Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Apricot Tree in Watercolour

Moleskine watercolour sketchbook

After yesterday's morning walk I headed out to the farm to pick some apricots. Apricot picking is accomplished by vigorous shaking of the tree and then scrabbling around on the ground trying to gather up the fruit before the ponies steal it all. In my next life, I think I'll come back as one of Jean's ponies - living in the orchard, making an endless feast of cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, apples, and plums.

Ponies in the orchard

Me in my next life.

Anyway before we shook the tree I made a little watercolour sketch as my 4th contribution to Vivien's Tree Challenge.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tree sketch No 3

Conifer (?) Lamy Safari Pen

Another effort for Vivien's Tree Challenge. I think I'll have to move on to watercolour trees soon so I can add a landscape. This is a very quick sketch because I could so easily be sucked in by all the detail and then I'd be there all day.

I finally found my ideal bag to carry my Sketchercise kit. I took it for a walk this morning but didn't actually sketch anything :(
This is my minimal kit and doesn't include something to sit on. I do have a wonderful backpack which has a built in stool and loads of space for snacks, water, paints, pencils, books, viewfinders, hat - you name it but I don't really want to cart that on my daily morning walks.

This one holds a Schmincke tin customised to my taste with W&N watercolours, three brush pens, Lamy Safari fountain pen with black ink, Taklon synthetic brush (belonged to my daughter but I don't think she's missed it ;) Paper towels, mini spray bottle of water, Prismalo neutral coloured watercolour pencil and Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sketching Trees

Pencil in cheap sketch book ( that's why you can see the ghost of Raspberries).

Expect to see a few trees here in the coming weeks. I've joined Vivien Blackburn's Tree Challenge on her blog, Painting, Prints & Stuff.

The Tree Challenge fits in rather nicely with my other current obsession, Sketchercise. I'm walking six mornings per week - about 4km. Still haven't worked out how to post the Sketchercise badge on my blog though - so I'm fit but stupid!

The quick sketch of the tree above (must ask Jean what it's called) is beside the pool where I did my first laps of the season (after walking 4km, so I'm extremely stupid!). Too exhausted to move I turned around and sketched another tree (must ask Jean what that's called too).

Lamy pen in cheap sketchbook

Lime trees - painted on my walk a couple of days ago.

I'm using a beautiful sketchbook made for me by Marta for these little watercolour sketches. Gorgeous HP watercolour paper. Thanks Marta!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Raspberries Graphite Sketch

2B mechanical pencil

Our raspberries are fruiting so I thought I should drop everything and make a quick sketch. I've decided drawing in graphite is a bit like golf - if you haven't done it for a while your body quickly loses its skill. This is my first graphite drawing for quite a while and if I'd realised I was going to get caught up in it I'd have worked on better paper instead of my 'cheap' sketchbook. I really do need to practice more leaves.

I've just had the luck and pleasure of meeting the delightful Margaret Saul, a wonderful botanic artist and teacher who has come to live in Tuscany. Margaret is planning a special program here next year. A wonderful opportunity!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Watercolour Sketch - Val di Chio

Watercolour Val di Chio, Tuscany - 8am

A quick watercolour sketch made on my morning walk. It was Walk 29 this morning but my unpaid personal trainer, Cath has taken off to the seaside so I took my sketching stool, waterbrush and a small tin of paints along instead.

I've joined Sketchercise - an inspiring group of people who like to walk and sketch, started by Katherine Tyrrell of Making a Mark. I suggest you read Katherine's blog about it here. Quite a lot of friends have joined up already.

Oh, and I've also joined Twitter - is there no end to my foolish enthusiasm?!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Passion Flower in Watercolour

Passion Flower - Watercolour on Arches HP paper

The passion flowers are blooming in the garden and because they have such a beautifully engineered structure I decided to sketch one. I then decided to try one in watercolour. It was a battle and I think the passion flower won.

I've been so intrigued watching the way the blooms open and close. They don't seem to just wither and die like a lot of flowers but close up like an umbrella in reverse and then bring their outside leaves back over into their original bud form. Amazing.

Graphite sketch

Coloured pencils might be a better medium to capture the delicate geometric form. It could become a long-term passion trying to capture the perfection of these flowers.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hiroshige in Rome

Museo del Corso Rome

With the warm weather, along with the swallows, friends flock to Tuscany. For the past few weeks I've been enjoying friends - neglecting art.

I met up with Helen and Anni in Rome on Friday and joy oh joy, discovered a fantastic Hiroshige exhibition. Months ago I started a sketchbook devoted to Hiroshige's nature prints, copying them in watercolour from the Internet, trying to learn the secrets of his composition and colour.

Watercolour after Hiroshige

I came face to face with an original print of these fishes along with two of his prints that inspired paintings by Van Gogh. Van Gogh's oils are in Amsterdam, apparently too fragile to move, but high tech reproductions are displayed alongside Hiroshige's prints Bridge in the Rain and Flowering Plum Tree. Was Van Gogh as dizzy with excitement as I when he saw these prints? I wouldn't be surprised. It really was almost too much to take in.

By the time I had peered at every one of the 200 prints, I was spinning out. So little time, so much to try to absorb and remember. There was also an excellent video of the traditional process of Japanese prints and a display of tools, blocks and pigments.

Most of this collection was donated to the Honolulu Academy of Arts by novelist James A. Michener. The catalogue was expensive and the quality of reproduction disappointing but it is enough to refresh my memory when I continue my studies of Hiroshige.

When the Rome exhibition ends on June 7 it moves to London. Not to be missed!

Rome was as fascinating and beautiful as ever and we stayed in a delightful little apartment in the old Ghetto just steps away from the ancient Portico D'Ottavia.

As usual I didn't find enough time for sketching.

May was a wonderful month. I met warm, enthusiastic and TOTALLY DELIGHTFUL blogging friend, Lin Fry - View from the Oak for lunch and a stroll around Orvieto. Sadly no time for painting but Lin was on a painting holiday so I imagine we will be enjoying her Italian watercolours for the rest of the year.

Then I had the joy of driving to the little Tuscan town of Monterchi with a favourite (and brilliant!) Australian artist, Deborah Russell to finally see Piero della Francesca's masterpiece fresco Madonna del Parto (Pregnant Madonna). Thanks Deb, it was Bliss!

Now it's time to get back to work.

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