Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A quick comparison

On my flight back home I made the traditional sketch on the plane.

Those are always hit or miss for me, but this time I think I pinned the perspective down quite well, actually.

My method was a mixture of the susual instinctive sketching and what I learned in Civita. Can you spot the vanishing point?

Slightly curved perspective even!
As a comparison, here is the sketch I did on the flight to Rome.

Just winging it

There is always room for improvement, but I think I got a bit better.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Back in Rome after Civita

The workshop in Civita went by way too fast. Luckily, I still had 2 days to spend in beautiful Rome, one of which with Stephanie and some of the workshop participants.

Stephanie lived in Rome for a while, so she knows the city pretty well. She took us to the Pantheon, telling us that it has a nice cupola to sketch.

I thought she meant there was a small cupola in the middle of the building, but in fact the whole place is a huge cupola. Talk about a challenging subject!

I tried to apply what I learned in Civita, and it helped a little, but working with curved lines everywhere really is something else. This is the best I could manage.

Hiding all kinds of mistakes behind ghost people :D

After this, we more than deserved a bit of rest at a nice terrace on Piazza Navona. I know, not the smartest choice. Could there be a more expensive place in Rome? But the place is so beautiful that, really, why not indulge in a piece of pizza there?

Time also for a very simple and minimalistic sketch. A real walk in the park after the Pantheon.

I loved the signs here
The following morning, Stephanie took me to the Quattro Fontane, a very busy crossing with four big beautiful fountains I had never heard of before. I chose to sketch the one of a woman with a swan (Leda maybe?).

I was surprised at how easy it felt compared to what it would have been just a week before.

Tourists and traffic everywhere
I was on my own for the rest of my stay there, walking pretty much aimlessly (like I love to do when exploring a city), catching a few typical Italian sights (Vespa, what else?).

This one was a beautiful bright yellow colour
I challenged myself to another city scene. I couldn't resist this strange-shaped building.

Just need to learn how to combine this with colour now
On my way back to the hotel, I walked through Piazza della Repubblica again, where the Basilica S. Maria degli Angeli i dei Martiri lies. It is wonderfully cool and very pretty inside.

I didn't muster the courage to sketch the place, though, but I quickly managed to capture one of the angel statues inside ; my last sketch in Rome for this time.

It had a Mona Lisa smile
That's it for my latest Italian adventures. I already look forward to my next holiday there!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A week in Civita - a taste of la dolce vita

My week in Civita was not just all work and no play. Actually it was all play even when it was work, but what I mean is that I did get to sketch outside our classes and record a bit of what living in Civita with a small group of sketchers feels like.

We were all staying in apartments that belong to NIAUSI (Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy).

It felt so very Italian to prepare my morning coffee in a cute blue and orange bialetti and take it to the garden where we often convened to eat together or sketch between classes.

It was the cutest bialetti I had ever seen
Tony, who has been living there since he renovated the place with his wife a few decades ago, had around 15 cats (!) and a very cute black ape (litt. bee) that came in very handy when we had to face the bridge back to reality at the end of the workshop.

Spot the kittens

A real life saver
There is a fantastic view on the calanchi, particularly in the early evening when the sky starts to change colours.

View from the turtle terrace
One of the things I always enjoy best is to meet new people, specially if they also have the sketching bug. This group was particularly diverse with a broad palette of ages, nationalities and personalities, which you could also find in the variety of sketches.

Our first lunch all together
One of the participants was called Alan Moore. I got a kick of imagining Alan Moore, the writer, author of comic books like Watchmen, V for Vendetta or From Hell, among us.

This Alan Moore, however, was very different, if only for the fact that he is younger and lacks the huge beard and monster rings.

Deep in thought, thinking of his next creative endeavour
 Alan Moore had a very interesting coconut hat I just had to sketch.

Great things are planned under this hat
It wouldn't be Italy without delicious food and even though Civita is very small, it can boast to have delicious gelatto and very good restaurants, particularly Alma Civita where we had our first and last dinners together as a group.

Sketchbooks were passed around during the whole evening
Such dinners are always bittersweet, as I do get attached to the people and it is always a bit sad that such a fun time comes to an end. I can say it was a very successful week in many ways.

Luckily I still had a couple of days to spend in Rome, where I would have the occasion to sketch with Stephanie and a few other participants (Anne, Morgan and Emiliesa).

