The saying “music to my ears” usually rings truer than “music to my eyes” but on this occasion both sayings were equally accurate. Normally the audience is in darkness while listening to an orchestra play but the Liz Steel & Mike Botton team organised a private performance by the Aries Wind Quintet so that we could draw music.
I’m not confident drawing people but I think the ‘100 people in 5 days’ challenges are paying off. I signed up for the challenge in 2017 and 2018. I didn’t do it this year but I should sign up again next year because I do think I am reaping some positive benefits from it. Drawing changing and moving faces, as musicians inhale and exhale deeply, was a challenge and a privilege. My favourite piece that the orchestra played was “Carmen”.
I was going to paint the music stands and the clarinet player’s outfit but I decided not to because I thought it might make the picture too heavy by adding more black, and that it could lose some of the liveliness being conveyed. There is so much decision-making required with art!
I find the composition pleasing with this drawing. The chair and musician don’t quite all fit on the page. I enjoyed exaggerating the size of Micoto. In most orchestras, the flute section is predominantly female. He’s a little outside the box by choosing the flute and the drawing is reflecting this and telling a ‘story’. I’m thinking of leaving this drawing as a pen sketch. Or do you think I should add paint?
The urban sketching workshop I attended (May 2019), taught by Liz Steel and organised by Mike Botton, took place in the Umbria area of Italy. This region is green, hilly and dotted with green’s complementary colour of red. It was so beautiful seeing wild poppies.
We settled in the quaint, small town of Montone, where at every corner, and everywhere in between, there was a scene I yearned to paint. We visited a few towns in the region and passed poppies growing in cracks in the pavement, at the base of street signs, along the gravel sides of roads, fences, gates and in the fields. This is the view from the hotel room’s bathroom at the Hotel Fortebraccio. Do you see the fields of red poppies in this photo and in the photo above?
We visited the town of Assisi that is grandly presented on a green platter sprinkled with red garnish.
I painted this scene for the end-of-the-course postcard exchange.
I used to paint poppy fields quite often.
Yellow Poppy Fields
It was good re-visiting a topic that I haven’t painted for several years and playing with the punch-factor that complementary colours can deliver. What topic/theme is capturing your interest? I’d love to hear about it.
The first day of Liz Steel’s urban sketching course took place in the gorgeous town of Assisi, where we were privileged to experience the coldest day in May in 56 years! We were all walking around like Michelin Tire mascots, dressed in as many layers as we could wear. On our way into the square, there was a sudden gust of wind and the water from the fountain greeted us. We took refuge in an archway, where Liz gave us our first exercise, to do thumbnail sketches of things in the Piazza del Comune that conveyed a ‘story’.
Then we had about 20 minutes to do a sketch. I had laid my first wash down, when my little water container, blu tacked down onto my paint tray, was blown off, spilling the water onto my paper and promptly removing my first wash of colour. The conditions were challenging and passer-bys were telling me that I was brave and offering encouragement, which was lovely.
Then we went on to sketch the Basilica Di St Francesco. The rain made my paper quite wet when I drew and painted this little painting of this magnificent and impressive building.
I had another go with my brand new dagger brush, after we unthawed at the hotel.
Tomorrow we’re sketching in Montone. Hopefully the weather will be kinder.
Before we made our way to Liz Steel’s urban sketching course in Montone, Annette and I started off sketching the most challenging building in Florence, The Duomo, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. I ran out of steam well before I came anywhere near finishing it. I also started drawing it too big for it to fit on the pages of my sketch book but I’m happy with the focal point and the depth that it conveys.
Later in the day, we settled in the Piazza di Santa Croce and painted one of the many laneways leading to the square. I experimented with painting wet-in-wet and then adding pen, and vice versa.
Upon my wanders, I stumbled across this amazing building, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (the national library), which is huge. It’s almost a full block. This is part of the width of the building. This is a super quick sketch of it.
Then, Annette and I returned to our starting point, and had another attempt of the great Duomo, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. This time we tackled the front view.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore’s construction began in 1296 and was completed in 1436. The basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches and it is the largest brick dome ever constructed. It is an awesome, massive sight.
The first stop in Italy is historic Bologna (actually every town and city in Italy is historic!).
We got caught out again with going to a restaurant and after eating finding out that they didn’t accept credit cards. Two years ago, when Annette and I were in Italy for Liz Steel’s Urban Sketching workshop, we got good at asking beforehand. While waiting in the restaurant, I started practicing drawing arches.
