Backgrounds with people

Here are some more sketches from my current cafe sketching booklet. I am currently putting in some more backgrounds rather than letting my people float on the blank page. Some work better than others.

The red bottle, 1 December 2018, watercolour and graphite.

Woman under an umbrella, 3 December 2018, watercolour and graphite.

Mother with her two sons, 5 December 2018, watercolour and graphite.

Two women with a pot of orchids, 11 December 2018, watercolour and graphite.

Urban Sketches – Granada

Here is another sketch from the backlog of my recent travel.

We were staying in the older part of Granada and it turned out that we had some interesting views from our apartment. On our first full day in the city I started working on a sketch of the church of San Andreas, built between 1528-42. It was great to be able to open our balcony doors and sit in the cool morning air drawing while hundreds of swifts darted around demolishing hoards of insects in the morning sky. It ended up taking three days to complete this piece. I was trying to make it reasonably accurate so having drawn it one day I had to erase it and start again on the second day and then finish the drawing and paint it on day three.

The bell tower of San Andreas Church, in the Albacin area of Granada. Pencil and watercolour

This building is considered to be a fine example of the Mudéjar style of architecture, which was heavily influenced by the Moorish styles in the years following the ‘reconquista’ when the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand regained Spain for their Christian kingdom.

You can see from the photo the foreshortening in my sketch as I was looking up from underneath the bell tower.

Urban Sketches – Madrid

I realised that I have a stack of sketches from my travels that I haven’t shared on my blog. My street sketches in Madrid came to a grand total of two. Mainly we spent most of our time in the museums, I will be sharing some sketching from of those visits in other posts.

Early evening, Calle de Zurita, Madrid, watercolour and pencil.

We painted in the Calle de Zurita the night of the first World Cup game between Spain and Portugal. Needless to say there were loud cheers and groans coming from the nearby bars. After sketching we went and joined the locals to watch the rest of the match.

My second sketch was of a building that I thought had an interesting roofline and I also liked the way the date palm appeared out of the courtyard. I was sketching, perched on a security block next to a bus-stop. An older couple stopped to explain that I was drawing the back end of the Cardinal’s Palace. They also mentioned that a famous painter was born there. When I walked up to look at the historic marker I could see that the artist was Claudio Coello, appointed to the court of Carlos II. Coello was born at the in 1642. I have no idea why he was born in the Cardinal’s Palace, but his dad was a sculptor so maybe he was working there at the time – this is purely speculation on my part.

The Cardinal’s Palace Madrid, from the Place Puerto de Cerrada, pencil and watercolour.

The Cardinal’s Palace, the plain end, watercolour and pencil.

More ‘colour cows’ join the herd

There’s not much that I like better than buying art supplies. Visiting another country, in my experience, is an excellent excuse to explore new brands and our new friends at USk Paris were most helpful in directing us to local art suppliers.

Here are the latest colours, mainly from Schmincke and Sennelier. I also have a new brush, whose name is Leonard no. 3, made by Gerstaecker (a brand I am unfamiliar with).

Down the bottom of the page are some Herbin inks that I also got in Paris at Galleries Lafayette. They come in 10 ml as well as 30ml bottles, all the better to encourage you to buy multiple bottles (see, it works). The most disappointing thing is that these inks are not waterproof. That hasn’t stopped me from using them, but I would be using them a lot more if I could be sure they wouldn’t run.

New colour cows: top row – Idanthrone blue (WN), Cobalt green turquoise (Schk), Delft blue (Schk); middle row – Payne’s grey (Schk), Potters pink (Schk), Light grey (Sen), Brown Green (Sen)

The other day I took Leonard no.3 out painting. He was a very good brush indeed. He holds lots of water and also has a good fine tip. This was the brush I used for the painting/ collage below, on the Canal St Martin.

The lock at Parc Eugene Varlin, Canal St Martin. Watercolour, pencil and collage.

Today I filled my favourite Sailor Fude nib pen with the Herbin Orange Indien and used it in my sketch of the Tropical Glasshouse at the Jardin des Plantes. When used in conjunction with watercolour you can get away without seeing too much ink bleeding.

Inside the Tropical House at the Jardins des Plantes, Paris

Urban Sketchers Paris

I went out sketching with Urban Sketchers Paris last weekend. We started off at La Monnaie (The Paris Mint). By complete coincidence I had the great pleasure of catching up with friends from USk Singapore and USk Kuala Lumpur who were also visiting Paris. Urban sketching certainly brings the world together!

Inside the mint there were a plethora of things to draw. An exhibition by artist-in-residence Subhota Gupta inspired many. I was struck by the contrast between his glittering and complex sculpture ‘Family Tree’ that was set in the main courtyard of La Monnaie and the 18th century building facade behind it. It was an extremely challenging subject to tackle, but I was pretty pleased with the outcome, (although I subsequently noticed that my building was a bit lop sided).

Family Tree, in the main courtyard of La Monnaie, Paris

After a picnic lunch by the Seine we walked down to the Marais to visit the Foundation Lafayette. En route our host for the day, Xavier, showed us the workshop where architect Renzo Piano has his architectural models made.

Unfortunately a gallery changeover at the Foundation meant that we couldn’t draw where we had planned. Instead we opted for a coffee break and the challenge of sketching each other.

My sheet of sketches of fellow sketchers

Some of us then walked to the nearby National Archives, but our plans to draw in their lovely gardens were drenched by rain. My final sketch of the day was made while sitting under the colonades of the building, looking across to the blown-up (only in size), version of some classic posters, currently lining the inner walls of the building.

Thanks to Xavier for organising and the other sketchers who made it such a great day.

Sketching with Rodin

I had the pleasure of meeting up with members of Urban Sketchers Paris last weekend, both days actually (but that’s another post). On Sunday we went sketching at the Musée Rodin in Varenne.

There was so much to see and sketch at the Musée Rodin, that I stayed for the whole day.

Sketching in Room 14 at the Musee Rodin, that’s a partially made model, not just my wonky drawing.

I was particularly inspired by the various studies and preparatory works for Rodin’s sculptures. I also enjoyed seeing Rodin’s collection of classical sculpture fragments. The wall of toes and feet was my favourite.

Room 17 with the collection of classical toes

I then moved to the next room along to draw these two torsos. One a ‘Muse’ and the other a model for ‘Polyphemos’. The pose for Polyphemus was extraordinary, the right knee lifted almost up to the face. Although, having since looked at more finished versions of this sculpture online, I can see that the figure is kneeling and leaning over, so the pose is less strange than it appears with they way this model is mounted.

Muse, 1907, Room 18 of the Musee Rodin

Large torso and various studies for Polyphemus, Musee Rodin

Mid-afternoon there was a special performance by Cambodian dancers, in the museum gardens, which was designed to allow sketchers to draw the dancers in tradtional dance poses. Unfortunately for the dancers the beautiful weather of the previous week had been supplanted by a gloomy day of 14 ° C. Wearing only their stunning traditional costumes designed for hot and humid Cambodia, the dancers were literally turning blue from the cold. I can only say that we truly appreciated their efforts to perform under such trying circumstances.