Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some Works On Paper

  Working on paper offers it's own challenges and rewards. It was something I had decided to do long before we left. It was a way to travel lighter, while also being able to paint more and larger pieces. Last years paintings were all 8 inch by 8 inch, oil on panel.
  Painting outdoors is difficult enough, and then you compound your troubles with painting in a foreign country, especially with oil paints. All the hassles of airport security, etc, and buying supplies here; oil paint, turpentine, medium...which is how I have chosen to do it.
  I wasn't used to painting on paper with oil, but you learn as you go. The secret is to just let the paint do the talking, and every artist paints the best they can, up to that point. 
  These are some of my offerings, and I look forward to studying them at home. These are just a springboard to larger canvases,like a sketch, but they are fully resolved. I value the spontaneity of the painting moment. For me that is the richness that I appreciate the most... the un-self consciousness of the painting experience. "Free", to just let the paint do the talking.

  I'm looking forward to seeing these framed, and hanging in the gallery. There are a lot more to show, and I'll be posting more photos as time goes by...

From The Panicale Walls

Road To Casalini

Across The Lago To Cortona

Afternoon At Lago Trasimeno

Sweet Umbria 
Umbrian Spring

Shadows Near Casalini

Abstract In The Olive Grove

Mongiovino View

Strada Capuccini

Chiesa Vecchia

Ready For The Photo Shoot...

Panicale Skyline 2012

Catching A Moment

View From Isola Maggiore Toward Castiglione Del Lago

Casa Vecchia, Isola Maggiore

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Curious Minds...

  Seems I keep being asked, while here in Umbria, about our gallery back home in California... here is our website, which gives an idea as to some of the larger, abstracted landscapes I do, when I return home to my studio..


The Process/Painting Near Casalini

  The "Process" of painting en plein air is, of course, a transplanted French style of painting, i.e Impressionism, from the late 19th century. It was then transplanted into the California painting tradition  in the early 20th century. 
  To me, this is the poetic experience of an artist with the privilege of meeting face to face the challenge of interpreting and expressing an archetypal landscape with the aim of creating an ideal and idealized composite landscape: a world in which nature is transformed into elegant splendor, if that is possible.
This is the question and the challenge for me.
  This "Process" is what I am demonstrating in this blog post, and all these posts, as I am painting en plein air, while here in Umbria. As the Italians say... "tradizionale", a grand and great tradition which I am lucky enough to say I am a part of.
  At this time, I have to interject...  I am also in the act of destroying this tradition, deconstructing this tradition, recreating this tradition. That is what I will do when I return to my home and my studio in California. My job is to distill, and hopefully transcend these painting experiences into something... new... at least that was my training, and that is what I will endeavor to do. 

The setting up.

You gotta have fun, too.

Process, process, process... Love it, or leave it.

Working with the gessoed paper.


Work in progress.

Beginning painting.

  Below are some examples of painting plein air in Umbria. Enjoy.  Ciao!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Higher Inspiration/Siena

  Janelle and I have always loved Siena, and wanted to try and get back there, so we took a mini trip  into Tuscany for a couple of days. The drive through the countryside, the scenic route, felt like being home again. It's one of the most beautiful roads in the world. 
  Once in Siena, we made it to the free parking area, snaking up to the historic was good to be back. After checking in, we headed to the Duomo. I always wanted to climb up to the top of the unfinished section, and finally we did.
  We spent a good amount of time inside the Duomo, too. The weather was a little wet, and there was so much to see. 

Some higher inspiration
Inside the amazing Duomo in Siena

Frescoes by Pinturicchio, and a Roman copy of the Three Graces, from the Greek original.
Also in the Duomo..
  Just on the edge of the historic center of Siena, is the San Dominico church. It's powerful and strong, a bedrock of a building. I guess it's supposed to be a symbol of it's faith. It's always impressed me with it's stature. It's not a beautiful building, but it's beauty is in it's powerful presence.

San Dominico church-Beauty and strength.
I took this from the terrace of the place we stayed at.

Artist at the Wishing Well. 
  The second day, the weather was nice enough to set up in "Il Campo", one of the most beautiful piazzas in all of Italy. We enjoy sitting here in the evenings, watching the swallows darting around, as the light changes to dusk. It was the first time I set up to paint here.

Janelle took some shots-that's me,  sitting at the base of a pillar.

