I had the opportunity to teach with the Urban Sketchers last week on the island of Ischia, specifically we were hosted by the family who owns the Aragonese Castle. This place is straight out of a fairytale and the spot that captured my attention the most was the ruins of the cathedral, bombed in the early 20th century, leaving it wide open to the sky.


Cathedral Ruins, Ischia
Oil on Linen Panel
9 x 12″

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With the sun moving directly behind me, I sat behind a low wall holding my pochade box in my lap to keep the sun from shining directing on my canvas.

I worked quickly, squinting often to capture the overall shape of the light and shadow and it tracked through the remaining apse of the cathedral.

The haunting atmosphere of this place perched on a rock high above the sea is like none other, which is why capturing it was so important (words just won’t do here). I used a more limited palette than normal, with just 3 colors and white to keep this simple and unified and also it was what I was teaching all week, so I must walk the talk!

It is truly inspiring how much just 3 colors can do, that most colors can be mixed from just the primaries. Depth and space and light can all be communicated, even inside of this very complicated composition with such simple mixtures.

Having the chance to spend a week in this place was such an exciting honor and privilege- even more so to introduce sketching in oils to 30 urban sketchers, whom I don’t believe have ever had oil painting as a part of their program before.

I will share some of my watercolors and sketches from the week in a later post. Being an oil painter though, this was my favorite piece created during the week.