Backlit Tuscany

Below are some paintings from a very short (weekend) trip to Tuscany. Since I had so little time to paint I chose only subjects that were backlit, i.e. had the sun behind them.

Mercato Santo Spirito Backlit Tuscany

Market Stall in Piazza Santo Spirito. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

It’s probably different for every painter, but I find I can work much faster and get better results when painting towards the sun. It becomes much more about drawing and values. Frontlit subjects require a painter to capture every small nuance in hue and chroma which, for me, takes much longer.

Montisi Backlit Tuscany

Burning Leaves, Montisi. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Piazza del Carmine Backlit Tuscany

Piazza del Carmine. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Pescatori sul Arno Backlit Tuscany

Fishermen on the Banks of the Arno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

It’s interesting to look at historic landscape painters and their preference for lighting in their views. For example, the Spanish painter Carlos de Haes went for the backlit subject in many of his plein air and studio landscapes.

haes 600x380 Backlit Tuscany

Carlos de Haes -La Torre de Douarnenez

picos de europa c 1875 600x374 Backlit Tuscany

Carlos de Haes – Picos de Europa.

And Camille Corot’s best works are usually backlit:

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot 006 600x414 Backlit Tuscany

Camille Corot – The Bridge at Narni.

As are Dennis Miller Bunker’s:

Chicago art inst bunker larmor 600x381 Backlit Tuscany

Dennis Miller Bunker – Brittany Town Morning.

The French Impressionists were also big on the midday backlit view, which is surprising since their draftsmanship wasn’t the best and they seemed so focused on color.

Claude Monet   The Cliff of Aval Etrétat   Google Art Project 600x427 Backlit Tuscany

Claude Monet – The Cliff of Aval.

On the other hand, the Spanish painters Joaquín Sorolla and Martín Rico y Ortega seemed to love the bright whites, dark skies, and strong hues of frontlit subjects in Spain and Italy. And the Italian painter Rubens Santoro painted some amazing sunlight-filled views of Italy which are also often frontlit.

Sorolla 600x311 Backlit Tuscany

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida – The Return of the Catch, Valencia Beach

view of paris from the trocadero by martc3adn rico y ortega c 1883 600x297 Backlit Tuscany

Martín Rico y Ortega – View of Paris from the Trocadero.

santoro 600x354 Backlit Tuscany

Rubens Santoro – On the Mediterranean Coast

Isaac Levitan’s best paintings are usually frontlit (or overcast).

levitan 600x491 Backlit Tuscany

Isaac Levitan – March.

And finally, on the other side of the world, the great Australian painter Arthur Streeton also used the frontlit view often to show the heat of the Australian summers.

streeton 600x398 Backlit Tuscany

Arthur Streeton – Sunlight.

Obviously, all of these great artists tried to capture a wide variety of light effects in their paintings. Still, looking over a single painter’s oeuvre, it’s fun to try to discern a pattern. Some of the other great landscape painters I (briefly) researched for this post were John Singer Sargent, Telemaco Signorini, and Edward Seago, but I wasn’t able to see any preference in their work (even Sorolla was a bit of a stretch).

Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape of Good Hope Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

Cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

I was in Cape Town, South Africa for a week last month, escaping the long European winter. It’s a beautiful part of the world. The foliage, colors, and climate are all very similar to Central California.

Here are a few of the sketches:

View from DeMorgenzon Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

The View from DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Stellenbosch Vineyards Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

Vineyards near Stellenbosch. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Banana Trees in the Kirstenbosch Gardens Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

Banana Trees in the Kirstenbosch Gardens. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Towards the Lions Head Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

Lion’s Head from Victoria Road. 22 x 33 cm, oil on panel.

Sea Point Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

Above Sea Point. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Hout Bay Afternoon Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

Afternoon in Hout Bay. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

The wine and food are terrific and their currency is way down too so it was a very reasonably priced stay. I would highly recommend the place for anyone looking to paint in the Southern Hemisphere in February. I hope to go back soon.

Stellenbosch Sunset Plein Air Painting in Cape Town, South Africa

Sunset, Stellenbosch. 18 x 28 cm, oil on panel.

Nymphs in Arcadia

Since my current larger projects are taking a while I thought I would rehash some older work. This is part of a series of paintings I did in 2008 of the small Piaggio Apini or ‘worker bees’ (as opposed to the Vespas or ‘wasps’ made by the same company). They were used by the artisans and tradesmen in Florence until they were banned recently by the new mayor.

untitled 34 Nymphs in Arcadia

Ape, Via del Campuccio (?). 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

amore ti amo Nymphs in Arcadia

Amore Ti Amo. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

Since they move pretty quickly and I couldn’t always stand in the road with my easel, some were done from photographs. This was the only time I ever tried working solely from photography and I decided it wasn’t for me. I spent too much time training my eyes to work from life.

ape piaggio oltrarno Nymphs in Arcadia

Apino, Via Maffia (#2). 40 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

Ironically the ones I painted from life often look more photographic than the ones painted from photos. I think it’s because one has so much more information available when working on site.

