Monday, September 28, 2015

Rained Out

A pattern is beginning to appear… The last two “en plein air” I have attempted have sent me packing to avoid the rain. I will complete this one from memory as I did the last. So far so good. I do hope you managed to get out and about for Cultural Days last weekend. When they asked me if I would be interested in doing a stint outside the CAVA gallery I thought it would be a good way to inspire me to get back in the saddle, so to speak! In spite of jet-lag I found the exercise very rewarding and intend to do some more “en plein air” before the fall colours all disappear. There is nothing quite like seeing in the real. There are a couple of drawbacks: it is not quite as warm as Italy and it keeps raining!! This afternoon I am heading for Harcourt House. It has been a long while and I will be able to catch up on my sketch-a-day program… Is that cheating? Probably…. Life is good.

Monday, September 21, 2015


How appropriate! Yesterday was Sunday and we roamed the region discovering hidden gems, unannounced sites of great antiquity. The Greeks apparently settled this area long before the Romans. The ruins at Cuma are of Greek origin and therefore several areas are devoted to the worship of various Greek gods. I continued the less trodden path towards the temple dedicated to Giova (Zeus in Greek). The Romans appropriated Greek gods under new names (Jupiter-Giove-for this one) and this site retains the original titles. Lovely views of the Mediterranean. As usual I found a quiet corner in the shade where the negative spaces tantalized my creative genes. I tend to avoid panoramas and actual ruins. I prefer the paths leading to them. Today we are on our way to Roma again. Our plane leaves the next day so we will still have some time to explore before we relinquish our car. The driving has been such an adventure. There is something about successfully negotiating traffic in a street built for one chariot…. Life is good.   

Monday, September 14, 2015


We are choosing to drive the smaller roads, sometimes rather sketchy in upkeep. There are advantages and disadvantages… we can stop anytime and I can do a sketch in ink or in colour. On the other hand we tend to get slightly lost! Often I see something interesting in a stretch of road without a possibility of stopping (narrow, hairpin turns and such). Several kilometers later there is a turnout; I have yet to be inspired by what I can see at these points, if I can see, between the trees and bushes. Yesterday was different. The Italian landscape is so unique. The first time I squeezed to the side of the road I walked a little way to discover all the approaches to the magnificent river below were private property. We kept going and I took a few photos the second time around. At the third halt I actually had enough room to park comfortably (both the car and myself!). I took out my paints. I had just completely the drawing when it began to sprinkle. Ignoring the water I took out my paints and the drops ceased, for a time. I had just reached the point where all I had to do was fill in the greens when it really began to come down. There ended the lesson for the day. Once we had found our lodgings and before supper I set to finishing the watercolour by memory. Somewhere near Aqualagna, Italy. Life is good.   

Sunday, September 6, 2015


As we wander through various cities in Italy we have encountered a snag in our ambitions. Aging legs do not work as well as they did forty years ago and they require more sitting time than planned. Sitting time has transformed into sketching time for me. The intriguing part of being in old Europe is that no matter where we sit there is something worthwhile to draw. In these circumstances I found myself sitting on the steps of an ancient church in the Piazza di S. Stephano in Florence totally lost in the perspective of stonework and wrought iron railings. Drawing is not as fast as a camera lens. As the sun crept around to find me still sitting on the steps and only about half way through the drawing, a decision had to be made. Do I abandon the intention or do I persevere? A little while later my loving husband arrived with a cold beer. Leaving it on the step beside me he retreated into the shade once more. After some time again I had another visitor, a young lady, who happened to be with her parents with whom my husband had struck up a conversation. She was very curious about what I was doing and asked to see my sketch. Wonderful consideration. Awestruck, she too retreated into the shade once more. I am getting a lovely tan by the way. Life is good.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pursuing Consistency

There are a few kinks in the master plan. Besides the everyday touring of Le Valais, there remain unpredictable hours in each rendezvous. My husband and I are enjoying a delightful time in the Swiss alps, visiting family, friends and generally carousing. That could be the other link in the question of consistency with daily sketches…. Long days, short nights and chilly venues create heavy colds. Between sneezing and sniffling, dizziness and nausea there have been some very memorable moments. Heavy doses of vitamin C among other things seem to have done the trick. Next: Italy. We know no one in Italy…. This is good. I may even do two or three sketches per day, maybe even in colour! Ooooo…. Delicious. Life is good.

Monday, August 24, 2015

After Frame

Some artists wonder what to do with a drawing or painting after it has been taken out of the frame. With watercolours and mark making it is a frequent occurrence. I am in the midst of preparing my own work for exposition without a frame. The local hardware store is questioning my sanity as I purchase quantities of shrink wrap (used for insulating leaky windows). Perhaps it would be better to get new windows…. The pieces I am enclosing in plastic are quite large so I purchase the largest roll which happens to be just the correct width for the length of the matted work. Once cut I remove the artwork and open the folded plastic then replace the art face down so that the messy taping is done on the back. Using clear packaging tape I draw the plastic as tight as possible without creating too many wrinkles then I begin to blow dry it. The heat from the hair dryer causes the plastic to shrink. This takes quite a while as I begin at the edges under the tape where most of the sheet is gathered. After it has been tightened to my satisfaction on the back I turn it over and again work from the edges into the centre. I now have a substantial inventory to display in a rack rather than on the walls. Things are coming together. Life is good.