Monday, October 10, 2011

Art Treks: Tuscany - Day 4 with Niki Gulley & Scott Williams

"Pienza" • 4" x 10" oil by Niki Gulley

 with Niki Gulley & Scott Williams

After a busy two days of exploring surrounding hill towns, on day 4 of our Tuscany workshop, we decided to slow down the pace and enjoy the beautiful 360 degree views surrounding our villa. Today each one of my painters painters picked a different subject, feeling much more confident about painting en plein air and expressing their personal vision. 

I chose this view of Pienza for my demo, and decided that I wanted two main focal points to help tell the story of what I was seeing in the scene. I was particularly attracted to the hill town above with the church steeple rising above the rest of the village, and a simple stone house on the bottom right below. Unfortunately the trees had grown so large that they were slightly hiding the house, so with artistic license, I just moved them off to the right a little to see the house better! I arranged the composition through a series of diagonal lines to lead your eye through the scene. Then I painted in the sky and hills with a thin application of water mixable oil paint so that the paint could be drying in those areas while I started blocking in the hill town, densest foliage and farmhouse below with thicker paint. Lastly I added even thicker highlights to the buildings and details to the rows of crops to complete the painting.

One of my students, Rosemary Achepohl, and her palette knife sketches from our villa. Rosemary chose to work with 5x7 boards and a single subject and they turned out great! You can see her work and her husband's paintings, Fred Achepohl, from our Tuscany trip in Grapevine, Texas, at


If you would like to join us on future ART TREKS to Paris, France in May or Tuscany, Italy in September,visit, which goes into detail about our upcoming Plein Air Painting and Photography Workshops.

Or, if you'd be interested in learning how to paint "plein air" or improve your location painting a little closer to home, visit, which tells you about my upcoming Painting Workshop at the Dallas Arboretum and White Rock Lake, Oct. 29th and 30th.


E-mail me at for more information.

To see more of my contemporary landscape paintings, visit my website at
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