The Emo Perspective

An international, enthusiastic group of twelve, including myself, enrolled in Liz Steel’s urban sketching course.  On day two of the course, we visited Emo (pronounced A-mo) Villa, in the Vicenza area of northern Italy for the day’s urban sketching assignment.

Emo tour guide

While Monica, our lovely tour guide was giving us the history of the building, I did a quick sketch to capture and familiarise myself with this very long building with eleven archways on either side of the central main house.

Emo pen drawing
An extremely long, grand villa with 11 archways on both sides of main dwelling.

Frescoes adorn most of the inside walls. The “holy” frescoes hang on the north walls above the door in each room.  Many frescoes were painted to create the illusion of making the room look bigger than it actually is. For example, painting three dimensional columns, windows and having legs/feet hanging off balconies.

emo fresco grand
This scene is two-dimensional but painted so it looks like the columns are three-dimensional – but they’re not.

In one room, the walls are covered with “Grotesque” art. Grotesque comes from the word, “grotta”, meaning “cave”. Apparently, the ground collapsed in front of the Coliseum in Italy and the men that disappeared into the ground, discovered a large underground room full of this Grotesque style of art. It was a very common art form in the 15th and 16th centuries. I love this image on one of the Emo Villa walls, the shape and the sense of movement with the necks.

Emo Grotesque art

The walls in one room was full of frescoes depicting artists working on their various crafts.  It impressed me that all the artists were females.

emo frsco women

After our guided tour, we observed Liz drawing Emo Villa, which was designed by Andrea Palladio. Palladio is the only architect that an architectural style has been named after. Other architectural styles have been named after eras, not a person. Palladio means “Protector of the Arts”. Palladio respected Roman tradition and his buildings strictly adhered to symmetry.

emo demonstration

The sketching assignment’s focus was on perspective, drawing vanishing points but not worrying if they go off the page. I’m frustrated that I didn’t take a photo of the end of the building because I am quite certain there was a statue at the far left too. This would have further magnified the perspective and added an element of drama to the painting. I would think that some of the statue would have been above the roof line, which, once again, I think would add drama to the picture.

emo drawing1
Drawing on site using a Lami ink pen and water colour. Some of my lines depicting vanishing points are visible. Drawing perspectives is tricky business! :-/
emo drawing
Finished the painting of Emo Villa back at the hotel.
emo perspective
Photo of the Emo perspective I was trying to draw.

Thank you for reading this post.  I’d love to hear from you.  Have you tried to draw an Italian villa? Do you struggle drawing perspectives? Does your brain try to override your eye?

PjPaintings at Salamanca Market June 17, 2017

This morning was a bit of a struggle, with a later than intended Friday night enjoying Hobart dressed in red and Dark Mofo, and some lingering remnants of jet lag hanging on, but despite this, it was great being back and chatting with people from all over the world.

Dark Mofo 2017
Entrance to The Feast

I met a young couple from Israel.  They’re working on a potato farm in Devonport, Tasmania.  I met another young couple that are living in Melbourne.  He is a Melbournian and she is Swiss.  She’s been living in Melbourne for four years now.  It was nice to be able to have a short French speaking session with her. 

A lady from New South Wales (NSW) bought a Spanish Eyes (Red) for her husband’s office.  Her friend bought Hayride because she lives in country NSW with an emu farm across the street from her.

PjPaintings limited edition print A-4 and A-3
Spanish Eyes (Red)


A couple, with a young baby, living in London, UK, bought a Bonnie & Me! print (emus riding a Triumph motorcycle) to post to her parents that live in Arizona, USA. I wonder how many US states has a Pjpainting now??!

Somebody who bought three prints last time they were in Tassie bought two more and a couple stopped by and told me that they have Beachside Chatter framed and hanging in their bathroom in their holiday house in Terrigal, NSW.  They said that her mother gave it to them as a gift and that everyone comments it.

