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Quick Look: Download my new free book, "Advice on Painting from
John Singer Sargent"

This forty-six page digital PDF file is suitable for viewing on your computer or tablet. It contain two authenticated accounts of Sargent's teaching and painting methods, illustrated with full color paintings and annotation by Thomas Jefferson Kitts – Free and available to share with your friends!

Sep 2, 2015

Scottsdale Artists' School Demonstration...

Here is an announcement about an upcoming demo in Arizona. You may have already heard of it on Facebook. If you are going to be in the Phoenix area, or are coming to the American Impressionists Society show being held at the Trailside Gallery in Scottsdale, I hope to see you...

Scottsdale Artists’ School Painting Demonstration: 
Painting the Landscape:  Covering the Ground and Much, Much, More… 

Come watch renowned painter Thomas Jefferson Kitts demonstrate essential elements to painting the landscape. Thomas will discuss and present many alla prima outdoor techniques used by Sargent, Sorolla, and Zorn, and the information he will share can be applied to any genre of painting – indoors or out – be it from life, from photographs, or your field sketches. Thomas will also host a Question & Answer session following his demonstration.

When: October 14th, 6 to 9:00 pm 
Where: Scottsdale Artists’ School – Scottsdale, AZ 
Cost: $20.00 online, or at the door

Seating is limited. So to guarantee your spot, advanced tickets may be purchased here: http://tinyurl.com/scottsdaleTJKdemo

In addition, Thomas will be teaching an informative 5-day workshop this November 16th - 20th, called “From Plein Air to Studio”. This class will focus on using photos and field sketches to create larger, more developed work in the studio. For information about his class please visit: http://scottsdaleartschool.org/course/from-plein-air-to-studio

And here is the painting used in the ad above...

12 x 16 inches, oil on panel, en plein air, 2015
Available for purchase

Aug 19, 2015

Hey, Perhaps Oil and Water Can Mix...

Or, maybe they can at least play nicely together...

I dunno, but lately I have become interested in painting with watercolors again.  Initially this felt like crazy-talkin' to myself because watercolor is hard and incredibly time-consuming if you are going to do it at a high level. It requires draftsmanship, focus, skillful technique, and the acceptance of chaos. I think I feel pulled to it now because most of the painters I venerate, living or dead, seem able to switch back and forth effortlessly. So I it is time to go back to trying to master the media and endure the inevitable crashing and burning and bad, bad work. And how best to make myself do this, other than to bring the watercolor kit when I go out to paint in oils? The kit that has been sitting in a dark corner in my studio for over twenty-plus years now.

Here is yesterday's efforts, my first ever bi-media outdoor experience. A day without competition, or teaching, or meeting any other expectation beyond going outside to push some color around with an old friend.

Photo credits: Brenda Boylan

7:30 am, Sauvie Island – 30 minute watercolor, on an Arches WC block. The live area is about 6 x 8 inches or so. This is the third watercolor I've done in perhaps, oh, I don't know TWENTY YEARS! (did I mention that already?) I was killing time waiting for some shadows to lift off a field of sunflowers to my right and thought, "Hey, Now would be a good time to sneak a watercolor in before my friend showed up. (I called her to see how far out she was.) You can see I tried out that paint-into-the-wet area thing and well, I must say the technique remained a complete mystery to me. I am definitely going to have to work that some more. Mental note: "Looser is better. Looser is okay. Loosey-goosey makes it juicy..."

Same location, the next painting up – oil on a taped sheet of Claussen's linen, live area about 10 x 14 inches in size. I was looking for the shapes in the sunflowers amidst the greenery of the leaves, not the individual flowerheads themselves. The sunflowers were the small kind, about three feet tall, not the giant gnarly showerheads Van Gogh liked to paint. I'll likely mess around with this sketch sometime during the winter just to tease out the abstract qualities, and spend some time practicing brush strokes, but I doubt this painting will ever see the outside of my studio. More likely, the dark and moist confines of a landfill...

Next stop, later in the day, and a new location. This time I thought I might actually do the same scene twice, one in watercolor and the other in oil. 

My impromptu WC set up. When I was packing up to go out this morning I realized I could use the same easel for oil painting AND watercolor if I flipped the easel upside down and used the pegs to hold the WC block. (This being an Open Box M easel). 

