October 25, 2012

Tuscany Plein Aire Painting trip

As I promised, a report about the wonderful painting trip to Tuscany in May of 2012. Flying to Rome via Charlotte, my friend Monique and I met up with 14 other painters from the Pacific coast, Canada, New York, and Arizona. Although we didn’t know them, we recognized them in the airport by all the painting gear they were carrying. Our trip guide Bill Sperling led us to our bus and away we went for a two hours plus ride to Tuscany and to the estate where we were scheduled to stay. It was an old estate named Le Casacce, dating back to the 13th century. Renovated for comfort, but still retaining the characteristics of the 1200’s… It was a lovely place to stay and the resident chef and owner kept us very well fed with beautiful buffet breakfasts and 5 star dinners. We also enjoyed an abundance of Italian wines. For lunch, we visited local restaurants and enjoyed a variety of Italian cuisine. What a treat . Although none of us painters spoke Italian, we all made do. Monique, with a French language background, was able to converse a little bit with Italian. This was especially handy when we were trying to make sure our bus driver knew when and where to pick us all up after a day of painting.
We painted every morning at one place, then after lunch we would go to a different location. Our artists “in Charge “ were Dianna Shyne and Susan Diehl. Both are very accomplished artists. We did have a few critique periods when we admired and critiqued each others’ paintings.
The Tuscan scenery was lovely. Little towns perched on the top and edges of hilly areas. Of course, there were beautiful olive groves and vineyards. Fields were red with poppies and the poppies also edged the groves and vineyards. Yellow Scotch Broom was abundant and provided another colorful accent for the tall Cedar and Cypress trees.
My favorite towns were Castel del Piano, Siena and Castiglione d‘Orcia. We painted the Tuscan countryside, the charming little towns with quaint old streets, fountains and buildings, and the lovely gardens. Townspeople and other tourists were always interested in what we were painting .
We did take a day trip to Florence, which happened to be the day there were two earthquakes in the nearby city of Bologna. Although we did not feel the earthquakes because we had been in a moving bus, the locals were quite excited about them. In Florence, after a short walking tour, we went to the Uffici Museum. The rooms were filled with wonderful works by European masters . It was huge and overwhelming, and totally an exhausting experience. I discovered later that I had missed seeing the Impressionistic Art Museum exhibit nearby. Oh well, I guess that will be something for another trip.

September 14, 2012

As you know, I am from Anchorage, Alaska and moved to Phoenix in 1980. I have been painting for many years and teaching for quite a few also. Last year I had the very interesting experience of traveling to France and painting plein air with two Phoenix painters for almost a month. We, fortunately, were able to stay in the guest house belonging to relatives of one of my Phoenix friends .
The little town we were in was called Blaison-Goheir… near Angers. Heading out in our little car almost every day to some scenic place , painting was wonderful. Our subjects were rivers, cathedrals, old castles, quaint little streets with very old buildings… all the roses which were in full bloom at that time and beautiful French gardens. What a wonderful experience!
Although I had painted for many years, I had never done any painting plein air. Alaska weather is not conducive to plein air painting. No, my early paintings in France were not wonderful, but the learning experience WAS WONDERFUL.
I worked on 9 x 12 oil canvasses… which I found were a little bit large for the amount of time I had to paint at each place… Most of all, I learned about handling supplies while traveling, trying to grasp the essence of a scene quickly, looking for simplicity in the scene, quickly handling composition, value, and color. A tall order. No, I didn’t feel competent working so fast and trying to accomplish so many things so fast. However, it was a wonderful learning experience and I was encouraged to study and work hard all during the following winter, on the things which I felt were weaknesses.
This was good BECAUSE during the summer of 2012... The opportunity of another traveling plein air adventure came my way. I will tell you about that when I next write.