The Sight & Insight Podcast

Episode 15 - Alla prima

"Get into the habit of doing what you see, not what you know. Human reason cannot foresee the accidents of out-of-doors."

— Charles Hawthorne

Greetings, Art Lovers, and thank you for joining us for Episode 15: Alla Prima. Once again, Connie, David and Judy, gather around the table to discuss another fascinating aspect of the artistic world. 

Alla prima – not, as Judy first thought, an Italian cooking term - is sometimes referred to as ‘direct painting,’ or ‘premier coup,’ depending on who you are talking to, and refers to an oil painting method whereby the artist puts down each stroke of paint – right color tone, value and, of course, the right place – to represent the end result, or ‘final statement,’ as Reed Kay describes it. Merriam-Webster, on the other hand, defines alla prima as “a method of painting in which pigments are laid on in a single application instead of being built up by repeated paintings.”

Interestingly, this is not a new method in outdoor, or even studio, painting and goes back to the 16th-century and the Dutch Golden Age painter Frans Hals. More recently, the method was extensively used by the great Spanish master, Sorolla, in describing his sun dappled outdoor figurative pieces on the beach and elsewhere.

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Left: Boy with a Glass and a Lute, (aka The Merry Lute Player) c.1626. Oil on panel by Frans Hals (c.1581/85–1666), Guildhall Art Gallery, London

Right: Garden of the Sorolla House, Oil On Canvas by Joaquin Sorolla Y Bastida (1863-1923, Spain)

"I could not paint at all if I had to paint slowly. Every effect is so transient, it must be rapidly painted."

— Joaquin Sorolla

Whichever way you look at it, David and Connie, as practicing artists and teachers will describe what alla prima means to them, and how it can be used by the landscape painter to capture, on canvas, a brief moment in time.

Judy, meanwhile, was busy checking the Internet for scintillating information to share about 'alla prima' and found herself googled toward the World Cup. Confused? Judy certainly was....

Happy painting,

David, Judy and Connie 

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 "The thicker you paint, the more it flows."

— John Singer Sargent


Episode 14: Impressionism

We are all the subjects of impressions, and some of us seek to convey the impressions to others. In the art of communicating impressions lies the power of generalizing without losing the logical connection of parts to the whole which satisfies the mind.

— George Inness


 George Inness, After the Storm (1877-1878), oil on canvas, private collection

When we talk about impressionism, most people's thoughts immediately leap to Claude Monet and the French Impressionists. However, there is a difference between what is called 'small i" impressionism, and the Impressionists.

Join David, Judy and Connie as they discuss the the subtlties of the genre, and what it really means. And where does Guy Rose and the American Impressionists come into it all? 

Connie brings up the point about Claude Monet painting Rouen Cathedral at different times of day, to explore the changing light. Isn't impressionism all about capturing the effect of light hitting the object. Look at the two pieces below to see how Monet observed the ever changing light.


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Left: Rouen Cathedral at Sunset 1894 o/c 39 x 26 in. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

Right: Rouen Cathedral, Symphony in Grey and Rose 1894, o/c 39.5 x 25.5 in. Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum of Wales) Cardiff

Thanks for listening. We have enjoyed sharing our discussions on art with a larger audience and we appreciate your company - otherwise we would be sat here talking to ourselves!if you have a subject you would like to have us talk about, drop us a line; we always love to hear from you.

Cheers, Connie, David and Judy

All inspired painters are impressionists, even though it be true that some impressionists are not inspired. — Joaquin Sorolla

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Episode 13 Paint In Verbs

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Episode 13 - Paint in Verbs

Welcome, art lovers, to another episode of the Sight & Insight Podcast. This week, Connie, David and Judy discuss what "Paint in Verbs" actually means.

The phrase comes from advice given by artist/teacher Charles Woodbury to his students, among whom we find Gertrude Fiske, whose work exemplifes the expression, 'paint in verbs,' or, to put it another way, 'poetry in motion.'

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Above: Charles Woodbury (left) 'Playing in the Waves,' oil on canvas,  17 x 21, in., courtesy of Parco Fine Art, and (right) 'The Narrow Cove,' c.1906, oil on canvas, 29 x 36 in., Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI.

Charles Woodbury was unique among his colleagues at the Guild of Boston Artists, and not only because he was one of the few marine artists among a coterie of landscape artists and still life painters. He was also the only member to have graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in Engineering. Perhaps this was why Woodbury was interested in the structure and make up of terrain and coastline, crest and ground swell. Woodbury's encouraged his students to express themselves truthfully in terms of genre, design and color. "Art is psychology, not science, and there must be one unknown factor, the personal equation. You must know what you see, why you see, and what is worth seeing." [Woodbury, Painting and the Personal Equation, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1919, p.95].

Sounds like good advice. Why not give it a try?

Until next week — happy painting!

Connie, David and Judy


Episode 12 - Painting in Your Own Backyard

Sorry, folks, we seem to have been experiencing some technical difficulties. We've followed Podbean's advice and uploaded the m4a file again. Hope it plays better than the first version, but that's what you get for working in a thunderstorm!

