Tag Archives: collage

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

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

Rome to Sicily

imageMorning, and here we were in Rome’s Fiumincino airport. We had several hours to fill in before our flight to Catania, but had needed to leave a slice of time in case of delays. We wasted a bit of it trying to find the stop for the ‘free shuttle bus’ between the terminals. Got some confusing directions. Because we had been up all night? No. Because you could walk it in 5 minutes with your luggage.

We had a plan.
A. Buy Desigual scarf at the Desigual shop in the terminal. Easy. We even got sconto (discount). This was to prove a very sensible purchase rather than an extravagance.
This is it

B. Buy TIM card. That’s a Telecom Italia SIM card. Done. I now have an Italian phone number.

In the early afternoon we flew off to Catania on Alitalia. We had somehow stumbled across a ridiculously cheap fare. When we boarded the aircraft, we seemed to have been given a semi-upgrade. The cabin had a 3-3 formation, and we were given a row of three seats each. How did that happen? I am guessing that because Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Alitalia are all part of the ‘One World’ Alliance. We are Qantas ‘frequent flyers’ and we had been Cathay Pacific business class passengers from Australia. We were probably ‘on their system’.

It was cloudy and we didn’t see Mt Etna. I couldn’t help wondering where it was. A very slightly bumpy flight. I never worry if it is no bumpier than the back of a bus, but someone screamed. Haven’t had that before. As the aircraft landed, there were red and yellow wildflowers in the grass between the runways. I had hoped the wildflowers would be blooming, and it was such a delight to see them so soon.

On arrival we were met by our driver and taken to the wonderful Casa Cuseni in Taormina. A national monument, museum and B&B. We were greeted by an elegant man, jeans, nice blazer and a perfectly tied light cornflower blue scarf. Or was it azzuro. Taormina is full of elegant men my age. All wearing scarves perfectly tied…..even in the house.


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

First day in Hong Kong

image This is just another quick sketch I did on the aircraft, just after takeoff. These Singapore orchids were between our seats. Unfortunately the cabin was dimmed for takeoff and they were just a smidgen too far away to be seen properly. Still, a sketch is a sketch. Bear in mind I am photographing the sketchbook in far from ideal conditions. That was the only sketch I did that day, what with travelling all night, and racing around Hong Kong in the rain in the daytime.image

Oh, yes the art shop. Rob led us to the train and we were there in no time. Many floors, many things. Unfortunately not the elusive brown ink. I did a lot less shopping that you think. But I got many waterbrushes, including the collapsible kind I have never seen before. Next we went to EAT. Rob took us to a restaurant at Central, where his partner Louisa joined us and we had very delicious noodles and dumplings of various kinds. Several days later when I am writing this, I think this meal still stands out among many other yummy things I have eaten since. Tsui Wah Restaurant. I shouldn’t have told you. Now you will all go! image

Fading by then, so back to the hotel for a relax, and then out again to see the Symphony of Lights on Hong Kong Harbour.


Filed under collage, Hong Kong, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Travelling with a sketcher : guest post from a non-sketcher

Due to popular demand!….. My ‘non-sketching’ friend Broni has responded with a Guest Post about the travails of travelling with a sketcher. Here it is, along with some of her not-sketches.

Sketch-Lake-ZurichI feel the need to respond to the quirkyartist’s blog post. Firstly, because it is a well written piece of work and secondly, because I had no idea that as a non-sketcher I would cause so much preparation! I was aware that this trip was the quirkyartist’s chance to madly sketch so was more than prepared for that and so I jumped at the chance to travel with Wendy because I knew we would laugh ourselves silly and I was in need of a good holiday. My strategy was to sit around in cafés watching Wendy sketch while I recharged my tired batteries and soaked up the ambience of my surroundings by trying the wines, cheeses and coffees of the region we were in.

I was in for a very big surprise. Wendy had shown me her little (overflowing) box of collage material in Sydney and I had also taken possession of my very own sketchbook – it is beautiful, but even bigger than the nice small one I had been gifted for our Bali trip which is sadly, mostly still bereft of pretty sketches and water colours! I immediately felt the clutches of panic but thought my strategy would still work if I filled my sketch book with pieces collected on the trip. I even thought I would still have time to write my own travel blog…

From the moment we hit the airport lounge Wendy had her sketchbook out and had completed a work of art before I had even contemplated the least complicated subject for an attempt. I devised a cunning plan. I would ensure the artist would not go hungry or thirsty so busied myself collecting delectable tastes for us both. I was very good at this and by the time our boarding call came we had tasted the entire range! So, to the plane feeling quite pleased with myself for covering up that I was not feeling very confident about filling this amazing sketchbook of mine. But of course that in itself caused another problem. How to get the book filled? I would have to form a new strategy!Sketch-Memory

My new strategy. Collect anything that looked interesting or told a story about what had happened in my day and get stuck in to that very full box of collage material and start now. Right now. On the plane. Before take-off!

