Reflections in the Tiber

I just finished a painting I’ve been working on for a while.  I painted it from a photo I took walking along the Tiber river in Umbertide, Umbria, Italy during my Spring visit there to see my sister.  It was early Spring and the leaves were just barely coming out on the trees.  The mountains in the distance were still brown. There was a row of evergreen trees and their blue-greens contrasted with the yellow-green of early Spring. It was a still day, so there wasn’t much movement in the water.  The reflections were clear and sharp.  I’m happy enough with the result and I enjoyed painting it.

Tiber in Umbertide

Since I have my new-found watercolor skills I decided to do a study of this in watercolor before I did the oil.  I think this was a good exercise and I might start doing it more.  It has several benefits.  First, it helps me keep practicing watercolor.  Second, I found that doing the watercolor first made me much more familiar with the nuances of the scene, allowing me to capture them in the oil painting, which I probably would not have done otherwise.  Below is the study.
Tiber in Umbertide WC Study

Spring Storms

I’ve said from the beginning that this blog is about my transformation experience from engineer to artist, and not just about showcasing my successes. Today I’m going to share something I consider less than a success.

A while back I completed a painting of a photo that my friend Sharon Littley took from her porch in Fairfield Virginia.  It was after a storm in the very early spring.  The sky was still wicked dark with white clouds along the front edge of the storm. The sun had come out and there was a partial rainbow contrasted against the dark sky.  The sun was shining on the hills in the foreground, highlighting the pale greens and other colors of early spring.  It really is a lovely and inspirational photograph.  I asked her if I could paint it and she graciously said yes.

Sadly, I don’t think I did it justice. It’s not my best sky.  I did capture the pale greens in the hills well against it.  I knew the rainbow would be hard but it came out okay – although my husband said he doesn’t like it because it looks too solid.

In the foreground of the original picture there were a few shrubs and a young tree, but there was also the end of the gravel road they live on.  I decided this would look better as a meadow. I also added a forsythia bush. My engineer’s brain still had trouble improvising. I think the perspectives in the foreground are off.  I also think it is somewhat unimaginative.  I tried to add a couple of Adirondack chairs in the meadow, but couldn’t get the proportions right so I took them out.  I guess I just need to keep practicing and going off script till it get better at it.

16 x 16 oil on board

16 x 16 oil on board

Sharon takes many lovely photos from their porch. I’ve told her that if I lived there I’d just set up an easel out there and paint every day.  The wonderful thing about nature and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains is that the view is different every day.  It’s a wonderful place to live.

In the meantime, I have two more pieces in the works that I like much better. Both are from my travels in Italy.  Stay tuned…