Speed Painting at Vizcaya Gardens Miami
Near the end of our recent Florida cruise we had a free day in South Beach Miami. Not being much of a beach person, I was looking for something paintable, and a quick web search came up with the Vizcaya Museum and Garden. Sounded like a perfect trial run for our upcoming workshop in Italy. (There are still some spaces available if you’ll be anywhere near Cortona Italy June 8-15).
Vizcaya is an Italianate mansion with a sprawling formal garden that offers a perfect opportunity for plein air painters. This kind of place, with its planned scenic views, well tended gardens scattered with statuary, its heritage trees shading artful nooks and crannies – you can look in any direction here and find a composition. I suggest arriving early and planning to spend the whole day. You could spend a week here and not run out of subjects.
One of the things I frequently talk about when discussing travel sketching, is the natural tension between doing a masterpiece, and seeing the world.
When you discover an amazing view, of course you want to set up a huge canvas and paint it all. There are painters that have been known to spend years on a single painting, going back again and again in the right light and weather. (Antonio López García).
Personally – at this stage of my painting life anyway – I prefer being on the move. Seeing the whole place, collecting multiple impressions, instead of investing it all in one image.
Mostly it’s just my personality – that I enjoy working quickly.
But also, I feel that until you can see your finished value study, you can’t really know you made the right call. That you chose the best composition at hand. The sooner you can get something down on paper with a complete representation of the drawing, the colors, and the full value range – only then will you know what you have.
I knew immediately on arriving at Vizcaya that this was a beautiful location with a thousand potential paintings waiting. So right away I set myself a few limits – working small – in this case tracing my Moleskine Cahier placed face down on the sheet, giving me this 5.5×7″ shape with rounded corners. And working fast. Aiming to spend about 30 minutes each.
I’m quite happy with the collection. It was a day well spent. I hope our sketching group in Italy will be interested in giving these miniature watercolors a try. I feel that this kind of rapid iteration teaches you a lot, in a very short time.
Original sketches available for purchase
5.5×7″, 140lb cotton rag paper and artist quality watercolor: $225
Please contact marc(dot)taro(at)gmail(dot)com for inquiries