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.

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.

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.

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.