Extracurricular Activities

Since the program at the Florence Academy of Art has started, things have been very busy at school. I promise to write a longer update on my work and education as soon as the holidays start, as there is a lot to report on and not much free time for extracurricular activities.

Yet, despite the very concentrated and intense schedule, I have promised my self to continue painting  as much as time allows. This is not only in order to test how my increased ability to draw informs my painting skills, but also in order to keep thinking in terms of color and to take the needed break from the black and white world (of graphite, charcoal and paper) that I live in when I’m at school. In addition, I find that the ability to paint is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. So, I didn’t want to risk undoing all the work that I have done thus far in the painting sphere by focusing purely on drawing.

For all these reasons, I have continued to paint as much as I could along side my school and here I wanted to share with you the products of my extracurricular work from the past two months.

I hope you enjoy!

 

After the Rain. Watercolor, 9 x 12 in.

After the Rain. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

Stilllife with Quinces, Plum and Grapes. Watercolor, 12 x 16 in.

Still Life with Quinces, Plum and Grapes. 12 x 16 in, Watercolor.

 

Orchids. Oil on Panel, 20 x 30 cm.

Orchids. 20 x 30 cm, Oil on Panel.

 

Flowers from the Garden. 22 x 25 cm, Watercolor.

Flowers from the Garden. 22 x 25 cm, Watercolor.

 

Sunday. 22 x 25 cm, Watercolor.

Sunday. 22 x 25 cm, Watercolor.

 

Chiesa di San Lorenzo. 22 x 25 cm, Watercolor.

Chiesa di San Lorenzo. 22 x 25 cm, Watercolor.

 

In the Garden. 23 x 33 cm, Watercolor.

In the Garden. 23 x 33 cm, Watercolor.

 

Dried Poppy Pods. 10 x 14 in, Watercolor.

Dried Poppy Pods. 10 x 14 in, Watercolor.

 

Palette Knives. 20 x 30 cm, Oil on Panel.

Palette Knives. 20 x 30 cm, Oil on Panel.

 

Garden Roses. 22 x 25 cm, Watercolor and Gouache.

Garden Roses. 22 x 25 cm, Watercolor and Gouache.

 


Recent Paintings and Drawings from Tuscany

As our move to Florence is getting closer, a visit to Tuscany was due in order to do some house hunting. We were very lucky to have found ourselves a beautiful new home, as well as profit from the beauty of the Tuscan summer. There was not a lot of time to paint, but I tried to get the most out of this visit to the Chianti region, as I find the colours and light to be just right this time of the year.

On this trip, in addition painting with watercolors and doing one drawing in graphite pencil, I decided to experiment a bit with pastels – a medium I like quite a bit, but have used only a couple of times before. I thought this would be a good occasion to do some more work with pastels, since we were travelling by car and I had no weight limitations.

Also, knowing that as of this October I will be working only in charcoal and pencil at the Florence Academy of Art, I feel the need to explore different media at this stage and see what they have to offer.

Overall, drawing with pastels was a lot of fun. It’s a rather straightforward material to work with, it’s not too messy and things tend to move at quite a fast pace when using it. Even more so if one does not sharpen their pastels, which I decided not to as I was more interested in the light and color effects then the precision in my drawing.

What I enjoyed the most when working with pastels is that you can apply them in layers and change things as you go. So, compared to watercolors, they are much easier to handle, in my opinion.

What I didn’t enjoy as much about pastels is that the end result seems to be quite fragile. Because of their chalky nature, one needs to use a fixative on top of a finished drawing. Asides from the fact that it smells like cancer in a bottle, fixative seems to darken a tiny bit the overall colors and never really seems to ‘fix’ a drawing completely – at least not the one I was using. Namely, even after applying it in several goes vertically and horizontally, I would still get some residue of pastels on my finger when I tapped it lightly on the drawing.

I am also not sure if I would recommend pastels for painting outdoors – one of my drawings got pretty damaged by just a few drops of rain and another when the paper on which it was drawn got bended by the wind. So, I repeat – pretty fragile stuff. Other than that, a lot of fun to work with.

To cut the long story short, here are the results of the past weeks’ efforts – starting with the watercolors, followed by a graphite pencil drawing and concluding with a small series of pastel drawings.

Damigiane. 25 x 28 cm, Watercolor and Gouache.

Damigiane. 25 x 28 cm, Watercolor and Gouache.

 

Wild flowers. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

Wild Flowers. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

Noce from la Torricella. 20 x 27 cm, Watercolor.

Noce from la Torricella. 20 x 27 cm, Watercolor.

 

Pomegranate flower. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

Study of a Pomegranate Flower. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

 

Sunflower. 25 x 28 cm, Watercolor.

