Tuscan Dream Journal
Watch over Dorothy’s shoulder as she paints the villages and vistas of Tuscany.
It’s been four months since I returned from the Tuscan village that was my home last fall. A busy winter working on three projects at once. I am glad to see one complete and another finishing soon. Now I can get back to the heart and soul of my Tuscan village paintings.
Following the trail of paintings is how I will know what to write. While I have ideas about the story, it is the paintings that guide me. Bouncing back and forth between words and paintings speeds the creative process.
Here are two oil paintings inspired by the village where my story takes place, Poggio Alla Croce. A tiny hilltop village with one road running along it’s crest. Views of the Arno Valley on one side, vineyards and Florence on the other.
The bright Vermilion house at the main intersection captured my imagination the day we arrived. I have been trying to paint it ever since. I love the way it contrasts with surrounding earthy colors. In the oldest section of the village, rustic textures and irregular shapes juxtapose the brilliant blue sky that slices between them.
In the top painting, I am using a limited palette. Earth pigments such as Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, and Gamblin’s Warm Gray contrast well with Vermilion, Holbein’s Violet Gray, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cobalt Violet, Ultramarine and Viridian. The pop of hot pink is Sennelier Rose Brilliant with a touch of White.
I am trying to keep my brush and palette knife work rough intentionally. There is a drawing quality that I like in this approach. I like the visceral color and texture. Rooted in a deep emotional response to this place, I don’t know why I am so fascinated with it. Perhaps getting it on canvas, over and over again, I will begin to understand something essential about it.
This doorway has the same quality to me. I don’t know if this painting is quite finished yet. It still sits on the easel in the studio waiting for an answer to that question. Every now and then, while painting on something else, a brush load or two of paint finds a place on it.
Download the first chapter of Discovering Joy’s Garden below.
I am finally settled back into my studio painting again. Coming home from a trip so extensive as this requires quite a bit of transition time. I allowed myself two weeks to readjust to Eastern Standard time, catch up on household chores and unpack the studio. Assimilation is the next part of my process now.
Handling all those logistics is good incubation time. While I am sorting laundry, cleaning gutters and unpacking paintings ~ I am also sorting thoughts, gutting the studio, and unpacking dreams I thought I’d lost.
Ready now, I begin by reviewing landscapes from my notes. I block in two 24 x 30 vineyard views from the tiny hill village in Chianti called Volpaia. By now I am fully aware of how reminiscent these Tuscan landscapes are of paintings I created early in my career.
This full awareness tells me there is way more to these images than meets the eye. Emotional landscapes nearing harvest, I feel the strain of painting them in my lower back. When I return to continue painting, I decide instead to paint two tiny panels. This gives me time to check my palette and think before continuing on the larger canvases.
This morning I am able to finish the two small landscapes. Something familiar yet new about them, not sure I have words for it. They feel ripe. Tomorrow perhaps another will ripen.