Short Tuscan Trip

Plein air portrait of a Tuscan farmer with his chickens.

Mario and his Chickens. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Here, quickly, are a few small paintings from last week in Tuscany. I was there doing some organizational stuff, and didn’t have a lot of time to paint. I was also enjoying a bit of a break after all my work for the South Carolinian show in May.

Portrait of a young girl in a Tuscan farmhouse.

Portrait of a Young Girl. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air painting of a painter in Tuscany.

Ben Painting at the Torricella. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air self portrait.

Outdoor Self Portrait. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

I painted only portraits and still-lifes. As I’ve wrtten before, the Chianti region of Italy is one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit, but the ‘big views’ aren’t great for plein air painting. The small olive trees make for poor compositional elements, the hills are too close together, and the ubiquitous vineyards consist of parallel lines, which landscape painters do best to avoid.

Plein air painting of an espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Affogato. 20 x 15 cm, oil on panel.

Plein air painting of a Florentine steak.

Fiorentina. 25 x 35 cm, oil on panel.

Still life of peaches and ice cream.

Peaches and Ice Cream. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Turban Portrait Painting

Turban portrait of my wife wearing a Turkish style turban on the island of Korcula.

Tina with a Turban. 70 x 50 cm, oil on linen.

Here, quickly, is a turban portrait I did last month during the overcast and rainy days we had on Korčula. It’s for a turban/hat-themed group show this fall at Ann Long Fine Art in Charleston, SC.

Below are a few of the sketches we tried with various styles of turban. The one we settled on was bought on Ebay, and shipped from Turkey. I had actually wanted a more Venetian-style turban, as it fit with our setting, but getting these things right is more complicated than one would think. These paintings were all done in one sitting with very unsuitable light. We were on a terrace with only reflected light off of the garden around us. It’s always interesting trying new lighting set-ups, though having one strong light source makes for a much simpler painting experience.

Portrait sketch with turban, painted on Korcula, Croatia.

Turban Sketch #1. 25 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

Venetian style turban portrait painting, done on the Croatian island of Korcula.

Turban Sketch #2. 25 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Turban portrait with a Turkish-style turban painted on the Croatian island of Korcula.

Turban Sketch #3. 25 x 23 cm, oil on panel.

Update: Here is an earlier attempt:

Turban portrait with a Turkish-style turban.

The Turkish Turban. 35 x 25 cm, oil on panel.

Portrait Time-lapse

This is a portrait I did of a friend a few years ago. As a last-minute idea I set my old cellphone on a chair and had it take a photo every few minutes over the course of the week. The battery kept dying and people kept bumping into the chair so the already-poor-quality image jumps around a lot. My apologies. I found the pictures recently and threw them together:

Dog Portrait

Emma. Portrait of the Artist's Dog. Oil on linen, 40 x 35 in, 2010.

For Valentines day (and our anniversary), my wife wanted a portrait of our dog, Emma. I’ve tried to paint her from life a couple of times but she tends to curl up into a little black ball and generally resists any attempt of mine to keep her looking even slightly picturesque. The other day I was photographing paintings in the studio though, and she hopped on a little stool next to me and struck different poses for about 5 minutes.

The dog was painted from the photo, and the background was painted from life. The sketches behind her are mostly from our neighborhood where she goes walking everyday.

Luckily my wife was pleased. In my experience, people are often much harsher critics of a likeness when it comes to portraits of dogs than of people.