The city is full of arches, providing constant undercover walkways for pedestrians, which came in handy as it was rainy and cold. I had to buy myself a cardigan to help me cope with the fresh temperatures. The shop keeper said that she has been selling an extra lot of warm clothing as many visitors, like me, have been caught out.
I tried to draw more of these tricky things at the University of Bologna, the oldest continuous operating university of the world, being founded in 1088 by an organised guild of students for students.
This building is the Teatro Comunale in Bologna.
I also tried to draw one of the views from the apartment window which looked onto the Piazza dell Agosto.
Thanks for stopping by and I wish everybody a gentle Sunday, whether you’re a mother, or haven’t been a mother, or have loss a child or mother, I hope the day is kind to you.
The final building I sketched in Portugal, the Igreja dos Congregados, while leaning up against the Porto train station on a very narrow footpath, with continual foot traffic going past and the odd person asking for money.
The Porto train station is a spectacular building with hand painted individual tiles to depict historic scenes.
Goodbye, Portugal. You have been amazing and I toast you.
With my $10 notebook, Artline black pen, small set of watercolour paints and tiny paintbrush, I set out into Porto determined to have a crack at drawing more ridiculously challenging buildings.
The first building I attempted to draw was the Clerigos Tower. I sat on the cement and my bottom got too sore to continue the drawing, and I was getting lost in the detail. For me, to be able to achieve a better end-result, I would have to draw this building several times to simplify and eliminate elements.
Next, I drew some of this building named Conselho Regional do Porto.
Then I had a crack at drawing the Centro Portugues de Fotografia. A tour group decided that it would be a good meeting spot to gather right in front of me. I had to crane my neck and then wait for them to move along as the group started to grow as more and more people arrived.
It’s day nine in Portugal and I’ve done 19 sketches so far. That’s the most I’ve ever done travelling. Also, I have rarely painted outside but I have on this trip. I try to ignore the excuses that I could so easily agree with: there’s not enough time to do be able to do it justice, you’ll hardly get any of it drawn, you won’t have time to add paint, it’s going to be a bad drawing, you’ll rush and the perspective will be all wrong and more of the same. Most of the drawings/paintings that I’ve done, I’ve had to do in a short space of time, 20-30 minutes, and because of limited time, I haven’t been able to do whole buildings, but I’m giving it a crack and as a result I’m starting to build quite a collection of drawings.
Thanks for visiting and allowing me to share some of Portugal’s awesome buildings with you.
First breakfast in a café in Porto, Portugal, and this was my view. Great coffee but the custard tart was not as good as they are in Lisbon. I did this quick painting in the café, started straight off with ink pen (no pencil) and then applied the paint.
And now, I’m off to do a two and a half hour Classical Walking Tour with the Porto Walkers. Bye for now.
Lisbon, Portugal is a stunningly beautiful city. So many buildings have amazing doors and the exteriors are covered with hand painted tiles, some dating back to the 1700s, to protect buildings from fires. Most of these doors I photographed in the lanes in the old district of Alfama in Lisbon.
Time to explore more of Portugal, so with a train ride to Coimbra and then another one to a new gorgeous Portuguese city, that is, Porto. The difficulty with trying to draw train stations when you are catching a train, is that you produce a bunch of unfinished drawings, but it’s good practice, definitely a challenging perspective exercise and it still serves as a nice way to document some of the characteristics of the different stations.
Arrived in Porto and enjoying the view from the balcony of the B&B.
In Sintra, not far from Lisbon, there is a magical, fairy tale-like palace, the Pena Palace. They must have had so much fun building this outlandish, fantastical and ornate palace. It is a must see but I strongly, strongly, strongly advise that you get there as soon as it opens. Our tour group arrived at 9 am and we were basically able to walk straight in but on our way out, we were aghast to see the queue and there were hundreds more joining the queue for the two hour wait, in addition to another queue lower down, to buy a ticket to enter the grounds to join the two-hour queue to get into the palace.
After visiting the Pena Palace, we stopped at Cascais before heading to Europe’s westernmost point, Cabo da Roca. At Cascais, I drew this bright red building. I had to get back on the bus before I could paint it, so it was painted at the hotel.
While waiting at the Santa Apolonia Station in Lisbon, to catch a train to Coimbra, Portugal, this bright blue building caught my eye. So I drew it and was able to partly paint the picture before I had to board the train (I can’t understand why the train didn’t want to wait for me to finish my painting??! ).
I like the yellow colour next to the bright blue. I’ve painted a red, yellow and blue building in Portugal. I wonder which colour is next?!