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.
This is my Christmas present, but I didn’t get it until May. There is a story behind that. Last year when I was in Barcelona, there was a wonderful ceramic shop near our apartment. I very much admired, but didn’t buy, an oil bottle there. When I got home I wondered around WHY I hadn’t bought it.
So Annie gave me one for Christmas. She bought it here locally, and just as well, because when I put it into action, the top didn’t fit. She took it back without any problem, and as we had already decided our itinerary in Italy, I said ‘you can buy me one in Arezzo.’ There is a lovely shop with ceramics and food delicacies underneath Santa Maria della Pieve, on the corner with the Corso. But when we got there they didn’t have any oil bottles. So this one came from the market in Florence, home of all good things.
The reason I drew it in green is because I bought myself a new fountain pen in Rome. I was wandering the streets near my hotel and came upon this pen shop having a closing down sale. It is a Campomarzio Disengo pen. I loved the bright colours, and it came with green ink. They had the most amazing pens (and they are available in Australia…..at a price.) Just as well,as they use cartridges (there are cartridges in that bottle) and I will be able to get them here. They have a shop in the QVB. So, this is with my new pen, with ink that is not impermeabile, and some watercolour washes.
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?
While I was away, a friend gave me this wonderful book by John Lovett. I think it is the best how-to watercolour book I have ever seen. It is so full of information.
This is the first project. You are guided through by a very detailed step-by-step, as well as lots of hints and tips. So much more useful than many other books I have. I have only showed it to two people and they both have bought it.
I am working through the book from the beginning. Each project builds on what goes before it, and I don’t want to miss anything. I took a couple of days to paint this. I waited till each step was totally dry (and it’s cold here now), and I kept re-reading so saw not to miss anything.
John Lovett is an Australian artist, so the book starts with Australian landscape. I don’t normally paint landscape. I’m a city girl and I don’t have the opportunity. I prefer urban landscape, but soon the book moves on to that also. Gorgeous!
I did this painting in my sketchbook on Canaletto paper. I am keen to fill up this sketchbook because my next one will be Fabriano Hot Press. I have been a fan of Canaletto paper for a few years now and it is a wonderfully robust paper. It is fine for pen-and-wash sketching, but if you want watercolour to behave like watercolour, then Canaletto paper allows the paint to soak in fraction too quickly. It doesn’t hold up well to multiple washes either.
Not blogging as often as I’d like, but don’t think for a minute I’m not making art. I have been busy with a friend making samples for workshops we are going to teach.
Although things have been busy since I got home, I went out sketching at Summer Hill with Chris Haldane recently. Chris showed me some local architectural gems and we both chose this old milk bar to sketch. You can see Chris’ sketch here, and she tells a lot more about the history of the milk bar, that I didn’t know at all. She knows the area much better than I do, though it is not so far from where I live.
It is winter here, but the sun was bright and we could sit outside on a corner without getting cold. We both found this sketch a challenge in the bright sunlight. To me, the point of interest was the pale washed out blue around the upper window. But the sun on the red brickwork was so strong. It was hard to get the tones right. We both want to go again and give it another try.