Pat Fiorello - Art Elevates Life

Art & Inspiration from professional artist and instructor Pat Fiorello. Pat is known for her romantic landscape, garden and floral paintings in oil and watercolor. Her paintings often depict beautiful places like Italy and France. Pat teaches painting workshops in the U.S., Caribbean and Europe. She is passionate about inspiring others to include art in their life. Whether creating it or simply appreciating and enjoying it, there are so many ways that art elevates life!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Villa Garden I and some background on the process.

Villa Garden I
12 x 16 Oil Painting
by Pat Fiorello
Did a little experiment with this painting.  I most frequently paint using one of 2 different methods.  I wanted to do the same scene with both methods to compare if there was any difference in the results or the experience of the process along the way.

One option, is an approach I learned from Dennis Perrin and in it's most basic form is a pretty traditional "alla prima' approach of drawing on a toned canvas and then working dark shapes to light shapes first in a very general sense and then  coming back a second time refining color temperature, edges,texture etc..  I used that "traditional' approach for Villa Garden I which I did first.

Then today I did another version using quite a different approach which I first learned from Hedi Moran. It's more of a looser impressionist approach which starts with no drawing, just a general lay in of shapes by color using only transparent colors. then you come back in and create form and get more specific with both opaques and transparents. I used that "impressionistic"  approach for version II of Villa Garden posted below.

I've also included my original reference photo from Lake Maggiore in Italy. I believe it was taken on Isola Madre. It's a beautiful scene but quite busy with a lot of detail.  I also have a value sketch which helped me simplify this complicated scene into some larger simple shapes of light, medium and dark values. I stress in all the classes I teach- whether watercolor or oil- that it is important to do these small sketches before starting a painting. The few minutes of planning ahead, saves a lot of confusion later on during the process. With major value decisions and composition determined up front, you can be freer to just enjoy the painting process, have fun with color, brushwork etc.. without getting lost in muddled values.  I'd rather have a map or GPS than be lost on the road hoping to find my final destination. consider the value sketch your Painting GPS.

Below I also posted photo's from the initial start of what I'm calling the traditional method vs the impressionistic method.You can see the start is quite different. By the end though, I don't think the result was that  much different. The drawings are slightly different and the colors I chose today using artistic license were a little different. ( I didn't look at the first one while doing the second and my intent was not to exactly reproduce the photo, just use it as a jumping off point for my own interpretation).  But fundamentally, I don't think the paintings are dramatically different. And seeing them side by side, I could make revisions in either one to move one way or another.

The impressionist approach feels a little easier and more carefree to me, but it's probably because I have been doing it much longer and it feels freeing to start a painting with no drawing and just block in big shapes.

I'm still reflecting on lessons learned here.  At the end of the day, you still need a good composition with a strong value pattern, clean and harmonious colors, deliberate brushwork, attention to edges and all the other fundamentals. So whether you take the trip values first or color first, you'll eventually have to get all the bases covered.

The nice think is- there is no one right way- there are many possible approaches to get you to your desired intention and keep you from getting in a rut of the same approach every time.

Villa Garden II
12 x 16 Oil Painting

Reference Photo
Value Sketch

Start for approach I
Start for approach II


  1. Thank you so much Pat for sharing your thoughts and great information....You have inspired me and helped me at a moment when your work gave me strength and hope. Plus your work is beautiful. xoxo Jules Greer

    1. Thanks so much Jules. Glad the post provided some inspiration for you. That's the intent of my blog- Art Elevates Life. Hope to uplift and inspire through beauty and art. If you'd like to keep posted via my monthly newsletter, "Bringing Beauty to the World" you can sign up in the right hand column of the blog. All the best to you!