Thursday, June 4, 2009

Market Day

It was market day yesterday, as we traveled into Siena for our painting excursion. I always find it a challenge to try and capture a busy, constantly changing scene such as this. But, I figure if you can pull these off it’s all downhill from here! So, as we plodded through the bustling market, I found an area off to the side with this great view of a meat and cheese vendor. 

The hardest part of a moving scene is deciding what moment in time do you capture? There are tons of people merging in, out, and making purchases, with the busy vendors trying to accommodate their requests. I find it best to watch the action for a while before deciding. As you observe, I look for the nuances that make up the action: People pointing to what they want, resting a hand on the counter with their money, leg and arm positions, clothing, accessories such as purses or bags, etc. Once I’ve determined what I’ll include, I sketch it in quickly with pencil on my canvas. Then I start the painting by keeping all of the elements loose and sketchy while working around each of the figures. After the whole scene is blocked in, then I move to the people. Each person is a combination of many as they come and go. As I see someone move or stand in a way of my original idea, I paint it in, one body part at a time. There is lots of invention here, and I find that you just have to keep manipulating until it looks believable. They just don’t hold still in plein air!

I also thought I’d share this little sketch of the poppy fields that are in full bloom this time of year. This was a 30 minute painting, 6 x 10 in size at the end of a full day. The colors were amazing and I just tried to get the essence of the scene before the van arrived to pick us up. Eddie Felson -- fast and loose!

Here we are ... poppy painters impatiently waiting to go to the gelateria! Ciao.


  1. This would have been such a great lesson to see in person but I'm glad to read how you put all the pieces together. Of course, having a good understanding of the figure probably helps too. It's amazing that you did this en plein air!

    Gelato sounds soooo good right now...

  2. Greg.. Parla italiano??
    I am so jealous!! My husband leaves next week to visit home (Venice) but I get to stay behind... boo hoo.
    I LOVE the poppies and all the others as well.

    Keep having fun!!

  3. Oh Italy. What fun. Thanks much for the comments on the 'how to' of that complex plein air. Well done!

  4. Thanks for all your comments. Glad you're enjoying my Italian scenes. FYI: I only know enough Italian to be polite ... and order espresso!