Thursday, December 28, 2006

Back in Time

Snowy and Dermott have just reminded me that this blog was supposed to be about their adventures in Tuscany. They have asked me to post their portrait with Santa.

At this time of year the people of CF don Biblical costume and the whole Centro Storico (old part of town) becomes Bethlehem. The usually sparsely inhabited streets are a teaming mass of pilgrims weaving their way past ancient artisans plying their trades and selling wine and hot flat bread. At the top of the hill under the tower there is a stable with baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

This year the holy family was played by our local optometrist with his wife and newborn. Having taken about 50 photos in my journey up the hill, when I finally got to the stable the memory card in my camera was full. Of course I had forgotten my new glasses, provided by Joseph/Carlo, and couldn't see to delete a couple of photos! That's irony. The whole thing happens again in a week's time so hopefully I'll have my act together by then.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Some figure work

I've been wanting to join a life drawing class but haven't been able to find one locally, so back to good old WetCanvas where there is a very lively, friendly, virtual life drawing thread. Photos are generously provided by the model Sophie.
My hyacinth bulb continues bloom. I was disappointed with this effort, so will probably try another now that the flowers are all out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Repeating myself

I think I've captured the colour of the buds but after painting three versions of this bulb already I'm rather disappointed with the leaves. I'll have another go when the buds burst.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


JC and I took the train to Florence on Thursday for a spot of shopping. That was pretty well abandoned when we realised what a beautiful day we had lucked upon. Almost too hot to sit in the sun! JC had a great time taking photos and we lunched outside in the Piazza Della Repubblica. Apart from grumpy waiters it was just about as perfect as lunch can be. When you strike a grumpy waiter here it is usually where there is a lot of tourist traffic. I bite my tongue because I think it must have taken a lot of obnoxious customers to make them this way.

I started a sketch but had to finish it at home from my photograph.

Next time I am determined to have a day dedicated to sketching. It's a crime to live so close to all this beauty and not to visit more often.

This stunning angle on the Palazzo Vecchio through the Uffizi was taken by Jean C.

My Hyacinth bulb is thriving in its champagne glass of water and about to burst into flower.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why does watercolour hate me?!

About all I can say for today's post is that I am being diligent and posting regularly. I've had a very depressing couple of days with watercolour. First of all I spent a lot of time drawing a little still life of cups and rose bud. GWK wandered past and muttered 'contrived' ,now all I can see is 'cheap Mother's Day card'. White china is hell to paint from life.

I took away the rose bud and tried a quick watercolour sketch. Very lumpy. I need to find a tutorial on painting 'whites'. On the plus side I got to try my WN Cobalt Turquoise for the first time.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Lights

No successful watercolours in the last two days so I'm posting our Christmas lights. The star over the tower is shot from our garden but it is visible for miles across the valley. On Boxing Day it leads crowds of people up through the twisting streets lined with stalls and merchants in Biblical costume. Under the tower there is a stable with sheep and goats and inside the youngest and fairest play Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus.

And more lights outside our apartment. Now if only I could gather nearest and dearest here it would be perfect.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Watercolour sketches

I bought my first Hyacinth bulb at our Friday market. Couldn't find a proper bulb vase for it so it's sitting over water in a crystal champagne glass - not quite what I imagined. A Victorian bulb vase would be so pretty to paint with its little narrow waist. I'll see if I can find one in Florence. Meantime I'm hoping to do a number of watercolour sketches as my little bulb blooms.

Also made a watercolour attempt at the fallen leaf. I'm drawing everything from life at present in the hope that something magical will happen just by doing the hard yards. There is a great temptation to work from a photograph because that would make seeing the values so much easier.

I was so inspired by Laura's (Laurelines) Radishes I rushed out and bought a bunch to paint. They are not bad for me but nothing like the delightful study that inspired me. GWK is now amusing himself by taking items out of the fridge and saying: 'It this for eating or painting?'

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another leaf on the ground

I picked up a beautiful dry leaf when walking the dogs the other day. Had a heck of a time trying to render values in this dull foggy light. Though I'd post the sketch anyway. It's amazing how quickly one gets out of practise.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

On Days Like This...

No art today. I'm in bed nursing a cold so I've decided to use the time to post a few photos.
This is the main street where we have our apartment.

There seems to be a constant passing parade celebrating the town's medieval heritage: flag throwers, drummers, noblemen and women. We have a box seat from our living room window.

At present I am working at a tiny desk at the rear of our apartment which overlooks our garden and a very quiet but pretty back street.

This the view from my desk. Hence my current obsession with 'the tower'. This photo was taken on our first inspection of the apartment last spring. GWK fell in love with the unruly mess of a garden. He has since started clearing away years of neglect. In the coming spring he will get serious about vegetables. To date we've had a few late tomatoes and planted a pear and a cherry tree to join the existing fruit trees and grape vines.

The little foot bridge links the apartment to our garden.

Another first inspection day photo. I'm checking out the potential for a studio in the little brick building at the end of the terrace. It has windows on three sides. Since GWK's gardening paraphernalia has already found its way in there, plan B is to convert the storeroom inside the apartment into a studio. The electrician has ordered some studio lights to that end.

This is the gate leading from the tower which we pass through twice a day walking the dogs. Below is the main square.

Here, outside the little bar under the arches, we have breakfast every morning. It is getting a bit cold now and I don't think it will be long before we accept the owner's invitation to move inside. Dermott (our Old English Sheepdog) will have to be on his best behaviour.

The final two photos remind me why I love this place even at this time of year:

Olive picking with a rather damp Snowy keeping me company.

And snow outside the coffee bar at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The good oil.

After too many days of fog we've re-emerged into the Autumn sunshine. Delightful. I love this time of year. The olives have been harvested and pressed and l'olio nuovo is celebrated and tasted. It's the most beautiful colour - an intense chartreuse that I haven't been able to capture in watercolour. Didn't stop me trying though.

I'm still obsessed with painting our tower - I was rather disappointed with my efforts. Posted it on WetCanvas and Yorky (Doug) kindly suggested some false shadows that helped enormously.

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