Finders Keepers

When I explore with my camera I really have no idea what I am looking for.  But when I see it, I recognize it.  Here are 20 photos, taken with an open mind from a recent trip to Europe.

Innsbruck, Austria:  At first glance I see street art. Then I notice I have been fooled by advertising masquerading as street art.  Still, I like it.

Innsbruck, Austria:  On a dingy railway underpass I am impressed by this abstract composed of ripped posters and graffiti.  Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

A huge poster – the spirit of Innsbruck…

…and the setting for it…

Verona, Italy:  A very small car takes my fancy.

Desenzano, Italy:  Sorry, Sandro Botticelli, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this.

Desenzano, Italy: An Aussie on an Italian street.  (Actually it’s Matthew.)

Desenzano, Italy: I am moved by this piece of prose pasted on the outside of a church wall.

Desenzano, Italy: A roasting hot Sunday, an art stall in the local markets. I would like to think the cyclist is looking at the art however she is studying her phone.  (Yes, this is out of focus on purpose.)

On a wall in some small Italian town (I’ve forgotten where) – a piece of street art captures my eye. HMV.

Geneva, Switzerland: An eye-catching window display employing the use of the complementary colours of yellow and violet.

Geneva, Switzerland: Looking into the window of a Caran d’Ache boutique.  Divine!

Geneva, Switzerland: Juxtaposition of shapes and textures on a wall.

Geneva, Switzerland: Warning – (curious) guard dog.

Chamonix Mont Blanc, French alps: a rook jumps from his perch into nothingness.  Air and snow.

Chamonix Mont Blanc, France: Soft toys on display and soft dogs to lure you in.

Furkapass, Switzerland: Motoring sedately on a Sunday afternoon.

Approaching Munich, Germany: Shapes as we flash by on the autobahn while listening to  “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk playing on the car stereo.  (Fantastic!)

Freising, Germany: a haunting image on a signpost.

Freising, Germany: I don’t know what this says but I am drawn to it anyway.

I search out images when I walk with my camera.  When I find them, I make them my own.  Some will become drawings.  Finders keepers.

 

 

 

 

 

Overcast

“Overcast”
Coloured pencils. 210 x 288 mm. June 2018

On my way home from a before-dawn photography walk, I stop on Pont de la Tournelle and look east.  Morning light reveals an overcast autumnal sky.

Some of us primarily enjoy a view under sun and blue sky; cloudiness may be described as “a dull day”.  To my mind an overcast sky creates a meditative and subtle beauty.  Eyes need not squint against strong light.

Grey day, reflection and introspection; peace.

Overcast” is the second drawing featuring Notre Dame for the “Remember Paris” exhibition.  I like to portray a subject in different ways…

“Far from the Madding Crowd” drawn with Sennelier oil pastels combined with coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle. 330 x 365 mm.  October 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

A Small Act of Love

“A Small Act of Love”
212 x 308 mm
coloured pencils and oil pastels. June 2018

“A Small Act of Love” is the second drawing I have made from a single source photo.  When the first drawing “Just a Moment” sold last year I was both happy and sad; happy as it is always a pleasure when a drawing sells; sad because it was destined to be a part of my “Remember Paris” collection – to be shown in September 2018.

“Just a Moment”
Coloured pencils, drawn January 2017.

Recently as I was reviewing the “Remember Paris” drawing collection so far, I once again mourned the loss of “Just a Moment”.   However I saw the possibility of a second chance as I had cropped the composition the first time.  This time I would draw from the entire photo – making a whole new composition.  And I would use oil pastels as well as coloured pencils.  (You can compare the two pieces – above and below – here.)

“A Small Act of Love”  June 2018
coloured pencils and oil pastels.

The thing is, I want my exhibition of drawings to be more than merely sumptuous views of Paris.  My aim is to show a wide range of her personality traits.  The essential ingredient of this piece is intimacy – an everyday moment of a mother assisting her child.

Last weekend I visited one of Australia’s major art galleries.  I felt like I was in a void while I viewed the traditional and modern grandiose works.  What was my place in art?  Did I have one?  Back home again, finishing off this drawing gave me a sense of perspective.  Perhaps this is my place in art; what I do day after day is a small act of love.

Note:  The drawing is made to be seen from across a room so it is a good idea to stand back a few paces from the top image…and then it makes sense.

Non, je ne regrette rien

happy with undercoat beginning…

This morning I photographed my first layer of a big drawing (380 x 505 mm) after a week of laying on the under-colour in Sennelier oil pastels.

A couple of hours later…  Uh oh – I’m not feeling the love.

Scuttled.

And…that’s it.  No regrets.

A few hours later:  In hindsight, every work which is labour intensive needs to be believed in.  It is a huge effort but it will be worth it.  In this case, I didn’t have quite enough belief (or enthusiasm) in the piece for all the effort I knew I was going to have to put into it.  That’s probably the primary reason I let it go.

