A Street in Florence-Revisited

A Street in Florence– first version

This was the painting that I did some years ago from one of my own photographs. We had toured Tuscany by rail, and went to Florence of course as one of the most important destinations. I took a photograph looking down this street, and painted it when we got back. I gave it to a friend as a leaving present

I thought I would like to do it again, using different colourways, and that is what I am setting out to do

So far. and I haven’t photographed a stage painting yet, I have put in less detail. The images are very simple blocks of colour, almost cubist in effect. I didn’t think I would like doing it this way, but having let my work dry out. the result is starting to grow on me. But I have a long way to go yet

For now I will just publish the stage I’ve reached. It is working out differently to the first version. I’ve used a different colour for the distant buildings, which somehow I prefer. We’ll have to see how it finishes

Part Finished

Photograph was taken quickly and is poor but will give us an idea

Ponte Vecchio, Florence : the finished painting

Ponte Vecchio by Evening Light

Well, I prefer this version to the previous one. I have removed the grass bank, and the need to introduce a different colour. Also I prefer opening out the riverscape too.

The quayside with boats, of course, is fanciful, I know, but the picture needed something else coming towards the foreground. Even now I wonder whether this was enough. A large boat heading towards the bridge would have worked but too late now. the painting will have to stand as it is

In common with so many, I am in self isolation. Art exhibitions cancelled. Holidays cancelled. History groups cancelled and so on. It is the same for everyone I know

My wife and I are just grateful that we were able to celebrate our golden wedding on March 7th, just before restrictions started to bite.

Anyway, a good time to paint and get ready for end of year exhibitions. I am also updating my web site, something I get round to about once a year

Keep well, wherever you are

Ponte Vecchio Bridge, Florence: the second version

Second Version Drawing

I wasn’t overly happy with the first painting of the Ponte Vecchio, as I may have said. I didn’t like the grass bank, which although attractive in real life, meant that I had to introduce another colour which I didn’t want to do. Also it cut out a large section of river, which I think was a pity

Instead of the grass bank, I have constructed a wharf with boats. Fictitious I know and offensive to some. The bridge however remains intact, and is still the subject of the painting.

I much prefer this composition. Not only do I keep my limited palette, but also brings something into the foreground, which is useful

Plenty of time for things to go wrong though. With the gentler colours that I’m using, this is more sunrise than sunset, but I still have to make up long shadows which I find tricky. Where exactly will they fall, and will they look convincing?

Time will tell

I was asked to quote for a commission yesterday, so there is some life in the market, which is of comfort, with all the bad news at the moment

Cat in the Snow

The cat in the snow

This was pure self-indulgence for me. I needed a break from more involved paintings. No planning with this one needed. Just do it, and do it quickly.

The subject appealed to me, as it was so amusing. I don’t usually paint cats. This one was simple as only half a face and no legs to paint. Eyes I had to be careful with and look up how to do them. The white spot on the eye should be more pronounced, but not too bad.

I can’t offer this painting for sale as I copied a photograph, and can’t trace the photographer, so this one is for internal consumption only. Still, nothing wrong with that

Ponte Vecchio, Florence the finished painting

Ponte Vecchio Sunset

I was duty bound to publish the finished painting having started, but this is not one that I take pleasure in. This is me on an off day

I am at odds with the composition to start with. The grass bank which is there in the photograph, I do wish now I had left out. I was worried about introducing another colour, and the green has not worked well at all. Some parts are not too bad. The deep red of the building on the right with the evening shadow, I quite like, but the rest is disappointing. Everything is laboured where I have tried to rectify mistakes instead of starting again

I think in time I might try this picture again in another colourway, still with long shadows but omitting the grass bank, so that I can keep to a two colour palette which should prove more palatable, no pun intended. Not sure what I will put in the place of the grass yet. Perhaps bring the building down to the water with a quayside which offers more interest. I will have to see

For now, playing around with a cat picture, which is unusual for me. I think I will only publish this one if I like it

Read a very interesting article in one of the art magazines, about knowing when to stop, or in other words , less is more. Also this artist did the drawing in ink which I haven’t done in a long while, and which I would like to try again. That could be refreshing. I am starting to repeat myself which is bad

A Street in Florence

On the subject of Florence, this is one that I did a few years ago and gave to a friend. This is more me, and another project is to do a second version for my gallery. I needed to look at this again to restore my faith

Drawing the Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Reference photo with grid

I have used the grid method of transferring an image before, but was reminded of it when I went to the Hockney exhibition at the Lightbox in Woking recently. It is very useful especially when you want to enlarge a picture as I do with this one. This is how my drawing has turned out

Drawing of Ponte Vecchio from the photo

I have now doubled the image size so that it is about the usual size that I paint, ie 30×40 centimetres. I have traced the drawing now and am about to transfer this image to watercolour paper

The nice thing about using this method is that once the grid is in place on both images, then there is very little, if any, measuring to be done. Drawing or copying within each small square is relatively simple, and gives you a check on perspective so very useful for anything architectural

There is no restriction on size so if you wanted to paint a mural and make it ten times or twenty times the photograph, then you could. You can work the other way, of course, and reduce the size of an image too.

I shall paint this when ready and probably use a completely different colourway than shown in the photograph. Not sure what yet, possibly an evening colour, and may even do two different colour ways from the same drawing, which will save me some time

We’ll see how it turns out

David Hockney Exhibition at the Lightbox, Woking

David Hockney’s WinterRoad near Kilham

There is a very good exhibition on at the Lightbox in Woking at the moment, entitled David Hockney:His Ways of Working. I hope that I’ve remembered that correctly as I didn’t make a note, although I did manage one or two pictures, shot from the hip, in case I was seen by a wily attendant.