Beachside Chatter
Beachside Chatter

A visitor bought Duck Crossing to give to friends who live in Geraldton, Western Australia (WA).  They have ducks and emus on their property.

Duck Crossingsml
Duck Crossing

A cruise ship from Sydney was in for Dark Mofo.  It’s leaving tonight and has been docked in Hobart for a few days.  Somebody, enjoying the cruise to Hobart, bought a Yellow Sulphur Crested Cockatoo ink and water colour painting.

yellow-crested cockatoo
Yellow Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Today’s best seller is White Faced Scops Owls 

White Faced Scops Owls
White Faced Scops Owls

A thought to ponder:  “Every artist was first an amateur”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Until next week, warmest regards from the Pjpaintings stall at Salamanca Market. 🙂

Villa Cornaro Palladiana, Vicenza, Italy

Cornora 2
The front entrance of Villa Cornaro Palladiana

Our urban sketching group visited Villa Cornaro Palladiana, owned by Carl and Sally Gable, who bought this summer “house” approximately 30 years ago. Carl graciously gave us a guided tour of his home.  Here’s a quick attempt at sketching our guide.

I did this sketch very quickly while listening to the fascinating history of this villa and following Mr. Gable around the different rooms. I am new to drawing people so this isn’t an accurate rendition but I do think it does capture the essence and some resemblance of Mr. Gable.

When Carl and Sally purchased the property, Carl said that they hadn’t even heard of the architect, Andrea Palladio, 1508-1580.  They have done a lot of research since and Carl delivered a captivating and informative tour.  Usually Palladio designed long and one level structures but because the owners that employed Palladio purchased a square shaped block of land, Palladio had to adapt his design to fit onto the piece of land.  To compromise on symmetry was absolutely non-negotiable for Palladio, so he designed his first ever two story building – the Villa Cornaro Palladiana.

The dramatic two storey designed villa – a first for Andrea Palladio..

Inside, there are grand frescoes and sculptures adorning walls.

frescos2 in Cornora
Sculpted oval frames adorned with cherubs surround sculptures on each wall.

The Villa Cornaro remained in the Cornaro family for 253 years, and then three different families took ownership of it until 1951.  It was then vacant for approximately a decade until a church purchased it and ran a kindergarten in the building.  The church thought that the cherubs’ lack of modesty was inappropriate for the four to five year old kindergarten students, so they had all cherubs’ penises removed!

All the villas we had visited so far, had painted pillars in the frescoes, which gave the impression that the room was bigger than it actually was. In the Villa Cornaro they had large sculptures of family members facing real, majestic pillars in the grand main room.

Cornora statues

In 1969, the Villa Cornaro was once again privately owned and restored over a period of 20 years and then in 1989, Carl and Sally Gable purchased the property.  They are the sixth family to occupy the villa in its 450 year history.  The Gables have published a book about their relationship with this majestic building.  The book is titled, Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House.

The front of the Villa Cornaro Palladiana with some of the urban sketchers looking dwarfed by the impressive two storey entrance.

After the tour, we went out back and were given 15 minutes to sketch the house.  I was quite pleased that I was able to draw it up in 15 minutes, as speed drawing is not my forte.  I’m fairly new to urban sketching – about 9 months new, definitely wearing L Plates, so I was happy that I remembered the vertical vanishing point.  My brain seems to more easily remember and work out horizontal vanishing points and completely forget about the vertical ones or allows the brain to override the eye, and win that battle and the brain ends up being incorrect! Lesson to self: trust the eye rather than the logic the brain uses to try to manipulate you to believing it (walls and sides of houses are straight says the brain). Has anyone else encountered this battle?  What is your strategy to avoid the trap of allowing the brain to win against your better judgment (eye)?