PS:  Another reason for dumping the picture above was that it was too similar to “Rhapsody in Gold” drawn in 2017.

“Rhapsody in Gold”
August 2017

 

Wait

“Wait”
pastels and pencils
240 x 255 mm. May 2018

Have you ever waited at traffic signals after dark and observed how surrounding colours change depending on whether the signal is red or green?  In “Wait” the colours of île de la Cité are also made bright by a boat’s high beam illuminating the arches under Pont d’Arcole.  (We can’t see the boat but we know it is there.)

Here is a deep dark “Walk” (partner of “Wait”).  Notice how light from the signal casts a different glow on the sky in each of the two drawings.

A much lower key “Walk” than “Wait” as the green walking man gives off lower light than the red standing man.

In recent posts I have been showing the oil pastel under-painting (before coloured pencil is layered on top).  In  comparing the under-painting stages of these two drawings (drawn several months apart) I see that this primary stage is now richer and more consolidated than it was in mid 2017.   It is fascinating to chart the evolution of a new idea.

oil pastel undercoat of “Wait” (May 2018)

oil pastel undercoat of “Walk” (August 2017)

Next time you are sitting in your car waiting for the lights to change, or standing at a pedestrian crossing after dark, observe the colours as the lights go through their paces.   (Trust me, it is more entertaining than merely being impatient.)

The Liberation of Art

“The Liberation of Art”
oil pastels and coloured pencils – 290 x 420 mm. April 2018

One of my favourite Paris spots is in Saint Germain des Près where rue de Seine forks one way and rue de l’Échaudé forks the other.  I returned there on my last trip and was delighted to find a blue neon sign in the window of Galerie Lumas saying “The Liberation of Art”.   What a subject!  All I had to do was decide on my composition and wait for passers-by.

Soon enough I had my people (and dog).  They’d do very well!

On the left of the composition is a corner of Galerie L. de Puybaudet and on the right, Galerie Lumas – 42 and 40 rue de Seine respectively.

What IS the liberation of art?  Perhaps the couple are discussing this very question as they stroll on a peaceful October morning past the galleries.

The undercoat of the drawing in Sennelier oil pastels, before coloured pencils were applied.

Past drawings of rue de Seine and rue de ‘Échaudé in coloured pencils –

“Paris en hiver” 2011

“Matin” 2011

“Quiet” 2013

“Rue de l’Échaudé” 2014

“de bonne heure” 2012

“Rhapsody in Blue” 2014

 

 

Bay Watch

On the South Island coast I’m on the alert for local fauna.  My first sighting is a sea lion flinging an octopus about in Blueskin Bay.  That dark shape in the water is the sea lion’s head, octopus dangling from mouth.  (If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can make it out.)

Next morning I see the sea lion again.  This time breakfast is flounder (so I’m told).

…down the hatch it goes…

On the Otago coastline between Oamaru and Dunedin is an outcrop of rocks called Shag Point.  There, all year round, you can see a colony of New Zealand fur seals.  On this day it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale.  I can’t step out of the car without getting soaked so I take these photos from my car window.

At the turn off to Shag Point is a cottage.  Wow!  What an outlook.  Location Location!!

The next day we return to Shag Point as the rain has stopped.  I take a five minute walk from the car park and look down over the cliff.  Can you make out the seals on the rocks?  (It can be hard to tell a seal from a rock.)

This must be the nursery.

…and this is surely Father.  “Wake Up Father“.

After a few days in Otago we find ourselves back in Canterbury.  We stay in this heavenly homestead near Little River (not far from Christchurch).  The house was built in 1900.  We feel we are in a Katherine Mansfield short story.

I am always drawn back to Birdlings Flat, a beach entirely made up of stones.  A group of South Island pied oystercatchers make their way along the beach.

A black-backed gull ruffles his feathers.

Red-billed gulls rest and think about what to do next.  (My aim is to photograph without disturbing the birds, which I succeed in doing.)

The surf continuously pounds this southern-facing coastline.  I lie in the stones and watch the white-fronted terns as they preen themselves…

…call to one another…

…fly in…

…and fly out.

In the lagoon behind the beach a solitary white heron sounds an alarm.  Is it me he is worried about?  There is quite a body of water between us.

But still he flies away.  (Perhaps he always meant to fly away and it is nothing to do with me.  I hope so.)

Driving over the hills of Banks Peninsula we encounter a flock of sheep.  The farmer looks like Jed Clampett.

The view from the top of the hill is outstanding.  That must be Akaroa on the far side.

I suggest to Matthew he might like to check out some Barry’s Bay cheese.  While he is sampling the famous cheeses I hop across the road to photograph the birds.

A paradise shelduck forages during low tide.

On a small island in the bay birds not of a feather stick together.

Toi toi.

A pukeko takes me and my camera in her stride.

…and the next day we fly back to Australia.