Tag Archives: Italy

Workshop: The Watermill, Posara, Italy

Last week I taught a watercolor painting workshop The Watermill in Tuscany.

We had a wonderful week and many plein air painting excursions! A heartfelt Thank You to Lois and Bill for taking care of us and making this a memorable trip! I hope these pictures give a bit of an impression of this beautiful part of the world! Lois and Bill have a great location and provide ample Tuscan cuisine with many local specialties. They are well organized and we had the luxury of being dropped off and picked up at painting locations by the father-son duo Paolo and Lucca.

Thank you so much! We just have to do it all over again next year!

Less is more!

After the shower, web

Watercolor painting completely depends on this mantra! I was just about to start finishing the buildings on the right, when it hit me: do I really need to paint 50 windows, the roof with all the chimneys etc. to call this painting done? Will it add anything that would make this a better painting? I think not.

In fact, I think it’s better not to finish it. For some strange reason, your eyes are putting those windows there regardless! Almost like, we know they’re there, so we don’t need to actually put them! Also, I did not like the fact that the tonal contrast (being very strong) on the buildings would take away from the focal point lower in the picture!

As I always say: each and every watercolor has a lesson to teach us! I absolutely love it! All we have to do is paint and we never stop learning.

Horse studies

horse study, by frankeber 2013

horse study, by frankeber 

I'll scratch your back...by frankeber 2013
I’ll scratch your back…by frankeber 2013


I’ve been drawing and painting a lot of horses lately. They are a fascinating subject and quite difficult. These two are horse portraits from reference material. The photographs were taken in Vienna, Austria. Horses are the most beautiful, benign creatures and as a carriage horse have a pretty thankless job, I think. The carriage drivers are called ‘Fiaker’ and it seems you can’t be one unless you smoke at least two packs of cigarettes a day! That was at least my impression…

Having said that, they treat their horses nicely, for the most part. They get a blankie when it’s cold and windy, a rain coat when it’s  rainy! Don’t try to feed them though, the fiakers really don’t like that! It’s understandable, people would feed them all kinds of junk through out the day. Can’t be good for the horse…

I don’t consider these real paintings, more like studies – both are quarter sheets, approx 11 x 14 inches

In these works, I am particularly careful to limit hard edges. You can see lots of lost and found edges around the horses muzzles and they seem to be almost connected. The colors on the screen don’t do it justice, the purple in the second piece looks like a bland blue on my screen. Some colors just can’t be replicated by a computer screen. Almost a comforting thought to me!

Somewhere in Europe…

City views, web by frankeber 2012

City views, web by frankeber 2012

This is a painting of…well, which European city is it?

Here’s a clue: An Italian painter named Bernardo Bellotto painted there a lot back in the 18th century. He was the student and nephew of the renowned Canaletto.

Here’s another: This city is also known for a controversial Allied bombing towards the end of WW2 where the entire city center was destroyed in what is commonly referred to as ‘the firestorm’.

You should have it by now…

This is a very dramatic painting with a very limited palette. I went to this city earlier this year and painted on location. This painting however, was not done plein air. It is sort of an experiment, actually.
Some artists think you can’t paint darks with watercolors and I have to say, it is a tricky business especially when it comes to layering. Two washes is the maximum with darks, I think. One of the hardest things to achieve in this piece is the subtle variety of values that *has* to be just right, otherwise the painting will not work!
The sky was painted first with a wash of cadmium orange all the way to the horizon line. The next step is a bit unnerving and maybe takes a few attempts. Basically, you wait about 40 seconds and mix the clouds( a purple wash in thicker consistency) while the paper wants to dry!
You have to work quickly and decisively, with the utmost economy of brushwork. The more you touch your paper, the worse you make it!
After that, I lift out some of the ‘silver linings’ of the clouds. Yes, while it is still wet and really, really wants to dry now….
As I say in my article in the watercolor artist’s magazine: Watercolor painting is risky business!
Wouldn’t it be nice to be an oil painter? sigh… hey, just kidding!! This is way more exciting!

detail shot

detail shot

In the detail shot you’ll notice that certain areas within the darker foreground are actually a lot lighter. This is where I dropped some water to have a nice variety in values. When the painting was completely dry, I scratched out some of the highlights with a blade. No gouache in this work anywhere. Well, what do you think?

Adventures in plein air painting, Part 2

Prague_pleinair1, by frank eber 2012 Prague_pleinair2, by frank eber 2012 Prague_pleinair3, by frankeber2012

In the last two weeks, I have painted on location in Prague, Dresden and Nuremberg.

This blog post is about comments that you get while painting outside. I don’t know what the motivation is for someone to comment on what an artist is doing, but I find it quite fascinating. I think this morning, I had one of the best ones yet–therefore it is time to put them down in writing!

While painting in Prague: (no particular order)

“Excuse me, do you know where the post office is?”
“I am looking for a pub where they serve ‘black beer’, do you know it?”

While painting in Dresden:

“Can we auction this off once you’re done?”
“Are you from here?”

While painting in Nuremberg:

“Do you think I can park here?” (The guy even made me take my ear buds out.)

and the best one yet:
“Did you paint this from a photograph?” (Remember, this is on location, looking at the subject matter right in front of us.)

Random Comments (Can’t remember the location.)(Not everyone is a moron, right?)

“This is lovely.”
“Did you paint this?” (I am still working on it.)
“I can only paint by numbers.”
“I stopped doing watercolors, now I do mixed media.”
“Did you make this paper yourself?”

And lastly, my favorite by elderly Germans, after looking at the piece and watching me for a while:


Let’s see what happens in France…