Saturday, 31 August 2013

Palazzo Massimo

The photographs kinda speak for themselves - the Palazzo Massimo is beautiful.

On the top floor is Livia's room, along with other frescoes roman houses - one of which may be Agrippa's and although less stunningly breathtakingl is still quite amazing.

There are stunning mosaics, in black and white and colour, of geometrics and fanciful scenes.

Further down are statues of a quality much higher than I expected from all the "roman statues are just poor copies of the greek" stuff you read in art history books - the portraits are particularly fine and interesting.

A trip much recommended - especially as the place is lovely and cool, without all the crowds you can get in some over museums (yes, Galleria Borghese, I'm looking at you!).

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Morandi in Bologna

Last Thursday we went to Bologna - and it took five hours.

But was most definitely worth it. And I got to share the bus with Sharon and her group as well as being able to watch the lovely Tuscany landscape, so it wasn't all bad.

Once there, we went to MAMBO , which was mainly full of all the sort of stuff you see in GOMA - what is it with these capital letter acronym places? - but also had a set of rooms set aside just for Morandi. The above is some of my notes from this - fascinating stuff. Lots of ideas to steal for my next still lifes. If you ever get the chance, go. It may change your life . . . or at least your painting.

After that I wandered up to the old town. It was 41C, but all those colonnades made it comfortable even for me. There I went to the Munipical Art Collection which was quite fascinating - there wasn't really any stunning, big name stuff, but instead lots of charming very old altarpieces and icons, very competent portraits and a lovely little room at the end, painted to be like standing in the middle of a particularly well looked after wood. There is also an art gallery, but sadly I was running out of time (or so I thought) so went back to the meeting place, drank wine and chatted about the Slade School with a charming gent who knew Coldstream and Uglow amongst others. Its a hard life . . .

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Civita Castellana - The Terrano Studio Center

This is my little studio while I'm here. Stunning, no?

It is however a twenty minute walk from the old town - and my shoulder still isn't really up to carrying my painting equipment for this length of time. Oh well. So I have moved most things back up to the Palazzo and am mainly using the studio for lining up the paintings once they are done.

So far I do feel they are improving - there are so many things to learn here - not least the logistics of what to take, where to find a shady spot and so on.

Think it may well be like New York, where it wasn't really until I got home that I felt my painting really started to improve.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Civita - First Day Painting

This morning was my first day painting - these were really just little experiments to try and figure out what paints to carry with me. Everything is so much bluer here - guess I'm going to have to ditch the sap green!

Above are some drawings from yesterday as I was wandering about, getting my bearings.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Roma Day 2 - Barberini Palace

Day 2 I spent in palaces - the Barbarini , the Spada and the Corsini.

All three of them are lovely buildings - the Barberini has famous stairs, as well as a guard cat, but I think it would be the Corsini I would like to live in the most - the views looking up to woods is lovely. However, I presume the garden at the Spada down towards the Tiber must have been rather great, too - but the whole place was much pockier than the other two.

All three had lots of paintings. Lots and lots, crammed all together, mainly of saints wringing their hands/being killed or Magdalenes repenting with bare bosoms. Not to my taste but as I've said before, looking at second rate paintings can be very useful in my own painting - they are much easier to analyse as to what works and what doesn't, and why - for example, I saw two St.Francis's by Caravaggio - one in the Barberini, one at the Capuchin Crypt - and I felt that the Barberini one was preferable - it is less sharp, has more humanity and mystery to it - and was pleased to note that the scientists agree. And this is something I need to remember when painting - lack of definition can be a good thing (his hands, for example, have a clearer junction between the fingers in the copy than in the original.)

If you can only go to one of these places, choose the Barberini. The Corsini was nice, had some lovely stuff including one of Rubens heads, but the Barberini has a nice Caravaggio or two. As well as few more stunners - and I never got to see floor 2, so there may well be even more than I saw.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Roma Day 1 - Capitoline Museum

And finally I've arrived.

Pretty knackered after all that hanging about airports (it was a ten hour journey from my house to the hotel) so decided to go wandering towards the Capitoline Museum . The walk was shorter than I expected - seems the center of Rome really isn't very big - so I got to enjoy a couple of hours there. It was very quiet, especially up with the paintings, which was great for me as I could get very close and really peer at them - something the guards (who were both more stylish and more numerous than the tourists) seemed quite happy for me to do. The selection is limited and almost all bible themed but getting a close look at a maybe Velazquez partially finished self portrait and an early Caravaggio alone would have made the trip worthwhile. Was also very taken with the dragon in Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo's Portrait of a Woman - a very early photo bomb?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

JSS in Civita Residency

As you may have gathered by now, I'm off to Italy.

This is for a residency for two weeks with The Jerusalem Studio School , or JSS for short. They have been going there every summer for quite a while as Israel Hershberg who runs the school felt that his students needed more access to some of the masterpieces of western art - an awful lot of which hang out in Italy. For the last few years the school has settled on Civita Castellana , a town an hour or so north of Rome and not far from the road to Florence. Naples, Sienna, Bologna, Arrezo, San Seplochro and Urbino are also all on the excursion list - the two planned trips when I am there are Florence and Bologna.

