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!


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