Saturday, April 28, 2007

... and didn't sketch a thing!

River Arno - Florence

Yesterday I went to Florence and didn't sketch a thing! My stated mission was sketching - so what happened? My two friends, J&J happened! J&J means SHOPPING! While J1 has a degree in shopping, J2 leads route marches through the back streets and designer boutiques of Florence - estimated speed? *#@* fast! I can't walk today. I was wearing my sketching shoes.

That is not to say I didn't enjoy myself J2 and thank you, J1, that was a wonderful lunch and I will never forget our visit to the Santa Maria Novella Officina Profumo Farmaceutica.

Fortunately J1 had a hat to protect her from the radiance of the chandeliers while she sniffed potpourri.

As you can see, this is no ordinary pharmacy. The tradition began around 1500 with Dominican Friars providing perfumes for Catherine de' Medici. The business was founded in 1612. Today, using formulas studied from 1500, it still produces perfumes, soaps and herbal elixirs. It is headquartered in the most beautiful old building not far from its namesake church.

I fell in love with the wallpaper which looks like it was badly damaged 40 years ago when the River Arno broke its banks in a flood that devastated Florence.

Wallpaper detail.

I could happily have spent hours exploring the many rooms and antiques of this beautiful shop. I could also have sketched here if I hadn't been lured on by the scent of shopping!

Even though I no longer consider myself a Shopper, I was morally obliged to buy a pair of MaxMara pants. One must support the shop that has had an artist in residence for the past three years restoring its beautiful frescoes .

Just a portion of the MaxMara frescoes.

J2 (a very successful artist when she isn't striding it out) also introduced me to a wonderful art shop, Phase, which supplies the army of restorers constantly at work in Florence. Unfortunately, by the time I limped up to the entrance, it was closed but I will return on my next sketching trip.

J2 takes a breather waiting for my favourite art shop to open.

Fortunately Zecchi opened after lunch and I was able to satisfy my desire for 'essential' art supplies.

And so I limped happily home after a day of not sketching in Florence.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

First Poppy

Better late than never, the first poppies have appeared in our garden.

I've been working on a couple of exercises in the WetCanvas Watercolour Forum. One was to paint a monochrome picture and one with just three primary colours.

These were both done rather quickly for me. The reference for the bag of pears was a lovely photograph from the WetCanvas Library by Karen Boss. I used Burnt Umber.

The poppy is my own photograph of the first in our garden, with help from a demonstration by Adelene fletcher in Joe Francis Dowden's book Watercolour Painting Pure & Simple. The primaries were Aureolin, Cadmium Red & Cobalt Blue.

I didn't do the real bloom justice!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Archers

Today was just the beginning of what I call May Madness in our town. Throughout May it seems that everyone dresses up in medieval costume and relives the past - this culminates in some wonderful street feasts, very much enjoyed by the meat eaters. Do you detect a slight resentment? I don't eat beef.

Today crossbowmen from as far away as Florence, marched into town for their annual tournament. I decided it was a great sketching opportunity. I took a very cheap sketchbook - I think I had a premonition. It was a great sketching opportunity but it was the quick and the dead. I was the dead - nobody would stay still and I had half the town peering over my shoulder.

The flag throwers were here in force as usual. They really earn their keep through the summer months.

I liked the style of this young girl who had an arrow tucked into her boot.

On the positive side. I did sketch in public. On the negative side. I've really gone off children. They won't stay still for two seconds!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Draw Something Green

I'm way behind with my EDM Challenge Sketches because I got stuck on Draw a Fence - all I can find around here is stone walls. I'm also behind with my garden journal sketches so I thought - I'll do Draw something Green. Green figs. Except there is no challenge called Draw something Green! I am calling this one EDM Challenge 24 - Draw a Piece of Fruit.

I recently received a gift of willow charcoal from my friend, Margi so I sketched HWEM working in the garden. Apart from giving him a very distorted pelvis, I think I've made him look rather menacing.

Monday, April 16, 2007

After Hiroshi Yoshida

I think I have finally finished my first half sheet watercolour. At times it seemed I was trying to cover something the size of a football field. I mentioned this to a local artist friend, saying I have no idea how I would ever handle a full sheet. She said 'Use bigger brushes!'

If anyone would care to suggest improvements they will be gratefully considered. Links to the original Hiroshi Yoshida Japanese print and progress shots of this painting are in my earlier post Mirror, Mirror.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spring Planting

Our first strawberry plants are ready to go into the ground. I've never had any luck with strawberries in Sydney but these seem to be growing before my eyes. I've just realised in sketching the plant that those hulls one nips off the strawberries are actually there from the beginning at the base of the flower. Logical I guess, if one doesn't go through life with one's eyes closed!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Everything's Coming Up Poppies

Yes, I know I should have painted this instead of photographing, but it was a quick stop at the side of the road.

Yesterday was Art Group and my second session with oil paints. I have stopped whining, the 'grease' is beginning to look like a painting. Delightful group of artists so I am really feeling blessed.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Working in the Garden

As HWEM stomps back and forth in his filthy gumboots, trekking compost and honest sweat through the house, he is occasionally heard to mutter - 'bout time you did some work in the garden'.

So here I am 'working' in the garden!

Every now and then I have to stop to consult my Muse.

I'm still trying to keep up with the plants as they bloom.

I wasn't quick enough for the Iris, so I had to rely on the photo I took. There's more on the way, so I will try for a looser watercolour version of those.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mirror, Mirror

Since I seem to be taking so long to complete the watercolour I am doing after Hiroshi Yoshida's beautiful print - At the Mirror 1928 - I thought I would post a warts and all work in progress, sharing the errors and corrections along the way. This is my first half sheet of Fabrino HP 300lb paper. It is so beautiful and so forgiving.

I have only seen a reproduction of the print on the internet and am besotted with it. It's interesting that I happened upon this wonderful Japanese artist after exploring Vincent Van Gogh's work through the Fine Line Artists February Artist Project. Van Gogh was inspired by Japanese art. I'm reading a lot about all types of print making at present and am in awe of the process Hiroshi Yoshida went through to produce his prints. I hope my humble watercolour does not offend.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Days Like This

Well it's Wednesday - my favourite day. Why aren't I happy? Oil Paints - that's why! I went off to my Wednesday Art Group armed with a dozen new tubes of Ferrario Van Dyck oil colours. No, I'd never heard of them either but they are made in Italy and only cost a fraction of what I was expecting to pay for artist quality oils. So - off to a great start.

Since this was to be my introduction to oils I opted to delve into Peter Graham's PAINTING STILL LIFE and selected a tutorial painting by Arthur Easton - an unusual and beautifully subtle still life of plain jug, dried flowers, white drapes and oranges. I had all the colours in Mr Easton's palette and the drawing sketched on my small canvas. But it seems there is more than one way to get the job done and today it was not by way of the steps illustrated in my book.

I chased the oil around around the canvas like the grease around last Sunday's dishes. And it looked less appetising. More experienced eyes than mine suggested colours other than Mr Easton's. Anal retentive Capricorn that I am, my heart sank deeper and deeper into my shoes. So even on Wednesday, you can have days like this.

I have a week to finish my half sheet watercolour, my EDM Challenge and to catch up on sketching the blooms in the garden. And then it will be Wednesday again and that greasy little painting will be still sitting on the easel, waiting.....
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