Cvjetni trg Spring in Zagreb

Spring, Cvjetni Trg. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Zagreb Nocturnes

Since the days are so short here in Zagreb (and I’m losing my mornings to language classes), I’ve been trying my hand at plein air nocturnes lately.

Gupceva Zvijezda Zagreb Nocturnes

The Bar at Zvijezda (2011). 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Last winter I tried one nocturne of the small bar around the corner from my house. The idea was to sketch the composition in pencil and then begin the lay-in on site. However, for the bulk of the work I had the painting elsewhere and, in the evenings, I would stop and try to memorized the view and then paint later from memory. It was like sight-sizing from a block away. The idea was based on the quote by Degas about memory drawing:

“If I were to open an academy I would have a five-story building. The model would pose on the ground floor with the first-year students. The most advanced students would work on the fifth floor.”

This year I’m more prepared. These new clip-on LED lights work very well, and have a much cooler light than the ones you could buy, years ago, when I last tried plein air landscape painting at night. The brand I’m using is Mighty Bright from Santa Barbara, CA and I have the two pronged ones they make for orchestra conductors. (Edit: As Jerry Campbell commented, these lights can be slightly blue. I also found myself compensating to knock down the oranges. Pushing the light right up to the canvas warms it up a bit, but if anyone one has a suggestion for a more neutral plein-air-at-night lighting solution, I’d love to hear it).

mightybright Zagreb Nocturnes

My set-up for nocturnes.

A second set of lights would be great as I don’t get enough light consistently across the panels and have to move the light to where I’m working.

Painting in the snow at night can be really cold. I wrote a post last winter on keeping warm, which you can read here.

nocturne Zagreb Nocturnes

Zagreb Cathedral Nocturne #1. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

cathedral Zagreb Nocturnes

Zagreb Cathedral Nocturne #2. 30 x 20, oil on panel (unfinished).

kolovdor Zagreb Nocturnes

The Central Train Station at Night. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

More to come. In the meantime, here are a couple more from the heavy snows we’ve had this month in Zagreb.

Britanski Trg Zagreb Nocturnes

Winter, Britanski Trg. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Mirogoj Zagreb Nocturnes

Mirogoj in the Snow. 30 x 40 cm, oil on panel.

Kazalište Zagreb Nocturnes

Steps of the HNK. 30 x 20 cn, oil on panel.

Ulica A.G. Matoša Zagreb Nocturnes

Ulica A.G. Matoša. 28 x 18 cm, oil on panel.

Croatia: The Local Talent

Continuing my series of great ‘regional’ painters (previous ones were Holland, California, Italy, and Russia), here are a few great painters from Croatia.

Vlaho Bukovac

Bukovac was born in a small town on the coast south of Dubrovnik to an Italian father and Croatian mother. He studied in Paris with Cabanel and worked in Zagreb, Belgrade and Prague. His life story is quite interesting and included a stint in a reform school in New York and painting trains in Peru (more here).

While famous for his large Salon-style pieces and portraits, he also painted a lot of beautiful plein air sketches.

Gundulićev san Croatia: The Local Talent

Gundulićev San (Gundulic’s Dream). 1897

vlaho bukovac barun vranicany Croatia: The Local Talent

Baron Ljudevit Vranyczany. 1898

vlaho Croatia: The Local Talent

Courtyard in Cavtat. 1899

This nude reminded me of his teacher’s famous painting:

Recliningnude bukovac Croatia: The Local Talent

Reclining Nude. c. 1900

Cabanel Alexandre The Birth of Venus ca. 18641 Croatia: The Local Talent

Alexandre Cabanel. The Birth of Venus, 1864


Miroslav Kraljević
was only 27 when he died of tuberculosis. He studied in Munich and Vienna. (He kinda looks like Valdemar Lethin).

Kraljevic Croatia: The Local Talent

Self-portrait with Dog. 1910

Unfortunately the above image quality is rather poor. Below is a great detail of the dog from Croatian painter Valentino Radman’s blog:

img 9619 copy Croatia: The Local Talent

Self-portrait with Dog (detail).

Josip Račić also died very young, only 23, but is considered one of the most important modern Croatian painters. He was part of the ‘Munich School’ with Kraljević and a couple of others.

img 5887 copy11 Croatia: The Local Talent

Self Portrait (detail). 1906

josip racic portret sestre copy1 Croatia: The Local Talent

Portrait of the Artist’s Sister. 1907

8 Croatia: The Local Talent

Pont des Arts. 1900

Another good 20th century painter who’s work is in the museum here in Zagreb, but is hard to find online, is Vladimir Filakovac. Valentino Radman has a couple of blog posts on him here and here.

Other interesting historic Croatian painters are Čikoš SesijaRobert Auer, Mato Celestin Medović, and Mirko Rački.