Urca - Ramon Franco Street

This is one of my favorite places to paint in Rio de Janeiro - the district of Urca. I love the leafy trees along the streets filtering the harsh summer light!

Ramon Franco Street
oil on linen 30x50 cm
Sandra Nunes

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Arte de Portas Abertas - Santa Teresa Open Studios

This weekend the charming district of Santa Teresa will be hosting a great Art Event. I am participating with some recent works  in Casalegre Art Vila. Monte Alegre street 316. If you happen to be in the area, stop by!

Santa Teresa open studios
Sandra Nunes


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Ilha Grande

Back to Paradise Island. The turquoise color water under a bright afternoon light was inviting my brushes!

Ilha Grande - Praia da Bica
óleo sobre tela
Sandra Nunes
Sandra Nunes
Pintando na Ilha Grande - Praia da Bica

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Worldwide Paint Out - Rio de Janeiro 2016

I arrived early at the meeting point as I knew that later, with the artists arriving it would be very difficult to concentrate on my painting. Corcovado Hill was playing hide and seek with the clouds barely revealing its contours. The artists started to come and little by little the sun made its way through the clouds mirrowing the movement of the artists down here.

That was the moment I wanted to register on my canvas...
Urca- Sunday Morning
oil on canvas - 30 x 60 cm
Sandra Nunes
I´ve been coordinating this venue in Rio for 12 years, this time I was positively impressed, as we had 75 artists coming from Rio and other cities, some of them traveling more than 500 km to participate. They came from São Paulo, Piracicaba, Paraty etc... We had a great time painting together!

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Victoria Regia

This is one of the soft pastels plein air paintings I have done in preparation for a large dimension commission in oils. Standing by the pond at the Botanic Garden, observing the movement of the waterlilies opening and eventually closing before I could finish the paintings was a good challenge.

"Victoria Regia"  Soft Pastels
Sandra Nunes

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Outeiro da Glória - Sidewalk carpet

I love this time of the year when the almond trees carpet the sidewalks

Outeiro da Gloria
Sidewalk Carpet
Sandra Nunes
Soft Pastels on Wallis

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The Undertow

On the Eve of the Olympics Rio 2016, the star of last weekend was the undertow. It was an excellent opportunity to capture once more the hypnotic movement of the waves. The sea is always an inspiration and capturing the dynamic of its movement is a great challenge!
the undertow
oil on panel
16x22 cm
Sandra Nunes

This is a less than one minute video of a beautiful moment of this plein air painting session. Enjoy!

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Plein Air Painting - Europe 2016 - London - Part III

Russia and the Arts - The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky
Sandra Nunes
National Portrait Gallery
London 2016
 One of the highlights of my trip to Europe this year was having to chance to attend this exhibition in London. A collection of portraits of Musicians, writers, actors, and artistic patrons is on display with masterpieces from the prestigious Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow
It is a parade of faces, feelings in a reunion of heroes from the end of the nineteen century till 1914. They are intense, tormented...

Modest Mussorgsky, 1881 by Ilia Repin

This masterpiece by Ilya Repin portrays the composer Modest Mussorgsky on his last days is of his life at the age of 42. The painting was commissioned by Pavel Tretyakov, the philanthropist who founded the state gallery, it was painted in a military hospital in St Petersburg.The composer sat for four difficult days in 1881, dying before the planned final sitting. Repin found it the most powerful and poignant commission of his career, donating his fee to a memorial for the composer.

Mikhail Vrubel, Portrait of N. Zabela Vrubel 
But while we are familiar with figures such as Akhmatova, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy , we are less familiar with the Russian painters of the time.Painters like Serov, Repin and  Mikhail Vrubel are almost unknown in the western hemisphere. We are much more familiar with Russian avant garde painters like Kandinsky and Malevich.

Fedor Dostoesvsky, 1879 by Vasily Perov
Dostoevsky's portrait by Perov shows a frail man sitting in the dark, pale and skinny, showing all the suffering he had during the years he was arrested, sent to a labour camp and the subsequent five years of enforced military service.
Nothing I can write here can describe what one feels seeing this masterpiece up close and personal.

"Russia and the Arts is an exceptional collection of works. Many of these had never left Russia prior to this exchange, and certainly most have never been seen in the UK before. But more than this, it is a genuinely fascinating show that reveals much of the variety in artistic styles in Russian painters at that time, and, in the shadows that haunt their sitters, these portraitists reveal much of the turbulence and turmoil that engulfed Russia in these years."  Huffingtonpost

Time to rest my eyes and do my "homework". Painting the postcard, after all  I am in London!
At this time of the year, days are longer, it is nice to watch the sunset at 10 pm! 

Sandra Nunes
Painting the London Bridge
London 2016
You can read London part II here

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Plein Air Painting - Europe 2016 - London Part II

Continuing from my last post, ( you can read it here) I´ll write now about my reencounter with another Great Master:
John Constable

Nature and Nostalgia
Constable took a long time to achieve recognition. While his work was just as radical as Turner's, it shows none of the latter's constant searching for new subjects. He admired earlier Dutch painters as "a stay at home people, hence, their originality" His work was located in familiar territory beginning with his native Stour Valley between Suffolk and Essex.

