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.
I was in Venice for a couple days this week to see friends, and I managed to get a few sketches done. Venice is only 3.5 hours from Zagreb and I really should go more often. I’ve been visiting the city for the last 23 years and I still am struck every time I arrive and watch the city function entirely with boats. It is really such a special place.
Morning on the Giudecca. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Rio della Croce. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Rio del Ponte Lungo. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
We stayed on the Giudecca, so most of my paintings were done there. When I’m on a short trip such as this I find it much more productive if I don’t scout around too much. Tourist season is in full swing as well, so the main areas were very crowded for painting with an easel. I started an evening sketch near San Marco but gave up halfway through as the crowd got so thick I couldn’t see my view.
Afternoon on the Beach, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Morning Clouds. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Cala di Forno is a magical little spot on the southern Tuscan coast. It’s a tiny clump of buildings just next to the beach, in the middle of a large natural park. Much of the park is off limits, even to those staying in the houses, so there is a lot of wildlife around. Down near the houses there are tame deer that stand under the fig trees, waiting for the kids to pick the figs for them (though they don’t stand still enough to paint with any accuracy).
Deer and Olive Trees. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Deer by the Old Well. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
We spent last week there with a few other painters. After walking all over Rome in the heat, it was nice to be restricted to a tiny area in which to work. Many of my paintings were done within 10 meters (30 feet) of the front door.
The Old Well, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Stone Pine. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Houses in Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Plein air painters often look for people who are going to be in the same place for long enough to paint. Fishermen, for example, work great as subject matter as they move very little over the course of hours. I spent a few sessions painting the other artists while they worked. Other painters make great subjects since I have a good idea of how long they take to finish a piece, and thus for how long they’ll stay still.
Tina Painting a Watercolor. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Ben Painting Beatrice. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Ignacio Painting on the Beach. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Ben Painting. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
The beach can be accessed by boat, so many arrive and park their boats in the little bay. The water is so shallow, they often just walk from their boat to the shore (swimming the first bit, obviously).
Boats in the Surf, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
I spent a lot of time trying to paint people on the beach.
Tamara and Moss. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Backlit. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
I even tried painting kids, though I have no idea how Sorolla did it, they moved much to fast for me.
Irene on the Beach. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Kids Playing on Driftwood. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
In plein air painting, sometimes I find restricting myself to a small area in which to work can be better than moving around a great deal. The extra time not spent scouting and traveling means more time for the paintings.
A few paintings from a four day trip to Rome. I was looking for bigger views, where the foreground, middle-ground, and distance work together, so I walked a lot. The August heat and the mass tourism made work difficult.
The Gardens at Villa Borghese. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
For the first time in my life I also had the police tell me to put my painting equipment away in Piazza Navona. Another Italian cop later apologised to me and said there was a problem with that particular spot as there was some issue with the guys who sell paintings there. At any rate, plein air other painters should be aware of the situation. Despite 400 years of painters depicting Rome and its beauty, the police might hassle you if you’re painting in the more famous areas.
Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
I painted a couple days with Kelly Medford, Marco Carloni, and the local plein air painting group. It’s always much easier to find to good places to work by traveling around with the locals. Rome has just a ridiculous amount of subject matter, one would need 4 years there to do the place any justice. 4 days is way too little.
Roman Ruin #1. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
Roman Ruin #2. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.
Cypresses at the Colosseum Entrance. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Below are some paintings from my week here in Italy. I was supposed to be on the lakes up North this week, but I got rained out. Here in Tuscany the weather is a bit more summery, even if there is an early Autumn chill in the air (and we’ve had a few days of rain here too).
San Gimignano. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
I lived in Florence for 20 years and never painted the classic, postcard view of the Duomo. I also spent my summers about 20 minutes away from San Gimignano and never painted the towers. I thought this year I would get them both out of the way.
Tourist Stands, Piazzale Michelangelo. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Most of the time I stayed in the countryside working on this larger piece:
The Mulberry Tree. 90 x 110 cm, oil on linen.
I’m hoping for one more day of sun to finish, but it’s not looking good.
Here is the sketch:
Mulberry Tree Study. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
And in the evenings I painted a series of sunsets from the house: