Saturday, March 30, 2013

Working Away In Panicale...

  Janelle here at the helm.....
  As much as I appreciate the pressure Johnny is under to "perform" while we are here in Panicale, I can't help but enjoy just watching him in action. 
  Back at home, I am rarely around to see him work. I'm at the gallery working, and mostly get to peek at works in progress in his studio. Even these viewings are accompanied by "It's not done...don't judge it yet!"
  So I get a big kick out of being here, watching paintings created on sight, in the moment. Sure, I'll go take a long walk, but I do get the rare opportunity to see a painting worked from start to finish. It's pretty cool.

Johnny scoping out a subject to paint onsight.

  I know my job here is to chronicle his work, and I take it seriously. He may not work every day, but when the sun has been out, it seems like we go all day. We drive around the immediate area, from place to place, trying to capture the perfect moment.

Setting up to work.

  A few days ago we had a day of much needed, and completely appreciated warm sunshine. So nice to have our bones warmed by the sun. We decided to just stay in Panicale to paint. It didn't seem right to get into the car and drive.
  We hiked down to a place we know well, after all the time we've spent here. It's an olive grove that is also full of wildflowers. Perfect for Johnny to paint and for me to walk.

Just outside the walls of Panicale, on a hillside washed in sunshine.

  Johnny had already gone down this path and seen some olive trees that looked promising to paint. He set up his chair and paints, and I snapped a few shots before taking off on my own adventure.
  After checking out if there were any wild tulips blooming yet, and taking a good, long stroll into the wilds, I retuned to find a painting really coming alive.

The start of something good, I think.

Just so nice to have a warm, sunny day.

Not a bad spot to sit and paint.....

Almost finished.

  Later that same day, we worked our way over to the other side of town, to the public park. The park has an incredible view over the valley and Lago Trasimeno. There are benches and pic-nic tables. We rarely see anyone here, but I imagine in summer it rocks.
  Anyway, it was just that magic hour before sunset, when the light goes all golden... Perfect.

Johnny setting up in the public park, outside Panicale.

  I happen to know that Johnny loves this view. He dreams of it when we are back home. We don't have these huge vistas over valleys that span centuries. As a man who loves his history, I think he has an attachment that far exceeds the esthetic's so much more than a "view" to him. It's Hannibal conquering the Romans in 217 B.C. It's castles dating from the 12th century and land of the Etruscans. 
  The history here has a big effect on him. He incorporates it all into the work.

Taking on History

  A sweet scene, our new little friend, Andrea came along with his lovely Grandma. They just happened to be walking the dog in the area, and stayed for the longest time. Young Andrea was fascinated by Johnny painting, and his Grandma expertly explained all that was going on, the mixing of colors, the application of paints.... I asked in my lame Italian if she was an art teacher..."I would love to be, but no...I was a seamstress when I was younger."
  These moments, they are precious to us.

Andrea and Johnny connecting an an all together artful level.
   Andrea was very curious as to why there were no buildings in Johnny's painting. There are many, in reality. But, as at home, Johnny tries to imagine the landscape "senza" man's development.


   Even thopugh the weather has been dicey at best, Johnny has a nice batch of 8X8 inch paintings drying.
  We are happy.

Just some of the finished paintings so far.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Studio Away From Home

  Welcome to my temporary studio. There is no electricity, no warmth, no running water. But..
It is a studio where I can paint larger format paintings. I brought 3 canvases over from the States, rolled into a plastic tube meant to carry fishing poles onto flights.

  I purchased an easel in Deruta, along with large tubes of oil paint, brushes, palette, etc. to equip my work space here. There is a window for light, and an extra large, warm coat I bought at the farmers market for 3 euro. So I'm happy.

Getting set to work.

  I had a local framer, Fabio, make me some stretcher bars to pin the canvas to. It works, but I plan to tighten things up more when the paintings are back home.

  Below, you can see that I will be working from a smaller painting I've already finished here. It won't be exactly the same, it's just a starting point. I've already finished 15  8x8" oil on panel paintings, which is a good start. Especially considering the weather and light have not been the best this year. Something about a late winter storm throughout just won't quit. One has to carry on, regardless. 
  I plan to have 25 completed small paintings, 3 large format paintings and I hope at least 20 small gouaches by the end of our time here. Yes, for me this is a working vacation.
  After all, I am here to be inspired.

  Dim light, but I will take what I can get. It's's great.
  I'm a lucky painter.

My large warm coat. A third layer of warmth.

  Yes, very old fashioned, it's true. But, it's still a beautiful thing, the artist working in his studio.

  Below, you can see the extendable, black paint "carrier" in the background. Also, you get an idea of the quality of light from the open windows here.

Sorry about the "cliche" beret, but it does keep my head warm!

  Laying in the colors. Everything will change over the next several days. I'm going to have to work hard, covering the whole canvas. 

  At this point, a later stage, the painting will still go through more changes. I may still work on these large paintings back home?

  A very happy Artist, below, continuing to face the challenges of creating a good painting. 
  It ain't easy, folks.

Janelle tells me I'm making quite the fashion statement.

  Below a couple of short videos of this work in progress.  Enjoy.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Painting In Gioveto

  Late winter cold makes it hard to enjoy spring and get inspired to paint.

Bundled up on our morning walk.

 Good light the last day or two, but still cool.  
 Searching for a motif in the morning light. My bag and supplies are in a cardboard box. Light and efficient, it works very well.

