Category Archives: coloured pencil impressionism

An Italian Dream

“An Italian Dream” is drawn with Neocolor 1 and coloured pencils. 39.5 x 32 cm.  November 2019.

On a hazy Sunday morning in the northern spring of 2019 we sit on a park bench on Lido and look out over the lagoon.  A young seagull allows himself to be photographed and even gives me a minute  to studiously compose before flying away.  In perfect tune with the universe (compositionally-speaking) a vaporetto  appears.  In the watery distance San Giorgio Maggiore Benedictine church and campanile hover mirage-like.

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One hundred and seventy five years ago (in 1844) Charles Dickens took some time out from novel writing.  He and his family moved to Italy for a few months.  From this sojourn came “Pictures from Italy” (first published in 1846), an illuminating and witty account of his Italian adventures.  Charles Dickens was so hypnotized by Venice that he reminisces as if he had dreamed it all.   The Venetian chapter of the book is called “An Italian Dream“.  I trust CD doesn’t mind if I borrow his romantic title for my drawing.

I quote three paragraphs from “An Italian Dream“…

“The glory of the day that broke upon me in this Dream; its freshness, motion, buoyancy; its sparkles of the sun in water; its clear blue sky and rustling air; no waking words can tell.  But, from my window, I looked down on boats and barks; on masts, sails, cordage, flags; on groups of busy sailors, working at the cargoes of these vessels; on wide quays, strewn with bales, casks, merchandise of many kinds; on great ships, lying near at hand in stately indolence; on islands, crowned with gorgeous domes and turrets: and where golden crosses glittered in the light, atop of wondrous churches, springing from the sea!”

…and…

“In the luxurious wonder of so rare a dream, I took but little heed of time, and had but little understanding of its flight.  But there were days and nights in it; and when the sun was high, and when the rays of lamps were crooked in the running water, I was still afloat, I thought: plashing the slippery walls and houses with the cleavings of the tide, as my black boat, borne upon it, skimmed along the streets.”

One hundred and seventy five years ago we weren’t talking about climate change or rising sea levels, yet Dickens concludes his chapter thus…

“But close about the quays and churches, palaces and prisons: sucking at their walls, and welling up into the secret places of the town: crept the water always.  Noiseless and watchful: coiled round and round it, in its many folds, like an old serpent: waiting for the time, I thought, when people should look down into its depths for any stone of the old city that had claimed to be its mistress”

“I have, many and many a time, thought since, of this strange Dream upon the water: half-wondering if it lie there yet, and if its name be VENICE.”

 

Winter Rain

“Winter Rain”
coloured pencils, 24 x 20 cm. October 2019

The word fine is synonymous with sun – as if only sunshine can feel fine.  And what words do we dream up to describe rain?  Miserable, bleak, dreary, and dull are a few that come to mind.  “What a shame, it’s raining.”

NO!  Rainy days can be even more wonderful than sun-filled days.  Notice reflections of sky and electric lights mirrored, glowing and abstracted in wet pavements.  Look at the full-blown shapes of umbrellas.  (I like umbrellas.)    Wet objects gleam.  Watery colours are luscious.

Replace gloomy with dramatic, moody, even romantic; the poetry of precipitation, the wonder of wet-look.

The “Summer Rain” duo; Verona during a July thunderstorm.

 

 

Summer Rain

“Summer Rain 1” coloured pencils, 25 x 19 cm. July 2019

Summer Rain 2, coloured pencils, 25 x 20 cm.  September 2019

All the colours run into a kaleidoscopic blur when a thunderstorm strikes Verona.  Those with umbrellas exercise their right to dawdle while those without hurry forth.  We are objects within a watercolour as forms melt and merge in a gush of summer rain.

The small pair side by side…

 

 

 

 

The Artist’s Way

“The Artist’s Way”    Coloured pencils    October 2018

The artist’s way is a journey where sometimes one feels certain about the path ahead only to become thoroughly lost at the next turn.

When I visited rue Quincampoix that night in October 2016 I was in familiar territory and was delighted to see it illuminated so vibrantly.  I took photos and walked in a happy daze.  Continuing home (so I thought) I turned up one street, thinking it was another, and led myself into an unfamiliar area.  Alone.  At night.  Lost in Paris.  After some hasty and intimate time spent with my map, I righted my wrong and got home.

Similarly I went into my most recent exhibition full of certainty.  But over the two weeks in the public gaze I lost my bearings.  Certainty dissolved into a state of trepidation as I experienced the full spectrum of reactions; from praise, through indifference to actual hostility.  (Only one person was truly hostile.)

To be lost, found, and lost again in an endless cycle throughout a life, questioning one’s art and one’s very existence, is the artist’s way.

In the end the thing that you feel is your undoing is also your way back to sanity – art.

Another drawing from the same photo-shoot is “Guiding Lights”, drawn in 2016.

The drawing below shows the way I drew this street back in 2012.

“Conversations at Dusk” 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Boulevard

“Boulevard”  19.5 x 25.5 cm.  Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.

Bright lights and shadowy figures marching across the boulevard merge to create a lively kaleidoscope at Place Blanche.  This is the final drawing (I mean it this time) for the “Remember Paris” exhibition opening in five weeks’ time.

To view the catalogue of 30 drawings for the exhibition, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Urbane Saint Germain

“Urbane Saint Germain”  Coloured pencils, 208 x 240 mm.  July 2018

A small piece of Saint Germain des Prés I have photographed and drawn many times is a corner where rue de l’Echaudé splits off from rue de Seine.

For this piece I have to wait patiently for a person to walk into my frame.  Who is it?  It could be male or female (perhaps it is you) though I sense my subject has a European air – as urbane as the surroundings.    Having drawn the streets so many times in great detail, this time I seek only an impression.

Below are more drawings of this immediate area, drawn at intervals over several years.

“The Liberation of Art” drawn in April, this will also be in the “Remember Paris” exhibition in September 2018.

“Rhapsody in Blue” 2014

“de bonne heure” 2012

“Rue de l’Échaudé” 2014

Quiet 2013

“Paris en hiver” 2011

“Urbane Saint Germain” is the final drawing for the “Remember Paris” exhibition this coming September.  To view the catalogue of 30 drawings, their descriptions and prices, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

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.