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.

Turban Portrait

tina in a turban1 544x700 Turban Portrait

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

Here, quickly, is a 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 turbans right is more complicated than one would think.

portrait with turban Turban Portrait

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

turban painting Turban Portrait

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

girl with turban Turban Portrait

Turban Sketch #3. 25 x 23 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.

Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Update: Below is the last larger plein air piece from the trip. It took three days, and I had to hold the canvas with one hand while painting to keep it still in the high winds.

Afternoon Light Korcula1 Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Afternoon Light, Korčula. 50 x 70 cm, oil on linen.

Vrnik Painting Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Vrnik. 70 x 90 cm, oil on linen.

Here are a few more plein air landscapes from this summer on the island of Korčula, in Southern Dalmatia.

As I said in the last post, the weather has been really difficult (it’s supposed to hail today), so I haven’t gotten as much done as I would have liked. I’m hoping for one more day of sun to finish up the other larger plein air pieces I have going. I’ll try to post them before I leave for Italy next week.

In the meantime here are a few more of the smaller sketches:

Terrace in Korcula Korčula Paintings, Part Two

The Terrace. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Market Stalls Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Market Stalls, Korčula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

Afternoon Light Korčula Paintings, Part Two

Afternoon Light, Korčula. 20 x 30 cm, oil on panel.

New Korčula Paintings

Below are a few smaller paintings from this summer on the island of Korčula, in Croatia.

Adriana Lumbarda New Korčula Paintings

The Adriana, 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 Croatia Sketch 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 Korcula1 New Korčula Paintings

Stairs, Korčula. 30 x 20 cm, oil on panel.

Marko Polo Hotel Korcula 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.

New Florence Academy of Art Website

florence academy New Florence Academy of Art Website
The last few years I was in Florence I taught landscape painting at the Florence Academy of Art. They have recently updated their website to reflect better their professional approach to teaching painting and sculpture.

Their alumni gallery is especially impressive for the sheer number of professional working realist painters and teachers they have produced in their short history, as well as the high quality of the art produced and the great variety of style in the works. ‘Academic’ art is sometimes criticized for producing painters and sculptors whose work all looks the same. Looking through the work displayed on the FAA site, the director Daniel Graves and his faculty have clearly done an excellent job of allowing individualism to flourish, while at the same time giving all their students the proper tools to realize their vision.

The Florence Academy’s drawing, painting and sculpture departments are all excellent and their écorché program (originally set-up by Andy Ameral who currently teaches at the Golden Gate Atelier in the SF Bay Area) is something I regret not having taken advantage of while I still lived in Florence. The FAA is also alone among the schools in Florence in having a number of gallery contacts, so the best students are funneled into the gallery system and avoid the tedious process of getting someone to show their work.