As we know, Hockney throughout his career was fascinated with different media. A superb painter in the traditional sense, not that I liked all of his work, he also embraced new methods of recording art such as ipad drawing, print, fax machine, photography and collage

The exhibition at Woking is not large but it is representative, and as always skillfully displayed. I know the Lightbox is my local art gallery, and it is easy to become partisan, but the Lightbox has come on in leaps and bounds since it was founded both in quality and quantity of local exhibitions

The print shown above for example, is where Hockney utilised his own digital photography and Photoshop, drawing with a stylus on an iPad in front of a computer monitor. As Hockney himself explains “you are drawing directly onto a printing machine. One draws with the colours that a printing machine has, and the printing machine is one that anyone can have.”

Parc des Sources

This is the other painting that intrigued me. Very large for a start and changing the perspective so that the lines of trees met like a triangle. The seated figures are Peter Schlesinger, his lover at the time and Ossie Clark the fashion designer. I think they were having a boy’s weekend in Paris. The empty chair is for him, Hockney. He was standing whilst sketching.

Alongside the painting is Hockney’s drawing showing that he used the grid system for enlarging an image, which is how he produced such a large painting as the one I have shown. Many well-known artists use this system. I do too, but I am not well-known

I am currently using this system to enlarge a small photograph, to twice its size as a drawing, in preparation hopefully for something worth painting. The subject is the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. I was there a few years ago and took some reference shots, but haven’t got round to doing a painting yet.

That will probably be the subject of my next blog

Venice:Grand Canal the finished painting

Grand Canal, Venice

This has taken a long time to complete. We were away in Romania over the New Year Break, came home and were ill, and seemed to take weeks to recover.Funeral preparations had to be attended to throughout all this for my father’s burial.

However, on a more upbeat note, working on this painting has been a great support, as painting always is. There has been so much detail to attend to, especially with the buildings on the left. The architecture is very Gothic, so intricate, and the variety of colours was exciting. Trying to colour match the photograph was amusing, especially when it came to the flags.

I may have said that I altered the composition from the original photograph. I have shifted the buildings on the left away from the buildings on the right. This has cured some of the congestion, and has also given a view to the Customs House and beyond to the open sea. We now have depth where before we didn’t

I ended up quite liking the painting, despite the jumble of different colours. Sunny and bright at this grey time of the year, which cannot be bad

What shall I look at next? Staying in Italy, but moving from Venice to Florence, I am going to have a crack at the famous Ponte Vecchio , and see what sort of fist I can make of that

An Interesting Sale

Corfu:Shopping Lanes in Kerkyra

This painting sold on the internet out of the blue. They’re often the best ones I often think, as they give you a boost. A buyer in the United States has bought it, and it is on its way as we speak

We have had a dreadful start to the year since getting back from Romania. My father died on New Year’s Eve whilst I was away. My wife and I have both been ill ever since getting back. I am just getting over bronchitis and my wife has one heavy cold followed by another. Fearsome bugs

We have had to do funeral preparations whilst feeling like death ourselves, even though having wonderful support from family, there were some things I had to do myself

This painting had happy memories. We were in Corfu about three years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. Literally any port in a storm, we were unable to dock on the Adriatic coast and had to run from the storm. Corfu took us, and what a lovely place it is. We had a tour round the island and spent the afternoon in Kerkyra in the shopping lanes. This painting was my memento. I am so pleased that someone has chosen it and it will go somewhere it will be valued

Afterwards we sailed for Greece in the evening. It had been a lovely trip. Often thought I would like to revisit Corfu and spend more time

Anyway this short blog whilst I think of it. I am still working on the Venice picture but not as much as I would like

Transylvania: the home of Dracula

A View of Peles Castle in Transylvania

Just by way of a break from the painting of Grand Canal, on which I haven’t worked for a while because of Christmas and the New Year Break. Happy New Year everybody by the way

We spent the New Year in Romania, in Transylvania to be precise, looking at sites associated with the Dracula legend, amongst other things. The topography looks like the sort of backdrop that you would expect, mountains, forests, snow, but I didn’t hear any wolves. I was brought up on the Hammer Films from the 1960s starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. The dialogue was very serious. Nothing was done for laughs unlike some modern adaptations. You did not mess with these guys

In the background of the photograph is Peles castle, which had nothing to do with Dracula although it looks as though it should have. It was built as a summer residence under the direction of King Carol I and his wife Queen Elizabeth, and was finished in 1914

The castle associated with the legend of Dracula, is Bran. We went there later that day. Two of our party went awol and wasted more than an hour whilst we looked for them. We were late getting to Bran, and it was getting dark. Our coach driver didn’t say “This is as far as I will take you”, but I was waiting for him to do so. It was a very steep climb up to the castle and I attach a picture to give you an idea

Bran Castle

Romanians are always mystified by the legend of Dracula, who to them is Vlad, and known as the Impaler because of the way he put his enemies to death. To them he was a hero, because he gave them years of stability and good rule. he also protected them from the Turks. As far as I can see, there is no cult of the vampire coming from Transylvania. That was fiction from the pen of Bram Stoker, although they were grateful for the flood of American tourists that came looking for Dracula

We ended our tour in Bucharest, with an excellent city tour. It is 30 years since their revolution when the two dictators Ceausescu were executed by firing squad, after the fall of the Communist regime in Europe. We saw their newly completed palace, bigger than any building I have ever seen. It was a symbol of their greed and power which they had now had taken from them. Small wonder that Romanians said “Enough is enough”

A really enjoyable trip, although tiring towards the end, and both of us have heavy colds