Last September I had the delightful experience of touring Tuscany, Italy for
three weeks with an art group from the Beverly Street Studio School in
Staunton, Virginia. I decided to try a new medium, gouache, because of its
portability and strong, opaque qualities. We were advised to do quick, small
5"x7" pieces in primed, heavy paper. Before the trip, I filled a purse sized
notebook of gessoed pages with various undercoat colors of acrylics.
After the first few days touring Rome, I painted my first pieces in the
nearby village of Arezzo where our group enjoyed walking to a beautiful
A day trip from there was to a lovely vineyard which I couldn't resist painting, since it reminded me of my
home in Virginia.
Another fun day was had painting an overlook of Sienna: there I sat on a
stone wall and pulled out my tiny palette to quickly paint a hillside view.
Most of the others came from a breathtaking tiny village called Poppi which was an artist's dream.
The trip ended in Florence where I was taken with the
loveliness of the famous Duomo and Ponte Vecchio. And lastly,
I painted some "Italian onions" just for fun!
This is the final portrait. The last phase is really about details and contrast and taking the time to step back (literally) from the easel and viewing the piece as someone in a gallery might. I have heard that a 8-10 foot rule as a viewing distance is a good place to start.
I have often pondered how one decides when a piece is complete. I think i could really work a piece forever because depending on mood and lighting and other extraneous forces I see the piece differently every time I look at it. Sometimes I think you just need to call it because you are just fiddling around and not really making progress just changes that amount to nothing.
In the end, I have to like the piece before I let it go. The catch of course is that once I have it to that point, I dont want to let it go! ha ha. Thanks for reading and following...more artists to come.
Have a great summer!
am an oil painter in what is loosely called the modern realism style today. I love all styles of art and do not set out to exactly replicate what my subject appears to look like it just works out that way usually. My goal in general is to paint as closely as possible what i see. Painting what one sees really amounts to the right amount of medium, in the right shape, in the right color/tone at the right spot on the canvas regardless of how absurd that shape or color might seem.
I will post 4 or five times this month showing a painting from start to finish. This particular piece was at the request of the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA to do a portrait of their annual mascot a few years ago.
I paint from digital photographs as its logistically easier and i can manipulate the photos (zoom in/out), change contrast to get better detail, or adjust light to see detail that is hidden. I mostly paint on wood panels but do some canvas work as well.
I start by projecting the picture of the subject(s) on a wall and pencil sketching the subject in general terms. I try to mark the key spots so I can go back and either sketch more accurately or with more detail depending on the subject. After which I do a tonal painting with sepia to better delineate what the piece will look like and give it some depth and contrast (sepia painting shown below)
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this months postings!