Friday, December 31, 2010

Sketchbook 2010 - Grado

Grado with Albert, and I managed to bring a lot of the freedome I gained in Rovijn into the work I did in Italy. This of course left less time to work in my sketchbook but I still managed to capture some images.
Aquilea, baptism chapel - I wish I could have spent more time there.
"Katharina!" In our minds we could hear the shouts of the drunk suitors who called the woman living on that little island in the laguna of Grado. As we were told the story she gave in after half an hour and picked them up by boat and brought them to her island. (the little hut to the left - the outhouse).

This year I also started to collect flowers and stick them into my sketchbook, another detail adding to the memories! Looking back over this year I painted and drew a lot, most of it brought about by my frustration at the beginning of 2010, because I broke my right arm and could not do anything for weeks. I hope next year will start better, I have a number of classes lined up to gain more freedom in my painting and drawing and hopefully find my unique voice in my artistically expression. Wishing you all a wonderfull Year 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sketchbook 2010 - Rovijn

Oh Rovijn! While I struggled tremendously with my paintings in Tuscany, Rovijn and my friend and teachers relaxed attituded gave me the freedom to take the step to the next level, which Albert, my professor, had predicted when I wanted to give up just a couple of months before.
This not only showed in my graphic work of that weekend (I gave up on watercolor after the first botched painting) but also in the loose and finally colorfull work in my sketchbook.
I not only produced numbers of big drawings but also filled page after page in my sketchbook.
New techniques, new drawing implements and - finally watercolor in my sketches.
While the composition still needs work, I still love the way I "just drew it" and can feel the sun burning on my back, my fingers sticky from the icecream two of the acompanying husbands brought for us all, I can hear the laughter and remember the jokes and all the stress from the weeks before christmas beginns to dissolve. For me that is so much more than just looking through the photos I also took (and always will).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sketchbook 2010 - Tuscany

While I blogged about the paintings and drawings of my classes this year I just realized that I never showed images from my sketchbook. These last few days of the year are the perfect time for that. To be honest, travel sketchbooks are my love. It is such a wonderfull way of experiencing the area more intensively.

I loved visitin San Giminiano, which I only knew from the movie "Brother Sun and Sister Moon". I confused all of my travel companions with my enthusiasm, as non of them knew Zeffirelli's film.

I love my landscape sketchbook. If I think an image will be to high, I just draw on the diagonal, which, for me, adds interest and movement.
Sienna! I wish I would have had more time to sketch in the city as well and not just the view of the dome. Having read "Der Palio der toten Reiter" by Fruttero and Lucentini, I would have loved to spend some time there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Graphic class

The last class I took was all about perspective and color. I took some of the sample sketches we did to show rules of perspective and drew them with indian ink and watercolor.Trying to capture perspective of Kärntner Straße as it used to be ages ago is always fun, even if it turns out wrong (one could never see St. Stephens Cathedral this way as it is much further to the right behind the buildings.).
Venice: Again the bridge is much too high as I tend to draw them. I wish I could go to Venice to spend some time sketching and drawing!
This one I like best of all. Line and color come together to create depth and relationships.

I have so much fun doing these drawings/paintings, much more than with pure watercolor.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Market Sketches

About a week after retourning from Grado I drove to Graz for a class in sketching at the farmers market.
While the rain helped the vegetables look wonderfully fresh and I would have loved to spend the morning shopping, it was not so great for sketching and we decided to take as many photos as possible in an hour and then work in a studio.
Working from the images on the screen of a laptop gave us more time with each image though we tried to finish in about 15 minutes with each sketch.
I love the way my sketches turned out, quick studies of old ladies doing their shoping for the week,
choosing vegetables,
spending some minutes catching up with people met.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Our last day in Grado was started with a critique session of our paintings. Afterwards we set of to Duino, where we set off on "Rilke Weg" a path along the coast which offers a wonderfull view of Duino castle in one direction and towards Mirarmare (though far off) in the other direction.

Albert challenged us to paint the rock and the castle with negative painting, which did work with the castle but I somehow lost the rock it sits on. To be honest, I was exhausted and not very motivated to paint, which can be seen in the result.
Even worse is the second painting of the day, which I did after lunch (and I was the only one who did a second painting). This time Albert did not do a painting first, so I had to find my way on my own, which immediately showed my weakness: how do I start. Well, no one said that painting watercolor is easy, and there is a long way to go yet.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grado 5

The rain was gone and we spent the morning on a hill above the laguna, painting the view and a chapell nearby.

After a picknick lunch we drove on to another part of the laguna with small islands a little bit off the coast.
On this island an older woman named "Katharina" lives, working as a fisher. The little added structure to the left - that's the outhouse! The owner of our hotel told us her story, as his family originally owned the neighbouring island.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grado 4

On wednesday we woke to a wet and windy day but being the eternal optimists we set of to the island of Barbana, which is home to a church dedicated to Mary. The ferry was filled to overflowing and too late we realized that not just because of the threatening rain this might not have been such a good idea but because it was Mary's birthday and Italians celebrate this holiday by going to church.

