The week that was

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At the lagoon

It really was a week of extreme contrasts and I wondered if I’d be able to get a post out at all for a couple more weeks. The story goes something like this, beginning and ending on a Sunday, the day I left for Rarotonga and the day I returned home with my two oldest children. Rarotonga is a small popular island in the Cook Islands and the stay was ultra relaxing.

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A silly selfie

While my son worked, my daughter and I walked, paddled in the lagoon and lay on the sand watching palm trees sway overhead. We drank cocktails, ate way too much and had a thoroughly good time. The only minor negative was the dozen roosters cockadoodledoodling at four am as they chased their girls around the yard. We were staying inland near the hills which were often shrouded in misty rain. We looked out onto lush plants, palms and grass, and the aforementioned roosters. It was the perfect place to relax, after our terrible time lounging or walking beside the sea. Watching others on their paddle boards or snorkelling was also quite fun. Continue reading

An artist who lived her dream

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Frances Hodgkins was born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1869 and died in England in 1947. Last weekend the exhibition, Frances Hodgkins: European Journeys finished its run at the Auckland Art Gallery. I made sure I saw the exhibits, over 150 in all, as this artist has been a trail-blazer for the many female New Zealand artists who have followed. This particular artist stands out from the crowd because she forged an art career at a time when the art world was completely male-dominated. Frances Hodgkins left her birthplace for Europe in 1901 at a time when just a handful of women travellers were experiencing the world. What made Hodgkins different from those women was not mere travel to exotic countries, but her personal mission of becoming an artist of international repute. Continue reading

I have a thing about fountains

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Cherub fountain, Prato 2012

I do love drawing fountains, ones with figures spouting water in particular take my fancy. The first I drew was a few years ago when I happened to be in Prato, Italy. It was summer, and hot. My husband was at a conference, so I had time to sit and sketch. But when I found my subject, the sun beat down, my hands got sweaty, and I was forced to close my sketchbook.  Back home, with the aid of a good photo I drew the cherub-like fountain feature above. It now hangs on the wall of my study. Continue reading

Bratislava; where is that?

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Prešporáčik: tourist train

This was the question friends asked when I mentioned I was going there. And now since visiting, I can answer this question more definitively for them.  Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. Any the wiser? I thought not, because until recent times it made up one of the two states of Czechoslovakia, and only in 1993 did Bratislava become the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic, with the Czech Republic being the other part of that change. So? Where is it? Continue reading

A deviation from the usual

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cordoba hotel

In May, after leaving Seville and the sketch group, we travelled on to Córdoba. The city was old and quite lovely, with streets so narrow our taxi almost scraped the walls. We turned into a  square and stopped in front of our modern hotel. I was impressed. My husband less so, when I took the invitation to ‘upgrade’ our room. Boy, what a room. King-size bed, windows and balcony; I had no regrets about my decision, after the dingy, and rather stinky room at our last stop. However, it is not our hotel, or the wonderful churches, and artisan stores which surrounded our hotel, that I wish to dwell on here, but a different part of the city where we ventured. Continue reading

More discoveries from the art trove

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A few years ago, my husband and I lived for a year in Hong Kong, in an apartment on the Chinese University campus in Shatin.  I looked for something to do with my time while my husband was teaching and began tutoring children after school in drawing skills. One fourteen-year-old girl was passionate about art, and she was a delight to have around. Flora was already very skilled in traditional watercolour, but wished to extend her drawing knowledge. The reason? She was also passionate about cats and brought a different cat book from the library when we met on a Friday. Every day she drew a cat at the top of her diary page, and Friday was no exception. Flora’s aim: to draw every cat species she could.  Continue reading

With a little help from my friends

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Sketch Spain group

Sketch Spain group

This post is about others –  the other sketchers whom I was lucky to spend time with on my recent trip to Spain. Why was I lucky? Because I learned rather a lot from them. The group may be surprised by this statement, as many are new-comers to sketching and are rather modest about their outcomes. But they have an approach to their sketching, that I, as a long-standing ‘sketcher’ lack. Continue reading

Third stop: Seville and Flamenco

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From my sketchbook

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

Second stop Valencia

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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

First stop Barcelona

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Barcelona map

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