eIn the September workshop that I taught for Il Chiostro we often sat outdoors at the San Fedele monastery and sketched the immediate views. I especially loved sitting out in the front in the shade of the linden trees looking down the cypress-lined drive to the gate.
Late one morning I walked below the monastery to sketch this view of the back, including the 15 foot defensive wall and the olive trees that grow beneath it. The light direction was not ideal, so when I painted, I exaggerated the shadows a little bit. It's difficult to make architecture seem three dimensional without adding some good cast shadows. Yet, in the hazy autumn light, to exaggerate shadows too much is to lose that warm golden quality that is so essentially Tuscan. I have owned a book for many years that I treasure: In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-Air Painters, published by Yale University Press. Although all of the paintings are oils, I think there is much for artists in any media to learn here, as the many artists represented work in different styles, yet all convey something really essential about the colors, values and even more interesting, the romantic way in which past travelers have responded to Italy.