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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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)

Rhine River Sketches

I just returned from a river cruise down the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam. At each port a local guide took us on a walking tour on the city. On the third day after the tour of Strasbourg, France in the Alsace region, I found time to get in some sketching. I was able to enjoy a café au lait at a café across from the half-timbered Tanners Building from 1572 in La Petite France section of the city. I sketched most of the details on location with a Micron .005 archival pen and later add watercolor wash using a photo for reference. I loved the charm of this section of the city and hope that shows. Here is the sketch:

Petite France Strasbourg

Petite France
Strasbourg


The next time that I was able to sketch was in Cologne, Germany. After touring the Cologne Cathedral we stopped for lunch at the Kolsch Brauhaus. Generally, I prefer a glass of wine to beer, but decided that I should sample the local speciality. Kolsch is an all barley pale ale which went well with my shrimp salad. I didn’t try the huge sausages that were served on huge wooden planks. My sketch is my view from the outdoor table of the ornate Rathaus framed by the awning and flanked by other buildings. Again, I sketched with my Micron pen and later added the watercolor. The intricate detail of the Rathaus was more than I could attempt during lunch. But, I think I was able to get the essence of the scene. Here is the sketch from Cologne: Prost!
Sion Kolsch Brauhaus Cologne, Germany

Sion Kolsch Brauhaus
Cologne, Germany