First Place in the Plein Air Salon

greguric breg 2 First Place in the Plein Air Salon

Gregurić Breg. 100 x 80 cm (40 x 32 inches), oil on linen.

There has been a proliferation of online painting contests recently. In many I find the judging to be erratic and I don’t usually enter twice if I find I strongly disagree with their choices.

On the other hand, I don’t mind losing if I feel the winning works were excellent. The bimonthly contest offered by Plein Air Magazine is the one contest I both regularly enter and regularly lose. Even though I get beaten by other artists most of the time, I think the quality of the work selected for awards is almost always great. Their judging is done with an intelligence and taste that I almost always agree with, even when my submission is not selected.

So I’m happy to announce that, after entering numerous works over the past few years, my painting of Tina in a field in the little hamlet of Gregurić Breg took first place in the recent October/November Plein Air Salon. The painting was done outside, on location, over the course of a couple of months this year. Below is a photograph of my set-up. It’s in a small village in the hills above Samobor, a small town just outside of Zagreb.

plein air painting First Place in the Plein Air Salon

The location at Gregurić Breg.

The grass is of different heights in part because it grew the whole time. It was at the level of Tina’s waist when we started in April, and over her shoulders when we finished in late May. Our landlord was nice enough to leave that little patch of field for us uncut, so I could finish the work.

(Gregurić Breg is currently available for purchase via my London dealer, Constantine Lindsay.)

A second entry, my painting of a snow covered road near Les Plans, Switzerland also took first place in the plein air catagory:

les plans First Place in the Plein Air Salon

Road in the Snow, Les Plans. 30 x 40 cm, oil on panel.

Below is a photo of the location:

Plein Air Fog First Place in the Plein Air Salon

The location in Les Plans.

Belgrade Sketches

Souvenir Belgrade Belgrade Sketches

Souvenir Stands, Belgrade. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Here are a few plein air paintings from this weekend in Belgrade, Serbia. I wasn’t prepared for how cold it would be, and I spent a lot of time walking to try to get a feel for the town so I didn’t get a great deal of paintings down. Before leaving for Belgrade I was inspired by the wonderful urban watercolors of Dusan Djukaric, who is based there.

Sunset Belgrade Belgrade Sketches

Popcorn Stall at Sunset. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Sveti Sava Belgrade Sketches

Sveti Sava Sketch. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Sunday Zemun Belgrade Sketches

Boats along the Danube, Zemun. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

The last day I was there I was shown around by the very talented, fellow landscape painter, Veljko Djurdjevic, who took me over to Zemun, one of the more picturesque neighborhoods of Belgrade. These short days make plein air work hard though. It’s too dark to paint by 4PM most days.

Pironirski Park Belgrade Sketches

The Assembly Cupola from Pironirski Park. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

New York City

Chambers Street1 New York City

Andrea and Luella on Chambers Street. 12 x 8 in. oil on linen.

Here are some paintings from the past week on the streets of in New York City. I was there for a portrait commission and other business stuff, so I didn’t get a lot of time for plein air work.

It was fun painting on the streets, the New Yorkers (and tourists) were very complimentary about the work.

Apologies for the potato-quality photos, I didn’t have my camera with me.

Freedom Tower1 New York City

The Freedom Tower from West Broadway. 12 x 8 in., oil on panel.

Central Park New York City

Soccer Players in Central Park. 8 x 12 in., oil on panel.

Larry New York City

Print Seller. 8 x 10 in., oil on linen.

I don’t normally sell prints of my work, but the above piece will be available for purchase as a print from Larry, the guy in the painting. He’s by the exit to the City Hall subway exit, near the Brooklyn Bridge.

Times Square New York City

Times Square. 8 x 12 in., oil on panel.

Manhattan Bridge New York City

Manhattan Bridge. 14 x 11 in., oil on panel.

Update: One more of the pile driver in Dumbo that woke me up every morning.

Pile Driver New York City

Pile Driver, Dumbo. 14 x 11 in., oil on panel.

Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

burnham overy staithe Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Boats at Low Tide, Burnham Overy Staithe. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Here are the paintings from last week in Norfolk, England.

One of the best things about painting in the UK, I think, is that there is a large number of excellent plein air painters to work with. This trip was organized by David Bachmann, and we were joined by Roy Connelly, Tony Dakin, Jory GlazenerTim King, David Pilgrim, Mike Richardson and Karl Terry. (One evening the English artists were insisting that there aren’t really that many plein air painters in the UK, but then the two spots where we painted had large groups of plein air painters from the Norfolk Painting School, run by Martin Kinnear, and David and I saw another group earlier in the week at Pin Mill).

burnham market Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Saturday in Burnham Market. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

While the weather in the UK was beautiful all week, we had a marine layer over northern Norfolk. I enjoyed the grey skies though, after a very hot August in Italy (well, the second half of August at any rate).

Driving inland a bit I was able to find some sun.

norfolk bull Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Bull in a Norfolk Field. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

sheep Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Sheep in a Field, Cranworth. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

norfolk garden Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Teal Cottage Garden. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

brancaster sky Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Norfolk Sky. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Norfolk is famous among artists for its skies. The flatness of the land combined with the unstable English weather makes for some great sky paintings. Or so I’ve been told. We only had one day when the clouds were distinct, most of the time it was hazy or a flat grey.

burnham market church Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

The Church at Burnham Market. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I spent a lot of time painting the boats at low tide, I guess since I find it such an unusual subject.

sailboat norfolk Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Sailboat, Burnham Overy Staithe. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

boat brancaster staithe1 Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Boat at Low Tide, Brancaster Staithe. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

brancaster staithe cornfield Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

Cornfield, Brancaster Staithe. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Norfolk has a lot to offer for subject matter. It’s also a really nice place to work as the people are friendly, it feels really empty (at least in September), and there are very few fences anywhere.

norfolk morning Norfolk Plein Air Paintings

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

Pin Mill

boat pin mill Pin Mill

Boat at Low Tide, Pin Mill. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Pin Mill is a couple of small buildings on the south shore of the the tidal River Orwell, in southern Suffolk, England.

pin mill boat Pin Mill

Sailboat at Low Tide, Pin Mill. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

I recently spent three days painting there with three other plein air painters: David Bachmann, Roy Connelly, and Paul Rafferty.

The English painter Edward Seago did some of his best paintings there of the Thames barges. Since I spend a lot of time talking to other plein air painters, and Seago is seen as one of the best plein air painters of the 20th century, I assumed everyone in England had heard of Pin Mill, and that it was something of an English Giverny. So I was surprised when I called my studio painter friends in England to brag about going to paint at Pin Mill and no one had heard of the place. Then, at the B&B where I stayed up the road, they had never heard of Edward Seago.

pin mill Pin Mill

Grey Morning, Pin Mill. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

The place should be more well-known. It is one of the more picturesque quarter miles anywhere in the world. The Thames sailing barges that Seago painted are still there, and often have their sails up still.

Unfortunately, when we were there the barges were all up at the nearby town of Woodbridge for a maritime weekend. We drove there to try to paint them on the last day, but they had just left to go back to Pin Mill.

pin mill morning Pin Mill

Late Morning, Pin Mill. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

pin mill sunset Pin Mill

Pin Mill Sunset. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

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 (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.

Rome

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.

giardino villa borghese Rome

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 monti Rome

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.

untitled 13 Rome

Roman Ruin #1. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

roman ruin Rome

Roman Ruin #2. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

cypresses colosseum Rome

Cypresses at the Colosseum Entrance. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

colosseum1 Rome

Colosseum in August. 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.