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David - Now Is the Hour (detail)               Connie - A Subtle Scent (detail)

Despite thunderstorms and heavy rain, here we are again with Episode 12 - Painting in Your Own Backyard.

From Monet's garden in Giverny to Celia Thaxter's garden on the Isle of Shoals, made famous by Childe Hassam, and all points in between, the garden has long been a source of stimulus and joy to the artist. And even if you don't have water lily pools or lengths of rocky coastline in your backyard, that doesn't mean it can't be a source of inspiration to you.  

Some artists like a formal manicured look, others favor the random sowing of seeds  and trust in nature and good luck to have a riot of color by summer. Or you could have a more workaday look as seen in Paul Cornoyer's painting, My Studio, East Gloucester, oil on canvas, 18x24, private collection (below). 


The possibilities are endless, but sometimes we overlook the beauty of what is right under our noses  and search farther afield, sometimes at great inconvenience, to find the 'perfect composition.' Oftentimes, we just need to add the odd note, or the odd model, to make our back yards perfect, as in 'Gossiping Geishas,' by David Montgomery, (private collection, below) executed during one of David Curtis' Figure in the Garden summer classes.  


So put away your maps and forget about driving half a day to select your next composition, and look closer to home for overlooked vistas or intimate corners of the shrubbery. Go ahead - paint in your own back yard. In fact, send us some of your efforts, and we'll post our favorites! 

Until next week, it's goodbye from me, Judy Curtis, and it's goodbye from them, David Curtis and Connie Nagle


Focusing on Color


Get into the habit of doing what you see, not what you know. Human reason cannot foresee the accidents of out-of-doors.

— Charles Hawthorne

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Greetings, Art Lovers, and welcome to another episode of Sight & Insight. And don't worry, you're not going crazy, we just flip flopped the last two recordings, so we are briefly put of sequence. This is just to keep you on your toes and see how many of you are really listening! We should be back on track next week.

This week, however, we are discussing color; one of the most important aspects of the painter's craft. Judy begins with Newton's contribution to color theory, and is quickly followed up by artists and teachers, Connie and David, weighing in on what color means for the painter in order to create a better effect, especially when working out of doors.

Apologies for the sound quality this week; we had one or two technical hitches, but hopefully the passing airplane won't detract too much from the scintillating conversation.

Until next week, it's goodbye from Judy, and happy painting, from David and Connie....

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Episode 10 Gertrude Fiske: American Master

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Join David, Connie, and Judy as they discuss their visit to the Gertrude Fiske American Master exhibition at Portsmouth Historical Society – Discover Portsmouth – 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801.

From the back cover of the catalogue: 

The combination of Fiske’s originality and selective eye, as well as her broad brush manner and audacious color, helped her become of America’s most individualistic painters, and raised the bar in the genre of American Impressionism. — Judith A. Curtis

Fiske spent seven years training at the Boston Museum School with Tarbell, Benson and Hale, while also studying with Charles Woodbury at his summer school in Ogunquit, Maine. A founding member of the Guild of Boston Artists, Fiske’s work covers the gamut of finely worked portraits to lusciously colored plein air paintings of Portsmouth and the surrounding seacoast.


An extensive catalogue – Gertrude Fiske: American Master with Sisters of the Brush & Palette and Seacoast Masters Today, Softcover, 8¼ x 9, 108 pgs, color & bw, ISBN 978-0-915819-47-8. $35.00 – accompanies the show, featuring all 66 works by Gertrude Fiske.

Judy, David and Connie were awestruck at the color and consistent quality of Fiske’s work – hence Judy’s confusion at the beginning of the episode – or perhaps it was the lack of caffeine. No matter, hopefully she will be suitably coherent when she appears as one of the speakers at the Gertrude Fiske: Her Art and Her World, Symposium I on Saturday, June 16, 9am-3pm, coffee, refreshments, and lunch provided. Call ahead for tickets.

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Until next week, when the trio will be discussing color – paint on!

Connie, Judy and David


Episode 9: In Focus: The Sight & Insight Workshop

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Happy Memorial Day. Today David, Connie and Judy discuss the Workshop Experience, in particular, the Sight and Insight workshop concept.
Painting is an enjoyable – sometimes frustrating – experience. In these days of high speed technology, painting – the art of creativity – is a unique and indispensable release from the tension of everyday living. 
There are numerous classes and workshops for the student painter to choose from, but are they all the same? Some painters prefer to teach by demonstrating their own methods of beginning, refining and completing a painting, which may be enjoyable but doesn’t allow the student to empower their own painting technique.
Others choose to offer a program of daily tasks to help students – from beginners to more advanced painters – learn to design a better motif from the beginning, rather than discovering half way through your work that you have the horizon line right in the middle of the canvas, or a counterpoint in the wrong place for your dynamic symmetry. 
“Sight and Insight is aimed at the synergy of teaching new ways of painting,” says David.
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The foundations of learning to paint remain the same, but sometimes we have to come up with a new way of explaining it to students; that’s where Sight and Insight come into play. We’ll talk about memory painting, color theory, variety in unity, curvilinear perspective and the farthest back straggler.
Want to know more? Visit for further details. David and Connie will keep the workshop small to allow more time for personal critiques, so don't delay, check it out today.
Sight & Insight Design and Composition Oil Painting Workshop

Join this intensive 5-day workshop that offers a dramatic change in the way you develop your outdoor paintings!

