Sunday, 21 June 2015

Peace and Quiet

A lot to catch up on as I've had a little blog/fb/art break, just enough to recharge my batteries!
Starting from the most recent, yesterday was a sketchcrawl day for the Palermo Urban sketchers.  We went to S.Giovanni degli Eremiti (St. John of the Hermits church), a ruined monastery and church in beautiful peaceful gardens.
My first sketch was from halfway up a bell tower, I quickly sketched while my companions climbed to the top....the rickety spiral staircase was just one step too far for me.  I should have smelt danger when we were given crash hats at the entrance!   Colour added later.

The view was great across the city looking towards the cathedral.

The cloisters inside the garden were my favorite, slim delicate columns and arches among the trees.


The church originally from 6th century became a mosque during the Arab domination of Sicily and is in an Islamic architectural style. It was returned to a Christian chuch by the Normans 1130-1148.

 It is built of simple geometric shapes, five cubes (earth) with  domes (the sky) on top.
The red domes are symbol of the city.

Even with tourists milling about it was still a quiet, special place in the middle of a bustling city, well worth a visit!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The postman bought me some goodies!

Here is my new Koi pocket field sketch box by Sakura.  This is the middle size with 18 colours, it comes complete with a Koi waterbrush and dinky sponges to wipe the brush on.
What I like about this set is the detachable mixing palette that can be attached to either side of the box and the possibility to use the lid as a mini easel for a small sketchbook or postcard sized watercolour paper. It can all be held on one hand using the thumb ring underneath.
The colours are bright and mix well although I did read that the orangey colour is fugitive. 

It wasn't expensive and is well made apart from the plastic insert that contains the paint, which is flimsy.
You can see how I tested it out in my previous post, but it was fun and comfortable to use.

This week my book arrived from the sketchbook project.. I had to have a copy seeing as one of my sketches was included. Page 137 for the record!

It's an interesting book, very creative and inspiring full of so many different styles and ideas, so I'm glad I bought it!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Hidden Away

Yesterday  was another day out with the Urban Sketchers group in Palermo and a chance to try out my new  pocket field sketch box.

The appointment was at the Castello di Maredolce, a place I had only heard about but never visited. Not so strange as even people who live in the area don't even know it exists.
Maredolce is what is left of a 9th century Arab palace, subsequently taken by the Normans.
It originally stood in its own parkland with a large lake and island, hence the name Maredolce (sweet sea), and is hidden away in one of the poorest and most difficult parts of  the city, behind ugly urbanisation, rather like an oasis in the desert.

It was quite hot so I chose my first view from under the shade of a tree, with my back to what is left of the lake.

The castle has only recently been renovated and they are constantly digging up relics, the man with the keys showed us the little room where they are stored.

Part of the building had been used as a church and I sketched looking up into the tower or what was once a minaret.

Then it was back outside for one last sketch.

I was trying to imagine what the original arab palace looked like and I found this illustration of King FedericoII in a later period.


...and my new field box? I'll save that for another post!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

This week catching up...

I've been trying out some different sketches of lemons in watercolour in readiness for a small oil painting.  It was refreshing to use a different medium for a change. I love watercolours but I have to be in the right mood otherwise I just make mud!

This is one of my small oil paintings (20x20cms), it's my ginger cat sleeping amongst the roses.  Great place to nap don't you think?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Gone Fishing!

20x20cms oil on mdf wood

Living on an island has it's advantages and you are never too far from the sea.  Luckily I love painting the sea and fishing boats and often the harbour and fishing villages are a great source of inspiration.
In this painting I wanted to capture a white boat bobbing in the sea and the bright reflected light.

20x20cms oil on mdf board

Here in the late afternoon a boat is pulled up onto the beach, but if you hang around long enough you can see the fishermen set off for a night's fishing, and if you get there early in the morning if you can buy some freshly caught fish!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sketchbook Sunday (catching up)

It's been over a week since my last post, and it was one of 'those' weeks! This is the last sketch I had chance to do... an enormous fig tree in the botanical gardens.
I was with the urban sketchers and the day coincided with a spring fair, so I spent lots of time looking at the stalls and not sketching. The slow food Sicilian style was excellent, lots of things to taste :-)

I've bought a new camera to hopefully take better shots of my work for my etsy shop.  It's a big improvement, but I need to practice and get used to it.

Here's some geraniums in my garden, so colourful.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Black Coffee

oil on mdf board 20x20cms

Following my look at black at the beginning of the year I decided to try painting with black, that is to say mixed blacks and darks.  I searched for a good 'black' subject and found these little coffee cups.  I think they are Italian looking at the size although I bought them at a car boot sale in the UK quite a few years ago.

I used a limited palette of ultramarine blue, van dyke brown,  yellow ochre and white and I've included a few of the steps as I went along (when I remembered to take a photo).

I enjoyed painting this and I didn't think I would....just goes to show!


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