Salisbury Cathedral from river Avon, 1820
oil on canvas
John Constable

Some of Constable sketches record individual motifs that reappear in finished paintings while others, provided the basis for entire compositions. 
Cloud study
 John Constable
pochade study
John Constable

From the 1780 s British and French painters began increasingly to make small scale oil sketches out of doors. These sought to capture subtle effects or light and atmosphere, and were not usually intended as finished works of art, John Constable was the great English Master of this medium. Being in a gallery surrounded by all that little gems was a dream come true!
Sandra Nunes at
Constable Gallery of studies
Victoria and Albert Museum - London
John Constable
John Constable
 He based his art on study from Nature, making drawings and small oil sketches outdoors working direct from the motif.  His subjects were chosen from personal meanings or associations. Even early pictures are imbued with sentimental memory. Nostalgia dominated his later work, reflecting his faith in the continuity of rural life in an age of change

John Constable
Cloud study
John Constable

The largest surviving group of these studies, over ninety works, was given to Victoria & Albert Museum by the artist's daughter. They shed unique light on Constable's working practice and are remarkable for their spontaneity and accuracy.

Time to rest the eye and do my "homework":

In a completely different surrounding than Constable's I went to capture the light and atmosphere of a wet day in London.
When I got to the site, it was only cloudy, but before I could start my work the rain came down. Fortunately there was a bus stop close by and I had shelter for the painting session.
This was one of that experiences that we never forget!

At the bus stop
Euston Road

Sandra Nunes
Plein air painting - Euston Road
To be continued...
Next post, an amazing exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery: "Russia and the Arts" 

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Plein Air Painting - Europe 2016 - London Part I

I´m back from Europe, as usual I'm late with my posts here and as usual greatly inspired after an overdose of  viewing great Art,  I feel like painting 24 hours a day!
I´ll try to show here some highlights of these amazing days.

Meeting Sargent...
Meeting Sargent - Tate Britain Gallery
While it is wonderful to see great masterpieces up close and personal , we can never lose the opportunity to learn from the studies and the unfinished works...

Study for Madame Gatreaux
J. S. Sargent
Turner's many studies of Nature forms and fleeting effects convey the artist's inquisitive mind and his constant search for the pictorial possibilities in the world around him. Spanning fifty one years of his life, they served as valuable reference material in the composition and finished works.

Trees and Skies
J.W. Turner
Goring Mill and Church - JW. Turner
There´s no preliminary drawing in this unfinished work,
the sky is sufficiently developed o show that the weather
is fine and the war clouds suggest afternoon...

Their function as studies allowed for greater freedom to experiment with format, medium and technique. Turner´s focus varies from the single motif to wider views of the landscape, encompassing foliage, mountains, rivers, skies and the sea which exerted a particular fascination for him later in his life.

J. W. Turner

Turner drew prolifically in sketchbooks of various shapes and sizes, some of which(about 300!) are now held at Tate. In 1801 he used this small sketchbook during hs tour in Scotland, which included an exploration on the Highlands. This  sketchbook below is open at studies completed in guache, a more opaque medium than watercolor, giving solidity to the mountain form.

Turner's Sketchbook

                                       Time to rest the eyes and do my "homework":
Sandra Nunes
Sketching in watercolor - Hyde Park
To be continued in the next post with another Great Master: Constable!

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Paraty - Festa do Divino

I´ve been working in the city of Paraty these days. This is a Unesco World Heritage site and it  is a painter´s dream! This year the village received us like this: the colonial houses bathed by the May sun and all dressed up in red and white for the traditional "Feast of the Holy Spirit"
Paraty - Festa do Divino
oil on canvas 27 x 35 cm
Sandra Nunes

Sandra Nunes
Painting in Paraty

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São Clemente Street

The charming district of Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro-  Carioca SoHo
São Clemente Street - Botafogo
Sandra Nunes
oil on canvas 46x65 cm

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Marina da Gloria

Rio de Janeiro is getting ready for the Olympics. Marina da Gloria was completely remodelled for the Nautical games, its amazing, the view is a post card for itself.

 The bike easel  sometimes takes me to places that are sometimes impossible to reach by car.Why not join two pleasures and work?

Marina da Gloria
oil on panel 16x22cm
Sandra Nunes
Pochade Box on my bike-ease

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Afternoon tea - watercolor

I´ve been painting more with watercolor these days. I enjoyed playing with the subtle values creating a light atmosphere.
Afternoon Tea
watercolor on Saunders waterford
Sandra Nunes

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Painting reminiscences -work in progress... time travel

During the Olympic Games there will be an exhibition in Rio about the city on the nineteenth and early twentieth century. I was one of the artists invited to tell this visual story. Plein air painting is a good way to travel through time, besides finding old buildings, survivals of a bygone era, being on the site provided me the opportunity to listen to the stories of passersby.I will post t the finished painting later.

Thanks to two passersby who spontaneously took these pictures and sent them to me.