nymph in arcadia Nymphs in Arcadia

Nymph in Arcadia. 40 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

The title of the post comes from a show I had in 2008 in a local cafe showing these little sketches. They say selling art in Florence is like selling ice in Antarctica, but these proved surprisingly popular.

ape del trippiao Nymphs in Arcadia

I’Trippaio di Sant’Ambrogio. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

ape campagna Nymphs in Arcadia

June Rent. 25 x 40 cm, oil on linen.

ape oltrarno Nymphs in Arcadia

Via Toscanella. 25 x 40 cm, oil on linen.

camionetto via maggio Nymphs in Arcadia

Via Maggio. 30 x 40 cm, oil on linen.

apino del contadino Nymphs in Arcadia

Apino, San Gimigniano. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

via maffia Nymphs in Arcadia

Via Maffia (#1). 30 x 20 cm, oil on linen. 

apino torrigiani Nymphs in Arcadia

Vivaio Torrigiani. 20 x 25 cm, oil on linen.

November Posts in December

Varese painting1 November Posts in December

Varese. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

The blog hasn’t been updated in a bit. My apologies. I’m working on larger pieces for gallery commitments and commissions which take a long time. I also have a couple of in-depth blog posts in the works which require a lot of study, expenditure and filming on my part.

That said, I was in Varese, Italy last month to sell my Defender (I’m landscape painting from a 2-wheel drive Kia now), and did a few small sketches which are posted here.

Sacro Monte di Varese November Posts in December

Sacro Monte. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Varese November Posts in December

Varese #2. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

There were also a couple of interviews with me posted online: One here on The Artist’s Road, and another on painting near Volpaia, Italy posted here on Outdoor Painter.  Outdoor painter also wrote briefly about my post on Adro Hibbard’s ‘Hibbard Mitten’ with some more photographs of the artist working. For anyone interested in plein air painting in the snow you can read about it here.

The blog format also changed on its own due to a software update on my host. I’ll try to fix the header to look more elegant when I have a minute.

Plyos, Russia

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

Street in Plyos1 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.

Church of the Resurrection in Plyos Sketch Plyos, Russia

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

Church of the Resurrection in the Rain Plyos1 Plyos, Russia

Church of the Resurrection in the Rain, Plyos. 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.

Birch Grove Sketch Plyos, Russia

Birch Grove, Plyos. 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.

trinket seller in plyos russia Plyos, Russia

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

above plyos Plyos, Russia

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

Church above Plyos 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”.

plyos in the rain Plyos, Russia

The joys of plein air painting.

Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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. Below are a few of the plein air paintings from this trip:

schiavonis iga sag harbor Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

gibson beach sunset Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

Sailboats Sag Harbor Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

municipal building sag harbor Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

sag harbor storefronts Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

watch factory sag harbor Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

main street 2 Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

main street 1 Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

Update: Here are a couple more:

watch factory Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

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

sag harbor yatch club Solo Show at the Grenning Gallery

Sag Harbor Yacht Club. 10 x 14 in, oil on panel.

 

AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

slade harbor AITO 2013 in Wexford, 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.

slade AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

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

bunclody AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

The Sunken Garden, Newtownbarry House, Bunclody

stables AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

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

tmorris AITO 2013 in Wexford, 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:

ballyhack AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

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

irishfarm AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

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

field AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

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

hook head AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

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

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

nelly AITO 2013 in Wexford, Ireland

Nelly. 18 x 25 cm, oil on linen.

Rocco says ‘hi’.

The Tuscan Summer

woman under an olive tree The Tuscan Summer

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:

portrait in chianti The Tuscan Summer

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:

cloud studies The Tuscan Summer

Three Tuscan Cloud Studies. 20 x 14 cm ea.

laundry and lemon trees The Tuscan Summer

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

haybales in chianti The Tuscan Summer

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

pistoletto headache The Tuscan Summer

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.

piazza santo spirito The Tuscan Summer

Piazza Santo Spirito on a Sunday in July. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Weekend in Maastricht

Here are a few plein air sketches 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.

Onze Lieve Vrouweplein Maastricht Weekend in Maastricht

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

Stadspark in Maastricht Weekend in Maastricht

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

Boschstraat Maastricht Weekend in Maastricht

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

Nieuwe Haring Maastricht Weekend in Maastricht

Nieuwe Haring (unfinished). 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.

Stockholm Sketches

Slälagårdsgatan Stockholm1 Stockholm Sketches

Slälagårdsgatan, Stockholm. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

After three weeks of painting in Norway and Sweden, I was pretty exhausted in my last stop of Stockholm.

Sunday Fishermen with the City Hall Stockholm1 Stockholm Sketches

Sunday Fishermen with the City Hall, Stockholm. 25 x 35 cm, oil on linen.

As a plein air painter I often feel guilty if I see a great subject for a painting and then don’t paint it for whatever reason. With the 19 hour days they have in Scandinavian in the summer it is very difficult to paint the whole time though, so one ends up feeling guilty a lot.

Stortorget Stockholm Sketches

The Stortorget. 30 x 20 cm, oil on linen.

Cafe on the Riddarholmen Stockholm Sketches

Cafe on the Riddarholmen. 20 x 30 cm, oil on linen.