Hyland Park, No.2, 2013, oil on linen, 12 x 9 inchesI took a short last minute trip to Hartford last weekend for mother's day, and as it turns out we had a beautiful sunny and hot Friday. Spring has been mostly cold, and on that day it was the first time we reached eighty degree weather. It would be a sin to stay in and read a book or watch TV, of course I had to go out and paint, to my luck I don't have to walk far from my parents' home. Less than a block away there's a little park called Hyland, mostly consisting of baseball fields, but to the side there's a rocky hill that faces the street where my parents live. It felt good to paint outdoors again, but man was I rusty! It took a while to get the hang of it, but in the end I'm happy with this little painting.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Crescent Beach, 2013, oil on linen, 10 x 17 inchesThis is my most recent painting which I started only a week ago, I was not expecting to work this fast but it happened. The main reason for this painting was to explore Marc Dalessio's plein air palette, which is very limited and of high chroma. I had taken notes on his palette a long time ago, I love the vibrancy of his paintings and I am amazed at the amount of different mixtures he's able to get with his it. On a late night I began work on this beach scene and the new colors had me hooked. I think working with this color palette helped the painting attain a sense of light and air I haven't seen on my work before. I am very pleased with the result and I think this summer I will try to use this new palette more often on my plein air paintings.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Central Park Path, 2013, watercolor on paper, 10 x 6 3/4 inchesTurned out to be a warm beautiful day yesterday, and what a better way to spend it than to walk around Central Park among the blooming trees. I will be doing more plein air watercolor this spring, I would really like to become more comfortable with the medium and loosen up, hoping this will allow my oil paintings to become more fluid. To be honest I don't know how I feel about this specific watercolor, but what the hell, Rome wasn't built in one day. I'll have to keep trying until I get the results I'm looking for. More to come.
Friday, April 12, 2013
my visit to St. Maarten, where sunshine, water and sand inspired me to work with it.
Kremer watercolor sets, which I took apart and divided the colors into blues and greens, yellow-reds, and earth tones.
Kremer watercolor sets, which I took apart and divided the colors into blues and greens, yellow-reds, and earth tones.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
John Singer Sargent, The Bridge of Sighs, about 1903-04, translucent and opaque watercolor with graphite and red pigmented underdrawing, 9 15/16 x 14 inches, Brooklyn Museum, New YorkA much anticipated exhibition, John Singer Sargent Watercolors opened this Friday at the Brooklyn Museum, and without a doubt it met every expectation and more. Four large rooms filled with 102 works by the artist, most of them watercolor, will surely please and amaze visitors. This exhibit brings together for the first time two collections from the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, respectively. In the long and successful career of the artist, Sargent only participated in only two watercolor exhibitions in the United States. The first show took place in 1909 in New York and Boston, and the Brooklyn Museum bought it as a whole. The second exhibition took place in 1912 and its entire content was purchased by the MFA. As the catalog accompanying the current exhibition states, "together they trace Sargent's path across Europe and the Middle East as he explored the subjects and themes that habitually attracted his attention: sunlight on stone, reclining figures, patterns of light and shadow."
John Singer Sargent, All'Ave Maria, about 1902-4, translucent and opaque watercolor, 10 x 14 1/16 inch, Brooklyn Museum, New YorkSoon as you walk in to the exhibition you are greeted by three watercolors which show Sargent's mastery of landscape, figure, and still life. One of those pieces is Mountain Fire, below, a stunning almost abstract arrangement of blues and warm pinks depicting one of many mountain scenes in the show. This was a very difficult piece to look away from, I have to say I was mesmerized and this was only the beginning of the exhibition.
John Singer Sargent, Mountain Fire, about 1906-7, opaque and translucent watercolor, 14 1/16 x 20 inches, Brooklyn Museum, New YorkIt is hard to say what part of the exhibition I liked most, all of Sargent's watercolors on display are masterpieces of luminous color and confident strokes of genius. If I were to choose, the first room had me at hello! In this first part of the exhibition the viewer is presented with visions of Venice, a subject that was painted by Sargent more often than any other. The beauty of a mystical place like Venice combined with Sargent's bravado create a symphony that is sure to send you spinning and dancing in the gallery. I know it sounds like a cliche but that's how I felt, I kept moving from one piece to another and then going back, it was a constant back and forth, side to side dance that had me smiling from ear to ear.