I was faced with many battles. Which tools would I need to complete this mammoth task without having to go in and out of the cabin luggage the whole trip? Obvious ones were: sketchbook and pencil. But then of course I would need the coloured pencils, the ink pens and maybe even the paints. The next battle was where to put it all so that there was also enough room for the all-important glassware (for champagne of course), cutlery and plates of food that were promised to arrive shortly? Then, what to start with?

Sketch-Singha-BeerDo I draw? I did love drawing when I was at college and even passed School C Art, but I know this was helped along by my fairly good proficiency at lettering and calligraphy, but sitting and drawing something in front of me was a big challenge. I knew that the depth in a picture was all about shadows and softer lines rather than what I would be more likely to produce. Let’s not forget that I was travelling with the holder of a Fine Arts Degree which hardly compares to School C Art! Anyway, I digress from the rising panic I was again trying to push down as I was sitting in that plane before take-off, surrounded (read hemmed in and trapped) by artist’s tools and airline fare.

Two glasses of very acceptable bubbles seemed to temper the panic and I started to enjoy myself, telling myself that this couldn’t be so hard, it was after all, just a book…made by my very good friend and travelling companion who had EXPECTATIONS.

By the time we hit Bangkok, our first stop, I was well on the way to having my first two spreads completed. You see how much I learnt in that first day? I learnt that two pages opened out is a spread and that I had done that without even thinking – I had glued so much stuff in there wasn’t much space left for writinSketch-Firenzeg, let alone drawing or sketching. The new strategy was working quite well especially when we decided to soak the labels off the Singha Beer bottles in our bathroom basin – until the water ran out all over the floor. Plumbing not quite finished…

By the time we reached Switzerland I was happy that I was making a reasonable effort in keeping up with recording our trip. I had been given the impression that Switzerland would be the place to recover from the long flight as our hosts would really look after us and let us relax. Another big surprise! From dawn til after dusk we were on the move. Of course this provides more events that must be recorded in the sketchbook but much less time to design and attach the memories.

I was fast learning that Wendy had also packed quite a large whip and that my travel blog would have to take a back seat to filling the sketchbook. It is amazing how much time is required for putting memories on a page every day, or in my case, a spread for every day. I have just realised that if I had used a page a day it may, and only may, have been easier on time requirements, but then it would have taken longer to fill it. I did steal myself away one evening when Wendy was chatting over old memories with our hosts to record my activities for the day. It was the day we had taken the morning off so I could catch up with my business progress and get the washing done. It was an easy memory as it was of the washing machine and computer. These are things I use every day so doing it from memory was not difficult and the sketch is not very sophisticated, in fact it is downright simplistic in artistic terms. But, it is on the page!Sketch-Roma

For the rest of our trip, I did get some time to write a couple of blogs but they were a bit of a catch up from our last trip to Bali so I felt an achievement in that. I did spend time sitting in cafés watching, and marvelling, at Wendy sketching, and of course watching the rest of the world walk, bike or drive by us. That was very therapeutic in itself. I decided not to take my laptop out with me every day because the days I had taken it I found that I was never finished my blog before Wendy had completed another beautiful piece. I was interested to find out in her blog that she felt she shouldn’t spoil my trip by taking too much time sketching, but for me, this was never a concern. I did fill my sketchbook before we got to Bangkok on the return journey so had to console myself with collecting all the pieces I would have to glue in when the additional pages were added. The pages are now in and the gluing almost complete, but I have to admit I do not seem to have as much time when at home and back at the business. Or maybe it is because Wendy’s whip doesn’t quite reach…but seriously, could I really leave it unfinished after enjoying it so much? Of course not!

Wendy is right about my being prepared to have a go at almost anything, though bungee jumping is finally out! Once I put my blog behind me and concentrated on my sketchbook, I found I really liked the quiet moments it provided and the creativity it relit in my soul. ‘The Box’, the materials gratefully accepted, and Wendy’s encouragement Sketch-Barcelonamade all the difference to my confidence as I became more and more involved in filling my amazing sketchbook. I especially like the ducks I drew floating on Lake Zürich. They are very small and look like – ducks. They remind me of a very special day we spent going by train to a place called Rapperswil on the edge of Lake Zürich, walking and lunching there before catching the ship back to Zürich. I did do a couple of other sketches (badly) but really enjoyed the feeling if I got it anywhere near close to acceptable.

Mostly though, I love going back through my sketchbook and remembering one of the greatest trips of my life. Full of…panic in keeping up with EXPECTATIONS, a lot of laughing at funny/odd moments in time and at ourselves, lots of culture, many, many markets, and the really, really good companionship of my long term friend. You can’t beat that.

Oh, I forgot to mention the terror when trying out my Italian in front of Wendy. Not only is she a teacher of art in her home town, but she is a STICKLER for getting the accent and pronunciation perfect! But that is another story…

Be sure to read the original quirkyartist post about Keeping a Sketchbook when travelling with a Non-Sketcher

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Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, Italy, sketchbook, sketching, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Travel, watercolour pencils