Friday, 29 October 2010

Scary Faces (Arthouse Sketchbook Project)

A couple more pages for the  Arthouse Sketchbook Project.  My theme is 'face in a crowd', so I did some scary faces for Halloween.  You never know what's hanging about in a crowd!?

I hope I didn't frighten you too much?   This bony face actually makes me smile everytime I see him.  I'm sure he's having a good laugh!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Salt Everywhere!

On a beautiful day of endless blue skies we visited the Lagoon of Stagnone, between Trapani and Marsala, an area famous for salt production. The shallow waters of the lagoon and warm winds are ideal for drawing salt from seawater.
We visited an old windmillover 500 years old that has been restored to working order, the Dutch style windmills were used for pumping water and grinding the salt.

You can walk over the  narrow walls that separate the salt flats, they form a chessboard of different colours ranging from green, pink and rust due to the different stages of the drying process.  All around there are little white salt mountains shimmering in the sun.

With the little island  of Motya as a backdrop this area is an artist or photographer's paradise, a great day out if you're in the area...and you can buy some quality salt too!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Something Orange

Everyday matters - Something orange!
To go with the season I painted these lovely leaves.  Normally I only use watercolour as an underpainting for coloured pencils but I enjoy looking at other people's watercolour  paintings and wanted to try something in colourful in this medium.  Definately some room for improvement and more practice needed I think.  Then I just couldn't resist and had to put some coloured pencil on too and a few artistic splatters!

I can't decide which I like best

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Return to the Sketchbook Project

Time to get back to the Sketchbook Project and my theme 'face in a crowd'.   I had a little break as I was well ahead with my pages (I aim to finish by Christmas hopefully!)

I'm still exploring the different types of faces and I've found  so many ideas I'm glad I chose this theme.
I'm also feeling a lot more comfortable about drawing faces, even doing a couple of portraits.
This isn't one of them!

Previous pages can be seen here

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Volcano and Lava

Pen, watercolour and coloured pencil

This is a view of Mount Etna, Europe's highest and most active volcano. (Yes that is smoke coming out the top!)  It took us a long time to drive there as we took the 'scenic' route and got lost a few times....the sign posts and maps here leave a lot to be desired!  We headed for the North/West side of Etna to avoid the coaches and tourists  going up the popular routes, and  climbed slowly up through the foothills to start our walk at Bronte, a lovely little town famous for it's pistachio nuts.
We drove higher and higher through a lava flow from 1843 to reach our starting point, stopping for a picnic on the way.

Pen, water soluble graphite and coloured pencil

The crater landscape and lava give the whole area  a strange eerie feel, like a moonscape.  All around us were old volcanic cones that have been wooded for centuries and Etna (known as the 'old lady')  looming up in front of us.  There was hardly anyone else around, the silence was incredible and the views were amazing, well worth the  long drive.

You can see the lava flow and the path we took in the photo, although Etna's peak is hidden by cloud.
It was impossible to explore the whole area in just one day, but now I know the way I'll be going back!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


Pen and coloured pencil

This month we are in Mexico for the Virtual Paintout, San Miguel de Allende to be exact.
I travelled  with Google Street up and down  different streets and country lanes, some quite similar to what you'd find here.
I really liked how some of the houses were painted in bright colours and was tempted to draw some of those, but in the end I was drawn to the yellow and white flags that seemed to be everywhere, possibly for some kind of religious festival?

See here to find out more about the Virtual Paintout

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Caves, Coves and a Storm!

Watercolour and coloured pencils

Another great day out, this time we went to 'Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve',  seven kilometers of windswept coastline in the West of Sicily and one of the most beautiful areas of the island. 
We followed a rocky path along the top of the cliffs with mountains rising on the other side.  This part of the coast is special because of the tiny rocky coves and caves scattered along the coast and the only way to get there is on foot, even boats are not allowed to moor here.  It was used for smuggling many years ago and well known bandits were supposed to have hidden out here too.

Normally the sea would be a beautiful turquoise colour but as you can see we didn't have the best day's weather.  In fact we got caught out by an amazing storm (quite frightening at the time, but so funny afterwards!).  We were miles from anywhere and no where to shelter apart from caves, so we battled on getting soaked right through to the skin, and to think I didn't go for a swim as I didn't want to spend the rest of the day in a damp costume!
I did get some sketching done sitting on a beach (before the rain).

Usually I draw then if there's time put down the basic colours in watercolour, finishing it off at home with coloured pencil.  In this case I quite liked the watercolour, so I left it as it is....naked!
My sketchbook actually got soaked too but dried out and survived and like my friend and I, lived to see another day!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Red Reflection

Coloured pencil

Everyday Matters 293, something made of glass.
This red vase sits on a small table near the window.  Most afternoons the sun  shines directly on the vase for about an hour leaving a wonderful red reflection/shadow on the tablecloth.  I've often thought I need to draw or paint that, so here it is!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Creepy Castle

Another page showing a day out in Sicily, done in watercolours, coloured pencil and a water resistant pen that wasn't!
This time we went to Caccamo castle, which isn't too far away.  The town is up a winding mountain road that climbs steadily up, suddenly you find the 12th century Norman castle perched high above the town.  
Inside it has the creepy feel that castles should have, with lots of cobwebs and little doors to unknown places.   The views are spectacular from the terraces, looking out over the valley and you can see what a great lookout position it had.

From here you could see the hill where I sat sketching a few days before and the man made lake below.


From the other side of the castle you look out over the town,  I loved the old tiled roof tops!  We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering about the town, there were lots of churches big and small, and houses built right into the rock of the mountain.  You would certainly have to be fit if you lived here, to get about it's nearly all steps!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Enchanted Forests

Bosco di Ficuzza

For the past two weeks I have been out and about visiting some of the most beautiful parts of Sicily.  An old friend came to stay with me and we decided to be intrepid travellers/tourists, packing  picnics and setting off in my little car.  Some places I already had visited and some were new to me, all were exceptionally beautiful. 
I wanted to make a record of all the places we went to, and here is the first one using my usual bits of treasure that I pick up,  photos and sketches.

Rocca Busambra

Ficuzza is a nature reserve and small village in the district of Corleone, an ancient oak forest stretches for miles and miles.  The first place you come to is the village of Ficuzza and it's Baroque hunting lodge,  we then followed a footpath up into the nature reserve, you can just see the footpath we followed in the bottom left of the photo.  We walked for several hours, so I think we deserved the coffee and cakes we had sitting in front of the hunting lodge when we got back. 


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