Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I spent some time visiting an all male Italian club in Kensington, Ct over the summer. The club house has six full scale bocce courts in the back, complete with regulation clay surfaces and divided and marked lanes. The guys get together most evenings and even on the weekend, and play. They hold tournaments on certain nights during the summer, with a mix of men and women on Monday nights, a serious group of men who play on Tuesday nights, and a more casual group of men who play and mingle on Wednesday nights. The men are a mix of old Italian-speaking-only men to young Americanized men who have one thing in common: they all enjoy a good game of bocce.

There is a bar adjacent to the courts where they can get a cold alchoholic or soft drink, and a large outdoor grill is always ready to grill the hotdogs or hamburger meat that they keep on hand and cook as they please.

When I watch them, it takes me back to when, as a child, I watched my grandfather and father and uncles and their male friends gather in our back yard to throw some balls. My grandfather had a monogrammed set, made of granite or marble, in various natural stone colors, so unlike the commercial sets that you see in the stores. I decided to paint the scene of the men playing bocce, taking into account their concentration and attention to the details of the game. I'm hoping to do a series next year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things That I Remind Myself When Painting

It often seems so simple when an instructor shows me how to improve my work. They make it look so easy. What's worse is that I tell myself, "I know that, why didn't I do that?" I think that some of these things are not yet intuitive, or maybe they just are not yet ingrained in my memory. Perhaps after a few years, they will just pop to the surface.

I am starting, very, very slowly to see things that need improvement in my and other artists' painting. Still, I know that I don't always see things the way the experts see them.

Some items that I need to remind myself when painting:

  • When composing a painting, design a direction that will lead the eye into the painting and keep it there.
  • Soften edges to allow items to fade into the distance or to become less important.
  • Sharpen a few edges to pull the eye to the desired areas.
  • Use highlights sparingly.
  • Distribuite colors around the canvas rather than containing them to one area. This unifies the design.
  • Bring in background color for shadows and to help to add dimension to items.
  • Watch for curved items and remember to blend dark to light to establish three dimensions.
  • When painting leaves, use a large brush and add the color in one big swipe. Later go back and add details but keep it simple.
  • When painting reflections, especially in water, the reflected image is slightly lighter and less defined than the image being reflected.