Sporting my new hat from the farmers market.

  One of our morning walk routes takes us through this little borgo named "Gioveto". Setting up I am pleased that there is good light today. Just the sounds of roosters and barking dogs.

  Standing to paint like this, below, requires focus and directness. 
  The painting will only take a short amount of time to actualize, I have to put in a life times worth of "feeling" into these moments.
  It becomes an ebb and flow of what to put in , what not to put in...My feelings are at the end of the brush. 
  That is it. That is what it all comes down to. 
  The painting will reveal who I am and what I have to offer in this moment.

Color, color, color.

Artist in the Landscape/Landscape in the Artist

  Distant medieval hilltop, modern times.
  What does it all mean? Only you, the viewer can decide. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Finding The Beauty

  The weather still seemed problematic, but the sun was out, with a cloudy sky and bits of blue.
  I wanted to get started on the gouaches, just because they're so much fun.

  It was also a trial run with all my new supplies, and it turns out I had a gold color instead of yellow, which didn't work for me, and I needed a different brush, and a roll of paper towels....I like to have my tools just right.
  As Leonardo di Vinci said:  
  "It's as important to prepare for painting as it is to do the painting itself." (paraphrase....).
  Too true.

Setting things up to do my first gouache for this year.

  Here is the view I will be working on, with a convenient bench, too. 
  I do love the view. The blue of Italy is, of course, different from California's coastal skies. The landscape inspires me to do beautiful things.
  I will concentrate on the far point of land jutting out at the top right of this photo, below.

There are few people around, even on a Saturday, at this time of year.

  People often ask me "How do you begin?" The answer I tell them:
  "At the beginning."
   It's as simple as that.

  Another quote I remember from my youth that has always had an impact on me...I can't remember who it is quoted from...

 "The search for Beauty is the promise of Happiness."

Of course, on the flip side of that quote is Picasso's potent statement:

"I do not search. I find."

  I hope you enjoy the video, below....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

First Umbrian Painting, 2013

  Artist in Nature's Cathedral...worshipping as only a painter can.
  It's tricky. What with the bio-trash can doing double duty as my easel.

  We were lucky to get some early morning sun. The light helps to define the subject.

  I like this painting. It's going on quick and fresh, the color is intuitive, the feeling directly from the moment.
  Learning my way...each painting is a totally new beginning. That's the exciting thing about it.

  At the cross roads of Heaven and place to be.

  It's not an easy place to be, though. The trick is to forge through and trust your talents from years of experience. 
  Oh, and the trashcan keeps me humble...

  The finished painting. Simple is always the best. A good first start for 2013. It leaves me encouraged.

  (janelle's note on the video below...color setting way off, fixed it for the next videos!!)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Inside An Artist's Mind

While sitting in a charming lakeside cafe with my lovely wife,
both enjoying a glass of wine, 
I noticed something curious through the window.
Walking outside to get a closer look,
I encountered a perfect iconic image
to express a poetic, whimsical, dreamlike visual metaphor
for this artist's Italian journey.

Keeping the dream alive
somewhere on the shores of Lago Trasimeno.

Umbria, Italy 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

More Supplies/Cortona & Deruta

  I feel so lucky to have an actual studio space on this visit to Panicale. It's a perfect spot, with gorgeous light and my favorite view of Lago Trasimeno. I can set it up the way I want, without cramping our living space and Janelle, too. When it's time to go, I will leave it as I have found it.
  The problem, although it's a fun one, is that I need to also make it work for me. It's an empty room, at this point, but I am turning it into a work space.

  With a couple more stops to art supply stores, I have most of what I need.

In Cortona, on the main street into town, I stop for lots of tubes of paint
 and also some medium here.

 The art store in Cortona is small and sweet. I have been here several times, and I am happy to pay a little bit more just to be waited on by the gentleman who runs the place.

I like it here.

Plenty of things to be tempted by.

He is one of my favorite reasons for shopping here.

  A couple of days after the trip to Cortona, we head down to Deruta, about thirty minutes south of where we are staying. I'd been told by a painter last year that this was a great source for just about anything I would need, and at good prices. 
 We both loved the first impression. What we wouldn't give to own this place, a great studio for me!

Ok, so the actual store is behind this "for sale" building, but it looks so great.
That's our little Peugeot there, too.

  Deruta is known for it's ceramics, and this shop has lots of supplies for that particular field of work. But it has plenty of everything for the studio, too. I was planning to jury-rig some kind of easel, but Janelle spotted some up high, and there was one that was the right size, and not too expensive.
  I also found more paint, some scraping tools, and little medium cups to attach to my easel.

Looking at colors available.

I bought the one with the green tag. I'm hoping I can find somewhere to stash it for next year.
Not worth the cost to try and get it home.

Supplies for making ceramics. They had a special on canvases, but I brought a huge roll with me.
I still need to stretch my own canvases.

Testing brushes.

  So before it's a done deal, we make certain we can fit the easel into the back of our tiny Peugeot. With the carton gone, and some local Italian help figuring out how to lay the back seats down, we get it all in.

Easel in the back...Done!

Time to check out and go. More tools of the trade.

  At the other end, no problem getting the easel out, and now we can load up the back with firewood...another chore that we need to cross off our list of "to do". I will probably just leave the back seats down, we seem to always be loading stuff in and out.

Can't wait to make it all work.