Sketches from Italy

SketchMonteriggioni

Sketch from Monteriggioni,Tuscany 4″x 6″

What a wonderful adventure in Italy!  I just returned from Tuscany and the Cinque Terre where I traveled with a group of artists and photographers.  We spent most of our time exploring, sketching, and painting the hill towns of the Cinque Terre and Tuscany.

I was able to sketch this scene of the grapevines which acted as an awning across the piazza from my table at a cafe. Monteriggioni is located in Siena province of Tuscany. It is noted for its architecture, piazzas, and was mentioned in Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

I was drawn to the shadow patterns created by the grapevines on the wall. It is certainly true that when one takes the time to sketch on site, the details of the scene are set in our minds more than a quick snapshot. Enjoying a cup of cappuccino and then a lunch of prosciutto and melon with a glass of sparkling water or “fizzante” helped me to slow down and notice the details.

Earlier on the trip I sketched in Vernazza which is one of the villages of the Cinque Terre. The pastel colored houses surround a small marina.  Due to rough seas, the boats were stored along the narrow street that leads down to the water.  I sketched from a bench which was behind the boats, so I felt comfortable and able to work away from the stream of tourists. The next afternoon was rainy which allowed for time to add the watercolor to the inked sketch.  A glass of local wine helped to make a relaxing afternoon  back in the hotel garden room sheltered from the weather.

ASketchwithWine.jpg

Sketch in Progress

SketchVernazza

Sketch from Cinque Terra, Italy  4″x 6″

Technical Notes: Stillman and Birn Beta Series sketchbook, Micron Archival Pen,
Watercolors by Daniel Smith, Winsor Newon, Mameri Blu in New Gamboge, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, Raw Sienna, Sap Green, and Dragon’s Blood

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A Colorful Summer

AtHighlandEasel

Work in Progress on Easel and View of Highland Lighthouse

Summer on Cape Cod is always colorful. From the selections of ice cream, the beach umbrellas, the kayaks on top of the cars going over the bridges, and the towels on the beaches there is color. But, this year Cape Cod Life Magazine wrote, “It’s going to be a colorful summer.” Plein Air Painters would paint, demonstate, and exhibit their interpretations inspired by Edward Hopper in “After Hopper” events hosted by Addison Art Gallery.

Plein air painters were at Highland Lighthouse which is located in Truro in the Cape Cod National Seashore. I was one of the artists who demonstrated my painting techniques in pastel near the lighthouse and the Truro History Museum.

In describing Hopper’s work Dicum of the New York Times wrote, “Isolated buildings in broad vistas are meditations on form and color that steer toward the abstract while remaining figurative.” Keeping this in mind, I set up my easel, so that the lighthouse was viewed at a distance. It was also convenient for transporting my set-up.

APastelPalette

Assorted Pastels

There were many specific questions about materials and types of pastels and paper supports. I welcomed the discussion and enjoyed sharing my passion for pastel.

Technical notes: Assorted pastels – Terri Ludwig, Sennelier, Unison, Rembrandt, and Conte Pastel Pencils on Sennelier La Carte pastel card.

Americana

Marshfield Hills General Store, 5x7, pen and wash

Marshfield Hills General Store, 5×7, pen and wash

Recently I visited family in Massachusetts and we stopped by the Marshfield Hills General Store which is now owned by actor and comedian, Steve Carrell. In a Boston Globe interview Steve, a native of Massachusetts,  explained that he saw this as an opportunity to preserve a little piece of history. He felt that the gathering places of general stores give people a sense of community. The Carrells have owned the store since 2009.

I remember going to this store in the early 60’s with my friend who lived nearby.  She and I rode horses, stopped and tied them outside on a post, and entered the store for a snack.   When I visited the store with my parents last week, it was a snowy afternoon filled with memories of the town where my father was once a high school  science teacher. How wonderful that Steve Carrell appreciates the importance of preserving this general store!  The Marshfield Hills General Store and Post Office is located at 165 Prospect Street in the Marshfield Hills Historic District.

Technical notes: Studio sketch from a photo of the Georgian Colonial General Store in a Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook, Micron pen and Watercolors by Winsor Newton and Daniel Smith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Brake For Sheep

Sheep (detail), watercolor

Sheep (detail), watercolor

On the road to the iconic Mont- St.- Michel, the island monastery off the coast of Normandy , the traffic came to an abrupt halt while we were on a family trip a few years ago.  We got out of our rental car as we saw others exiting the tour buses.  To our surprise it was not a car accident, but a flock of muddy sheep strolling across the ridge of the causeway to the abundant grazing land on the far side.

The moment that I saw the image in the camera, I knew that it was to be a future painting.  I did a study for a more detailed watercolor on an 11x 15 sheet of Arches paper.  I can see that the composition would be improved if I raise the horizon to the top third of the paper.  Also, I plan to add more details to the foreground puddles of water.  The water could also be improved by saving the lighter values for highlights. The color and the mist didn’t photograph well, but will also be strengthened. The sheep which are the main focus, could also be improved with attention to the details of the legs and facial features. Additional sheep on the right will also be included in the final painting. Can you tell that I am fond of sheep?

Sheep at Mont-St.- Michel, watercolor, 11x15( study)

Sheep at Mont-St.- Michel, watercolor, 11×15,(study)

On a Mission

 Capistrano Courtyard, watercolor, 12x16

Capistrano Courtyard, watercolor, 12×16

I had been working on a watercolor of Mission San Juan Capistrano this week. It has been some time since doing a project in watercolor other than demonstrations in techniques for my class. I didn’t realize how timely the subject was until hearing the news today that Pope Francis announced that Father Serra who founded the California Mission in San Juan Capistrano in the 1770’s would be made a saint. I won’t get into the politics surrounding the missions or the Church here. But, there is little debate about the beauty of the courtyard garden within the old mission walls.

The watercolor is based on a reference photo which I used to sketch onto a watercolor block of  Arches 140#. Then I first added the shadow walls that surrounds the arches with a dark mix of cobalt blue and burnt umber.  To that mixture I sprinkled Kosher salt to add texture and let it dry. Other watercolors were Yellow Ochre, Naples Yellow, Raw Sienna, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Coral,  Cobalt Blue, and Sap Green in either Winsor Newton or Daniel Smith brands.

It was a good change to work on a watercolor project of Mission San Juan Capistrano.  If you ever get a chance to visit the mission, I recommend it.