Category Archives: sketching

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Finally I sketch in Taormina

Another rainy morning, and cold, but we tumbled down the hill into Taormina. A wander around the Corso in the cold, dodging the raindrops, and we found a Licchio’s Bar with an umbrella to sit under while we sketched.
My sketch is the doorway of Palazzo Corvaja. It was one of a number of things we could have sketched from the same bar.

I can’t emphasise how beautiful Sicily is. There is so much to look at, wherever you are. We got some delicious takeaway pizza and sat in a weak gleam of sunshine, then back to Casa Cuseni for a while to get warm. I really hadn’t expected it to be this cold.

In the early evening we were off down the hill again, tempted by the food at the Trattoria da Ugo, and the friendly people there. We ate zuppa di pesce (fish soup) and that warmed us right down to our socks. Same little taxi driver appeared just at the right time to take us back up the hill


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

The flight to Rome

image We had to check out of our hotel at 6pm so we got a taxi straight to the airport, even though our flight didn’t leave till after midnight. Hong Kong airport challenges even Bangkok airport in its complexity. Because we were so early, our departure gate wasn’t decided, so we were able to choose from four Cathay Pacific lounges. Not wanting to walk too far, we chose one of them that looked nearest the middle of the airport. Well…… up escalators, down escalators, up more, down more, and then, still following the signs…..we had to jump on a train. All the while wheeling our small suitcases and carrying our shoulderbags with iPad, sketchbook and paints, plus tickets, etc etc.

Finally we found it and fell gratefully into a seat. Got something to drink, and a plate of goodies to sketch. Some small custard tarts, and a creme brûlée. And we were not allowed to eat them until they were sketched. We also had plenty of time for some ‘real food’, salad etc. and shortly before midnight we were able to board the aircraft.

I should perhaps tell you about Cathay Pacific Business class, because it’s a bit unusual. They win many awards for it. Going up to Hong Kong, the seating across the cabin was in 1-2-1 formation. Because of travelling together, we chose two seats together in the middle of the aircraft like this

I usually prefer to be near the window, only because I hate travelling in the daytime in darkness. If I have my own window I can keep the blind up. But all my flights are at night, so it doesn’t matter. Nevertheless, the two centre seats face slightly away from one another. So, to talk you both have to lean forward and raise your voices over the noise of the aircraft. It’s a good formation for lone travellers but not so good for people who want to chat to their travelling companion.

On this flight to Rome, the formation of the seats was 1-1-1. So we had seats in a single row by the window. This one really is a herringbone formation. The back of your head is to the window, and your feet face diagonally across the cabin. Lie-flat beds, of course, and like sleeping in a narrow corridor in a sense, but very comfortable beds.This image shows you what it is like.

I think it is going to be great on the way home, when I will be travelling alone, because you are not actually sitting next to anyone. But for travelling with a companion, I prefer the traditional side by side format.

One tip for beginners in the lie-flat bed…..things get trapped under them. Before you start pressing buttons you need to be sure of the location of all your belongings, or you might have to get a steward to help you get them back again.


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