Cosimo Foo the Biter

image This cat is my cat. He put me in hospital. Last Tuesday he came flying over the fence, chasing another cat, heading towards the road. I put my hand on us back to try to stop him and he sank one tooth all the way in.

It swelled immediately, but became much worse later in the day, so I went with my friend to casualty at the hospital. We sat up all night, and after a while I was put on an antibiotic drip. There are many crazy stories about this time, but they will have to go untold, as I am typing with one hand.

The following afternoon I was taken to the operating theatre and the wound was cleaned out. Then my whole forearm was plastered to immobilise it, and it was suspended from a ‘gallows’. From time to time the other arm was immobilised by being tied to the antibiotic drip.

I was in hospital for three days. Now I am at home, with the injured hand only partially usable. That is why no sketching or blogging at the moment. I feel fine and the culprit is asleep on the end of my bed, having got over his sulks because I ‘left him’ for three days.


Filed under cats, Chinese Friendship Garden, Uncategorized

Roman baroque

939_roofIn Rome, I stay in a hotel in the pink building. Looking in the other direction, way in the distance there, are the Spanish Steps. It is  less than ten minutes’ walk. If you go down either side of the building, the two streets meet up, and they all head for the Pantheon. Less than 5 minutes’ walk. This particular day I went down Via Pallacorda, and happened to look up. You can see this amazing piece of baroque architecture and also how narrow the street is. I took a photo anway.

I used some techniques from Marc Taro Holmes to lessen the acute angles I got from standing so close and pointing my camera so high. I could do it better next time, because I observed the structure a lot more closely while I was sketching it.

The building I lived in, when I lived in Rome many years ago was right across the road. I found out recently that it is the Palazzo della Famiglia Borghese, built by Cardinal Scipio Borghese (who was a patron of Caravaggio and Bernini) for his family and retainers, right across the piazza from the grand Palazzo Borghese. Here is my sketch of the door I entered every day for most of a year, back in the 70’s. And this is the solar plate of the door of Palazzo Borghese. I must see if I can find out more about this building with the almost hidden baroque.

With the help of a historian in Rome, I found that this building is Palazzo Cardelli, and what I have sketched is part of the “pensive garden”. You can see more here, if you look down the page to the pink building.

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Filed under fountain pen, inks, Italy, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, watercolour

Finally – proofs of my latest solar plate etchings

teatro_solarI made these solar plates some time ago, but I didn’t initially have a place to print them. Unfortunately the venue where I used to do my print-making disappeared, and I haven’t found another one. I printed these on a friend’s press, but she doesn’t have the space for viscosity printing as you need a lot of room to lay out all the inks. I am interested in colour in print-making, and if I can’t use a lot of colour, I quickly lose interest. I will try them again with a colour roll.

This plate was made using a sketch I did in Sicily.  This cafe always had a tray of oranges outside, so it was only yesterday I had the time to colour the oranges (with watercolour) on the print.

The second print was more an experiment. I did the original sketch (the second one in this post)  with a twig.  Some other Urban Sketchers use a twig, and mostly they sharpen them to a point. I have been doing this since I was at art school, and mine is not sharpened. It is just the end of the twig, how it comes off the tree.

cf_greengrocerI photocopied the sketch and altered it to a size that would fit my A5 plate. Then I drew into it to extend it a little. After that I traced it onto drafting film using black acrylic ink and a twig. The twig lays down a lot of ink, and unlike the original surface, the drafting film doesn’t absorb the ink. It just lays on top. When I expose the solar plate to the sun, the inky side of the drafting film is next to the plate. In the time under the hot sun, the ink melted and stuck to the plate. I wasn’t totally surprised. In the processing,  I used some muslin to try to correct the areas, so that they would hold the ink.

Sometimes it can take a couple of prints from a fresh solar plate until it gets into all the crevices. This one certainly improved from the first one. But it needs colour!  I might have a play with watercolour until I get a chance to print it again. It is the greengrocer’s shop  in Castiglion Fiorentino.



Filed under Print-making, solar plates

Iseh village

iseh_wcAnother sketch from a photo, using some of the Marc Taro Holmes techniques.

NOTE: The Craftsy courses are on special during November. Buy Now! This course “Travel Sketching in Mixed Media” exceeded my expectations. Join up here.

Iseh village is high up on the slopes of Mt Agung in Bali. This volcano was thought to be inactive, however in 1963 there was a major eruption over a long period. Over 2000 people were killed. At the time, an English couple were living in Iseh, and Anna Mathews wrote a book about their experiences. In May, we went up the mountain as far as the road goes to see the places first hand. No tourists up there! You can read more about our trip here.

I sketched Iseh in lesson one. It is in this post, looking in the other direction. Also Mt Batur in the same post. Most of my landscape photographs are from Bali. At home, I am a city girl. It seems even in Europe I am a city girl.

