Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why Aren't I Sketching?

Plum Jam, that's why! Have you ever tried to stone a wild plum?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

La Gallina

Garden Eggs

HWEM has been having a lot of trouble with una gallina (a hen) from the garden next door. La Gallina hops over the stone wall that separates her garden from ours; feasts on his newly planted rocket and then knocks over the unfinished brick wall of the compost heap and disappears into the undergrowth on our top terrace.

Two weeks ago HWEM was toiling away in the overgrown terrace when he discovered a nest with thirteen eggs. It was a magical find but we assumed they had been there for ages so he buried them. I was hopeful that if La Gallina decided to lay again she might let us know.

We'd totally forgotten about it until this morning when HWEM discovered another perfect nest hollowed out under a pile of rubbish. Thirteen eggs! We knew they weren't there before, so they had to be fresh. They were! La Gallina has been paying for her rocket.

We never see the owner of the garden next door. Throughout the summer the vines and the fruit trees are loaded with fruit but we never see it picked. Someone must feed the hens because they are plump and happy.

I left one of the eggs in the nest and collected the rest. It seems all our Italian neighbours give us gifts.

La Gallina

Pert Poached Eggs

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Piazza della Minerva

Watercolour 7" x 10"

I finally finished adding some colour to my sketch of Bernini's statue of the elephant supporting an Egyptian obelisk from the Piazza della Minerva in Rome. This little painting is a gift for my friend Philippa who posed quite a challenge by assuming I was going to be able to sketch it at all!

The Italians' pet name for the statue is il pulcino della Minerva. I found a very interesting blog that attempts to explain this and shows some of Bernini's early sketches for dealing with the obelisk.

Hope you like it Philippa.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Taking a Frangipani for a Spin

Frangipani 8" x 8" soft pastels

As Georgia O'Keeffe Month continues I was tossing up between pastels and oils. This is a photograph of a flower on the tree that bows over our garden in Sydney. I miss its perfume.

I thought the structure would appeal to Ms O'Keeffe.

I'm really enjoying this project but not the pastels, I'm afraid. So that leaves watercolour or oils for the next one.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Georgia O'Keeffe Month

I've grown my first Ranunculus this year. Among the reds there was a single orange flower so I photographed it and have used it as my subject for a Georgia O'Keeffe inspired macro in dry watercolour pencil. I intend to try more of these studies as part of Georgia O'Keeffe Month which you can read about on Katherine Tyrrell's endlessly fascinating blog.

6" x 6.5" Watercolour Pencil on Bristol Board

Georgia O'Keeffe worked both in pastel and oil. This was meant to be a quick coloured pencil sketch for a painting. Of course, I got carried away. I'm thinking I may try the next in oil. I'll have to sleep on it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sketching in Rome

Ponte Fabricio 62BC

We live two hours from Rome, this week I was there for the first time in two years! Shame on me. But what a treat. Dear friends, Jim and Philippa invited me to stay in their apartment near the Pantheon - what bliss. They totally indulged me with food, walks, art, wine, Bellini cocktails and precious time to sketch.

Bernini's delightful little Elephant balancing an Egyptian obelisk was just around the corner. It's a favourite of Philippa's, so while they went off to their Italian class, I attempted to sketch it for her.

The Piazza was deserted when I arrived and next to a pile of rubbish I found a cardboard carton full of junk to sit on. Bliss. Half an hour later the rubbish men arrived in their truck, grinned at me, examined my sketch, loaded the bags of rubbish and then did a double take. They had spotted my 'seat'. I bashfully stood up but they showed no pity. Off it went in the truck. I continued as long as I could sitting on the cobblestones. Ouch!

Pulcin della Minerva
7"x10" HP watercolour paper - ready to paint

Alas, HWEM was at home with the dogs so I headed off for a nostalgic cup of coffee at a favourite spot of ours in the square opposite the Pantheon.

Time,I decided, to attack the Mt. Everest of sketches - Benini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi . When I arrived in the Piazza Navona I found it covered in scaffolding. I wasn't really up to the task anyway. Besides it was blazing hot and there wasn't a scrap of shade, so I stood for a couple of minutes beside the Fontana del Moro and tried to capture a couple of details.

Fontana del Moro

Jim and Philippa also introduced me to what must be the best art shop in Rome (Ditta M. Poggi, via Pie' di Marmo 39). So, armed with my new Pitt artist pens, I headed back to the apartment to sketch a portion of the view from my bedroom.

Watercolour Moleskine

I took lots of photos in order to do a larger painting of the entire cluster of charming little Roman apartments.

It was a fantastic two days. The highlight? Standing in front of Caravaggio's Saint Matthew Cycle in San Luigi dei Francesi to see, for the first time, his Calling of Saint Matthew.
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