Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A week in Civita - 15 minutes!

One fine morning in Civita, Stephanie gave us a scary prompt: sketch in only 15 minutes!

Scary drill sergeant that she is, she timed everything, allowing us about 5 minutes for our pencil sketches and 10 more for painting.

It was an intimidating exercise at first, but a fun one, too. Being forced to translate a scene to its essential parts was a very beneficial exercise.
Civita 15' sketch
1st attempt
Civita 15' sketch
Getting better
As you can see, most of my drawings look more like they were made in Morocco than in a small Italian town, but I definitely learned a lot about translating light to my drawings.
Civita 15' sketch
This is Morocco, right?

Civita 15' sketch
This one became quite abstract
With only 15 minutes to sketch a place, I was forced to find a balance between being methodic and spontaneous, so as to not overthink what I was doing but still being confident in my process.

The results are not always very convincing, but there is always something to learn from them.

Civita 15' sketch
Playing with values

Sunday, 26 July 2015

A week in Civita - getting to work

Our week in Civita was so packed with new knowledge and sketches that I don't really know where to start. We all had lots to learn, many questions and a big motivation to get to work.

Stephanie first gave us a class on perspective and later on watercolour. Her classes were packed with new information yet simple to understand. Many things made more sense to me.

Our first assignment was sketching a frontal view on Piazza S. Donato. Not yet too complicated, but as with any urban view, the tricky part was to allow enough space to sketch everything.
Piazza S. Donato, Civita
Piazza S. Donato
Throughout the days, Stephanie took us to different types of views with different challenges, always giving us some pointers or demos on how best to tackle each subject. Everything seems so easy with her.
Civita was pretty peaceful
One of the demos that made it click for me most was this next view. Finding the right colours for the shadows and shapes so that they don't look flat and lifeless can be pretty challenging. Watching Stephanie mix and apply her colours taught me a lot.
Copying the teacher. Not quite there yet, but learned a lot by trying

One thing I learned, for instance, was the difference between shadow and shade, shadow being colder than shade. It's the kind of seemingly simple information that can make a lot of difference in a sketch, in my opinion. In this exercise I tried to apply that, but got a bit carried away.
It doesn't look like it, but tourists kept walking by all the time
There is no shortage of pretty views in Civita. We were spoiled for choice, so good thing Stephanie knows the town like the back of her hand and chose the best spots for us beforehand.

Porta S. Maria, entrance to Civita, seen from inside the town

Friday, 17 July 2015

A week in Civita - my first fashion show

I was forewarned that the bridge to Civita is quite steep, but one thing is to know about it and another is to actually to experience it. Let's just say I was happy to have a backpack and not a big suitcase.

Once I arrived, though, all those efforts were forgotten, the charms of Civita were taking over.

Civita is a beautiful little town in the middle of the calanchi in the province of Viterbo.

This little jewel was founded by the Etruscans more than 2,500 years ago and you can see traces of that culture all over town.

It is quite remote and in constant danger of destruction as its edges fall off, leaving the buildings built on the plateau to crumble.

When I first saw Civita from the bus, I was instantly enchanted. Surrounded by the calanchi, it looked positively dreamy.

As luck would have it, a wedding was celebrated in Civita's church that day (there would be another one during my short stay), so I got to see the very interesting show of people in fancy dresses and suits sweating their way up the bridge.

I have to admit that it felt pretty good to sit in the shade while enjoying this show of Italian elegance.

The bride came up in an ape, though, so she looked fresh and lovely when entering the church.

Enrica and Riccardo's ape in Civita
Riccardo's and Enrica's ape was too cute not to sketch
That day I saw Stephanie again, our teacher for the week, whom I had met in Paraty at last year's USk symposium. She was one of the people I liked the most from the Paraty crowd and it was great to see her again.

Stephanie sketching
The lovely Stephanie, only she's much lovelier in reality
The other participants slowly arrived one after the other. There were people from the US (mainly from Seattle), from the UK and from Switzerland.

All in all a very interesting mix of cultures, ages and skills. Just the kind of surroundings I thrive on and the perfect victims for some lunch and dinner sketches.

Lunch and show and tell at Civita
Show and tell in the garden with Anne, Suzanna and Marley

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Drawing in Rome - pre-Civita sketches

A few weeks ago I went to Italy to attend a workshop held by the amazing Stephanie Bower in Civita di Bagnoregio.

