This book is crammed with information, and I have decided that the best way to take it all in is to do the projects. However this raises even more questions, and I think the best answer is to do a workshop with John Lovett at some time, and actually watch him work.
I did this little landscape on Saturday morning, when it was raining, and I spent a lot of the day waiting for it to dry. This is a real mixed media effort, with watercolour, gouache, watercolour pencils, charcoal pencil, ink and gesso.
I have decided that this style of painting (or any watercolour beyond ‘pen and wash’) is in direct opposition to the qualities required for urban sketching. Well, you wouldn’t really want to carry around all that long list of materials. But the main thing is that sketching is fast, and ‘real watercolour’, to be done well, really needs time to dry. I have seen some very experienced watercolourists achieve it, but I have seen others make mud.
I am a bit of a ‘glazer’ when I paint in acrylics and oils, and I guess I am the same with watercolour. Makes for wet paper. I think this little painting (postcard size in my sketchbook) needs some stronger darks under the rocks, but it was an exercise and I had had enough with the waiting.
This time I had learnt to be less heavy-handed with my charcoal lines. That’s why I’m doing these projects…..to learn.
In s street very close to our apartment in Siracusa were these wonderful old doors. I took several photos of them because I knew I would want to make art work from them later.
Yesterday we were going to go out sketching, but the weather was too miserable. Rather than go to a museum and sketch inside, we decided to do a project from the John Lovett book I was given recently. There is a section on Buildings and Architectural features, and within that section is a number of Italian doors. We chose one of these three doors, and got started.
We didn’t have the correct colours in pastel pencil to draw it up, so we used watercolour pencils and that worked fine. Then we put in our structural marks (the darks). The next step was to work in charcoal pencil with big confident strokes. I understood that to be bold, and I was wrong. You paint after than and the trouble is that when you wash over the charcoal pencil marks, it makes the washes dirty. From the examples I see that the author’s strokes are thin and spidery. I don’t know how big he is working either. Maybe the strokes look so fine because the image size has been reduced. I am working in a sketchbook. He also says to work from the shoulder and elbow rather than the wrist. To me, that means he is working at an easel. Oh how I would like to do a workshop with him and see how he does it.
John Lovett uses gesso so I also used it to restate my whites so that I could put clean paint over the top. We also used ink…my lovely ink from Florence. And I went back to the watercolour pencils as well.
These were particularly grungy doors, so I am happy enough with the result, though I will do it differently next time. I have already printed out a photo of one of the other doors, so that I see if I get a better result when I try it again. We had great fun doing it though, and learnt so much.
Filed under Charcoal pencil, dip pen, gesso, inks, Italy, pen, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils
At Casa Cuseni in Taormina, this blue door was across the terrace from the room at the top of the house where we had breakfast each day. I would have liked to sketch it at the time, but I was jet-lagged and getting used to how cold it was in Sicily.
Taormina is built on a hill, and Casa Cuseni is quite high up with wonderful views of the bay. The house of Casa Cuseni is a museum and we were so happy we had chosen to stay there. It was cold and rainy except for our last day, but the gardens are wonderful. It would be so nice to be there in the warm weather.
With this sketch I used some techniques from my John Lovett book. I have used watercolour, ink and gesso. I would have liked to introduce more of his techniques, but I have photographs of grungier doors that will suit them better. I wanted to keep the colours of this lovely blue door more true to life.
Bologna has the most amazing windows. This is just one of many I photographed. They are set off by these wonderful red blinds. I sketched this with a dip pen and my dark brown ink I bought in the pen shop in Florence. First opportunity I have had to try it out. It is not “impermeabile” (waterproof.) I am totally up to speed with Italian words regarding pens and inks now.
I am a bit tempted to GET red blinds, but I don’t know how well the look would go with a Newtown terrace house. Mine would probably end up rather more like this one. But I am in the market for new blinds at the moment, so you never know.
Another thing I love about Bologna windows is the sheer variety of windows in the one building, randomly placed, obviously over centuries. This is in one of the great palazzi of Bologna, but smaller buildings can have an amazing variety too.
This is a drawing of a small building with random windows in Bologna I did about ten years ago. Does anyone know where in Bologna this ? I have no idea. I didn’t know the city so well then.
Here are some more with the red blinds. These ones are in Piazza Santo Stefano.
An unusually rustic one here with plain wooden shutters.
An oval window. In Sicily they said it was the Arab influence.
Two for the price of one. A shuttered green window reflected in another window.
So many beautiful windows. I could show you so many more. What’s not to love about Bologna?
ODAD – One Drawing a Day. I had to draw a person with a bamboo pen. I don’t have a person right here, unless you count the cat, and he is not the most co-operative.
I decided to use a photo from the Creative Commons. Follow the link if you need to know what it is. I believe strongly in respecting artists’ copyright, but I believe just as strongly in never talking about copyright on the net. Too many entrenched opinions. Too many people telling me what the law is, when they don’t live in Australia, which is the country whose law I need to follow. Don’t talk to me about copyright. I won’t answer. Enough said.
But there are a number of sites where there are photos that you can use. I have had a document for my painting students for a long time. I have just re-checked the links to make sure they are current, and put it on my resources page. You are welcome to use it. Many of the links came from a NAVA newsletter, an extremely reputable organisation representing Australian artists nationally.
So, this man is a gamelan player from Bali. The first ‘people photos’ I came across in my search were Balinese, and why not! I love it there. I also love Balinese music and degung music, which they also play. It is from Java. You can listen here. I have many CDs.
Sunday and early in the morning out in the courtyard, Exercise Two of One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration and Mixed Media (One A Day) . Broni put in a watering system for me when she was visiting recently, and my Hawaiian hibiscus loves it.
The exercise was to use dip pens with a number of different nibs. I found I have many nibs, and four thingy-os to stick them in. In the event, I used three. My trusty Post Office pen with matching Post Office nib. I love to draw with this pen. It has a wavery line on the watercolour paper (hot press) and to me that really shows the hand-drawn-ness of it. As well as that. I used a wide calligraphy nib, and another nib … I don’t know what you call it. It tapers off like a normal nib, but it has a small round flat piece that glides along the paper. I used these three nibs to sketch my hibiscus.
And then…..on only exercise two, I added colour. I have seen some lovely sketches recently with selective colour, and my hibiscus are such a rich vibrant red…I couldn’t help myself.