Quiet Time

“Quiet Time” is a drawing in coloured pencils and Neocolor II wax pastels. 33.5 x 53.3 cm. April 2020.

In the Covid-19 time in which we are living, local cafés and restaurants are shut – except for takeaways.  In Fremantle (Western Australia) Matthew and I line up to buy coffees then take them to some isolated spot or other overlooking the port.

As we sit on canvas chairs facing sky and sea, we may speak our thoughts, or, just listen to water lapping, breezes and bird calls.  More often than not a seagull comes to check on whether we have some food to share.

I am describing a daily ritual during March/April 2020.  However my latest drawing is from when we visited Lido in March 2019.  What were we doing on Lido? … quietly regarding Venice from across the lagoon while being checked on by a seagull!

I’ve spent the last four weeks working on “Quiet Time“.  I could have responded to the ‘new normal’ by drawing something dark and ominous – suiting my pessimistic mood.  But I decided on an uplifting subject from which I could perhaps find comfort.  What could be more self-nurturing than sky, laguna, hazy Venice and seagull?

At first, working on this piece I felt disconnected and unable to concentrate, just as I felt disconnected (in shock) to the dystopian daily news. I forced myself on.  (How does one get one’s head around a pandemic?)  In the end, the serenity of the subject reached out to me.  The drawing and I eventually connected.

Even though the composition was sourced from 12 months ago in Northern Italy, it feels entirely relevant to a part of bubble life now, especially to that hour each day when, sitting before local waters with coffees, Matthew and I share our isolation quiet time.


“An Italian Dream”  (from nearly the same position) was drawn in October 2019.




19 thoughts on “Quiet Time

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      We do have a great ritual going, Camilla. I thought it would only be for a few days until our activity became illegal but it hasn’t happened. We are very fortunate to live where we do – where we can still sit outside – with care.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I am very fond of seagulls, and I like the way they come close to see what we are up to when we sit by the sea or river. Some people think they are dirty birds but they always look perfectly pristine to me – with their whites so very white.

  1. Kathi Smith

    Another amazing piece of artwork Julie. That single Seagull seems to represent isolation to me, and the beautiful background is reassuring that there is still a wonderful world out there waiting on us. I always love your work and you’re such a great writer as well. You have such an eloquent way of expressing yourself.❤️❤️

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      That’s lovely of you to say, Kathi. On the day I took the photo, it was a Sunday so we wanted to get out of busy Venice which is why we went to Lido – which was extremely quiet. It really was just Matthew (my husband) me and the bird – just the same combination as when we go down to the port these days – us two and invariably a seagull watching.

  2. anna warren portfolio

    Being able to transport yourself in your imagination to another part of the world is like being a time traveller. Memories are such a source of nourishment. I was having a conversation yesterday about how grateful I am to have done so much travelling in my life – hopefully I will again, but for now it is just memories. I can understand your initial reticence to stepping back into that golden time in a peaceful, summer Italy, with no hint of what was to descend upon the entire world, but you have encompassed that time in this lovely drawing.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I’m definitely a time traveller, Anna. Though the scene doesn’t come out of my imagination – I always need a source photo to work from.
      Painful memories? When we had to cancel our trip to Italy a month ago, I went round our house taking down the Venetian drawings I already had on my walls. It hurt too much to look at them. It was only the other day (last week in fact) when I felt able to put them back up. In other words I have recovered from the grief of not being able to return. And now I must ‘dig deeper’ into the source photos I already have in order to turn some of them into living memories by using them for drawings.

      1. anna warren portfolio

        You are pretty much ‘back’ from your European trip now, mine would have been due to start in about 3 weeks. I think I have come to terms with it, but mainly by trying not to think about it. I can understand you taking down all your drawings. I am avoiding anything to do with Spain, but London just makes my heart ache.


    Julie, Both are lovely, soft and soothing. Your CP/ pastel paintings are always so soothing, the thought of you and Matthew sitting by the water, enjoying each other’s company, or enjoying a comfortable silence, make me happy and envious!!! ‘Share the Joy,’ Hugs, Joanne

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Oh thank you, Joanne. Indeed during this covid time there have been some unexpected gifts. One gift is the new appreciation I have for my immediate environment. I usually go about day to day life completely taking Fremantle for granted. I source my drawing subject matter from other parts of the world and forget to ‘see’ what is right here on my doorstep. Does that mean I’ll be drawing what is on my doorstep? Maybe – but for my next drawing – I’m returning to Italy – and it will be a cat.

  4. lauraslittlecorner

    So peaceful colours. The bird has bright colours and the background colours are so realistic. The waves accompany its stay still. So perfect Venice sky. Today I thought of you, dear Julie, when I saw a television report about Venice, it was beautiful and empty and a couple of birds were caught passing underneath the lodges. I would have liked to take a picture for you, the shot was beautiful. I am glad you’re going to draw a cat. 🙂

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hello Laura, I’ll tell you about the cat I’m going to draw. There is a society of cats who live in the grounds of Ospedale SS Giovanni e Paolo in Castello. My daughter and I met them on our first evening in Venice in November 2018. We learned that they are well cared for. They have their own little cat house in one of the buildings. I’m going to draw a portrait of one of these cats. I haven’t even begun it yet, but still I know that this is what I am going to do next.
      I have seen quite a lot of footage of quiet Venice, without tourists. It is more breathtakingly beautiful than ever when it is empty of holiday-makers.

      1. lauraslittlecorner

        Hello, Julie, it is, indeed. If you also consider the damages Venice experienced from the flood, also… there will be a lot to do to recover from all this. I’m very keen on cats, so it will be beautiful to discover your next artwork. I guess there will be a lot to draw for the cat fur and it is interesting to catch the expression. 🙂 Cats may say so much, some times.

      2. juliepodstolski Post author

        Hello from Australia, Laura!

        I have to admit that I have not even begun the cat drawing yet. What happened was that I was asked to write an article for a coloured pencil publication. The article needs a couple of drawing examples to go with it. I happily agreed to do the article and for the past couple of weeks I have been working on the drawings which will be part of my presentation. So for the moment, my blog and I are very quiet.

        Later in the year I will show the little drawings I am currently working on, but probably not until the article is published in the magazine, because I think it would be impolite to CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America – who I am doing the article for) to show the drawings before then.

        My article is about my method of putting onto the paper a layer of white underneath certain colours which one wants to glow – for example if one is drawing neon lights, lanterns or lamps. I am explaining the method and showing step-by-step examples.

        When I have finished this work I will begin on the little cat.

        Keep well, my friend! xx Julie

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