The creative process: “Montecatini”

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In 2007, my wife and I visited the Tuscan town of Montecatini, Italy. There are two parts to it…Montecatini Terma (the lower part) and Montecatini Alto (the upper part, which some say is the ancient part of the city dating back to the Middle Ages). Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any buildings dating back to the 1300’s.

Between the upper and lower parts (maybe a couple of miles) is a famous spa. The classically designed buildings are set amidst beautiful gardens, all enveloped with music conducive to a healing atmosphere.

Partial view of the Montecatini Spa grounds

Partial view of the Montecatini Spa grounds.

Interior of Montecatini"s exquisitely beautiful spa.

Interior of Montecatini”s exquisitely beautiful spa.


Upon doctor’s orders, patients with every kind of ailment receive treatment. They are prescribed a regimen of specific mineral waters for a designated time. The water is hot and must be consumed slowly on an empty stomach…several glasses. After that, one is allowed to eat breakfast. Along with vitamins and a good diet, this regimen is followed for several weeks. I remember being warned not to drink any of the water after eating because it would make one very sick. Taking a taste on the finger…very salty.

A peaceful atmosphere invites clients to partake of their prescribed mineral water therapy.

A peaceful atmosphere invites clients to partake of their prescribed mineral water therapy.

The spa offers a variety of mineral water therapies.

The spa offers a variety of mineral water therapies.


There are many great memories that remain from this beautiful part of Italy, so inspiration for my painting was not hard to come by…a busy street scene, beautifully colorful buildings, distant hills, and the overall general atmosphere of this busy place.

When tackling complex scenes such as this, I usually begin with a monochromatic block-in using Raw Umber.

23 - Sorrento

A grid aids in drawing the subject on a 30″ x 24″ canvas. Drawing is done with a brush using Raw Umber.





Monochromatic block-in completed. Composition, drawing, values, and mood are firmly established.


The block-in serves several purposes; composition, drawing, and values are established and clarified. This separates color from value and simplifies the color application stage.


Ultramarine Blue, Terra Rosa, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light, Prussian Green, Ivory Black, and Titanium White.


Selecting a palette of colors for a painting is always a personal choice. I have often said, “If the values are correct, just about any color can be used.” I tried a number of different tube colors before deciding on this group. I always look for the fewest number of tube colors possible that will give the mixed color combinations needed. Fewer colors increase the possibility of color harmony because they must all be intermixed in order to achieve the desired result.

"Montecatini" - 30" x 24" - Oil

“Montecatini” – 30″ x 24″ – Oil


 Next week’s blog post: “The creative process: ‘Cruising the Backroads'”

Cruising Vermont's Backroads - 64 x 48 -less red



I am very pleased to announce the release of my first instructional DVD, Limited Palette Landscapes, professionally produced by Liliedahl Art Videos. The video contains over 15 hours of instruction and follows my painting process from selection of the canvas to the final brush stoke. For a detailed description of the video contents, including a short video…and order instructions…please click HERE. Thank you in advance for adding this DVD to your video library. Upon viewing, if you would kindly share your comments with me, I would greatly appreciate it. THANK YOU.


John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE



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