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Monday, December 26, 2011

Water, Color

Some Thoughts on Process....

Plein air being a rather intense experience, I am not in the habit of methodically documenting my work as it evolves over the roughly two hours it takes to walk away with something credible. But a few months back I was working on a watercolor of a familiar subject as a model for my students, and having begun a version that I soon noted had some problems with the proportions of the parts in drawing, I abandoned it and began a new one; so here you’ll find the abandoned version, which might be useful to see what I start with—sky and the most saturated areas in this case—and how it all winds up. For me one of the critical things in this view of the Palatine Hill from across the Circus Maximus is the variegation of the brickwork, from the differentiation in color of the voussoirs that make the arches to the places where the brick has been rubbed/chipped away. Since the last thing I do is introduce the shadows—in the end perhaps the most critical thing—I want to get the proper color and texture of the material “right” before the shadows go one. So I often start with the strongest or most saturated areas of local color first, and from there work toward the more subtle and neutral ones.

Also, note the sky as the negative space of the form....

Happy New Year to everyone, and to those who labor in the open air, particularly in Italy,

Buon lavoro.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Revisiting Civita Castellana

Una Pausa

Castellaccio, from the Ponte Clementino
As the weather gets lets conducive (along with the academic calendar) I’ve retreated indoors and onto a series of studio painting and design projects, but in the meantime it might be nice to revisit warmer weather and a different environment: Civita Castellana (northern Lazio) in May of this past year. I’ve been told there will be a show of foreign artists’ plein air paintings around Civita in the Fall of 2012, as a way to promote the region which was such an important destination for plein air painters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially Corot. Posted here are some subjects of theirs that I painted, and which for all practical purposes remain unchanged. One will be recognizable as the painting on my pochade box at the head of the blog….

Regarding materials, the two tufa subjects are on prepared archival canvas boards, both primed with a burnt siena/umber ground; the one behind the Forte Sangallo is on stretched canvas, primed with a higher key ochre ground.

Vignale, near Corot's old hotel
behind the Forte Sangallo (morning)