Cafe Sunshine


Warmer weather is here to stay and artists are painting outside on location. This is a plein air painting from a few years ago in Cinqueterre on the coast of Italy. I sat in a cafe and painted this scene across the plaza. The weather was perfect and the waiters were happy to leave me alone. It was early afternoon and I was intrigued by the cast shadows from the laundry, tree, and umbrellas. My real subject was the warm sunshine and the effect it had on everything and I kept reminding myself of this while I was painting.

It is to easy to get caught up in the individual objects and pretty colors forgetting about what attracted me in the first place.

This is a small painting 6 x 8 inches and I did the whole thing with a # 10 round brush. A bigger brush with a good point works better than a little brush which can result in an overworked look. For the restaurant facade, I mixed yellow ochre with cobalt violet and then added a little cerulean blue for the shadow areas. When I wanted warmer cast shadows, I used cadmium yellow with cobalt violet. The umbrellas are transparent yellow with violet added for the shadow areas.

I truly believe that painting on location is the best way to study color and atmospheric effects. If you are new to plein air painting, my suggestions are to practice your setup inside, carry as little as possible, start close to home, and don't be too critical. If you are concerned about being bothered by curious onlookers, just start coughing if anyone is headed your way.

Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton

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