Umbrian Plein Air Workshop

View of Trevi from the Bed and Breakfast.

I’ve posted the dates and location for the first of two plein air workshops I hope to do this June. The area around the town of Trevi in Southern Umbria really amazed me for it’s picturesqueness when I was in Spoleto a few years back. I’ve been back a couple of times since then to scout the place out and I feel it has incredible potential for a plein air painting location.

The town is also quite beautiful and without much traffic, if the group is interested in cityscapes.

Picture taken in the center of Trevi this September.

For more information, head over to the courses page.

Sight-size in Landscape Painting

Using the sight-size technique for landscape painting.

Using the sight-size technique for landscape painting.

There is a lot going on right now in my life and haven’t been posting much. This is just a quick post to help better explain to my weekend landscape students the principle behind using the sight-size method for plein air sketching. In the photo above you can see how the camera was held in a position where the subject is the exact same size in nature as the painting on the panel. When using sight-size in the studio, the painter moves back to view the subject and the painting together from a distance. In the case of sketching the large view of a landscape onto a small panel with the sight-size method, the trick is to make sure your head is always in the right position where the subject ‘fits’ onto the panel. I personally believe many painters do this instinctively without realizing it.

The sight-size method is incredibly useful for landscape painting as it allows the painter to focus on the colors, values and edges, and the shapes almost seem to take care of themselves. For atelier-trained painters especially, who have spent years painting with the sight-size method already, it seems a waste not to continue using it outdoors.

Painting at the Badia a Passignano.

Painting at the Badia a Passignano.

Above is a panoramic photo of Wendy, Takuma and I painting at the Badia a Passignano this weekend.

The Long Island Academy of Fine Art


I gave a portrait demonstration two days ago at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art in Riverhead and talked about why sight-size is the best thing to happen to oil painting since lead white. The whole thing was filmed so I’ll try to put up a digital version when I get an edited copy.

For anyone looking for art lessons on Long Island, Jim Daga Albinson and Robert Armetta have done a great job setting up a couple of traditional painting ateliers in Riverhead and Glen Cove. They also get some excellent teachers for short workshops on a regular basis, and I know a few of the Florence Academy instructors will be doing short courses during the summer break this year, for those of you who can’t make it over to Italy.



The other evening Charles Cecil came to our open studio and, as usual, had a few things to say. One of the more interesting was a discussion on the use of temperature terminology when critiquing painting.

According to Charles, critiquing painting using the terms ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ was never done in R. H. Ives Gammell’s studio (where he studied) and is less accurate than describing the actual hue, i.e. too blue, too yellow, etc.

I find that using temperature to describe hue is much easier but not necessarily better. As a teacher, you get an immediate visceral reaction if something is too warm or too cool and it takes a second longer to figure out what the exact hue is. On the other hand, it is, at the end, much more helpful to the student both in the moment, and also in the long term to think in terms of hues and not temperature.

Charles’ exact words on the subject can’t be repeated on a family blog such as this, but I think he has a good point. At any rate, I’m now trying to get back into the habit of correcting student’s work by using hue and not temperature.

Edit: It was just pointed out to me that a quick search of Google books turns up a number of pre-1900 writings on art (notably Eastlake) which mention warm and cool, I still think it is less precise.