My drawing of part of the back view of the villa. I applied water colour to the drawing when we returned to our hotel.
A statue at the front of the villa

First and Second Day of Liz Steel’s Urban Sketching Course in Italy

My friend, Annette, and I are rather new to urban sketching.  We both did Liz Steel’s online course and when we saw that she was doing an urban sketching workshop in Italy, we quickly signed up before we changed our minds. 😁😁 The few months before we headed off to Italy, we tried to meet on a weekly basis and sketch in plein air to improve our skill levels.

I had every intention of posting our Italian urban sketching experience daily but Wifi in Italy is extremely slow.  I tried to post this post three times in Italy and each time it failed completely. It didn’t even save it.  Once, I even wrote the entry at 5 am, sitting on the toilet, in order to not disturb sleeping beauty, Annette.  😆😄 After the third attempt, I gave up, hence, the entries are being posted from Tassie.

We started the course under the shade of a  Vicenzan tree at the Ca’ de Memi with some chicken warming up exercises.

Liz Steel, our urban sketcher extraordinaire, and the chickens.

Firstly, we did some blind line drawings, line drawings and put down shapes with paint and then applied pen work.

One of the Chicken Exercises

After our chicken exercises we had dinner and did some more blind line drawings. This is the portrait that Liz Steel did of me.

Liz Steel’s blind sketch of me. I love it!

The next day we had breakfast together and then ….

Breakfast at Ca’ de Memi, Vicenza

a quick sketch of a teapot, cup and Lauren, from San Francisco, U.S….

…and then the group clambered onto a bus with all our urban sketching gear and made our way to Ca’ Marcello Villa.

The grand Ca’ Marcello Villa
A partial view of the front garden at Ca’ Marcello Villa

Marcello Villa was a sustainable working farm on a grand scale. The wings housed the workers. There’s a building at the back that housed over a thousand pairs of pigeons which was the farm’s main meat source.

One of the workers’ wings at Ca’ Marcello Villa.

Everything in the villa was opulent.  I tried to sketch, listen, write down a few notes and follow the tour guide while he was speaking and showing us the many rooms of the main house.

My notes and quick sketches. I loved the swan head/neck bed posts and the extra deep chair seats to accommodate all the material of the full ballroom dresses that the ladies wore a few centuries ago.

The ballroom on the second level had a flexible floor.  I was on the opposite side of the extremely large ballroom, when the tour guide demonstrated the spring in the floor, and I felt the movement under my feet.  It conjured the imagery of men in their finest twirling and lifting women in their full, long dresses off their feet with the greatest of ease.

We went through the villa’s original 16th century doors to bedrooms with bass relief pictures, depicting scenes from daily life, adorning walls.  The plaster is 100 millimetres thick and sculptors would work back into the plaster, carving the images.  They only have first name records of these sculptors because they weren’t considered artists.  Unbelievable because their work is exquisite.  Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photographs inside the villa.

After the tour and lunch, we got down to business.  Firstly, Liz gave us a demonstration and then we had 15 minutes to do our first initial sketch.  It felt somewhat daunting to do our first sketch with a group and time limit, but draw we did.  This is all I managed to get down on paper in 15 minutes.

15 minute sketch of the Ca’ Marcello Villa

Then we had 40 minutes to have another go.

My sketch done with dipping a reed in ink and then applying watercolour.

After lunch, we went to the back of the villa.

Back view of the main house of the Ca’ Marcello Villa

Liz did another demonstration for us and then we chose a garden scene to paint.

Liz demonstrating
Strange creature in the gardens of Villa Marcello.

After the garden scene painting, we climbed onto the bus and headed back to Ca’ del Memi for a quick dropping off of supplies and then we walked to the Villa Cornaro, in Vicenza, where we were met by the owner, who graciously let us into his home… where more history was heard and drawings were drawn…


Love, love, love Venice!

Words and photos cannot do Venice justice.  It is magical, ancient and charming. I would love to be able to do an art residency here. Imagine that!!! For me, that would bring the saying “I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven” to reality.

