Cala di Forno

cala di forno maremma Cala di Forno

Afternoon on the Beach, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

cala di forno morning Cala di Forno

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 (unfortunately though they don’t stand still enough to paint with any accuracy).

deer uccellina Cala di Forno

Deer and Olive Trees. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

deer well Cala di Forno

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.

cala di forno well Cala di Forno

The Old Well, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

stone pine maremma Cala di Forno

Stone Pine. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

cala di forno casa Cala di Forno

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.

beach cala di forno Cala di Forno

Tina Painting a Watercolor. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

ben painting beatrice Cala di Forno

Ben Painting Beatrice. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Ignazio Painting Cala di Forno

Ignacio Painting on the Beach. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

fenske painting Cala di Forno

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 at cala di forno Cala di Forno

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 Cala di Forno

Tamara and Moss. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

tina backlit water Cala di Forno

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.

beach cala di forno1 Cala di Forno

Irene on the Beach. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

kid on a log Cala di Forno

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.

cala di forno sunset Cala di Forno

Sunset, Cala di Forno. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Postcards from Italy

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 Postcards from Italy

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.

piazzale michelangelo Postcards from Italy

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:

mulberry tree tuscany Postcards from Italy

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 Postcards from Italy

Mulberry Tree Study. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

And in the evenings I painted a series of sunsets from the house:

torricella sunset 1 Postcards from Italy

Torricella Sunset #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

torricella sunset 2 Postcards from Italy

Torricella Sunset #2. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

torricella sunset 3 Postcards from Italy

Torricella Sunset #3. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Pelješac Paintings

Mali Ston Sunset Pelješac Paintings

Sunset, Mali Ston. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Pelješac is a peninsula in Southern Dalmatia and it’s probably my favorite area on the Croatian coast. While there are other islands and areas with more beautiful cities, they also tend to get a lot more of the cruise-ship crowds. Pelješac manages to have more of that slow-paced beach feel to it, and the people seem much friendlier. They also make the best red wines in Croatia, and the food in general is excellent (they have these great little oyster stands by the side of the roads with the local Adriatic oysters).

Ston Shadows Pelješac Paintings

Ston, Midday. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Broce Croatia Pelješac Paintings

Church in Broce. 32 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

There is a wide variety of subject matter on Pelješac, as there are relatively high mountains on the western side, whereas the eastern part has a much more gentle slope to the sea. Though the towns may not be as postcard-perfect as the other places along the coast, they are still exceedingly picturesque for painting. They are also very small, and the views are concentrated. When one is scouting with equipment in the August heat in Southern Europe, smaller is better.

Mali Ston BBQ Pelješac Paintings

Street Barbecue in Mali Ston. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

sleeping dog painting Pelješac Paintings

Sleeping Dog. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Vrnik Painting Timelapse

Here is a quick, 30 second, timelapse film taken over the course of five days while working on my large plein air landscape painting of the village of Vrnik. I was standing on the island of Korčula, across the small channel seen in the painting. The footage is of five days, but I was actually there six, and I have no idea what happened to the photos from the sixth day, sorry.

Below is an image of the final painting.

Vrnik Painting Vrnik Painting Timelapse

Vrnik. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.

It was a great spot to paint as I could stand in the shade the whole time. Also, in the painting I’m looking east, so the shadow of the tree is pointing north. This allowed me to work for up to six hours a day without the effect changing too much. The only really dramatic change was the sun came around and put Vrnik in full sunlight, whereas I wanted the buildings to be half in shadow for the effect. In the afternoons I could work on the foreground and the water, provided the wind didn’t get too strong. Finally, the clouds did the same thing, with only a slight variation, almost every day.

Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Update: Below is the last larger plein air piece from the trip. It took three days, and I had to hold the canvas with one hand while painting to keep it still in the high winds.

Afternoon Light Korcula1 Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Afternoon Light, Korčula. 50 x 70 cm, oil on linen.

Vrnik Painting Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Vrnik. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.

Here are a few more plein air landscapes from this summer on the island of Korčula, in Southern Dalmatia.

As I said in the last post, the weather has been really difficult (it’s supposed to hail today), so I haven’t gotten as much done as I would have liked. I’m hoping for one more day of sun to finish up the other larger plein air pieces I have going. I’ll try to post them before I leave for Italy next week.

In the meantime here are a few more of the smaller sketches:

Terrace in Korcula Korčula Paintings, Part Two

The Terrace. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Market Stalls Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Market Stalls, Korčula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Afternoon Light Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Afternoon Light, Korčula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

New Korčula Paintings

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

Adriana Lumbarda New Korčula Paintings

The Adriana, 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 Croatia Sketch 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 Korcula1 New Korčula Paintings

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

Marko Polo Hotel Korcula 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.