On our arrival at the island we just had about 10 minutes time to try to capture the impression of the threatening rain and then we had to run!
On our return to the mainland we decided to give "Belvedere" an enseble of a chapell and old farm buildings a try, where we had the possibility to get under cover should the rain start again, but the rain was done with us for the day and so we could paint undisturbed.
As I tend to, I painted an "L" and did not notice until itwas pointed out to me....
I did not leave any white on the head wall of the chapell, I cut off the roof and the corners of the building and did not let it go over it as it really does,... too much wrong with this one...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Grado 3

On our third day in grado we woke up to rain. Luckily the owner of our hotel has a son who owns a hotel in the center of town and so we were allowed to go up to a coverd terrace on the roof and had a lovely view over the old town out towards the laguna.
Around lunchtime the rain had stopped so we drove to Aquilea and spent the afternoon there. I decided to stick with my graphic work and did a quick impression of the baptism chapel and then some more sketches outside.

OK, I know, I am not supposed to divide the sky but I just love this combination of two complimentary colors (as could be seen before).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Grado 2

We spent the morning of the second day at the inner harbour, painting the fishing boats. It was fun trying to capture all the paraphrenelia on the boats.
The afternoon found us in the old part of the town again, where we painted the tower of the duomo. In the watercolor the tower is a bit curvy so I tried again in ink:

Well, it is quite a bit dominating, but this quick sketch was fun.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


At the beginning of September I had the chance to join Albert Hofmann for a week in Grado. We were only a small group and the atmosphere was very relaxed, as was I. For me it also meant a step forward in painting, which even I realized and not only the others commented on. Maybe being able to admit to myself that I had learned something and my paintings were so much better than the ones I did one year ago in the Waldviertel was the success of this week. We spent the first morning at the lagune of Grado, painting fisherboats. I started out with a watercolor and then decided to change to a more graphic style, something I really enjoy lately.

After lunch we returned to the old part of Grado and did a quick sketch with coal and pastell. I did not bring any fixative (as did none of the others) and so a lot rubbed off. Still, I think it shows some of the spontaneity of the moment.
Trying to capture the image in watercolor on ingres paper did not turn out as I wanted, so I turned it into a more graphic work with indian ink. Albert added the lantern and his stamp of approval.
While I realize that I have quite a way to go, I am finally more confident. I know that there will be paintings that will not work and hours of frustration to come, but now I have also experienced success. Success I saw and felt and not only was told so by others. Why can I not accept and believe it, when others say positive things about my work?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Meeting Sol

I dreamed about sketching at the zoo for ages but never was brave enough. An exercise for using Word Art in a journal in an online workshop (Laure Ferlita, Artful Journaling: Exploration) resulted in the following image:

In the comments on how I came to choose this image I admited my thoughts about creating a zoo journal. That thought was met with so much encouragement that I decided to visit the zoo during my recent vacation and try drawing in public.

The above sketch is one of many I started with. When leaving the orangutan enclosure I noticed one of them interacting with people at a huge glass wall. I sat down by the glass and started to sketch. Once "Sol" as I was later introduced to her, noticed me, she came over and sat down beside me and gestured at my sketchbook. I showed her, asking if I could draw her. She just looked at me. It was such a magical moment. I forgot that people might see what I was doing and started drawing as quickly as I could, not knowing how long she might stay. Once I had finished the sketch I showed her - she lifted her hand and coverd her eyes peaking through her fingers at me!! That was such a tension breaker! I just had to laugh and all the people standing around did too.

I then asked if I could try again and the above sketch is the result. I added the watercolor at home. People then started to ask to be shown the sketch and got too close for comfort. I felt too presured and after thanking Sol for sitting model for me I left. Hours later when resting on a bench an older lady sat down beside me after asking permission and started to tell me about Sol, how she is the youngest and lowest in the group. She does not like her photo being taken but loves attention. That lady told me that she tries to spend time with Sol whenever she gets to the zoo and that Sol recognizes her, when she comes. As I did she also hates when other people don't just look on but want to get in on the interaction. She had watched the whole scene from the back and I just had to offer to show her my sketches. She too laughed about the first one. :-)

After lunch I did some quick sketches of other animals as well, the one above of one of the two indian rhinoceros in the zoo is one I enjoyed doing very much. I'll have to take the time do do more sketches of them one of these days.Yesterday I went to the zoo again to meet my godchild. While waiting for her and my friend I just had to go visit the orangutans again. When I sat down by the glasswindow Sol came right up again. I showed her the sketches with the added watercolor and started another sketch. She did not keep still this time, checking the rest of the enclosure all the time. After a few minutes I noticed why: Vladimir, the male of the group came to see what was happening and took Sol's place. So I started a sketch of him. Here he looks much more friendly than in reality.

After my friend and her daughter joined me I had little chance to do more sketching but saw another lady painting a watercolor of the minitiatur ponies.

I'll definitely go back to the zoo to sketch and to maybe meet Sol again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do you remember...

this?it turned into this:While I am not sure I will harvest beets, at least they grew. Actually a lot of stuff grew and I even harvested some corn, cherry tomatoes, stringbeans, zucchini and a cucumbers, I had at least a handfull of fava beans and another of peas, my inexperience in gardening, the weather and problems with watering the fields made my gardening experience less than I hoped for.
Still, it was fun, and if even a third of the seeds I put into the ground would have grown, the whole field would have been overgrown. On the other hand - I had to put so many seeds in to get even a little bit to grow - not fun!
Only two sweetpeas (from more than 20 seeds) grew, and other flowers did not come at all.
The tomatillos (in the beginning I confused them with surgarroots) grow and flower, but only one or two of those capsules are filled.
If the rain stops and the sun comes back I will have a lot of tomatoes!
This one grew bigger than I thought it would before I could cut it, I look forward to eating it.
Another 6 weeks before we have to clear off our fields and the farmer prepares the ground for his own use again.
Will I do this again next year? Probably not.