Onions and garlic

Between the tissues and Fervex and Strepsils and Tokala and Aiyani, I did manage to find a spot for my watercolour palette. These are two vegetables our house is never without. Actually, that is almost all there is , except for some cheese and a drop of milk in the fridge…I’m alone for the week, so it comes down to cereal for dinner tonight.

Pencil and watercolour on Fabriano artistico HP, 23×30,5cm

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Sketching at the Plant festival

The traditional Fête des plantes is held at the château de la Bourdaisière here in Montlouis every year over the Easter weekend. We went on Sunday, I dragged my head cold body along, since I wanted to do drawing and didn’t want to wait another year.. As I was sketching some scenes, a man approached me and asked if he could have a look at my work. We started talking, and he turned out to be from France 3 television. So, on Sunday night “moi” appeared briefly on France 3 in a reportage about the festival, showing me sketching along…. the short time my sketching was being filmed, the thing I was worried about most, was whether I  had any stains on my sleeve!

All sketches in rotring pen(.35)  and watercolour in sketchbook 19x25cm.

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Scenes in Tours

From the garden of l’hotel Beaune-Semblancay in Tours…with the fountain dating from 1511, and the Renaissance chapel.

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….and the remaining  façade, dating from 1518. Most of these buildings were destroyed in 1940.

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Eglise St. Julien à Tours, built in the 13th century.

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Sketches were done in sketchbook, 19x25cm with pen/pencil and watercolour.

La Loire sketches…and a bit of spring

It started out a sunny day and because it is the first day of spring, the Loire felt appropriate. The tables on the pavements outside the restaurants and bars were all festively dressed in spring attire….with little knee blankets, and cushions, pots of springflowers.

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A quick first sketch of the Loire in the moleskine with pen and a wash and then I thought my watercolours weren’t going to be too bad….

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The same scene as the wash, in watercolour, sketchbook 19x 25. I’m not happy with either of the watercolours…just doesn’t look like the Loire! I have a lot of work to do in landscapes!

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A different view. Watercolour in sketchbook, 19×25

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SA chronicles 4: Architecture

Some architecture…

A beach house in Vermont, Hermanus.

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Khyalitsha, township north of Cape town. I took photo’s and then composed this sketch afterwards from it.

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A historic house in Van Riebeeckstreet, Stellenbosch.

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Another beautiful oldie…

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Sunday, after church in Paarl, (the third oldest town in SA), when everybody else was enjoying tea, I sketched out in the heat, until I gave up and fled to the tea as well. So this sketch doesn’t show the lovely new gothic revival architecture of the church, which was built in 1842.

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The old Mother church(Moederkerk) in Stellenbosch, with it’s outer buildings with gables and thatched roofs, typical of Cape Dutch architecture. Since 1679, it has been part of the town, established by Simon van der Stel. arg6.jpg

Figure drawings

In figure class, the model was late, so we started by sketching whatever was in view. I chose to do a classmate opposite me.

All drawings are in in charcoal and sanguine (except for this first one, only charcoal) on paper,190g/m², 42×59,4 cm (16,5×23,4″) All the poses are about 15 – 20 minutes long.

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Then the model showed up, with a huge black dog. With no inhibitions, he took off his clothes, dropped them in a bundle right there and then immediately swooned into this pose. Our goal was to work with foreshortening and use 2 or 3 mediums to push back dark shadows in order to give “life” and depth to a foreshortening pose. In this postion the model’s head couldn’t be seen by me and his right hand disappeared completely under his left leg(sticking out above the left foot) making it look as if is his foot is growing from his arm. I struggled with that portion of the body.

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In this second pose, it seems like his arms are miles long…he is a very tall, slender model with broad shoulders and I had difficulties keeping the relationships in balance. His head was in reality crunched lower between his knees, which I didn’t capture close enough to convey the “tightly crunched and taut” feeling of the body.

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I could’ve done so much more with this drawing. The body feels flat without the typical bigger ribcage of the male body in and the slim hips and I didn’t succeed in capturing the complete relaxed surrender of the model. My foreshortening could have been much more pronounced as well….I was too scared to really go for it. Pity… this was a great pose, very challenging.