Just another small, gentle painting.
  I was trying to get a feel of the expansive space, on just a small panel painting. It's capturing a moment, the time of day(late morning), and the shadows-it's just a sketch, but I was trying to make it heart felt.
  There is so much history, centuries of history, in that place. Just trying to remain humble, enjoying and paying homage to the moment. And the place.

Is it possible to hear history?

The piazza becomes a studio. Tranquility for just a few moments.

"Il Campo"  12 April, 2012

  The short video below gives a small sense of the sounds, activity and energy of the daily dance of this piazza.
All going on while I sit, absorb and distill some 40 years of painting into a moment. It's just me, my style.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Out In The Field/All The Stuff

 The weather changed a little in the last couple of days. Rain, and even thunder and lightening. I did get out to paint right before the clouds moved in. We drove over to an area I'd painted around last year-one of our favorite little spots. 
  I made a gentle, easy going, small painting.... because it doesn't matter if the painting is small or large, it's all the process of painting. It's a love/hate relationship, but it needs to be done. It's the process, and I guess, mostly, I love it. The setting up, and all the stuff.

Set up along the side of a one lane road, out in the fields. 
Just true Umbrian 3D.
  Below are a couple of short videos from this site, near Villastrada. I hope you can get some idea of the  incredible landscape, and even the sense of light here. This day, it was starting to cloud over, but still really good.

  After this spot, we drove over to Sanfatucchio, another favorite area. While we were driving down a "white road", Janelle and I were both were amazed to see a really big hawk flying right along the car with us...seemed the hawk was telling me this was the place to stop and paint, so I did.
  It was quiet and free, and the view had an ancient one lane bridge, that somehow seemed symbolic. Was it from the present to the future? Life in Umbria? One can only hope. 

The road to the future?

  Again, a couple of short videos, Janelle takes these while I'm painting. These are both at the Sanfatucchio painting site. The the blog and gives her a way to be involved in what I'm doing, as well as a way to do her own creative thing. I'm trying to get used to it.


  A final word here.... it's all about the pleasure in the "doing" of the painting, and it's always the search for the sublime.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Painting On Isola Maggiore

  It was a really warm Saturday, and I had been wanting to check out the islands in Lago Trasimeno. We knew the boats would be running on a Saturday, so we headed to Castiglione del Lago to hop a boat to Isola Maggiore. I read that this was the island that St. Francis once meditated for 40 days and nights, as a resemblance of Christ. For me, it gave it a touch of magic, as well as history.  I wasn't prepared for the serene beauty of the place.
  We had a fine lunch, lakeside, and then walked a ways to set up for painting.
  I'm still feeling like I'm just getting started.... like I'm still warming up. I have to sneak up on the creative process.
  The spot I chose was all about the light on the street, and the contrast of the stone and the organic trees and shadows.

Finding a shady spot was important. It was a hot day

  Families walked by as I was painting, on the way to the castle above me. It was fun to show the children, who were so curious... and didn't speak English. No English spoken, except by me. But they got it.

It felt good to be painting plein air again.

One artist translating a scene.

"Is it done",  I ask myself. That's always the important question.
  The finished piece is 6 by 8 inches, oil on board. Trying to be fresh, and in the moment. I hope it works. I consider it done. It's a good piece.

First painting done on Isola Maggiore.

  Looking down the street after finishing the first painting, it's inspiring and I feel so lucky to be here, doing this. The history of this place is an artists dream.

Looking down the street I'd just painted.

  I decide to paint a second piece, because we have plenty of time before the last boat returns to the mainland. I don't need to go far, I just turn around and paint the scene behind me. It's an old stone footpath leading up the hill towards the church way above us.
 I notice a garden gate, it's unusual in shape and color. It caught my eye. I set painting one aside, and get set back up for another go.
Getting ready to start another piece. It's amazing how much stuff I need to haul around.
But that's my job.

  As I start, Janelle comes back from her wanderings and decides to make a video or two... but a quick shot first to capture the first brush strokes of the path painting.

The beauty of the sketch.


    All and all, a good day painting. On an island, in the middle of a lake in the middle of Umbria, smack in the middle of Italy. 

All over surface interest, and color. The contrast is the metal gate, on the right.. it's contrast with organic surroundings.
It reminds me of an ancient Italian Crest... or the shape of a helmet....