We are inviting you to experience something new! A buried treasure and a release from the familiar ways you paint outdoors.

Design is an elegant ordering and invention that equals creation. This workshop gives you a chance to experience both! Are you up for the challenge?

When: June 18-22, 2018

Where: Essex Greenbelt, 10-3 pm

With: David Curtis and Lorwen Connie Nagle

Tuition:  $500.

To sign up, or request further information please call

(978) 283-4135, or email

or visit the webpage

 And, finally, a note from our sponsor:

Episode 8: Books, Books, Books

"Art is not an amusement, nor a distraction, nor is it, as many men maintain, an escape from life. On the contrary, it is a high training of the soul, essential to the soul's growth, to its unfoldment."

- Lawren Harris


Welcome to Episode 8 of Sight & Insight, the podcast for all things Art. Today Judy, David and Connie discuss their favorite art books and how they can increase the artist or art lover's understanding practice and understanding of the Fine Arts. 

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A.J. Munnings Reading by Harold Knight

Harold Speed, Sir Alfred East, Robert Henri... just a few of the names these three friends will be discussing, not to mention Judy's book on the history of the Rocky Neck Art Colony 1850-1950. How to books, artist biographies, exhibition catalogues are also a big topic of conversation. Tune in and find out David and Connie's favorite books and see if you agree. Your favorite wasn't mentioned?! Let them know. There's sure to be a similar discussion in the future and sharing ideas is the best way to share knowledge.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” - Leonardo da Vinci

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Until next week, happy painting....



Sight and Insight - Episode 7: Memory Painting


"It is all very well to copy what one sees, but it is far better to draw what one now only sees in one's memory. That is a transformation in which imagination collaborates with memory." - Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Read more at:

This week, Connie, David and Judy talk about memory painting. How does it help the outdoor artist? Is the memory trustworthy to work from, or is it better to have a photograph? Is photographic color honest? Or should the artist work at training his or her memory to remember color notes, shapes, masses and pictorial gestures? Listen in to the convwersation and feel free to drop the crew a message if you have something to add. 

"A cultivation of the taste, by a proper degree of attention to literature and the fine arts, elevates the mind above trivial cares and conventional jealousies, giving it a vigorous independence, and a fund of inexhaustible resources within itself. They present a means of quiet enjoyment, that gently exhilerates the spirits, and produces a cheerful state of mind highly conducive to health."*

*Huntington, D L. Manual of the Fine Arts. Vol. 20, A. S. Barnes & Company, 1874, p. 23

So, before you grab your paints, canvas and easel, how's your memory?!

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Sight & Insight Episode 6 Pleine Aire Painting


Welcome to episode six of the Sight & Insight podcast. Join David, Connie and Judy as they talk about the art of painting out of doors. As Sorolla said, "As far as outdoor work is concerned, a studio is only a garage; a place in which to store pictures and repair them, never a place in which to paint them."

Artists have been working out of doors since the time of John Constable (1776-1837) the English Romanticist, who was sketching in the Lake District as early as 1806. The Barbizon School, located on the edge of Fountainbleu forest, near Paris, also championed the idea of developing a landscape painting via direct observation, attracting painters to the site such as Theodore Rousseau (1812-67) and Jean-Francois Millet (1814-75) in the late 1840s as well as Charles-Francois Daubigny (1817-78) and Constant Troyen (1810-65). But it was Claude Monet (1840-1926) and his Impressionist colleagues who perhaps garnered the most attention with the idea of painting outdoors, expressing the artist's perceptions of nature as laid out before him. 

Hear Connie and David, both outdoor painters and teachers discuss the pros and cons of working in all weather to capture the momentary effect of light hitting their subject in Nature, while Judy tries to keep them in order. As David says, "You don't always what you want the first time around, but you will have had a wonderful morning or afternoon working out of doors, observing nature and the flora and fauna of your location. And these observations will make you all the more prepared for next time you go out there."

For Connie, having a good color theory before you even go outdoors is a big help for the student artist. Read Harold Speed, and other great painters, such as Lecoq de Boisbaudran who developed Light and Color Theory to assist the artist to help understand the principle in conjunction with a painting class or workshop

Artist's today often use technology to assist them paint images of the outdoors within the confines of the studio, but as Augustus W. Dunbier (1888-1977) said, "If you can't paint it with all of this hanging out there at the end of your nose, how do you expect to do it better back in your basement?" 

But supposing you can't get outdoors to paint because of hayfever, or pouring rain? Then those observations already made outdoors will help you when you are confined to the studio. Tune in next week for Episode 7: Memory Painting....

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