The contrasting landscape heading to Seville was amazing: cypress trees dark against earthen buildings, scruffy pine-nut trees, tiny old huts, and fields; where grapes replaced orange trees, then olives, as the train sped past. Undulating hills, the soil darkening to a burnt sienna and white houses with orange tiled roofs. A change back to orange groves as we neared Seville, sun-touched and golden. What a warm welcome. Continue reading
It was a peaceful 3hr train ride from Barcelona to Valencia, which gave me time to sketch the orange tree (above), abundant with Valencia oranges – naturally. I looked about the carriage, and saw most of the group head-down sketching, or colouring their work, assiduously. It has become clear that Tony’s enthusiasm for sketching has caught on. Continue reading
It’s taken a few days to clear the brain-fog which often happens after long-haul flights. Factor in a one and a half hour’s flight, a seven hour stopover, a seven hour flight, a two hour stopover, a final sixteen-hour flight, and you’ll have some idea of why I couldn’t get my post out sooner. However, here I am, back in New Zealand and inviting you to share a little of my experiences of sketching in three Spanish cities, beginning with Barcelona, a city made famous by Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) for his unique take on Catalan Modernism architecture. Continue reading
My husband bought this book for me, having read a review online praising the writer. I have read many collections of short stories in my time, including the likes of Katherine Mansfield, Doris Lessing, John Steinbeck, Janet Frame, Raymond Carver, and Alice Munro. Until I unwrapped the book and read the cover, this was the first time I’d met the author. Continue reading
Come next Monday, I shall be making my way to Barcelona, and embarking on a daily sketching sojourn in several cities. This prospect has made me slightly nervous, as well as excited, as I endeavour to keep my sketching practice up. My aim is to be as fluid as I can with my line, and use of colour. Last week, I attended two workshops; both with live models, but each very different from the other. I knew that we were going to be covering animals in the first class, but expected that we would be working from photographs. I was rather taken aback when a rather large, although handsome tan and white boxer dog (Walter), was led into the room. Continue reading
After doing a recent quick ‘selfie’ portrait, I sifted through some old art folios, in which I found a few very different images of myself. Two were pencil drawings, and the other a quick sketch in acrylic on paper. Over the years I’ve executed many portraits, in pastel, pencil and paint; some done as teaching tools, some commissions, and others as part of children’s book illustration.
With all portraits, and all figures come to that, I have generally used the same techniques to plot the sketch. But the most important technique of all does not involve pencil or paint. To become accurate with any portrait, you must look. Seems obvious? I am talking about really seeing here: the shape of the head, the face; whether it is thin, long, wide, plump. Is the skin tone fair, or dark? All these features need to be observed before a pencil makes a mark. And, then comes the hair. Is it dark, light, thick, wavy, straight? Is it wispy, framing the face? When you are becoming to know the person, it comes the time to select your tools (pencils in this case). It does help if you already know your model too. Continue reading
Monday I was back to the travel sketching class, where the focus was on people. People, faces, bodies, used to be my thing, but not consistently practising these skills has shown a gap in what I know I can achieve and what comes out on the paper. I cannot blame the pen. I have chased another passion (creative writing), too much, and let my art skills languish. By coming to classes, I hoped to renew the passion I’d once held for art.
The first sketch, was fine: a self portrait sketched from a phone ‘selfie’. I’d certainly not done that before, although I had done a few self portraits using the old-style reflection in a mirror. Luckily I happened to have a recent phone selfie, showing off my new glasses, as I could imagine the ten photos I’d have to take in class to get one I remotely liked. Continue reading
This week’s post is far from my usual offerings, as last Friday in New Zealand we were subjected to our worst fears: a right-wing racially-bigoted man shot at and killed fifty of us; among them men, women and children. This twenty-eight year old man went into two mosques in quick succession and opened fire with semi-automatic weapons and mowed worshippers down.
New Zealand is a small country, in size and population and up until last Friday, we had been considered a peaceful, fair-minded and friendly society. We do not have a culture of toting guns (including the general police force), and most of us would never have seen a gun, let alone held one in our hands. Guns, we thought, were the domain of farmers, hunters, special police force, the military, and countries other than ourselves.
We are not however, so naive that we close our eyes to the gun culture within our gangs, or have we been immune from the trauma of other gun-associated deaths; but these happenings, although horrific, are not generally committed by someone with a skewed ideology and an inherent hatred for those different from themselves. The man who walked into the mosques last week, had come to New Zealand intent on carrying out this heinous crime.
As a child, my parents hosted a Hungarian family who were escaping troubled times in their home country. They arrived in New Zealand with little more than the clothes they wore. This family was welcomed in by the small community in which we lived. The local Anglican congregation rallied around to find toys and clothes for the children, help the father find work, and a home. This is what I remember.
We had long welcomed other cultures into New Zealand and I was proud that my father had friends from India, Italy, France and Hong Kong. My mother taught new Dutch immigrants in her classes. This is what I remember.
To say our country is in grief, sums up the collective pall which hangs over us. Many of us have tears in our eyes.
Despite this, our country has rallied together, schools have held concerts, performed haka, sung their hearts out for the families who have lost so much. Others have written messages, left flowers, attended memorials, donated money. It seems we still have a lot more to give. This is what I’ll remember.
The map I began two weeks back has made some progress forward, and although not quite finished, it is fairly much there. I decided to make a legend/key to off-set the Devonport map I’d begun, shown in an earlier blog. See below, the pen and aquarelle pencil icons which I have numbered but still have to name.
It is always interesting how one idea can trigger off others, and writing about travel diaries got me to thinking about the major unfinished travelogue of mine, which is idling on my computer. I have salved my conscience a little, by uplifting some passages from the longer story and posting them in various blogs. This post is adding to that list, and shall focus on a single day in Villefranche-sur-mer and a fleeting look at some of its art.