The Grand Canal, Venice

At every turn, when meandering through Venice, there’s a building or scene that I would LOVE to paint.



During our wanders, a set of magnets caught my eye. The shopkeeper asked if I spoke French?  I said, “yes” and we then conversed in French because French is easier than English for her because French and Italian languages are like cousins she explained.

Magnets depicting Amaranta De Francisci’s artwork

There was a “no China” sign in the shop.  She explained that most magnets sold in Venice are made in China but these are Italian, painted by the Italian artist Amaranta De Francisci. That’s what attracted me to these magnets. I could see that they were not made in China. I love this Italian artist’s work and I also came to the realisation that I love speaking my first language, French.   The past few years, I’ve been semi-regularly practising my French by Googling sites that list common French phrases. It has helped rejuvenate my French, that, and my quite regular conversations with French speaking tourists at Salamanca Market, and now, in Italy.

One of many gorgeous leather handbags

There are beautiful shops with quality craftsmen here. I saw a pair of exquisitely crafted, ankle height, red leather boots to die for. Unfortunately we couldn’t stop to shop. When I went back the next day, there was a thick metal shutter hiding them out of sight. 😞😞 I wanted to atleast get a photo of them. There are so many amazing leather goods, clothing, masks, quills and ink nib pens, and food, and prices are better than in Tasmania, Australia. Tasmania is an expensive island to live on.

I loved everything about Venice, even the chorus of suitcases rattling over the cobblestones, which usually started at 3am in the morning.  Venice, I hope I will be back again to spend more time with you. 💙💜💚💛

Ideal working conditions – not

Today was our second day in Venice, Italy, and words or photographs cannot do it justice.  It is just stunning here.

Annette and I hit the cobblestones early this morning, with our art gear and set ourselves up in front of the Scuola Grande Di San Rocco.  This building is massive, intricate and complex.  The man sitting at the front, helps in showing how big this building is.

Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice, Italy
Side view of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.  The photo shows how much the eaves on top of the columns protrude from the building.
Some of the incredible detail of this building, the Scuola Grande di San Rocco

One of the things that makes urban sketching so challenging is the working conditions are usually less than ideal. You are outdoors, contending with heat or wind and insects, you’re not sitting comfortably if you’re sitting, often you’re standing, you’re balancing a sketch pad, trying to draw straightish lines without having your arm on a surface and usually you have a short period of time to capture the scene on paper. But it is these difficulties which help to create loose and lively artwork.  The charm of an urban sketch is its wonkiness, looseness and liveliness.

Sketched in plein air with blue watercolour pencil.
At the hotel, I used an Artline 0.1 pen to add outlines and then applied watercolour. From the photo I couldn’t see what colours the square, circle and rectangular shapes were, nor could I remember. So, back I went wandering through the streets of Venice (such a hardship! -not!!!) and took note of the colours and also noticed the pattern in front of the door that I had not seen earlier.
The left hand side of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.

Tomorrow we’re jumping on a train to Vicenza, Italy to attend the Meet ‘n Greet start of Liz Steel’s Urban Sketching workshop. Woo-hoo!

Elegant Venice

Despite Annette and I somewhat struggling with jetlag, we hit the cobblestones determined to do some urban sketching. We weren’t quite brave enough to bring our stools out and set ourselves up in the midst of the crowds but we did some sketching standing up. I actually did three and will try to finish them off.  This is the first drawing that I’ve finished. It is a scene I came across in my wanders in absolutely stunning Venice. The back of these buildings were very close to the Grand Canal.  I used a Lami Fountain pen.  When I applied watercolour, the ink ran and I lost some of my detail work. 😞

Note to Self: Do not ink the whole drawing when using a Lami Fountain Ink Pen because the ink bleeds way too much!!!  Ink the windows, under side of eaves and  so on, but not areas where I want light and clean colours. For example, the dome and the patterned eaves. The dome ended up being much darker then intended and I lost the beautiful patterning of the eaves. The top of the dome was virtually a silvery, tinged with turquoise colour.  Next time, note-to-self-person, paint the dome and eaves first, then apply the ink. Got it, hope I remember.