Weekend in Mechelen

voetbal op de vismarkt mechelen 600x397 Weekend in Mechelen

Watching the World Cup, Mechelen. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Here are a few plein air landscape paintings from the past weekend in Mechelen, Belgium.

kermis op grote markt mechelen 2 Weekend in Mechelen

The Fair in Mechelen #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

kermis op grote markt mechelen 600x398 Weekend in Mechelen

The Fair in Mechelen #2. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

paleizen van de margaretas Weekend in Mechelen

Palace of the Margarets in the Rain. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

A couple of years ago I lived on the Belgian border with Holland for a few months and I really enjoyed painting in the countryside here. For landscape painting, Belgium has an incredible variety of subject matter. A painter would never get bored working here.

ijzeren leen mechelen Weekend in Mechelen

Sunday Morning. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Update: One more from Monday morning. I also made the local paper.

the dyle in mechelen Weekend in Mechelen

The Dyle. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Update #2: One last one from Brussels before the airplane home.

Musée Fin de Siècle Weekend in Mechelen

Entrance to the Musée Fin-de-Siècle, Brussels. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

We had 48 hours of rain in Brussels so I didn’t get much work done. Walking around though I felt the city had a tremendous amount of subject matter for plein air painting. Again, like Belgium as a whole, the variety is terrific. The spaces are often great for cityscapes, as the streets aren’t too narrow, or too wide. The parks have a huge variety of design, and the buildings are from every conceivable period of architecture, with many being wonderfully picturesque (there are also some sections of the city with more architectural harmony if that’s what one is looking for). There are also flags everywhere, which are always fun to paint. The people were very receptive to the plein air painter too. I was only working for two hours but twice people asked if they could bring me a coffee. Lastly, the art in Belgium is great, and I’ll try to do a post about some of their great realist painters when I get a chance.

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.

Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Bow of the Aurum Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Bow of the Aurum. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I spent the last week cruising around the islands of the Dalmatian coast with my gallerist Ann Long, her husband, and some friends. Before photography it was normal for British and American travelers in Europe to take a painter with them to record the trip.

The mechanics of painting on a boat took some getting used to. The boat turns a lot when at anchor, which restricts the choice of foreground. Then there is a lot of wind and the movement of the waves is annoying. Next, the decks of boats are notoriously fragile, so I had to be very careful not to get any paint on anything. I also cut corks to fit on the bottom of my easel so as to not scratch or scuff the deck. While I’m used to painting portrait commissions in houses where I have to be careful about my paints, the wind and the movement of the boat add new challenges. Later the crew explained that since it’s a working charter boat, their decks are designed to take any stains or damage as the crew will quickly sand it off.

Morning on Sipan Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Morning Light, Šipan. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Two of my favorite plein air painters, Charles-François Daubigny and Edward Seago, both owned boats that they painted from. I was looking through their work before I left on the trip. One of the problems with painting from a boat is the foreground is always going to be water, which is a view that I don’t really associate with.

Cruising to Vis Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

En Route to Vis. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Afternoon Vis Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Afternoon Light, Vis. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

The rest are painted from solid ground on the various islands where we stopped.

Mljet Painting Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

By the Lake, Mljet. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Aurum in Korcula Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

The Aurum in Korcula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

knick knack seller hvar Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Tourist Stands, Hvar. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Sailboat Mljet Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Sailboat, Mljet. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Street in Korcula Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

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

Hvar Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Hvar. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Stari Grad Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Stari Grad. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Hvar Street Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

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

Cafe in Hvar Paintings from the Deck of a Boat

Cafes, Hvar. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Copenhagen

Here are my plein air landscape paintings from last weekend in Copenhagen. Technically it was really four days.

Cafe in the Kongens Nytorv Copenhagen

Cafe, Kongens Nytorv. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

The weather was beautiful but very windy. After a couple years of painting with the Art in the Open in Wexford, Ireland I have no problem painting in heavy rain, but wind still annoys me to no end as the panels move the whole time. Many of these views were picked because they were sheltered a bit from the strong winds.

Back of the Glyptotek Copenhagen

Back of the Glyptotek. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Path in the Ørstedsparken Copenhagen

Path in the Ørstedsparken. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Towards City Hall Square Copenhagen

Towards City Hall Square. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Market in Christiania Copenhagen

Market in Christiania. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

They don’t allow photography in parts of Christiania, but they let me set up and paint. I did have a few ‘guards’ come by to check the tripod though. That said, everyone was very friendly when they saw what I was doing.

Grafitti Artists Christiania Copenhagen

Grafitti Artists, Christiania. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Boats behind the Opera House Copenhagen

Boats behind the Opera House. 20 x0 30 cm, oil on panel.

After my last post on painting back-lit paintings, these were almost all done with front-lighting. Not for any particular reason, that was just the effect that I found inspiring.

Bus Stop Copenhagen

Bus Stop, Copenhagen. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

English Garden in the Rosenborg Castle Gardens Copenhagen

English Garden in the Rosenborg Castle Gardens. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

I had been to Copenhagen 25 years ago, but remembered nothing of the city. It’s much prettier than google images would have you believe. The hotel had bicycles to rent which made it much more convenient to navigate the city with all of my landscape painting kit, though I always find bicycling in places like Denmark and Holland scarier than driving in Southern Europe.

Along the Peblinge Sø Copenhagen

Along the Peblinge Sø. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Rickshaws Copenhagen

Rickshaws, Copenhagen. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Morning on the Nyhavn Copenhagen

Morning on the Nyhavn. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.