Here are some of the recent larger plein air paintings from our hill above Florence. I did a couple timelapse videos of the progress this time.
Dawn over Florence #2. Oil on linen, 90 x 120 cm.
Olive Trees in May. 90 x 120 cm, oil on linen.
I’m working on a stable and portable system for working on larger paintings on site. I’ve just finished the first iteration and I’ll be taking it back to the US to try it out next week. These were mostly done with my older Italian steel field easel set-up, which also works really well.
The next two images are of the same painting. The first (below) was painting in the afternoon, but then I decided to glaze everything orange to capture the evening light effect.
Old Olive Tree, early version with afternoon light. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.
Old Olive Tree, final version with evening light. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.
Fruit Trees in Bloom. 60 x 80 cm, oil on linen.
Garden at Villa Schneiderf. 90 x 100 cm, oil on linen.
Colclough Walled Gardens #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
I’ve been moving around a lot and haven’t been posting much, so here are paintings from the last three months. The first few are from the AITO plein air painting festival in Wexford, Ireland. It’s always a great to be back in Wexford and they always find us great spots to paint. I focused on gardens this trip, as subjects to enlarge in the future.
Here are a couple of larger studio landscapes done from smaller plein air studies done on site in central Tuscany in September. I realize I haven’t posted anything in a while as I’ve been working on these larger studio paintings and they take a long time. I have three more on the easel and I’ll try to update the post as I finish them.
Castelmuzio. 120 x 150 cm, oil on linen.
Scrofiano. 90 x 110 cm, oil on linen.
Update: Here are a couple more, I’ll keep posting them here as they come off the easel. Some are heading for the Grenning Gallery this summer, one is off to Constantine Lindsay in London.
Sinalunga from the Valley Below. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
These plein air paintings are actually from a few weeks back, but I never got around to posting them. I was working in the area around Montisi (east of Siena), and looking for views that would work as larger compositions for studio paintings to be done over the winter.
As I’ve discussed before on this blog, the Holy Grail of landscape painting is a view where the foreground, middle-ground, and background compose well and I spend a great deal of time every year driving and walking in search of such a view. An obvious question would be ‘why not just invent it from parts of views taken elsewhere?’ The answer for me is that, in part, my training makes it difficult. I was trained with the more ‘Impressionist’ methodology of sight-size, which requires the subject to be in front of the artist (as opposed to a ‘construction’ based painting system). In part though, it’s also a component of my philosophy on painting of taking a more humble and reverent approach to viewing the natural world. Furthermore, there is a historic precedence as seen in the work of a great number of plein air painters, and Henry Fuseli said it best: “Selection is the invention of the landscape painter”.
It means a lot of driving though.
Castelmuzio #1. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Castelmuzio #2. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Castelmuzio #3. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
I’ll often do a number of paintings of the same view when I do finally find one that will work on a larger canvas. This is in addition to a number of pencil sketches to figure out the balance and composition of the final piece.
One of my favorite ‘tricks’ to finding good views in central Italy is to look for the cemetery. They tend to be placed just the right distance from the town, usually with a very good view on the town, and they have parking and shade to work under.
Scrofiano. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Tuscan Sunset. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Overall I was quite happy with this short excursion and I think I can make at least three larger studio pieces from a few days worth of scouting.
Here are a couple of images and a short video from the plein air landscape painting course I did in the little village of Les Plans above Bex in Switzerland.
I was teaching solo and didn’t get a ton of my own work done. That said, it’s a great little spot for painting as there is a ton of diverse subject matter in such a short distance from the hotel where we stay.
Cows by a Barn, Switzerland. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.
Above Les Plans. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
We’ll perhaps to do another course next summer as well. And we discussed an ‘extreme plein air’ course in the winter, with snowboards, where the students have to sign a gazillion waivers protecting us from responsibility when they die. Stay tuned for more information.
I tried to film a painting demo but was drowned out by the cowbells, here is the first fifteen minutes where I discuss selecting a view and setting up:
Below is a video of a band that played at our hotel called Le Sirop D’la Rue. I thought I would throw in a plug for them as the music was great:
On the way home to Zagreb we stopped in the small Italian town of Chioggia, on the southern end of the Venetian lagoon. Edgar Payne did some beautiful paintings there in the 1920s and I had always wanted to see it. The orange sails are mostly gone (we saw a couple), but it’s an amazingly picturesque little town for painters. It has three canals, like Venice, but two are ‘working’ canals, full of fishing boats and the whole place has a terrific amount of varying subject matter in a very small area. There are cars in the town too, so you can park in front of your hotel.
Cafe in Chioggia. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.
Fishing Boats, Chioggia. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.