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A week in Civita - what I learned

What I learned during the workshop in Civita can be summed up in 2 words: a lot!

Pretty vague, I know, but it really is how I feel after this week. Between the heat and what I was learning, some days it felt like my brain was fried. In a good way.

Now to get into details, the two areas I feel I improved on are use of watercolour and my understanding of perspective. Which were the objectives of the whole workshop, so once again: well-done, teacher!

When it comes to watercolour, I always used to wing it, really. On one hand it was more a colouring than painting medium to me, and on another I didn't feel comfortable mixing colours.

Stephanie introduced us to some colours I had never heard of before (alizarin crimson, for example) and how to mix them. We learned how to mix more vibrant greys and also how to paint beautiful light by using initial glazes over our drawings.

My first "aha!"-moment when it comes to light occurred when we sketched in the cave of the Antica Civitas museum. I started with a light glazing, which in this sketch might be too strong in places, and gradually added layers of painting.

This place dates back from Etruscan times
The result is something I have long tried to do and had never quite learned how to achieve. It was a bit laborious, but with practice it gets easier.

In this next picture, for example, I was much more confident with that technique. I think I also slightly improved how I deal with greenery. I'm not quite there yet, but as long as there is improvement, I'm happy.

The arches in Tony's garden were sketched a lot that week
Perspective is the other main subject on which I learned tons. I did have some understanding of perspective before the workshop, but there were still some things that I hadn't quite grasped, in particular the practical applications of some theories.

Stephanie has a gift for explaining this complicated topic in simple terms. For example, I often struggled with how to find the vanishing points and after Stephanie's tips and instructions it seems like the easiest thing to do.

The painting I'm most proud of for the whole week shows how, by combining perspective with a few watercolour tidbits, sketching the inside of a church can be challenging but extremely fun at the same time.

My biggest achievement of the week :D
I might be biased, but I do think I managed to capture something of the spiritual atmosphere of the church.

There was one last element Stephanie tried to teach us, and that was how to do a 180° view. To be honest, I struggled a lot with that and felt a bit discouraged at some point, but then I learned one more valuable thing: to just have fun with my mistakes.

So instead of drowning in self-pity (there was much unhappy moaning, complaining and sighing going on all around, it was quite amusing, really), I decided to turn something that was frustrating me into something I could laugh about and would just be fun.

The church tried to run away from me but failed
As a result I have a funky looking drawing of Piazza S. Donato; not the classic drawing of a quaint Italian town, but my version on how much amusement can be had when you just let yourself have fun with what appears to be a failure at the time.

Civita as seen from the other side of the bridge

Monday, 3 August 2015

Sketchcrawl among a crowd of artists

Last Sunday, our local Urban Sketchers group had its monthly sketchcrawl in the Grund, where "Konscht am Gronn" (Art in the Grund) was taking place.

This event happens every first Sunday of the month between May and October, and artists from Luxembourg and the Greater Region come to sell their art in what is basically an art market.

It has been taking place for a few years now, but I have to admit that it was the first time I actually went there.

We met at Scott's pub and had a pre-sketching drink on the sunny terrace. I was happy to see a couple of new faces and some that I hadn't seen for a while. It is particularly great to see the usual suspects who are slowly becoming friends.

We dispersed in search of our desired sketching subjects, but we didn't have to go far. For my part, I actually only went about 10 meters before settling down in front of a street musician playing an old music box.
Konscht am Gronn
This gentleman told me he would be back in October
It was lovely to sketch to the sound of songs from Mary Poppins and witness people coming and going. "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down", and a bit of music coupled with a few sunrays make the sketching even more fun.

We quickly became the focus of interest of some of the passers-by. Some of them probably thought we were part of the artists exhibiting there.

After putting our first drawings together we headed to a different location in the direction of Abbaye Neumünster.

The view from there on the corniche above is absolutely beautiful and I never get tired of sketching it. We only had 30 minutes, though, because we had very serious business to attend to, namely gathering for another drink to sketch and chat.
A view of Luxembourg-city without a crane would be incomplete, haha
I managed to add a few new faces to my sketchbook. None shall escape my portrait attempts (*evil laughter*)!
Drink and draw
Nancy, Anneke and Christine

PS: For those wondering about it: I still have some sketches to share from of my time in Civita and Rome. I will get back to those in my next post.