Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sketchbook Sunday

My first sketch is from last week before the rain set in.  I spent a lovely hour sitting in the 17th century garden belonging to a local villa.  The 'corner' I sketched was of a garden seat with obelisks on either side and lemon trees behind. There is one of these garden seats on each corner of a crossroads in the typical layout of an old Italian garden. When I'm sketching somewhere like this I always imagine how it once was, with ladies in big dresses and children in knickerbockers.  

This is a cafè front in Oxford. It was a freezing day and I was drawn to the bright spots of warm colours in the windows. In this sketch from my photograph, I did an under painting in black to see if I could get the darks really dark.
This month I am exploring what I can do with black, a colour that I rarely use.

The colour was painted in over the top and then more black using a coloured pencil.  I still didn't get the darks desired, I think I'm still too hesitant about black.  I need to try harder!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sketchbooks on Show

 I was lucky to catch the last day of an exhibition of sketchbooks organised by the Urban Sketchers group in Palermo.
'Carnet di Viaggio' at the contemporary art museum was based on the annual festivities for Santa Rosalia, patron saint of Palermo. 

Anna Cottone who organised the exhibition called it 'an experience and journey that moves between fantasy and reality at the same time'

All the sketchbooks were all the Japanese accordian style, which were displayed opened out along the shelves all around the room.  They looked fantastic together, I'm so glad I didn't miss it!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sketch Book Sunday

In keeping with my plan to sketch more this year I joined up with Palermo's Urban Sketchers group.
I spent a very pleasant Saturday morning in the centre of Palermo sketching Palazzo Riso, museum of contemporary art (above) and a  balcony in Piazza Bologni

Both sketches are in my tiny Moleskine sketch book, too small to get more than a tiny part of a building.  Next time I will go bigger.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Black is Back

I wanted to set myself a project for 2015 using this blog to keep me on track.  I've decided to explore colour and each month I will focus on one colour.  For the month of January I've chosen black.
I don't use black in my paintings as I prefer to mix my darks myself, but I do like to draw with black ink or black coloured pencil.

Black is the absence of colour and light so is it really a colour at all?  It's all about perception and the way light is reflected, or not as is the case for black. For scientists black doesn't exist but  if you combine all 3 primary colours you won't get jet black but it will be a pretty dark colour.

Stone age artists used charcoal to draw animals on cave walls, black was one of the first colours to be used in art.

The pigments used for black are varied;
The Romans made Vine black from burnt branches of grape vines.
Lamp black was made by condensing into a mass the smoke off an oil lamp.
Ivory black was produced by burning ivory, nowadays a normal animal bone substitute is used.
Mars black developed in the 20th century from iron oxides.

A couple of years ago I was sorting through my art supplies and I noticed how many pens, ink, pencils etc I had in black, so I decided to make a little chart to compare the different shades. As you can see there is a lot of difference.

We associate black with darkness and evil but it is also an elegant colour for the fashion industry, just think of Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. 
Auguste Renoir called black the queen of all colours and Henri Matisse is quoted as saying "When I didn't know what colour to put down, I put down black"

How do you use black? What do you use it for?
I will be experimenting with black this month, does anybody else want to have a go? Let me know!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Last post for 2014

Here we are once again at the end of the year.  I can't believe I've been blogging for over five years and using my blog as way of keeping track of myself and my work.

This time last year I resolved to be more organised as life was (and still is) so busy and I was finding it difficult to follow through any projects.  I am still working on this but have made progress and I'm happy with what I've achieved so far.

I made more time to paint this year and completed more paintings this year than ever before. I started painting on mdf wooden panels and love the smoother surface.  I experimented with mixed media and smaller sizes, I learnt as I went along and improved by making mistakes.

My favourite from this year

My most popular painting of this year (blog and facebook)

I'm not one for big plans and resolutions so all I can say is that I hope to get out and do far more sketching, as I didn't get much chance in 2014.
I will also be building up my newly opened Etsy shop, with new work and perhaps prints.
I hope 2015 is a good year for everyone, happy painting and drawing !

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Sketchbook Sunday

A watercolour sketch of some cherry tomatoes, just because I fancied doing some watercolour and I like red.  Although these tomatoes are from Sicily they never used to be available at this time of year. Times change and producers all now have greenhouses and anything is possible or so it seems. 

A family group intently studying a book or magazine  This was a really cold day in Oxford and we took refuge in a warm crowded cafe for coffee and bacon sarnies.
I am beginning to like painting on the strange cream/yellow paper in the Moleskine sketchbooks. It's the paper that really doesn't like water, but I like to challenge myself!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Summer Leftovers

20x20cms(approx 8x8") oil on mdf wood

I used a photograph from the summer to paint these cherries.  It's still wet ( this explains the odd patches) but I wanted to get it finished before I leave for a little 'pre' Christmas holiday.
I like to spend a couple of weeks in the UK during the festive season to see my family, then it's back to Sicily for the final run up to Christmas.
So no painting for a couple of weeks...but I've got my sketchbook packed!


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