A valued friend of many sketchers, Jorge Royan, died unexpectedly just over a week ago as the result of a medical procedure. He is being missed by many people all over the world. Though I never met him face to face, I always thought I would. There is nothing I would have liked better than to sit and have a chat with Jorge.
Jorge’s sketching friends are doing a book of portraits, or they are sketching floral tributes, that will be put together as a book for his family. This is my contribution. I didn’t know how to approach it. A hard thing to do. I decided to use the mixed media techniques I have been using recently. Watercolour, watercolour pencils, gesso, charcoal pencils, both black and white. I am not a portrait artist, so I am happy enough with it.
Jorge started the Sketching Workshop a couple of years ago and I was lucky enough to be asked to join right away. The group is deliberately kept to 150 members, so that we all have the opportunity to get to know one another. We are all peers – relatively competent in sketching – so that we can critique one another’s work from an equal footing. And critique we do. The words ‘wow’ and ‘amazing’ are forbidden. It is a truly international group – not dominated by any one nationality. We have great projects and great fun with them. Jorge never asked for anything in return. He wasn’t selling anything. His motto was “all that is not given is lost,” and that philosophy has influenced the group. To me, he was the non-commercial face of sketching.
Stuck in the kitchen while electricians roamed the house, I decided to sketch another of the three doors from Siracusa. Again I used mixed media techniques I picked up from the John Lovett book. Watercolour, watercolour pencil, ink, charcoal pencil, both black and white, and gesso.
I didn’t look at the one I had already sketched, because I didn’t want the way I had handled it to influence this sketch. I have decided to leave it a while before I do the third one, and see if that makes any difference. I love to look at the photos of these doors, because we walked past them several times a day and it takes me right back to Sicily. It would be so nice to be there now when it is warm there and so cold here.
Filed under Charcoal pencil, gesso, inks, Italy, Ortigia, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils
Everything broke last week, so while I was waiting for tradesmen to come and fix things, I painted another little landscape from the John Lovett book. This is a step by step project from the book. I learn so much from these projects, but on the whole I would much rather paint from my own photos.
This one is also mixed media and the main difference is that the sky is mixed with ultramarine watercolour and white gouache. It certainly makes it pop against those orange rocks. A very Australian landscape, not that I have been to the outback to see country like this.
So, mixed media again. Watercolour, watercolour pencils, ink, charcoal pencil and gouache.
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
Today my aim was to spend the day walking around the Jewish ghetto area. Back in the day when I lived in Rome, we used to go there often for the village-like atmosphere in the centre of Rome.
My first stop was in Via Falegnami (street of the carpenters) for a tea and biscotto. I spied something a bit distant to sketch, but before I could begin, a big truck came and parked right in my field of view. So I moved on without taking out my sketchbook.
But before I left the Jewish area, I had a good look around the streets. I had often wandered through this area, but never really explored it. This time I did and I found, set into the pavements, brass plaques about the Jewish people who were taken away by the Nazis during the Second World War. I had never seen them before. Are they new since my last visit? Did I just walk down different streets? Or was I oblivious?
I walked through the market at Campo dei Fiori and came to Piazza Farnese, where I found a cafe to have lunch right opposite Palazzo Farnese, which is now the French Embassy. (As an aside, when I lived in Rome I took the little boy to play at the French Embassy residence at quite a different palazzo. It was the Villa Paolina Bonaparte. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to go inside).
So I sat with my focaccia and lemon tea, and sketched the portone of Palazzo Farnese. Perhaps this will make another solar plate, if it is not too samey-samey with one I have already done. There are so many that I love.