Saturday, January 27, 2007

That Blue Hat

Sally lost her blue hat in a changing room of an Arezzo boutique. I was so disappointed because I wanted to paint her in it. The hat turned up later, hiding in the sleeve of her overcoat. So here's Sally in That Blue Hat.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sketching with Coloured Pencils

Since I am in the middle of a struggle with a watercolour portrait - and the watercolour is winning - I thought I would cheer myself up with a coloured pencil sketch. I love the stylish little bottles that Sanbitter comes in. Can't bring myself to throw them away. Fortunately I don't drink too much Sanbitter! This one holds the remains of last Spring's poppies on a little shelf in our extremely rustic WC. The WC is reminiscent of the head on an old tramp steamer. This is watercolour pencil in my Moleskine sketchbook.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

John Singer Sargent Influences

This is my first effort at attempting a watercolour from my own composition but observing the colours, values and style of JSS. I photographed these little lemon trees late on a winter afternoon - so no chance of a sun-kissed reference full of wonderful dramatic shadows! I had to make it up.

I considered using candle wax for highlights as JSS did in some of his watercolours but opted for a white oil pastel which I used to give some texture to the wall, pots and ground. In future I would prefer to leave the paper clean for dramatic highlights but will certainly use this trick again on walls.

I wish I hadn't been quite so violent with the violet so close to that Light Red terra. It pleases HWEM and it pleases me enough to continue on this path.

Oh dear, is that JSS I hear, turning in his grave?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Surprise behind the cupboard

When we moved into our new apartment a few months ago there was a surprise that had been covered up by the previous owner with a modern cupboard. Set into the wall were some very old shelves and drawers. They were extremely shabby, but perfect that way and a great match for two old frescos on the dining room walls.
After attempting this watercolour, I now agree with Laura - interiors are difficult. She just makes them look easy!

I would love to know more about the origin of our frescos - both exactly the same - either side of the window. They look like a traditional design. Has anyone see it before?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Turquoise Ink and silly ideas

I adore those seductive little Italian shops that sell exquisite leather bound sketchbooks and journals that I can't afford and could never bring myself to make a mark in anyway. Temptation doesn't stop there because they also have glorious pens and handmade inks, like liquid jewels. Well I'm learning to resist them. These days I just leave a little nose smudge on the window. Imagine my delight when my dear friend S, who's been visiting from Sydney, presented me with a bottle of Turquoise Ink, beautifully sealed with wax. Magical.

A while back I told our neighbour that I would love a little white Vespa 50L. He's an antique dealer who relishes a challenge. Having since mounted something only slightly more powerful and almost taken out a fence, I'm very nervous that he'll turn up with one. The terror of actually having to ride it ......

Saturday, January 06, 2007

After John Singer Sargent

I'm a keen reader of Katherine Tyrrell's blog Making a Mark and am inspired by her post about the John Singer Sargent project. I've been in a rut with watercolours for months, feeling I'm making no progress, afraid to put paint on paper. So I copied a favourite JSS watercolour Corfu: The Terrace - not as big as the original. While I missed the mark by rather a long way, I was please to achieve more contrast of light and darks than usual. I'm posting it here in the hope that my next attempt (after studying all the resources Katherine has generously provided) will show more progress.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Anna's Car

My year of art is off to a very slow start, but visitors from home are a lovely distraction.

When we first arrived in CF, Snowy and I were nearly bowled over by a little Fiat 500 held together, it seemed, by packing tape. As it passed us in the narrow street and careered around a bend, the driver's door flew open and an elegant arm reached out and casually caught it. Without, it seemed, even coming to a stop it was thrown into reverse and screeched back into a tiny parking spot. I was fascinated by its driver, an intensely elegant dark haired woman waving a cigarette around as she slammed the door and swept off up the street. Eighteen months later we now know that this is Anna's car and that she is the charming proprietor of a very classy boutique a few doors down the street from our apartment. Today Snowy and I don't even flinch when a car bowls past with barely an inch to spare.
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