My trip to Italy was a wonderful adventure that I am still reliving. I have painted several studio pieces using photos taken during that October 2008 trip and plan to paint several more.
We stumbled upon this tranquil scene as we walked from the Villa Borghese Museum through the adjacent park. The astounding variety of autumn colors was duplicated in the waters reflection, but the fascinating part about painting this was discovering just how many different greens there really are to choose from. Blue/green to gray/green to yellow/green to orange/green; all where in the surrounding trees and vegetation.
"Along the Appian Way" is a driveway directly off the original part of the road dating back to Roman times. The large blocks of black stone are very uneven on this stretch of the Appian Way and the cars slow down to a crawl over the bumps. I almost missed this beautiful tree lined entry as I dodged several cars who drove up on the sidewalk, hoping to avoid the rough roadway.
But it was the light that stopped me. The hazy late afternoon light was further diffused by the ancient trees. The soft glow at the end of the lane called for weary travelers to come home. Can't you imagine an ancient Roman villa just around the corner.
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My goal was to capture the mood, as I remember it, from my trip to Italy. Pitigliano was the first hill town we visited and walking down the dark, narrow streets I come across this couple silhouetted against the reflected light in the background. The scene stopped me in my tracks. It was a moment that typified the charm and timeless quality of Tuscany. I immediately understood the unique quality of light that is Italy's attraction for so many artists. The luminous light is inspiring. I have done my best to capture that mood and feeling. Comment on or Share this Article →
My painting continues on the Pitigliano Street scene. Today, I worked on the left buildings and the iron lamp. I didn't make the paint too heavy on this side so that it allows the eye to skip down the street and not get caught on the way. I added shadows and highlights to the figures and kept the outlines soft.
One of the many things I learned at Johanna Spink's demonstration was to look at your painting with a mirror. She paints portraits and finds this to be very helpful when evaluating her sketch. This technique will really make those small errors in perspective stand out and allow me to fine tune any small problems.
Almost finished. Comment on or Share this Article →
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I have started the canvas painting from the Pitigliano Street photo taken in Italy. Because the perspective is so important, I spent a little time mapping out the scene on the canvas before I started to put the color down. The top picture shows the very start before I placed in the values over the initial sketch.
As I was painting in the color, I tried to go back to Italy to remember my impression of the scene with the glowing light at the end of the street. I may have to darken some of the areas but I would rather leave them a little too light and add dark to them later. When you start with an area that is too dark it is difficult to lighten the color without making it look flat or chalky.
The second picture shows my painting with the major shapes in place. The application is still very light with only a few hints at the detail to come.
The second step of the Pitigliano street scene was to paint a color study. Since I had already worked out the perspective in the sketch, I concentrated on the colors and values in this small study. The reflected light was very strong on the buildings to the left, but the golden light at the end of the street was really the star. The street itself also had reflected light but needed to be quite dark to set off the rest of the painting. Next, I will paint this on a large canvas so keep posted.Comment on or Share this Article →
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One of the many beautiful recurring themes in my photos from Italy are the old, narrow streets of the hill towns. Remembering my mission is to capture the "Luminous Light," I culled through my photos for the images I thought best represented this idea.
I decided on a scene from Pitigliano of a couple walking down a darkened street toward a sun-lite building. My first step was to do a black and white pencil sketch. Working out the perspective and angles of the buildings was a crucial, problem solving step. I had to adjust a number of things to make the scene work. In my first sketch, the people where too far into the street and too big, so I moved them closer to the foreground. Second, the angle of the row of buildings on the left was not correct and needed to be stepper. Last, I darkened the street so that the light hitting the far building really stood out.
Next step, a color study.
Mountain Lanscape with the Road to Naples by Jean-Charles-Joseph Remond
Study of Clouds with a Sunset near Rome by Simon Alexandre-Clement Denis
It is amazing how the things we need come to us. I needed a theme for my Italy paintings, to clarify my intent. I was mulling over what it was I wanted my paintings to say when a lecture at the Getty caught my attention.
The Getty Museum hosts different events that I have wanted to attend but never have, so I was excited to sit in on a lecture titled "Nature as It Is, or Ought to Be." The discussion revolved around many new acquisitions and the current exhibition "Sur le motif: Painting in Nature."
The paintings are small landscapes done in a new style, sur le motif or outside. These are the forerunners of the Impressionist who revolted against tradition and painted outside in nature. I was happy to hear that many of these early French outdoor painters were first inspired by the extraordinary lighting of Italy. The jewels of this exhibit have a luminous quality (see the photos) that show an almost spiritual view of nature. They took this influence home with them and infused it into their landscapes of the French countryside.
I realized I had my theme for my Italy painting. "The Luminous Light"
With all my travel news I have neglected my painting so here is a scene from the Appian Way in Italy. Although a simple setting, it has all the elements I love, wonderful light, texture and that human touch. The side door was barred by a potting table and plants. Perhaps the occupants would open the door and work on their plants, enjoying the view of the hills. The sun was low in the west and reflecting off the pillar to the right. The plants aglow. The subtle colors and texture of the building really set off the lush greens.