Our destination today was Castellini…a small town about 15 minutes by car from our home base. We took 3 vans and went to town to find nice locations to paint. I brought my good camera, a fold up stool, a backpack with a pad of Arches 140 and a small watercolor travel pad, my travel palette of watercolors, brushes, a water bottle, sun bonnet, jacket, a collapsible water holder, paper towels, sepia marker, a pencil, a black marker, and an eraser. It all fit in my rolling backpack and I definitely had everything I needed.
I took a few photos at first and tried to find a place that called to me to be painted. This one was quiet, and I had a vantage point that was in the shade without anyone around. I decided to try my hand at this. At first I did a sketch in my mini sketch book with an elegant writer marker. I then took a brush with water and made the lines bleed. This is a really fun value foundation for painting. I then added my watercolors for a little more color and the paper got a bit mushy. Once nice thing that happened is that a bunch of other students joined me in my little corner and we had fun painting together. The lady who lives there also was kind enough to hang a shirt on the line for me. I was going to have to make up some laundry so that was very fortunate. Later on, the lines above were filled with laundry too. I guess that’s what happens on sunny days in Tuscany!
When my paper began to get mushy I decided to try it again on better paper. When will I learn?! NEVER paint on anything but good paper!!! How many times have I said it to my students??? And here I am proving my point by making the same mistake yet again. Getting out my 140 Arches, I sat on my little tripod stool and drew it again. I began with pencil and then once I had my perspective lines in place, I quickly went to my sepia marker. I’m finding that I like the quality of the marks it makes much better when I’m drawing on location. The lines are better and the value is perfect. It’s a Staedler sepia marker and I just love it. Karlyn Holman is a fan, and I am too.
My back side was getting tired and the light was changing so I got up to walk around a little bit. I happened on a little boy and an elderly man…perhaps his grandpa. The little boy was blowing bubbles and it was charming. When I went back to my drawing, I thought it might be nice to put them into the scene. The student next to me had injected a dog into the little scene, and I thought that a little life might be a good idea in my street scene. So I drew the little Bubble boy and his elderly friend. My sketch was complete and it was time for lunch.
After lunch we forced ourselves to enjoy a gelato and then caught a ride back to home base. Once there, I needed a little coffee to offset the wine I had at lunch, because a few of us were going on a hike to a local villa on the next hill.
The place is owned by Dutch owners and we are able to visit without disturbing anyone. The hike to get there was about 1/2 hr, and I got the chance to spend more time with Karlyn’s co-teacher Bonnie. She is great and really a good painter and teacher. I enjoyed getting to spend more time with her today. Once we got there, I took photos, and decided to hang back to try and make a sketch of the great architecture and cool roof elements. I was able to climb up on a small hill and perch there to get a better perspective on the roof elements. I loved the weathervane and the chimnies…they were what interested me and from up on this little mound of rocks and grass I could see them better.
When you compare the next 2 photos I think you’ll see why I like to use my zoom lens. These two photos are the same sight. I zoom in on the first and don’t use a zoom on the second. The composition gets flattened when you use a zoom, and I think it lends itself to a more pleasant perspective. What do you think?
I preferred the first composition so that is what I based my drawing on. I began by placing my favorite element…the weathervane…in the upper left sweet spot of my drawing. Then I went from there. The weathervane ended up being a little larger than life…but I didn’t mind that. I got the drawing in by finding my perspective lines and big shapes in pencil, but quickly went to the Staedler pen again as soon as I felt I could. Given my experience this morning, I figured it was the best way to go fast.
Here’s the drawing without paint. Karlyn is a big proponent of laying in shadows first. The shadows were awesome at that point so I quickly mixed up some lavendars and blues and tried to capture them. The light was changing but I tried to move as quickly as I could and went from light, to medium to dark shadows. I knew that I was taking longer than expected and didn’t want to miss the critique for the end of the day’s work, so I called it a day and started to pack.
This is what my painting looked like with a few shadow forms in place.
The final blessing of the day was a silent visit from my little friend below. It was magical to share that moment with such a sweet creature. No words were exchanged….none were needed. I think he is an Italian fawn. He came at just the right moment and I was able to take a few photos. A sweet ending to a fabulous day of painting en plein aire!
|The day’s final blessing!|