Sunflower. 25 x 28 cm, Watercolor.

 

Peaches. 10 x 14 in, Watercolor.

Peaches. 10 x 14 in, Watercolor.

 

Portrait of Marc. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

Portrait of Marc. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

 

Tuscan garden. 21 x 30 cm, Pastels.

Tuscan Garden. 21 x 30 cm, Pastels.

 

Wild flowers. 21 x 30 cm, Pastels.

Wild Flowers. 21 x 30 cm, Pastels.

 

Bistecca Fiorentina. 21 x 30 cm, Pastels.

Bistecca Fiorentina. 21 x 30 cm, Pastels.

 

Cipolle. 21 x 30 cm, Pastels.

Cipolle. 21 x 30 cm, Pastels.

 


Glazing an Oil Painting

Recently, I learned how to glaze an oil painting, so I wanted to share with you experience. Now, let me first explain very briefly what glazing means. Glazing stands for a procedure usually performed at the middle to final stages of an oil painting, which essentially consists in applying a thin layer of oil paint broken down with lots medium and turpentine over the existing layer of dry oil paint. It is done in order to subtly alter the color effect and add translucence to specific portions of an oil painting.

For reasons yet unknown to me, glazing an oil painting seems to be a somewhat controversial issue in the fine art painting circles. While some think it should never be done, others argue it is the best thing ever. Personally, I like the effects that glazing can create – mainly getting a glow in the color that can’t be achieved with direct painting. So, after being shown how to do it, I have decided to try it on a small section of one of my own recent paintings.

Specifically, in my recent painting of Peruvian lilies, previously featured on this blog, I glazed a lead white highlight. I wanted it to get that glowing yellowish-white effect we see when light hits a copper tone metal surface. In other words, I wanted the previously purely white highlight to get a subtle yellow glow that would make the highlight look more natural. So, I glazed my highlight with a touch of cadmium yellow light and Roman ochre, mixed with a generous amount of medium and turpentine. Here’s the short video of the process:

First, I dipped my brush in the medium (a mix of sun-thickened linseed oil and Canada balsam) and put a small amount on the palette. Then, I dipped the brush into turpentine and added a small amount to the medium already on the palette. I then proceeded to add a smidgen of oil paint to the previously made mix of medium and turps. Once satisfied with the color and transparency of my glaze, I applied it to the highlight.

As you can see, glazing is quite straightforward. The important thing though is that you glaze over dry paint. You should allow your painting to dry for at least 6 months before glazing it. Doing it over a perfectly dried painting not only prevents the muddying of the underlying paint, but also allows you to reverse the process if you don’t like its outcome. You can do that by simply wiping off your glaze with a clean tissue or a paper towel. It’s a simple as that.

 


Recent Paintings and Drawings

In the past few weeks, the road has taken us to North Carolina, South Carolina and New York. We’ve been very lucky with the weather, surrounded by beautiful scenery and friendly folks all along. All this has been inductive to producing some more artwork, which I’d like to share with you here.

Asides from landscape painting en plain air and painting of still lives indoors, I also did some graphite drawings both outside and inside, depending on the subject matter. While I typically start my watercolors by drawing with graphite first and then painting over it, in case of my recent drawings, I started by prepping the paper with a wash of watercolor and then drew on top of that. I found this reversal of process to be quite refreshing and fun.

So, here are the results of some of my recent efforts, in mixed media – starting with plein air paintings, followed by still lives and concluding with the drawings.

 

Charleston Backyard. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

Terracotta Pots. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

By the Toogoodoo River. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

By the Toogoodoo River. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

 

Sunset on the Toogoodoo River, 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

Sunset on the Toogoodoo River, 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

 

Ashe Point Farm. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

Ashe Point Farm. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

Roosters. 7 x 12 in, Watercolor.

Roosters. 7 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

Scarecrow. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor and Gouache.

Scarecrow. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor and Gouache.

 

Feathers. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

Feathers. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

 

Magnolia Blossom, 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

Magnolia Blossom, 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

A Bowl of Freesia. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

A Bowl of Freesia. 7 x 10 in, Watercolor.

 

 Woodcock. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

Woodcock. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

The Mallard. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

The Mallard. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

Bufflehead. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

Bufflehead. 9 x 12 in, Watercolor.

 

Self Portrait. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

Self Portrait. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

 

Old Oak. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

Old Oak. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

 

Young Oak. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

Young Oak. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

 

Catalpa Tree. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

Catalpa Tree. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

 

Copy of Leonardo da Vinci's Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.

Copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist. 9 x 12 in, Graphite on Paper.