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 upstairs in my studio and in the evenings (when I would walk the dog around the neighborhood) I would stop and try to memorized the view and then run back upstairs and paint 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.

 

The Dalmatian Coast

korcula sunset2 The Dalmatian Coast

Sunset on Korcula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Here are a few of the sketches I did the past two weeks in Southern Croatia. The Dalmatian coast is stunningly beautiful. We had beautiful weather, the food and wine are great, and it’s still relatively inexpensive as far as European beach towns in August go.

Sveti Nikola The Dalmatian Coast

Corner at Sveti Nikola, Korcula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Korcula Street 2 397x600 The Dalmatian Coast

Bar in Korcula. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

korcula street 368x600 The Dalmatian Coast

Rampada, Korcula. 35 x 23 cm, oil on linen.

P1190798 428x600 The Dalmatian Coast

Street in Korcula. 35 x 25 cm, oil on linen.

Primosten The Dalmatian Coast

Jet-Ski Rental on Primosten. 18 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Dubrovnik is especially beautiful, though the crowds in August are not for the faint of heart.

Dubrovnik Cathedral2 395x600 The Dalmatian Coast

The Cathedral from Poljana Boškovića, Dubrovnik. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

lokrum1 425x600 The Dalmatian Coast

Gardens on Lokrum. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Gundulic Square 396x600 The Dalmatian Coast

Umbrellas in Gundulic Square. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Church 413x600 The Dalmatian Coast

Church in Dubrovnik. 25 x 17 cm, oil on linen.

Dubrovnik 395x600 The Dalmatian Coast

Street in Dubrovnik. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

There are a few more that still need a lot of work. I’ll post an update when they’re finished.

Painting into, and out of, an Effect

korcula sunset Painting into, and out of, an Effect

Sunset on Korcula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I’ve been painting the fleeting light of Southern Croatia for the last couple of weeks and thinking a lot about painting into, and out of, effects.

Landscape paintings usually depict one moment or effect of light. When painting outside, light effects change the whole time the artist is working. Part of the responsibility of the artist is to decide which of the various positions of the sun and shadows will be in the final image. Furthermore, when it’s the painter’s first time somewhere, it can be difficult to visualize perfectly what will happen with the light over the course of a multi-hour plein air painting session.

For the last few years, the light effect that has most interested me is the high sun at midday. My subjects are also often north-facing, and thus back-lit. It’s usually an easy route to take for plein air painting. The number of hues is greatly reduced and the values and shapes become more important. Though it would seem the opposite, I find it easier to get an effect of sunlight or heat, than working with the sun behind me. Most of my favorite historic plein air works are back-lit (it’s hard to think of a good Corot, for example, that isn’t). Also, the light changes very slowly in the midday hours. I’ve worked for up to six hours straight on a midday painting where the shadows and overall effect didn’t change a great deal.

When I first started painting outdoors, however, I really loved the late evening light. Charles Cecil taught me much of what I know about landscape painting, and his own favorite subject is the orange light of the Tuscan evenings, or ‘Golden Hour’. The problem with late light is that the effect lasts only a few minutes. In order to paint a sunset or sunrise painting, you either have to work for only 15 minutes a day, or paint into the effect. Painting into the effect simply means as the afternoon light turns to the golden evening light, the effect will become more and more what you’re after. (Presuming, of course, that the evening light is the desired effect. If the afternoon light is your subject then you’re painting out of the effect).

The trick to painting into an effect is to work on the drawing until the desired effect is present, and then change the colors and shadow shapes at the end. For painting out of the effect the opposite is true. You start with color notes and the shadow shapes, and then polish the drawing as everything changes.

In the sketch of Korcula at sunset above, you can see the blue around the palm tree from when I did all the drawing with the afternoon light. I then changed the whole color scheme when the sun set. I’ll later polish things up in the studio when the paint dries.

Understanding the mechanics of changing light and how to deal with it is an important part of plein air painting.

July in Zagreb

Brtanski2 July in Zagreb

Sunday Chess Players in Britanski Trg. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

Here a few sketches from this week in Zagreb. I’ve been inside a lot working on commissions, which is a shame since the weather has been beautiful here.

cathedral3 431x600 July in Zagreb

The Cathedral from Kaptol. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

tram1 July in Zagreb

The Tram at Zvijesda. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

statue 378x600 July in Zagreb

Statue of the Virgin, Zagreb. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

market July in Zagreb

Market Stalls, Zagreb. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.