John Singer Sargent, Boboli Gardens, about 1906, translucent and opaque watercolor with graphite underdrawing, 10 x 14 inches, Brooklyn Museum, New YorkPerhaps what came as a surprise to me was finding out about Sargent's use of opaque watercolor applications. To watercolor purists the white of the paper is what is used to show highlights, you're supposed to paint around these areas which for anyone not well experienced in the medium can be difficult to do. Sargent used thick applications of white watercolor paint and it would sometimes be mixed or glazed over with other colors. Most highlights were achieved using this technique, as an example, in the painting above Sargent used thick white and yellow to get the sun spots on the ground at the bottom left. Opaque white watercolor was also mixed to create misty effects, specially when painting some of the mountain scenes. His approach to watercolor was very similar to the way one approaches oil painting which I connected with immediately.
John Singer Sargent, Bedouins, 1905-6, opaque and translucent watercolor, 18 x 12 inches, Brooklyn Museum, New York
John Singer Sargent, Corner of the Church of St. Stae, Venice, about 1913, oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 22 inches, Private CollectionAs part of the exhibition some works on canvas were included as well, most of them executed during the same period and at the same places the watercolors focused on. I can't denny that I wasn't excited to see some oils, some of them very well known works I've never had the chance to see. Take the painting above as an example, a beautiful Venetian painting in private hands. I found it incredible how the oil paintings were treated in a fluid, watercolor like manner. Some of that technique is most apparent in the elements describing the structure of the white building on the right.
John Singer Sargent, Villa di Marlia, Lucca: A Fountain, 1910, translucent and opaque watercolor and wax resist with graphite underdrawing, 15 7/8 x 20 7/8 inches, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
John Singer Sargent, Pomegranates, 1908, opaque and translucent watercolor with graphite underdrawing, 21 1/2 x 14 3/8 inches, Brooklyn Museum, New York
John Singer Sargent, Simplon Pass: The Lesson, about 1911, translucent and opaque watercolor and wax resist with graphite underdrawing, 15 1/16 x 18 1/8 inches, Museum of Fine Arts, BostonOne of the great things about this exhibition is the amount of attention placed on Sargent's technique. Throughout the galleries, small video screens show a watercolor artist recreating nearby paintings like a step by step tutorial of how anyone, if interested, can achieve some of the same effects. Xray and infrared imagery also helped dissect some of the pieces, revealing Sargent's secrets.
John Singer Sargent, Villa di Marlia, Lucca, 1910, translucent and opaque watercolor and wax resist with graphite underdrawing, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
John Singer Sargent, Gondoliers' Siesta, 1902-3, watercolor and ink, 14 x 20 inches, Private CollectionTrying to put this show in words has been a difficult task, nothing can describe how overwhelmingly beautiful each painting is. One visit is not enough, there is so much to take in and if you're a fan of Sargent's work then this show will capture your heart and send you spinning off your axis.
John Singer Sargent, Santa Maria della Salute, 1904, translucent and opaque watercolor with graphite underdrawing, 18 3/16 x 23 inches, Brooklyn Museum, New York
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Goose Rocks Beach, 2013, oil on linen, 18 x 24 inchesSooner than expected I put the finishing touches on this painting. Honestly I didn't think I would ever complete it since I had started work on it close to two years ago on a smaller canvas. The proportions were more square, and after a while something about it didn't seem right, and so I put it away, unfinished, looking sad like an unwanted child against the corner. As part of my new year's resolution to finish paintings I had started long ago, and believe me there are many, I set the small canvas on the easel and it hit me right away that I was trying jam everything in the wrong canvas. Well there goes another painting to the trash! Before trashing it, I had made up my mind that the painting needed to be restarted on a fresh canvas with the right proportions. I think it was the best choice since everything about this specific piece became more enjoyable to work on after that. Now it's time to keep plowing and finish other paintings that are patiently waiting in line.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Sophia, 2013, oil on panel, 14 x 11 inchesIt has been two months since I've updated this blog, but this doesn't mean that I haven't been working. As a matter of fact I started three new paintings since January, one of which is almost close to completion. In the mean time I wanted to share this alla prima portrait of my six month old niece, Sophia. This little angel has brought so much light and happiness to the homes of my sister and my parents because of her lively, happy personality. Already at six months she shows a strong character, and this is what I wanted to capture in this quick portrait. Painting a baby was perhaps the most challenging kind of work I've done so far. You can not instruct a baby to sit still and pose for you, that would be too ideal, and since we don't live in an ideal world I had to work quickly, even more so than plein air painting. It took a total of three sessions to complete, the first session of about an hour I dedicated all my effort in sketching out her features and establishing the values. In the second session, which I had to work from memory, the goal was to flesh out the skin tones and try to keep it loose. The third session was all about finishing touches and adjusting the colors. I am looking forward to more portraits of Sophia as she grows up, I guess this little princes now has her own court painter. More to come!