Sandra Nunes painting Castelinho do Flamengo
work in progress

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Sometimes we go far away in search of inspiration and it happens to be just beside us.
Afternoon Light
Sandra Nunes
Watercolor on Saunders Waterford paper 300

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Summer on the Bike Path

High summer, there is an explosion of Flamboyants in bloom all over the city. The fallen flowers turn the bike path into a yellow/red carpet!
This morning..
Summer on the Bike Path
Flamboyants in Bloom
Sandra Nunes
oil on canvas

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From Plein Air Painting to Studio Work

There is no Greater Master than Nature when learning to paint. Nothing substitutes the observation and constant training of the eyes when facing natural elements.In fact, learning to paint is learning to see and translate our inner vision. Whenever I´m asked why plein air painting I have longer and shorter answers, but I always state that they are completely different ways of working.
Recently I finished in the studio  the painting I´m posting now. It is a very large work for plein air!
I had already done smaller works with this theme, but for this one I started with compositional studies on the site and brought them to the studio to be developed into the final painting.
Victoria Regia - The Star of the Waters
oil on canvas 180 x 80 cm
Sandra Nunes
On the next post I´ll show the preliminary studies for this work. 
By now, Happy Holidays!
I wish you  a Happy and Blessed New Year!

Sandra Nunes Victoria Regia -
 The Star of the Waters
                                                                                         oil on canvas 180 x 80 cm

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Art and Traveling - part III

Being an artist I´m always pushing myself, exploring new techniques and materials, learning all along the way. Sometimes it is tough leaving the comfort zone and setting new goals.Well, I believe it is not the destination but the journey that counts and I´m having a blast on mine!

On the previous post I mentioned my first contact with Cobra Oils Solvent Free, the water miscible oils from Talens(you can read it here).

Arches Huile

Another material I had the opportunity to test was Arches Huile. This paper was specifically designed for oil painting and I specially liked the texture that keeps the look of Arches watercolor papers. It is archival , high quality, 100%  rag, 300 gsm manufactured with a barrier that absorbs  water or solvents evenly. It is very practical as it is available in  A3, A4 pads and in rolls that are easy to cut in different sizes

In Paris I combined the water miscible oils (Cobra) with Arches Huile. I  loved their practicality for traveling; just attach the paper  temporally to a solid support like a foam board and you are ready to paint immediately. The only attention one must have is  mounting it afterwards on an equally archival support before framing.
This paper is a bit more absorbent than the support I use to prepare for my paintings, that calls for a different approach, maybe more impasto than thin areas...Well I´ll continue exploring plein air painting on this surface  and in the studio as well to test its versatility.
Sandra Nunes painting from the porch
Canal San Martin, Paris
I started this oil sketch at the end of  a rainy afternoon from the porch. Paris rooftops  always attracted my attention and they were specially beautiful under an ever changing grey sky. I just wanted to capture the atmosphere with quick and synthetic brushstrokes only suggesting rather than rendering the rooftops architecture. At this point I called it done and stopped to  watch the gift of a wonderful sunset in Paris! 

Paris Rooftops -Sunset quick sketch
Sandra Nunes
Cobra Oils solvent free on Arches Huile
Read from the beginning Art and Traveling 1
                                         Art and Traveling 2

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Art and Traveling - part II

As I have written in the previous post, besides learning from the Great Masters studying their paintings up close, in galleries and museums, traveling abroad provides the opportunity to work in different locations; it is a great exercise on training to capture the local atmosphere. In addition, there is the possibility of experimenting with new techniques and use of new art materials.

Painting in oils, when travelling, may present some difficulties from brush cleaning, using solvents in inappropriate environments such as hotel rooms, to packing and transporting  wet canvases.. As we know, drying time of oil painting is subject to many variables ( I intend to  talk more about this soon).

I am always in search of the best art supplies to work with, not only the immediate result but permanence is also important. I want my paintings to last for many years after I´m gone.

Well,  I've tested water miscible oil paints some years ago, Winsor and Newton Artisan, Talens H2Oil and Grumbacher Max. None of them satisfied me for one reason or another. The pigment concentration, for example, I didn´t find any brand with the same pigment load of the traditional oils in their professional lines
This year I've learned about  Cobra, the new generation of Royal Talens water miscible oils. They  are manufactured both in professional line (Cobra fine) and student (Cobra study). I tested only the professional line.

Cobra Solvent Free Oils
Sandra Nunes
Painting in Tulleries Garden
I was positively impressed by its quality, and the fact of not using solvent was a good point. At first it behaves differently from traditional oils, but after understanding how to handle it, a new world is opened! No smell!
When I´m travelling all paintings are done alla prima, hit or miss in one session.

Tulleries Garden
Cobra Solvent Free oil on panel
16x22 cm
Sandra Nunes

There are some mediums available to be used for  example when working in layers. I didn´t use any at this time, just a bit of water at the beginning and then just paint.

Sandra Nunes
Painting in Honfleur

Sandra Nunes
Painting in Honfleur

Read Part one here
 To be continued...

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