Three Pears in a Glass Bowl, The Garfagnana
Oil on canvas, 15" x 12", 2011
Last week I came across an old pencil sketch I drew many years ago during our first visit to Italy. Beth tells me it was 1994, the location was Barga, Tuscany. It would be a decade before we would return to Italy.
Study, Three Pears in a Glass Bowl
Pencil on paper, 3.5" x 3", 1994
The sketch is simple, three pears, a bowl, cloth and landscape. For the painting I added a crown of leaves, elevating the composition. I have written about the difficulty of working with the primary color triad of red, yellow and blue. The secondary triad of green, orange and violet is for me is the easiest and most pleasing combination due to the fact they are admixture of the primaries. They are subdued and tend to harmonize and be non confrontational. The leaves and landscape are green, the pears orange and the cloth and sky are violet (?)
In this weeks painting the white stands in for violet. Why?
Analysis of a white sky
Optically, white is composed of all the colors of the spectrum. Physically, to arrive at white, I first mix tints of yellow, red and blue, plus two browns ( top row).
By careful blending, and I mean careful, I mix a neutral grey. When I add white to this grey I can attain values from lightest to darkest (middle row). In the painting the sky is lightest by the horizon and has a total of six values, each progressively darker.
The bottom row illustrates the extremes of the lightest ( horizon) to the darkest ( top of sky). This system of mixing grey also means the color can be warmer (more yellow)
or cooler (more blue).
Barga, The Garfagnana, Tuscany
Away from the splendid aridness of the Crete, far from the rolling lush hills of Chianti and above the bustle of Florence and Siena sits the beautiful town of Lucca, a short drive from Pisa and the seacoast. Most tourists that visit Lucca marvel at the wonders of this walled city, dine on the famous Pollo Mattone "chicken cooked under a brick" at Giulio's, buy a bag of the ancient grain farro and then depart, going back to the more familiar safety of their Tuscany.
If you travel further, beyond Lucca, up the valley of the Serchio River, past the Devil's Bridge and up, ascending via a totally crazy winding road to the Medieval town of Barga, you will be rewarded. Barga stands at the gateway to the Garfagnana region of the towering Apennine Alps. The landscape is spectacular.
Barga was our artistic home during the first stay in Italy. It was here, while visiting the home of the National Poet, Giovanni Pascoli, at the Castlevecchio Pascoli that I drew this little sketch. Recently we were talking about Barga and waxing romantic thinking of our time there. When this project is complete, we hope to go back to the Garfagnana, so this painting is my own "painterly paean" to that wild Tuscan land.
copyright 2011 James Aponovich