In six months we will be in Italy. In a way, it seems a long time into the future, but in another way, it's very close. Time passes so quickly, especially when the schedule is hectic (and when isn't it?), six months is nothing.
So, in addition to thinking about Italy, reading guidebooks, and making plans, I've been going through files of photos from previous trips and workshops, and painting Italy. I am always amazed when I look at my photo files just how rich that country is, and how many photos I have. The location where I took the photos used for reference for this painting is one good example—I shot about 150 photos over two visits there, and many of them are excellent painting references.
This painting began as a demonstration for my Saturday class at the New Mexico Art League. Yesterday's class was Week #11 of the 12-week session, and our subject was architectural elements.
There were two rounded pots in between the rectangular ones, and the upper one had a scrawny, barely living tree in it. I decided to replace it with a geranium from another photo taken the same day on the property.
I wanted to paint the plants loosely and freely, so I put them in place very quickly. The geranium got a little more attention, with some definition of leaves and flower bunches. I continued to work on it off and on through the afternoon, between visits to my students' easels and talking about their paintings, and breaking for lunch. And then the class was over and it was time to go home.
|Belli Fiori, 20x16, ©Maggie Price|
I like painting buildings in Europe and Britain because they are often old, falling down, and have crooked lines. But the chimney bothered me. I straightened it up quite a bit (it's not perfect, after all, given its advanced age) and studied the painting some more. And I decided the olive trees behind the buildings on the top right had to go. The two tree trunks appeared to be growing out of the rooftop. With everything else going on in this composition, I didn't need the viewer's attention to be pulled up to the convoluted trunks and silvery leaves.
I turned the painting upside down and brushed them off with my foam brush. I replaced them with a lengthening of the hedge and some ambiguous grasses and trees. I wanted that background to remain soft and unfocused, to contrast with the business of the tiles, rocks and flowers.
I think it's done now, but every painting goes into the "holding zone" for a few weeks before being framed, in case something else catches my eye and I have to go back to fix it.
Painting this made me eager to go to Italy, paint plein air there as much as possible, and collect a few hundred more photos to work from. Want to join us? We still have two double rooms available. Details are on my web site. Noi avremo un viaggio meraviglioso!