Volcanos fascinate me. The first time Broni came to Bali with me (about 20 years ago) Mt Batur was erupting while we were up there on the rim. It goes down again, where there is a village, and up to the cone. I remember Broni cavorting along the fence line saying “Mana bisa, mana bisa! They’re living IN the volcano”. Photo and sketch here.

In August this year, Mt Raung, a volcano in east Java (to the west of Bali) was disrupting flights. As I post, Ngurah Rai airport in Bali is closed again because of the eruption of Mt Rinjani in Lombok, immediately to the east of Bali. I hope my next trip is not disrupted.

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Filed under Bali, fountain pen, inks, pen, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, watercolour

Noto …perspective

notoThis is the Marc Taro Holmes Travel Sketching course lesson on painless perspective.  Marc gives you three ways to handle perspective. I am supremely lucky that I went to TAFE – the Sydney Gallery School and got an exceptional grounding in perspective in first year.  So this one is ‘winging it’. Easy, from a photo.

This is my own photo taken in Noto, in Sicily last year. I was only able to do one sketch as I was with a group. I even got left behind because I was taking photos. Noto is an amazing place……there is a lifetime’s sketching just along that main street. A world heritage site, and of such beauty. Also (in my opinion) the best contemporary bar in Italy…. Anche gli Angeli.

I am fairly happy with this one for straight-in-with-the-pen. I do so wish I had the light touch that Marc Taro Holmes has, but his mark is his, and mine is mine. It’s not going to change. I make a very deliberate mark. There’s a reason for that. I had polio when I was two years old. Not very badly, but it affected my wrists, hands and legs. My father helped me overcome it by teaching me to write before I started school (yes, running writing).  Ballet lessons helped with the skinny skinny legs….overdid it, if you ask me. But I still hold my pen with a bit of a death grip, or else I’ll drop it.

Super5 pen with Lexington Grey on Fabriano Hot Press paper.

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Filed under fountain pen, pen, Sicily, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, watercolour

Finally Lesson 3 – experiment with Lexington Grey

ricefields_colourAfter the big search for inks this week, I finally got on to Marc Taro Holmes Lesson 3 – with watercolour over ink. I had heard a variety of opinions about the waterproof-ness of Lexington Grey (or otherwise) and I have a small amount that a friend has given me.  I took a crumpled piece of Fabriano Hot Press paper, expecting to have to throw this one away. Using the Super5 pen, I did a quick and careless sketch of one of my ricefield scenes. This sketch is same pen, different ink. How different is that line?

Well, as you see, it didn’t smear or bleed at all.  I only waited for a minute for the ink to dry, and there was quite a lot of ink on the paper, particularly where I have scribbled in the palm trees.

As far as the watercolour is concerned, it was a shame I didn’t use a flat sheet of paper. Using a lot of wet paint was tricky on a surface that was far from flat.  I learnt one more thing. I need to allow the trees to merge with the sky when the paint on the sky is not quite so wet. Still, a great way to work when travelling. All that wet paint doesn’t have to be put on in situ if there is no time.  This is another view near Sidemen in Bali, taken on the day we followed the Night of Purnama trail.



Filed under Bali, fountain pen, inks, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

Glebe sketch…and investigating waterproof inks

northcote_st_glebeWe drove down Glebe Point Road, looking for (a) somewhere to park and (b) a sketchable house. Not much parking. We ended up down by the water. As we were driving round the block, we saw this house opposite the park, where there were shady trees to sit under. Another cream house, so this time I used Naples Yellow and dropped in some raw sienna. I have decided I prefer the tall terrace houses to sketch. And next one, any colour but cream.

I said I was going out yesterday to buy waterproof black ink. Failed!  Marc Taro Holmes uses Platinum Carbon ink which is not available here.  I went to a shop that stocked De Atramenis Document inks. They said that they are no longer available here in Australia as there is no supplier. They had a few Noodlers inks and that is the same story. Noodlers will be no longer supplying Australia. I have Noodlers already, and mine are not waterproof. I have Black Bulletproof and Lexington Grey.  My Noodlers brown IS waterproof though.

When we got home, we called around some other art shops. All the same story.We looked at ordering from Goulet pens, but with the combination of  postage (about $US25 for two bottles of ink)  and our dollar (currently US$0.71) the price became astronomical.

Another ink that had been suggested was the Rotring ink that is used for technical pens. It is in a strange container not suitable for filling fountain pens. Sure, it can be decanted. The fellow in the art shop ‘demonstrated’ the waterproof-ness of it, and it smeared. He said he had done it too soon (immediately.) However my nephew called last night and we were talking inks. He has that Rotring ink and he ran a test, using water over it after leaving it an hour. Smeared.

So I will have to wait until somebody travels somewhere where waterproof ink is available. In the meantime I will be using my Copic Multiliner to start Marc Taro Holmes Lesson Three.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, Glebe, inks, sketchbook, sketching, Sydney, watercolour