The back of buildings near the Grand Canal, Venice, Italy        May 27,2017

When we were leaning against the wall, sketching, a man set up his easle and a lady sat herself on a stool behind us and started sketching. Before we left, I introduced myself and found that the couple knew very little English.  Actually the woman knew no English and the gentleman very little. He told me that they were from Belgium but now living in Montreal, Canada. We then had a quite pleasant conversation in French and exchanged our emigration stories.

Hopefully Annette and I sleep well tonight so that we can make an early urban sketching start tomorrow with our urban sketching stools.

PjPaintings at Salamanca Market May 20, 2017

I thought that I would be having a lot of conversations with raindrops today with the forecast of rain across Tasmania, including flash flood warnings for the north-west, but the rain held off until packing-up time.

I forgot my table cloths and thankfully somebody leant me some colourful ones.  The red table cloths worked well with my art work.

A lady from Perth, Western Australia, visited the stall and told me that she loves the Who, Who, Who are You?II print that she has framed and hanging in her sewing room. She said that it makes her feel happy.

White Faced Scops Owls xsml
Who, Who, Who are You? II

She bought two more prints, Story time I and White Faced Scops Owls II.

A Hobartian told me that she has bought three prints, framed them and gave them as gifts to three different people. She said that they all loved their pjpainting print and that they make great gifts. She bought a print for herself this time.

A couple stopped by the stall and she thought that I looked familiar. Then she asked me if I used to be Marianne’s neighbour? Which I was, but that was over 20 years ago and in Rathmines, just outside of Newcastle, New South Wales. She met me once at an activity that Marianne and I went to together. Uncanny! What an impressive memory!

I met a charming young couple visiting Tasmania from China. They’re heading off to Sydney tonight. They thought that my emus were ostriches (they are not the first people to mix them up) so I described the differences between emus and ostriches. She was very conscientious about adhering to Australian customs and salutations. She asked me if I was planning on visiting China and other small talk. We posed for a few photos. They are taking Yellow Poppy Fields and Spanish Eyes (Yellow) home to China with them.

A woman on a girls’ weekend bought an Emus Can Fly! print for her husband. Parents from Queensland bought Black & White + One for their daughter’s music room that is red, black and white. She’s a music teacher. Perfect! Story time was purchased to hang in a primary school’s library and a young lady bought Beauty Queens to give to her mother, who is a hair dresser. An Adelaide couple bought Two to Tango. We chatted about WOMAD.

Today’s best seller is the Red Poppy Fields print. The final print of 100/100 limited edition of the A-3 size sold today. I’ll have to try to paint another one. It is still available in the A-4, A-2 and A-1 sizes.

Poppy fieldxsml
Poppy Fields

A thought to ponder: “Painting is silent poetry.” Plutarch, Moralia

Warmest regards, from the Pjpaintings stall #30 at Salamanca Market, Tasmania


In October 2017, I noticed on Facebook the Inktober Challenge, promoting a marathon or half-marathon challenge, the marathon challenge being producing an ink drawing every day and the half-marathon, a drawing every other day.  I hadn’t had much experience with ink, but I thought I’d give it a try. I discovered that they were quick and fun.

For the Inktober Challenge I used ink applied with a reed.


What I particularly like about painting with ink is the bleed.  I love the unpredictability of how colours in ink separate when water is applied.  This is my idea of excitement!  🙂  Many inks have no bleed at all.  Quink Ink is great because it bleeds but I found that pure Quink Ink bled too much.  For example, in the painting below, I lost my iron lace ink work when I applied water to the picture because there was way too much bleed.

ink bleedsml

To resolve this problem, I mix my inks.  I make a potion of Sumi Ink or Indian Ink with black and/or blue Quink Ink.

sumi inksml
My little Blue Quink Ink, Black Quink Ink and Sumi Ink potion

When the Inktober Challenge was finished, I started adding watercolour to the ink drawings.  These are my latest little paintings heading off to Salamanca Market, site 30.  I paint these on handmade paper from the Khadi Mill in South India.  The paper is made from recycled cotton rags.

