Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Working When The Sun Comes Out

  Janelle writing today.

  This morning our walk included Johnny stopping and drawing. It was great, because I just kept walking, returning to take a photo then walking agin, etc.
  We went down into the fields just below the house.

Johnny way down the dirt road...

  There are several farmhouses in this area, so lots to be inspired by.

  Later in the day, we headed out to another area to do some shopping at a local hardware store. We pulled over at one point to sketch some more.

Another area with old farmhouse's all about the shapes and colors, I think.

  Back at the house, Johnny set up to paint from the parking area below the house. The views are pretty amazing, with farm houses all along the ridge lines.
  He set up both a small panel and a larger un-stretched canvas to work on. So nice to have a warm day with sun.

Not a bad spot to work from.

I took this shot from our terrace, looking down at the parking area.

  Unfortunately, more rain and cold is in the forecast, so it may be just studio work next week.
  Fingers crossed for more nice weather!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Painting Between Rain Showers

  Lost, but not lost, on a deserted gravel road in central Italy on an overcast day.

Me, way down the road on the left, painting.

  Janelle and I discovered a new gravel road in an area we know well. It was a nice surprise. I am always searching for new views.
  Janelle will take photos and walks while I paint.


  At work on a simple farmhouse scene, just beginning to get started with this square format.

Design, design, design.
Let's see where it leads.

Some decisions have been made, resulting in a harmony of the whole.
A balanced design.

  Taking the show on the road. I found another spot to set up, later the same morning.

Janelle asked me to paint this scene.

  After, I set up a bigger un-stretched canvas.

  This is the first time I have painted on un-stretched canvas, which I will roll up to take back to California and have it stretched. I hope this will be one of many this year.

This size, rolled up, will fit in our suitcase.
I can always ship larger ones.

This painting was painted very quickly,
a little bit like falling. Almost out of control.

  There is a quote I came across in an Italian art magazine, translated to English.
  I don't know who to credit it to:

  "We look within ourselves and wish artists made the strings of our spirituality vibrate. 
  This is not decoration, this is feeling"

Painting peripherally, with feeling.

  Speaking seeing peripherally, with feeling, I am reminded of one of my favorite de Kooning quotes.
  When I am not seeing the world proper, not sure, 'slipping' I think of this quote:

"You know, the real world, this so called world, is just something you put up with like everybody else. I'm in my element when I'm a little bit out of this world: I'm in the real world- I'm on the beam.
Because when I'm falling, I'm doing alright. When I'm slipping, I say, 'Hey, this is interesting.' it's when I'm standing upright that bothers me...As a matter of fact, I'm really slipping most of the time. I'm like a slipping glimpser."

   A slipping glimpser is someone who slides along a beam of light, finds the eternal in the transitory and communicates it to the rest of us. To de Kooning, that is what it means to be an artist.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Snow Effect-Umbria 2018

  First full day here, and I couldn't wait to get outside painting these beautiful scenes of this so familiar landscape covered in snow.
  It was quiet, peaceful, and there was no wind, poetic and tranquil.


  In my mind I knew there were many paintable scenes on the next ridge over, it's not far from the house and I had to warm up my paintbox after it had sat in the studio here in Umbria for the past 3 months. I needed to get my gear all ready for this next painting season.
  I also needed to learn what I may need for this season, as far as my supplies go.

  For example, I realized I didn't have my turps and medium cups, I don't know what happened to them, so I had to use an empty plastic food tray to hold my turps, which was held down by a rock.
  I also need more paper towels, and my paintbrushes have somewhat dried out and need rehabilitation. So that means planning a trip soon to either a local art supply shop, or maybe a trip to Florence or Rome for more beautiful brushes.

  In the meantime, I paint with what I have.

  I once read a quote from Picasso, that said something to the effect -

"If I only have blue paint, I paint blue pictures".

  I like to think that this is why his Blue Period began?
  I don't know.
  And recently, I watched a video of Wolf Kahn who has developed parkinson's disease, giving him tremors and shaking hands when he paints. But alas, he states it makes him a better painter.
  The point being he now has a more intimate touch in relationship between the canvas and the brush, that allows him to go beyond just painting.

No doubt about it, my toes and fingers were getting numb.
But what happiness. How lucky am I.

My paintbrush ferrule had become detached from the brush handle,
so I had to hold onto the brush and the ferrule while I painted.

  One of the things I've learned through all these many years of painting: 
  Never quit.
  Never give up.
  If your supplies are never perfect, or the weather is never perfect, or the scene is never perfect, or you are getting older, or perhaps ill...
  It's all about facing new challenges, and overcoming limitations. I'm not sure what I mean about going beyond painting, but I think you have to put in your ten thousand hours to understand it.
  Whatever "IT" is, to you.

  Wolf Kahn says that he 'follows the brush'. I endeavor to let the painting paint itself.
  My job is to not be there. If that makes any sense.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Finishing Up Work 2017

   We kept driving by this field as it was coming into full color, and I knew I wanted to paint somewhere near by, to capture the moment. This beautiful Spring moment.
  This was a week or two ago, before the weather changed again to windy, cold and wet.

  While setting up to work, my wife could not help herself, I guess.


    These small paintings offer me glimpses into larger ideas.
    There will be a gem or two, ideas that I can translate into larger, contemporary/abstract compositions.
  If I am lucky.
  And, it's just fun being here with my wife in the middle of Italy.


  I always joke that I am trying to 'Make Art History', but I can't take myself too seriously.... And I have to be honest with my contribution to the conversation.
  This comes after having a great art education, with a tremendous teacher and forty five years of painting experience.

  Painting like this, in this beautiful heart of Italy, is it's own reward.
  I've said it before- It's simple, but it's complicated. It's never easy to make good art. It shouldn't be, in my opinion.

  This is this Artist's humble offering, on this day.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Good Day's Work

  Janelle writing this evening...

  The weather was so fine through March, Johnny was able to paint most every day he wanted to. Today we had our first real rain day, which the area needs, so no complaints.
  Last week Johnny painted quite a bit, though he is waiting now for the trees to leaf out more. One day in particular, we woke early, had our coffee and headed out for our morning walk as the sun was just rising. It was so wonderful to be up and out so early.

  After returning from the walk, we loaded up the car for a full day of work...

A classic pairing of Umbrella Pine and Italian Cypress

  Moving on to another area...

Benches are always welcome.

  I'm always surprised at what Johnny 'sees' to paint...often it's just a bit of a very far off view. Shapes, light and color are what I imagine he is looking for.

  Same area, but another painting gets started.

Again, the far off view...that pine tree way over on the ridge.

  It's always an adventure.
  A colorful adventure.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Working At Lago di Chiusi


  Nice peaceful day on the lake.
  Janelle and I were relaxing, and I took the opportunity to work with gouache on paper.

 It's the first time I painted with gouache this year here in Italy. So, I'm starting out slowly and gently, in a relaxed pace.
  I've completed about fifteen oil paintings and now want to shift gears.

  I love this old wooden paint box I found in a 'Mercato Usato'..basically a thrift store. I found this box last year, and now I'm putting it to work.

Starts out loose and beautiful. I should have stopped here.

  This first one, to me, is a little too tight. That's how it usually begins.
  It takes work to loosen up and be more sensitive to the process of making art.
  The mind wants to control things. I'm always of the mind to let the painting paint itself. Even these small gouaches.

  I guess the first one was a warm up.

  This second one, below, is much better. More of what I am shooting for.

  I guess I'm searching for that right combination of color, design, and that unknowable force that comes through