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This was the last pose of the evening and it completely lacks energy, even though it is a very static one. What I did get though, was huge feet!  The left side of his body needed much more drop in the shoulder as well as the hip and I could do better with the muscular play in the shoulders and of course…the arms!! The model was really wonderful, he moved into each pose with conviction and grace and wonderful confidence.

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Postmortem: I enjoyed doing this.

The body gives fascinating poses with foreshortening.

I’ve learnt that caution doesn’t get you anywhere closer to success. Thus, my fear of overdoing the foreshortening didn’t result in anything better than had I gone for the extreme.

I’ve learnt that good darks is essential in giving depth and dimension to any drawing.

In foreshortening poses, it is essential to forget that you’re dealing with a body, because the lines and masses and values don’t always make sense. Draw what you see.

I’ve learnt to get some distance from my paper in order to get more energy into my drawing. By standing a bit further away, by holding the charcoal looser, working with arm movements, stepping away from the drawing often, loostening up the shoulders often, staying away from looking at details…all result in getting energy and movement on to the paper instead of keeping it locked up in the upper body. It’s a bit like playing a good tennis shot!

Now I only hope that I WILL learn what I’ve learnt!

More exciting recent figure drawing sketches from CathyG, Casey, Dee, Marta, Jana, (oil paints)  Martin, Scott Burdick, Joe Delaney, Anne Delplace (whose work I adore for its vitality and risks and expressions!). There are many more of which I’m sure I have somewhere left out or haven’t seen…let me know and I’ll add it for us all to see and enjoy.

SA chronicles 3 – animal small talk

On the restaurant terrace of Spier, wine estate outside Stellenbosch….. 

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“So what are you hanging around here for, Mrs duck? You belong on the beautiful lake out there, not here with the people, this isn’t your place…”

“Well, I’m fed here, all kinds of goodies and I like it, so why not? You enjoy it out here on the terrace with your cheesecake, why can’t I…. and don’t be so selfish with it by the way, share some!  See the German tourists over there? No selfishness at that table!”

“No, you can’t have cheesecake. I’m a human, this is what we humans do. You’re an animal, a duck, you don’t eat cheesecake and you don’t belong on a terrace. And by the way, where are your ducklings?”

“Oh, smarten up! We’re not in the Middle Ages any more! And my ducklings are fine, they’re in good hands.  They’re with the nanny. I need my own space too, you know!”

At Dassiesfontein roadstall, in the Cape Overberg

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“Oeehh! Fancy tools you have there! I hope you know how to use it? I’m so tired of all these tourists showing up here, wanting to take my picture with their little phones and their little instamatics , clicking away with one hand and waving the other at me, like I’m some kind of dumn ass….and then they expect me to come closer and pose and smi…..wowieee, what’s that? A carrot!! OK, here you have it, Sweetie, my good side just for you!  Wanna smile too? Happy?  Now, about that carrot…??”

 On the farm at Vredenheim wine estate, outside Stellenbosch….

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“Hellooo there…! Haven’t I seen you here before? Aha, now I remember, you were here last year. Actually, you’re here every year! Don’t you have a home? Mmm…, come to think of it, you bring back bad memories. You were standing here last year, watching as they took away my baby and you just did nothing! Now you’re expecting  me to be welcoming? Well, inshort, you’re disturbing me right now! As you can see, it’s lunchtime around here. So, make an appointment for later, I’ll consider seeing you then…” 

In the large living room of Vredenheim’s farmhouse….

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“These humans can really eat! And just look at them!! Gmf…you would never see a fat gemsbok!”

“Yeah, unfortunately we can only watch from up here now, we’ve had our chips, should’ve stayed with the pack that day! ”

” Well, I don’t complain too much. I have a nice spot on the wall and since my horns are spectacular, I’m constantly admired. And I deserve it too, I’ve worked very hard keeping these horns in tip-top shape!”

“Aargh, shut up! Just because you’re the famous kudu doesn’t mean you’re better than us!”

“Oh, don’t mind him. He’s just arrogant, so typical of the youth today…! I may only be an ugly old wildebeest, but boy, when we’re on a stampede, there’s no stopping us! We’re famous for it in the Serengeti! Ohh, how I remember those carefree years…..sigh!”

Sketches done on site in pen or pencil and watercolour added later, sketchbook 19x25cm.

….to be continued.