For those who do not know her yet, she is an architectural illustrator from Seattle, an urban sketcher and a great teacher.

Before I arrived in Civita, however, I spent one day in Rome. Last time I was there in the winter and I had just taken up sketching again, but this time, as my skills have improved since, I had even more fun.

I'm not the type of tourist who wants to see everything at all cost. For one thing, I'm on holiday and don't want to get stressed out, and for another I really like to take my time discovering a place, getting lost and finding little treasures.

As I had already seen most sights on my previous trip anyway, I could be even more relaxed about it this time, and since I only had one afternoon, I basically stuck to the broad neighbourhood of my hotel.

That is how I ended up at Porta Pia, where I tried my hand at sketching the whole place. I definitely think that my skills have improved lately, if I say so myself, and I know that on my last trip to Rome I would not even had tried to sketch this, so I was pretty pleased with this little sketch.

Porta Pia, Roma
That is so Rome: no need for a plan, you will always find something interesting to see or sketch
I cannot express how lovely it was to be able to walk and sketch in the sun. The weather in Luxembourg has been pretty erratic, so the stable heat and sunshine of Italy was a very welcome change.

In the early evening, I somehow arrived at Piazza della Repubblica, where I fell in love with the arcades and sat down for a coffee and another sketch, wondering all along if this exercise would get any easier after my stay in Civita.

Piazza della Repubblica, Roma
I loved these huge round lamps

I didn't get to sketch these particular arcades again on my trip so I could compare, though. Maybe next time.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sketchcrawl in a heat wave

For last Sunday's sketchcrawl, we met in Niederanven with the aim to go sketch the Aarnescht region.

However, with the intense heat wave going through Luxembourg and the weather forecast announcing storms, we decided that hiking was not the best option for the day and we stayed in Niederanven instead.

We started with a sketch in the park of the Kulturhaus, where we were sheltered from the sun by beautiful trees.

Sketchcrawl in Niederanven with the USk Luxembourg
I spy a few sketchers
However, in spite of the lovely cool shade, my brain seemed to be completely fried, so I was glad when Leen offered to go sit in her garden, sip an early apéritif and eat delicious watermelon.

The usual suspects were there and we drank wine and drew each other.

Sketchcrawl in Niederanven - drink & draw
Leen, Carlo, Denis, Zeta and Rosemarie
Sometimes, when your brain is fried by the heat, all you need is a quiet sketching session around a drink with a few friends.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Hot mail

In June I participated in another mail art exchange organised by Sylvie Bargain at Carnets de... vie.

The chosen theme, "Hot",was not exactly the most inspirational, but I still wanted to participate. These exchanges are a lot of fun.

Maybe it was because we had a pretty bleak and chilly month of June, but the fact is that the only hot thing I could think of at the time was the beach.

So I decided to shape my mail art as a flip flop on one side and a beach scene reflected on sunglasses on the inside of the "envelope".

Here is what it looks like closed (before I added the address and stamp):

And here it is open:

This mail art is now in Turkey.

I hope the recipient liked it as much as I liked the one I received. This cool chicken sent by Corinne from Belgium was a very welcome and fun surprise.

Belgians can be so creative and funny! I laughed at Corinne's interpretation of the theme. I would never had thought of that. And I will definitely try the recipe one day.

Here is the post where Sylvie lists all the mail arts from this exchange. It is always very interesting to see people's different interpretations around the same theme.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

La petite France

I did my very last sketch from my trip to Strasbourg on Sunday morning before we took the train back to Luxembourg.

I used to study in Strasbourg, but back then I didn't really sketch. Which means that I had never even tried to draw the typical Alsacian houses before.

It was a lovely feeling to be back in Strasbourg for just that purpose. Granted, I mostly got to draw cars, but even just this one sketch made me happy.

So this is my first and only attempt to draw a part of the Petite France, Strasbourg's most iconic area, so far. The many tourists passing by seemed to like it. So do I.

Quai du bain aux plantes, Petite France, Strasbourg
Quai du bain aux plantes, Petite France, Strasbourg
Our group was pretty popular with passers-by and the weather was lovely, just warm enough to be pleasant.

We were even filmed by an Australian TV crew who was preparing a documentary on how sweet life is in Strasbourg. I think our group of avid sketcher was a boon for them.

If you ever glimpse me on Australian TV, let me know!