Tag Archives: townscape

San Vitale progress


Blocking in some of the general colour and shading. Much correction of perspective. The canopies on the right were actually bright red, but I think that would upset the balance of the picture

Orvieto in Acrylic

I decided I needed a change from naked women. Well one does after a while. So I’ve tackled a townscape with acrylics. Working from a photograph, which I don’t usually enjoy, but this was largely an experiment. I chose a photo I took in Orvieto in Umbria, to contrast with the watercolour one I did the other week, based on the tutor’s photo. I’m very pleased with the outcome, so thought I would just go through the sequence of painting again as an aide memoire.

First, fresh paints and a decent quality canvas. This I scrubbed with burnt sienna as a mid-tone base to start from. The photo is on the tablet.


Then I sketched in the basic shapes in charcoal. This muddies the  acrylic at first, but it soon disappears. The beauty is that you can just rub it off with a tissue and keep redrawing until you get it right.


Then I started blocking in the negative spaces as I’ve done before. The sky was the obvious one here, and it is a really good way of starting. Beginning with the main subject just leads to unbalance. Then I roughly blocked in the main areas of colour.


I then worked up the main façades in some detail. My verticals tend to lean. I really should measure them and draw them with a ruler. It took me ages to correct some of this. The strong light and shade is challenging. You want colour, not grey. I tended to use thin purple for shadows.  A lot of this will be over-painted later, it is just there to get the structure right



Then a lot of work on the other façades and trying to get the perspective of the lane going away and down into the town. Lots of work means over-painting many times. This is so much easier than watercolour, where you have to get it right first time, or it is wrong. Some of the highlights look a bit fierce, but you need them to give texture and life to teh picture. They tone down when more detail is added.


Finally a bit of a big jump, the light is worked on in the lane to make it look bright and sunny way down the bottom. Figures were added. The two on the left were in the photo and were really catching the sun. They make the whole composition look much more three dimensional. The other groups of figures in the lane were kept very simple, just to aid the perspective. I added a waiter in the door of the cafe to relieve the black space. He also helps to counteract the lean…

The two girls on the right were added to fill the space. They are a couple I have been working on for months in a painting of my newly built boat,  which you can see in the background of the  first picture. I thought they should put some clothes on whilst in town.


I’m very pleased with this as a first townscape. Far from perfect, but it looks jolly in the kitchen.