Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Strange Fruit

Watercolour on gessoed A5 watercolour paper

Ever since Casey rue Manuel bis blogged about painting watercolour on gesso I've been keen to try it. This was just a little experiment so I didn't take too much care with the sketch. As a result it's quite loose and I quite like it! I love the rich glossy look of the colours on the acrylic gesso and it is wonderful being able to lift out highlights so easily. I will be trying some more of these. It's a great way to use up paper one doesn't like or to paint over failed watercolours. Thanks Casey! :)

The strange fruit was a gift from Jean and I have no idea what it is called. They are like little apples and have a sweet nutty taste. They start out green and are ready to eat when they are completely brown. Anyone know what they are?
Coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook

This clever little gift box was folded for me by Marta. I'm afraid if I take it apart I'll never get it back together again. It has joined the collection of lovely little objects I'm gathering on my desk.

Watercolour 18 x 26cm

The landscape is my effort from last week's watercolour class. These Vincaia trees used to grow all over this part of Tuscany apparently, often supporting grape vines. You don't see so many now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pen and Ink

Mont Blanc fountain pen & Pelikan Brilliant Brown ink
large Moleskine sketchbook

I wanted to paint a huge beautiful vase of lilies given to me by L & J. I managed to sketch three of them and then, because I've just bought Jos A Smith's The Pen and Ink Book, I decided to practice making clean bold lines with my pen. I used white gouache for highlights. White ink (as suggested by Mr Smith) would have given me a better contrast.

I've been tagged - again - twice! I'm really touched that the tags came from two artists whose work I greatly admire - Anita Murphy and Jeanette Jobson. Thank you :)

Last time I was tagged I gave far too much away so I'm not going to link back to that! I have to reveal seven things you don't know about me.

1. One of my ears sticks out more than the other.

2. I have two cigarette burns in my favourite Helmut Lang coat.

3. I gave up smoking February 21, 2001

4. I wear my favourite clothes forever

5. I like to eat sweetened condensed milk from the tube. (I gave that up too but I'd still like it).

6. I have a weakness for cashmere

7. I darn the moth holes in my cashmere now I don't work.

I am tagging the following:

Sognatrice from Bleeding Espresso - and other little known side effects of moving to Italy because I really enjoy her writing and because she is so entertaining about her new life in Italy.

Liz Patterson who has an enviable collection of pitchers (I call them jugs) and features them in beautiful sill life paintings.

Joan Y for her stunning drawings of nature.

Joan of Watercolors by Joan for her lovely watercolour landscapes and the inspiration she provides by constantly painting. I think she's currently sketching in Spain.

Finally Dermott of I am dog, hear me snore in order to distract him from rubbing up against the lounge and to get stuck into some writing.

Finally a little watercolour exercise from my class last week.
Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What is it about Florence?

What's in that bag, Marta? An Italian handbag perhaps?

I had a lovely day in Florence yesterday, meeting for lunch and sketching with Marta of Marta's Art, who is holidaying in Europe with her family. After lunch we planned to sketch. We lingered long over lunch and I had a chance to see Marta's gorgeous sketches she's been posting throughout her trip. She's managed at least a sketch a day which can be a real challenge travelling with others.

We spread our sketchbooks out over the table and Marta gave me a watercolour pan of Smalt in exchange for a pan of my new Dragon's Blood. What great names for colours - like something out of Harry Potter!

I had promised her a visit to Zecchi, my favourite art shop. Our bitter disappointment when we found it shut was only matched by the bitter weather.

It wasn't all bad because it meant I had time to show Marta one of my favourite places in Florence - Piazza Santissima Annunziata. Apart from being the site of my favourite hotel (a former convent of the Servi di Maria), this piazza is famous for Brunelleschi's Spedale degli Innocenti (Foundling Hospital) considered one of the highest points of the Renaissance architecture. The foundlings are commemorated between the arches in lovely blue and white medallions of glazed terra-cotta by Andrea della Robbia.

The hospital with its inner courtyard and fabulous loggia is a sketcher's paradise. We didn't sketch a thing! This is the third time I've carried my sketching kit to Florence and not made a single mark. Sometimes I think it's because I'm overwhelmed by choice. This time the cold had a heck of a lot to do with it.

Sorry for the awful weather, Marta. But it did snow when I brought my daughter (below) here in 2005.

We did manage to fit in a promised visit to the Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella where Marta met an angel that I really must sketch some time!

My photos don't do her justice. Sorry Marta, I really shouldn't operate a camera without my glasses.

I see from your blog you got lost after you left me at the station. I also see you made use of the time to sketch the Ponte Vecchio. So it turns out only I failed to sketch in Florence!

There's always next time. Marta is determined to come back to that art shop.

It was a delightful experience to meet a blogging friend face to face. I recognised her immediately from across a square. Marta had a wonderful and generous surprise for me, but that will have to wait for a future post.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bad Back

I've had a bad back for the past few days so I can't sit for long. Fortunately I can stand, so today I've been making bread instead of art.

This is a little doodle from happier times, inspired by Barrington Barber - The Complete Book of Drawing.

Since I can't sit long enough to paint and Katherine - Making a Mark - can't stand long enough to draw, I figure between us we would have the game sewn up.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Poppy Field

Watercolour - Cartiera Magnani 9" x 4.5" 140lb block

In this week's lesson, Gabriele demonstrated his way of capturing a field of poppies in watercolour. I haven't nailed it yet but I think come Spring I will at least be game try a poppy landscape.

Gabriele prefers subtle colour. He discourages pure greens - or pure anything really. It's a bit of a struggle for me, particularly after recently being so influenced by Shirley Trevena's Vibrant Watercolours!

Working wet on wet on this paper gives a very furry blotting paper effect. Not exactly what I was after.
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