I’m really glad that I stumbled across the Inktober Challenge and the joy that this different medium and style has given me.  I’d love to hear about the challenges you’ve taken up or how you use ink in your artwork.

Cheers for now, Pj

Salamanca Market – May 6, 2017

PjPaintings at Salamanca Market May 6, 2017

We had another warm and blue-sky day today, until packing-up time and then the rains came.  The top of the gazebo got quite wet.  Usually I just leave it, and the market tables, in the car but now I’m going to have to get it out and let it dry out, and the gazebo weighs A LOT.

The Adelaide Crows played the Kangaroos at Blundstone Oval, Hobart today.  I saw Crow supporters at the market but no Kangaroo jerseys.  There was also a national nursing convention in Hobart, 600 nurses in attendance, I was told.

A couple from Geelong, expecting their first child, which is going to be children, twins due in October, bought an A-3 sized print of Duck Crossing for their baby’s room.  They don’t know which sex the twins are but they do know that they are both the same sex, either two girls or two boys.  They also got an ink Yellow Sulphur Crested Cockatoo painting for their parent’s nursery that they are preparing for their new, soon-to-arrive, grandchildren.

Duck Crossingsml
Duck Crossing (print available at

A lady from Sydney stopped for a chat and bought a print, but I can’t remember which one.  She has started taking a once a month art class with her adult son and is loving it.  She said that she used to draw a little in the past and that she is really happy to have re-connected and re-ignited this creative side, and that she is able to do it with her son.

A mother and adult daughter stopped at the stall and the mother pointed out the three pjpainting prints that she has framed and hanging in her house.  She decided to add to her collection and buy three more!  She bought Beachside Chatter, Family Outing and Quilting Bee.  She’s mad about quilting and told me about Rag Quilting.  I’ve made a few quilts about 15 or more years ago and also loved quilting, but lack of time has forced me to abandon this relaxing pastime.  I hope I can take it up when I retire from my day job, painting and quilting, now wouldn’t that be awesome!

Beachside Chatter
Beachside Chatter

Two ladies on a coach bus from Newcastle (the bus drove to Melbourne, sailed on the Spirit of Tasmania to Tassie and now they are touring Tassie) and having a great time here.  They each bought a print and one also bought a koala ink drawing.  Both ink paintings were painted last night.  I didn’t have a chance to photograph them.

Two young men stopped at the stall.  I asked where they were from and one answered from Adelaide.  I told him that I loved WOMAD.  WOMAD is an international music festival hosted in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. He said that he’s been to WOMAD every single year of his life.  He’s attended 22 WOMADs.  His mother took him to his first WOMAD before he turned one. We both agreed that WOMAD is awesome.  I’m planning on attending again. I thought that maybe they were brothers, but it turned out that Killian was from Belgium, here for one year.  He’s Flemish.  He has three months left before he reluctantly goes back to Belgium and vows to return because he prefers Australia.  Part of my new tradition is to take photos of fellow Belgians that visit the pjpaintings stall.  There aren’t too many travelling Belgians, Killian agreed, so this will not be a difficult tradition to maintain.

Belgian Flemish Killian May 2017sml
Two Belgians at the Pjpaintings stall, Salamanca Market, Tasmania

Today’s best sellers were:  “Who, Who, Who are You? II”, “Richmond Bridge, Tasmania”, “Duck Crossing” and “Scarlet Robins”.

A thought to ponder:  “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso 

Warmest regards, from the Pjpaintings stall #30 at Salamanca Market, Tasmania