Sunday, February 03, 2013
Through the years I have heard good and bad stories from artist who traveled with oil paint. It always seems to bee luck of the draw weather or not oil paint can be confiscated by airport staff and there seems to be lack of clarity as to what the rules are. One thing is for sure though, you are not to travel with anything that's considered flammable, this includes mediums containing turpentine, mineral spirits, and things of that nature. Through my research I came across a few good pointers that will help any artist traveling with their precious cargo of paint.
It is always good to be prepared with proper documentation, in this case Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) can be of great help. Most paint makers will have this information on their website ready to download, if they don't you may have to contact them directly and request them. In these sheets it may help to locate the area where the flashpoint is listed. All liquids with a flashpoint of 140 degrees F or bellow are considered flammable. "Artists grade oil colors," Gamblin says, "are based on vegetable oil with a flashpoint above 550 degrees F. They are not hazardous." Packing oil colors, as I learned from Plein Air Magazine's web posting, is very important. Each tube needs to be individually placed in a ziploc bag, but I had to make due with what I had and wrapped each tube in sandwich bags.
After all your colors are carefully wrapped, it is suggested that they go inside a bigger ziploc back, all this wrapping prevents paint from getting on all your clothes inside the suitcase in case they become punctured. I on the other hand, have this neat carrying case designed to hold twenty four tubes of paint. This Tran Oil Paint Carrier has become one of my best purchases for plein air painting. It holds all tubes in place while allowing some padding, and it minimizes the amount of weight I have to carry. Wooden paint boxes can be hard to travel with, even in short distances.
This paint carrier can be purchased at Soho Art Materials, believe me it will be a life saver due to its portability...you can pop it inside your back pack and off you go!
Once the tubes were packed neatly in the carrier, I folded the MSDS and stuck it on the front with a note stating that they were artists colors in vegetable oil. It was very important not to mention the word "paint" because apparently this can raise a red flag with the airlines. As you can see above, it turned out to be a neat little package.
Paints should be checked in along with your brushes, according to a friend his brushes were taken away from his carry on at the airport because they were considered to be weapons. Same goes for palette knives and perhaps canvas clips, and anything that's metal like and sharp. Best thing to do is to pack light and take the supplies that you really need. Once you arrive at your destination you can purchase thinner and mediums from the local art supply shop. In my carry on the only thing I had were the linen panels I had prepared, my wood palette, sketchbook, and pens.
Upon arrival everything was assembled back in my back pack, my loyal friend, which I've had since I was nineteen years old. This bag has been one of my greatest investments, it contains so many compartments that makes it easy to carry all my painting gear comfortable.
Even after these preparations, it is not a guaranteed that your supplies won't be confiscated, but it does lower the possibility. I guess a little wishing and praying after your bags have been checked can go a long way, I know I did, and to my surprised all my my materials made it to Colorado and back to NYC...success!!!! Below are a few links to some of the sources I found online:
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Snow on Durango Mountain, 2013, oil on linen mounted on panel, 12 x 9 inchesI'm back from my Colorado trip; the plan was to do some painting in Durango, where the scenery was incredible, but luck had it that soon after I got there the weather turned very uncooperative. It rained and snowed, and if that wasn't enough there was a thick fog in the area, blocking all visibility of the mountains. I was able to find shelter on Durango Mountain Resort, while people skied I worked on the painting above. It may look like a grisaille but it's not. There are five colors in this painting, but due to the falling snow and fog everything appeared grey. There was a great absence of color that day, everything was lit evenly due to the lack of direct sunlight, frustrating me a little because I really wanted to use color. I tried to push blues in some areas but had to keep it to a minimum because if I went too far I would have lost the mood of the day. After freezing my fingers and feet what I got in return is a grey painting, a runny nose, and a cough that gives me a headache. Next time I think I'll try to paint the mountains in the summer.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Snow in the Backyard, 2013, oil on linen, 12 x 9 inchesI spent three days in Connecticut this weekend fulfilling my duties as an uncle; however, this didn't keep me from getting some painting done, and as you can see CT received some snow last week. I was going to brave it out in the cold in the backyard but my point of view from the ground wasn't giving me what I was looking for. In I went and set up in front of the sunroom window where I could see things from a hight perspective, allowing me to catch more of the blue shadows on the snow. This is my first winter scene, perhaps not a masterpiece but a nice little study I'm proud of. This is a nice lead way to what I'll be painting in the next few days in Durango, CO. Yes, I will be doing some more winter scenes and this time I will actually be out in the open, in the frigid dry cold of Colorado. More to come!