This is the first year there has been residents - and the first year Terrano Studio Center has been open. So its quite an honour for me - especially as one of my co-residents is the amazing David Kassan who has been busy wetting my appetite over the last few weeks with his postings on facebook.

Also there will be students and teachers of the masterclass and also there are the students of the affiliate group run by Sharon Sandberg who is an american painter of lovely, calm still lifes. So, plenty folks - all of whom are representational painters. I'm guessing most will be oil painters like myself and most will be concentrating on landscape (also like myself!). This will be a first for me - even in life drawing there tends to be few oil painters - and I am really looking forward to talking to everyone else and seeing how they work. Lets just hope I don't spend so much time gassing I don't actually do any painting!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

What Paints I Am Taking For Plein Air Painting

As mentioned in my last post, I have decided to take a more limited range of paints this time - partly because paints are heavy, partly because I prefer working with a limited range of colours per painting and partly because I did a workshop last time that had an very long list of required paints - this time, I get to make my own mind up!

So how have I done that, bearing in mind that I have done very little landscape painting (as I intend mainly to do) and I expect Italian landscapes will be little different from Scottish ones?

Well, firstly I looked at the recommended list provided by JSS and also the post discussing Isreal Hershberg's palette, which is essentially the same but has more detail.

Then I set all these colours apart and painted only with them for the last month. If I felt it was necessary to add a colour, I did so - and so decided on eight more tubes, which you can see circling the rest. Most of these were added when I was painting skin - as I might do some of this while away - as well as Sap Green and Black, as these are colours I have found useful for painting scottish landscapes.

A couple are missing which are on the recommended list - Provence Violet and Cadmium Green - and I may buy them once there. Titanium White is also missing - I haven't yet decided whether to get some there, as I could easily go through a small tube in two weeks, or persist with my lovely Flake White, which I have instead of the Cremnitz.

So what are the colours? Flake White, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Indian Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Windsor Violet, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, Emerald Green, Cadmium Green Light and Raw Umber. To which I have added Brilliant Yellow Light, Old Holland Half Burnt Yellow Ochre, Vasari Rosebud, Scarlet Sienna, Video Blue Extra Pale, King's Blue Deep, Sap Green and Ivory Black.

Will report back how I found these - most of the green's at least are new to me!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Preparing For An Art Residency

Well, as I may have mentioned before, I'm off to Italy next week for a residency with the Jerusalem Studio School summer programme.

Being both an organised (ish) type, and super busy this coming week, I have started packing today - the above shows what I am taking, minus the laptop and the camera. Inside the suitcase, along the bottom, is about 20 prepared panels - I just hope they are enough. So far it weighs about 15 kilos, so will be able to acquire a few bits and bobs while I'm there. I had a bit of a hard time of it coming back from New York - I hadn't realised the monday I was flying back was a bank holiday, and I therefore pretty much had to carry a lot more than I had planned to - as the post office was shut. My suitcase then was right at the limit of 23kg - plus a laptop bag and an overnight bag carried as hand luggage. The total weight must have been close to half my weight . . . an experience I will be glad not to repeat.

This time around I am wanting to really focus on oil painting. Over the last few wee while I have been playing around with limited palettes and I have narrowed it down to 23 colours - still quite a range! - and will buy titanium white once I'm there. My pochade box, which has a small palette inside. As the shoulder surgery was fairly recent I am planning on sitting on the ground most of the time - so I don't have an easel. Turps and oil will be provided by JSS - which is just as well as you can't take them on flights anyway - Making A Mark has a useful page about transporting art materials. My fountain pen is going and I am thinking about taking along some charcoal as well as watercolour pans or tubes and pencils for making tonal studies - these, along with a waterbrush, are very transportable and can be used in the moleskin.

So, what else am I taking? Behind the box is all the clothes that are going - including a very large man's shirt with inbuilt UV protection that I am planning on painting in. There are some advantages to being short! There is a huge sunhat as well - and I'll buy loads of sunscreen once I'm there. The spotty thing is a very lightweight raincoat - I've learnt that sunshine means thunder storms . . . The only shoes are two pairs of nike free TR fit shoes - shocking pink and black - which are the most comfy, blister-free shoes I've ever had. Sadly, there are no heels. None.

The Kindle is a must - as is my shuffle and a trusty moleskin or two - I love these, as they function as a diary, a place to write lists and details of hotels/phone numbers etc and a place to draw both when waiting and more formally. Pretty much everything else will be bought over there (including, probably, a kettle so I can make a brew).

So, have I missed anything? Any advice?

Friday, 9 August 2013

Studio In Use

Finally, a pic of the studio in use. Apologies for not posting this earlier, but it has been a tough couple of months.

Two weeks after I moved into the studio, I had an op on my right shoulder - my painting arm. I couldn't drive for a couple of weeks and was plenty tired so didn't make it in very much. Then I got to the studio, tried to paint standing up at the easel and had to give up after half an hour. But what a half hour! There and then I decided never to go back to crouching over my paintings . . .

So since then I have gradually been increasing the length of time I can paint before my arm starts cramping (presently, about fifty minutes, but repeatable with ten minute breaks for most of the day) and have been working on finishing all the paintings lying around, as well as starting a couple of little ones in time for the open studio in October.

Next week I'm off to a residency in Italy with the Jerusalem Studio School , which I'll tell you all about on Sunday. After that I aim to paint big.