Category Archives: photorealism

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.”

 

Deep in Castello

“Deep in Castello”
Coloured pencils, 31 x 26 cm. Drawn in August 2019.

As I walk through the narrow maze, I notice a lone figure up ahead.  She is momentarily framed by lamp light before she turns right and vanishes into an archway.

In the dim drizzle there is a feeling of being submerged here, as if the sea had already swallowed Venice whole.

Deep in wintry Castello how do I draw the mental line between inspiration and unease, intimate space and claustrophobia?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunrise Reflected

“Sunrise Reflected”    Coloured pencils,   35 x 35 cm.   June 2019

As I walked home with Matthew late on Saturday night I said to him that I would definitely NOT get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday (as I had been doing every day so far in Venice) but I would sleep in.  I didn’t want to burn the candle at both ends; I mean, I’m no spring chicken!

“Silent Night” – a drawing from Saturday night when we stayed out late.

However, despite sensible intentions to rest, I flung myself out of bed and out of the apartment before sunrise.  I dashed across the ponte dell’ Accademia and straight onto a southbound vaporetto (water bus).  Just as the boat glided away from the stop and into the Grand Canal the sun was rising.  There before my eyes were the palazzos (and the vaporetto stop) madly reflecting back the sunlight.  It was a dawn chorus of light, a visual symphony on that Sunday morning.

After I took a whirlwind of photos an inspector came to check that I had a valid ticket.  I did.  We exchanged big smiles.  And all was brilliant with the world.

 

The Remains of the Day

“The Remains of the Day”
Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth. 36.5 x 30.8 cm. February 2019.

Venice: November 2018.  It is nearly 4 pm and the sun is already inclining westwards.  I am going west as well, back towards my apartment, plodding along happily worn out.  But then…a light bulb moment…

‘I know – what if I point my lens into the sun?’  It is poised above Punta della Dogana and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, shining directly into my eyes.  (I raise the camera, quickly compose and then close my eyes as I click, click, click.)  Voilà!

The air is all haze and halo, evaporating some objects while solidifying others (including people) into dark abstractions.  Sea mirrors sky; blazing here, sparkling there.  A seagull has swooped into my view.  Perfect.

There are probably only 90 minutes of daylight left.  I will be back sitting on my bed by 5 pm scrolling through photographic images.  ‘Here’s a good one.’

The two drawings from this day are bookends – starting with “Early One Morning” (07:50)  and finishing with “The Remains of the Day” (15:50).  Matthew (husband) came up with the titles – the first being a Celtic folk song and the second, a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Early One Morning

“The Remains of the Day”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Rebel Rebel

“Rebel Rebel”
a drawing of an eroded poster.
Coloured pencils, 250 x 300 mm. March 2018

As I take one step after another on the journey towards my goal – a gallery filled with Paris drawings – I never know what the next addition to the exhibition will be.  It is often the last completed drawing which steers me towards my next piece.

The last completed drawing before “Rebel Rebel” was “Still Life”.

It is obvious how “Still Life” (a grungy Beaubourg urban-scape) metaphorically took my arm and drew my attention to a tattered poster I’d photographed when last in Paris.

This is my source photo for the drawing.

Looking at the drawing “Rebel Rebel” (the title I gave it is from a David Bowie song) I am mindful of Russian Constructivist posters from the 1920s and 30s.  I also think of the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein, romantic heroines of film and literature, as well as the white face and black hair of both mime artists and geisha.

I wouldn’t have made a drawing of a flawless poster.  What appealed to me was the texture and randomness of decay – and –  the fact that this caught my eye in the first place.  The tattered ripped subject is simultaneously beautiful and ugly; eye-catching and something to be ignored.  These dualities fascinate me!

“Rebel Rebel, you’ve torn your dress/Rebel Rebel, your face is a mess/Rebel Rebel, how could they know?/Hot Tramp, I love you so!”

Today I found an image on-line of the poster as its complete self.  If you google images of Fédération Anarchiste you’ll see that all their posters have gorgeous designs and are clearly influenced by the political art of the Constructivists [an artistic movement that extolled art as a practice for social purposes].

How the poster would have looked once upon a time.

La Fédération Anarchiste

You may like to read Subject 4: Street Art while you’re here.

 

In Town Tonight

“In Town Tonight”
A new drawing in my “Paris Revisited” series.
195 x 245 mm. April 2017

“In Town Tonight” is an example of a small arrangement which I found within a larger composition.

Occasionally a photo will be just perfect the way it is but most of my compositions are the result of cropping and then editing out bits I don’t want.  In this case I was drawing from a very small part of my original photo.

The source photograph for “In Town Tonight” taken on 27th October 2016 on rue Saint Denis.

My husband, Matthew, particularly likes “In Town Tonight”.  He associates with the suited figure.  In my mind this could be a Parisian version of a Japanese ‘salaryman’ – a little disheveled after a few drinks – gingerly making his way to the station.  (Possibly my soft-focus is how he is seeing the world at this time.)