There was enough pressure between the pins to hold the watercolor block in place while I fumbled around with badly handled pigment. So the Open Box M easel can be turned into a kind of 2-'fer-1 sort of solution without extra any pomp or circumstance. I've always liked multi-use devices... you know, the spork, the toaster oven, the swiss army knife, duct-tape, the beer-hat...

Thirty minutes later it was time to switch over to oil. Only this time, I clearly wanted to avoid making any sort of useful comparison. I arbitrarily decided to paint in oil using my big brush. Something I made a student do last weekend during an outdoor workshop. (She did awesome, BTW.)

So here is the"Big Bertha" in my kit. It's a Rosemary & Co., a stiff 1.5 inch nylon brush that still has a chiseled edge after two years of hard use and careless storage. (My goodness, this brush takes a lickin' and it keeps on tickin'!) It is the ONLY brush I used for this painting except for the rigger I picked out to sign the painting with. I set the timer on my iPhone to one hour, with the idea of keeping things moving along – but somehow I finished up before the alarm went off. At that point my friend and I had already packed up and were on the other side of the dike looking at another painting site. So I estimate I put about thirty minutes into it.

Again, maybe this is not the greatest painting in the world, and the point wasn't to paint it like an unsupervised Red Bull-fueled teenager driving the family sedan – the point was to force myself completely out of my comfort zone and make me try something new. First in waterolor and then in oil. I doubt I'll make a point of painting like this in the future, but hey, I had fun doing it anyway.

So there you have it. Me painting watercolor again. Who would have thunk it? So much to learn and so little time. Look out!. Conserve those whites...


Aug 13, 2015

Last, Last Call...

Sadly, a student had to drop out of this workshop due to a family emergency so we have a spot open for any last minute registrant. If you wanted to go this year, or dreamed of joining this crew, but missed out, send me an email and I will respond.

7-Day Outdoor Workshop Taught by Thomas Jefferson Kitts
 When: September 12 - 19, 2015
Where: near Florence Italy

If you live in Europe I invite you to consider this workshop as well! Last year we had a Belgium student drive down from Germany and she had the best time ever. And she didn't have to worry about arranging last minute airfare.

And finally, the morning view you see in this post is right out the window of our 18th century villa, one of our many fantastic painting locations! And yes, that's San Gimignano in the distance to the right. Another one of our painting locations...


Jul 30, 2015

New Landscapes: From Carmel to Big Sur...

Well, my new show is now up on the walls at the
James J. Rieser Fine Art gallery in Carmel, California. 

This show of thirteen paintings opens this Saturday, August 1st, but I am confident if you want to preview the work before the official opening James would be happy to accommodate you. 
Rieser Fine Art is conveniently located between 5th and 6th, on Dolores Avenue, and it is also nicely situated next door to the Jack London Pub, my favorite watering hole. (ha!) 
If you see something you like, and want to jump the opening with a purchase, I'm sure James would be happy to help you out with that. Just let him know I sent you.
I will be flying down August 8th for an artist reception, which will be held from noon to 4:00 pm. So hey, if you are going to be in the area come by. I'd love to see you!

"New Landscapes: From Carmel to Big Sur" will be up until September 30th, 2015.

Can't attend the show? View the paintings here: www.rieserfineart.com

PDX Workshop Full...

Thanks everyone! Looking forward to working with you in two weeks... TJK

Jul 22, 2015

LAST CALL to sign up for PLEIN AIR TUSCANY 2015...

Hey All: 

LAST CALL to sign up for PLEIN AIR TUSCANY 2015...
This outdoor painting workshop will be taught near Florence, Italy, this September 12th - 19th, 2015
We've got nine students registered and for seven days we will learn, paint, and live like Italians. And if you decide to join us who knows where you will go after your workshop? Roma... Cortona... the Amalfi Coast... Umbria... Venice... the Cinque Terre... Sicily?...

And of course, after the workshop there are all sorts of fun things to do in Italy, like riding bicycles on the ancient walls of Lucca, a favorite moment of mine from last year...



Jul 6, 2015

LSD and the Doors of Perception...(w/ apologies to Huxley and Leary)

Okay, maybe I am not actually advocating anyone should do this, but man, it is cool none-the-less. (Oh, er, and there was that one time as an undergrad when I went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey. Let's just say the airlock scene was particularly memorable...ha!)

There are a few moments when the drawings start looking like 1920's Kandinsky abstractions. Too bad this wasn't shot in color.

"Whoooooooo-aaah, colors, man!..."