Category Archives: sketching


imageA morning out on a bus trip to Buscemi – ‘Paese Museo della Vita Popolare (Village Museum of Working Life’.)

A local guide accompanied us around the village while we visited a traditional wine press,  and houses of the wealthy farmer and the poorer day-labourers.


For such a small town, the church architecture was again, wonderful. Unfortunately, we were taken on a guided tour with no opportunity to stop and sketch. We ended up learning to make bread, and to make the bread ‘toys’ that would have traditionally have been made for the children, a doll, a rooster, and finally, an artichoke.


We were then given a delicious though simple(ish) lunch on a terrace in the sun. I used my new Hero pen from Hong Kong to sketch a well that was on the terrace. At present my ink is not waterproof (we will find an art shop sometime) so I used my waterbrushes to get the mid-tones.

imageBack in Siracusa, we sat at some tables of a closed restaurant to draw this beautiful old building beside the Duomo. While sketching we got colder and colder and found a bar where we could sit inside and have a glass of red wine to warm us.

Oh, that’s my artichoke!


Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, Italy, Ortigia, pen, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Piazza Archimede

imageOnce again I skipped printing and went sketching instead. This time we went to Piazza Archimede, one of the main piazzas in Ortigia. We got a coffee and biscotti, and then decided to sketch our biscotti, so we had to get more biscotti so we could eat and sketch.

I don’t think I have said how wonderful the biscuits and cakes are here in Sicily. They are just so delicious. I have found a favourite shop and favourite biscuits with lemon. I don’t even like lemon peel, but these have a cross between actual peel and candied peel and they are just the most delicious. But I still try many others, just in case there is something as good.

imageI decided not to draw the fountain, and just sketched these windows and the clock. Architectural detail is what interests me at home and continues to do so here.

In the afternoon the group went to see the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, but I didn’t go. It sounded like a lot of hanging round in the cold to me. Some were even staying on into the night for the Via Crucis (the Stations of the Cross). I had a nice afternoon at the apartment. Going out for supplies in the late afternoon, I ran slap bang into three who had gone on the trip, home already to get out of the cold.

I should explain that antiquities don’t do it for me. Sicily is full of them and I am sure they are wonderful. But I am here for the baroque. That is what excites me. I could sit in Piazza Duomo every day and just gaze at the same buildings.


Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, Italy, Ortigia, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Sketching the duomo

imageThe duomo in Ortigia is very very impressive. It is in a beautiful piazza with a number of other beautiful buildings. So we settled ourselves into the bar that has now become my favourite, and decided to attempt a sketch of this ornate building. Only a partial sketch of the building this time. Wimp, I know. But it is so complex.

Not with the group? Um, no. Somehow Siracusa is so beautiful and it has enchanted me. I can do printmaking at home, but I can’t sit in Piazza Duomo then.
Oh, in the morning I went back to the Desigual shop. It is still coooold. The scarf I bought at Fiumincino is purple, and it doesn’t go with the red tops I brought with me. And I am running out of clothes and I need a scarf to keep warm. You can see me with the red top and new scarf here. Che bella figura!

imageI am at yet another bar, round the side of the duomo this time. We had gone out for a walk and a glass of red wine. My last trip it was hot, and we drank beer, but this time red wine is the thing to keep,us warm. We ate at home. The food from the delicatessens are sooooooo delicious here, it is so easy to eat at the apartment.


April 18, 2014 · 3:07 pm

First day in Siracusa

imageOur first morning in Siracusa we went to a briefing in the print-making studio, before going for a walk through the market. We had to buy some bits of fruit or vegetable for a project in the studio later in the day. We bought enormous strawberries for our breakfast, and some artichokes and eggplant for the printing project.

We sloped off from the group to sit down for a coffee and sketch at a place where some of the others had stopped for coffee the previous evening.

I am using Siracusa and Ortigia interchangeably, because Ortigia is our part of Siracusa. We live right down near the pointy bit at the bottom of the Island. This next image is one I took the first morning I came out our door and looked down the street.

These teensy artichokes are what we brought for the printing project plus a big eggplant called a Violetta.

imageIn the event, I didn’t go printmaking. I was tired, we had laundry issues and technical issues and I decided I would MUCH rather stay back at the apartment and sort them out. But Annie went. Later we had a group ‘welcome dinner’, sitting outside. Too cold for me.


Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, Italy, Ortigia, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Off to Ortigia

imageWe had joined a print-making art group for our time in Sicily. After our four days in Taormina it was time to go back to Catania and meet them. From Catania, we were taken to Siracusa and to our apartment in Ortigia, which is an island connected by three bridges.

Immediately we all went out for lunch to a restaurant called “The Happy Celery”. After eating we pulled out our sketchbooks, and I sketched the pots of geraniums on the wall, suspecting it might be the only opportunity to sketch that day. There are flowers blooming everywhere in Sicily now. Geraniums and cyclamens mostly in the town, also wisteria, but in the country there is a blaze of yellow from the broom and other plants of a similar colour, interspersed with red poppies.

In the evening we went for a walk with the group for ‘orientation’ which was nothing if not confusing. Ortigia is amazingly beautiful, but the layout takes a little time. We went to the print studio where the group was to do their printing, and around the town. We also went to a small supermarket to get supplies. Very impressed by the man in the delicatessen there, who allowed us to try many things that were so delicious we had to buy them.


Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, Italy, Ortigia, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

The sun on Mount Etna

Finally the sun! Mount Etna revealed right outside our terrace. Snow in plenty, still cold, but the sun. Walking down into Taormina we noticed the orange blossom scent in the street from the fully laden trees. It doesn’t seem quite real.

The thing that had first interested me in coming to Sicily was the buildings I saw in the backgrounds in the Commissario Montalbano tv series. At the bottom of the hill this morning there seemed to be standing with his back to us…Catarella, a character from the series. Same uniform, same stance, same hair. It was a bit like seeing an old friend.
We went back to Licchio’s Bar, where the friendly waiter with the fuschia pink jumper and scarf ensemble brought me hot water for my Tachifludec.
We sketched from the same spot as the previous day, drinking lemon tea, until the cold drove us to look for another spot in the sun.


Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, Italy, Sicily, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour