Sketching in Vietnam, November 2017

I’ve been promising myself that I will return to regular blog posts for almost a year. So, let’s hope that this is the beginning of a new era of posts!

Vietnam was a special trip as it was the occasion of Tom’s return to the country where he served in the Army as an mp. He was drafted and was there for 9 months; did not want to be there, but had no choice. His tour included guarding what he calls a garbage dump, full of equipment that could not be fixed and was waiting to be shipped to Japan or Korea. We found the location. This is a sketch of the town of  Phi Tai, Tran Quoc Hoan on the outskirts of Quyn Hon. The dump was a few miles away.  The City of Quyn Hon was not a tourist destination. We found a very nice hotel across the street from the beach. No one was there!       
It was quite a cosmopolitan city much to Tom’s surprise as he never left the base..

This next sketch is the view of Quy Nhon from our hotel window.

 

 

Qu'y Nhon, from our hotel window

Quyn Non was a destination in the middle of our trip which began in Hanoi.

We thoroughly enjoyed Hanoi, even with the pretty intense heat and humidity. The sketches above are of the table setting at our first night’s dinner which was amazing, the entrance portico for the Vietnam Fine Art Museum, and a stop during our exploration of the neighborhood behind our hotel. We became fans of pineapple juice! I was fascinated by the gaggle of wiring. This is Pho Luong Ngoc Quyen.

While in Hanoi we were very pleased to have an overnight cruise on Halong Bay.

Halong Bay

We flew from Hanoi to Hue for a stay at the elegant Hotel Saigon Moran.

Dam An Cu, road from Hue to Hoi An.Coffee break

This sketch is from a stop on our drive from Hue to Hoi An, at Dam An Cu. Quite a nice lake for swimming, but we didn’t have the opportunity.

In  Hoi An we had a three day stay at the amazing “Boutique” Hoi An Resort on the sea.

Tom had a cooking lesson after we both enjoyed a boat trip down the river with the other cooking class participants. In keeping with my preference for not cooking, I sketched and had a good time by myself.  I was able to eat the cooking instructor’s demonstration!

The World Heritage Site was cool.  Here is a sketch of a typical row of stores across from one of our coffee break stops, Le Loi Street.

Hoi An on a cloudy day

After Hoi An we were driven to Quyn Ho, looking for Phu Tai and Long My, Tom’s locations in 1968. Found both.

Our last stop and stay was Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, with a side trip to the Mekong Delta. Our hotel, the Saigon Prince, was right in the middle of the very cosmopolitan and fascinating business and tourist district. Very different from Hanoi. This is a sketch of our view from the Hotel.

view from Ho Chi Minh City hotel window

We had much good food, and long exploratory walks. This sketch is from our best lunch in Vietnam, at Nha Hang Vietnam. The truck is one Tom remembers from his tour of duty in 1968.

lunch in Saigon, Nha Hang Di Mai

Our last day was spent on the Mekong Delta, eating with the locals, and having a boat ride thru the narrow channels. The woman who navigated the channels was amazing, strong and quiet.

Mekong Delta Sky

It is not often that I use sketched images as inspiration for paintings. (Not sure why that is as it seems like a natural approach.) In the case of the Mekong Delta sketch, I did.

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This is all watercolor, not too big. I am very happy with it.

I often use photos I’ve taken as inspiration. This painting, which I call Ho Chi Minh City, is watercolor on an acrylic inks background. The brilliant light of the acrylic inks also inspired me. It’s a view from our window in our hotel in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City

Well! I feel good about getting back to posting. I will promise myself to post again soon!

 

 

Sketching in Italy, Fall 2016, Part 3

Let me begin with apology to my blog. I haven’t posted since October of 2017, and so much has happened in the last 15 months! We travelled to Viet Nam in late fall of 2017, and to  Piemonte and Lake Como in September 2018. We’ve spent two weeks of February every year in Key West, and will be leaving for this year’s Key West adventure in a week!

Back to September of 2016, we left San Marino, and drove through Urbino, to Ascoli Piceno; day trips around Abruzzo,  on to Sulmona, more day trips, and then on to the coast to Termoli and to our first stop in Puglia – Vieste.”’

 

Leaving Ascoli Piceno after a relaxed morning and lunch in the Cafe Meletti on the Piazza del Popolo, we set out on a long drive to Sulmona, our home base for our explorations in Abruzzo. Our first day began with a walk through the weekly market in Piazza Garibaldi. Very cool. Tom and I are huge fans of public markets. We left mid morning for adventures in Cascio, Castel del Monte, Villa Lago, Scanno, and Introdaqua.

One of the many friendly vendors at the Sulmona market

Ilio DiPaolo’s hometown – Introdacqua!

The man-made lake at Scanno

Villa Lago, L’Aquila

A road trip of beautiful views

View from Via del Municipo, Castel del Monte

The next leg of our trip will begin with Part 4 of Sketching in Italy, Fall 2016.

Sketching in Italy, Fall 2016, Part 2

After a relatively relaxing week in Venice we took the train to Bologna and enjoyed five pretty full days. I did have time for one painting while Tom took his cooking class. I have learned, I should say continue to learn, that if I get to paint, that’s cool, if not, that’s ok too. Keeping my expectations manageable, and happily subject to change is the best way for me to have a good time, one that I can enjoy looking back.

This is the plein air painting, ink and watercolor, that I did in Bologna in the busy square near the University. Bologna, a busy square near the university

A lovely couple from Germany took some photos of me painting. We had a great conversation about Bologna and traveling (no talk about politics!) I am certainly concentrating!

carol in Bologna

What I really love to do is sketch and fill up my sketchbook with all types of memorabilia to go back to and relive our days.  Today, October 6th, I can go back to September 22, 2016 and remember so much about our visit.

Here are two pages, September 25 and 22, and a sketch of via Augusto Righi from Bologna. Fun.

From Bologna we rented a car, and drove to the Adriatic coast and back up into the mountains for a short star in the Repubblica di San Marino. What a treat, just enough out of the tourist season to be able to wander without bumping. Great views from our hotel room complete with a very large patio up in the air above the valley below.

It was a beautiful 2 days of wandering though the streets and around the wall and up and down b between the towers

It was just right for us, a comfortable stay in a pretty cool hotel, resting up for the rest of our very full month in Italy.

I am making a promise to myself to post more often as a bit of time has passed, and I haven’t been completely inactive. So, I will finish our 2016 Italy trip, and fill you in on what the last 12 months have been like for me. Til the next post.

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Sketching in Italy, Fall 2016

Our Trip began in Venice…..

This past September and October, 2016, Tom and I undertook a very intense Italian road trip.  It began gently enough with nine days in Venice and five in Bologna. From Bologna we rented a car and drove down the east coast of Italy with side trips inland, ending in Lecce in Puglia. We have debriefed and have promised each other that we will remember how tired we were before setting out again.  That being said, we saw wonderful places, and met some terrific people.  Having had better than a month to recover…..we are talking about another trip next November 2017….with driving!

Our nine days in Venice were perfect, including the must do gondola ride, tcvenice

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and a side trip to Burano and Murano. I loved drawing the colorful houses of Burano.fullsizerender3

We lived in a great neighborhood in San Polo in Venice, looking out on the Scuolo Grande di San Rocco and the Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.

Venice provided countless opportunities for sketching. Each time we stopped for coffee we tried to select a view for me.  Here are a few:

I’m going to save my sketches from Bologna, San Marino, Ascoli Piceno, Abbruzzo, and Puglia for future blog posts, promising not to take so long between posts in the future!

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It’s Been Too Long

What have I been doing?

I haven’t posted since April 11th. So much has happened and painting and sketching have not played much of a part. I think we are through this period which was filled with family health concerns and effects, too many volunteer tasks for the watercolor society I love (my own doing), and last but not least, taking on the joys and responsibilities of a new puppy and kitten!

My dear husband Tom has come through nine weeks of radiation in good spirits and ready to travel. The Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society’s 13th National Exhibition of Transparent Watercolor 2016 is pretty organized and ready to go, opening on October 16, 2016. I got to work with one of my heroes of watercolor, Thomas W. Schaller, the juror and also our Fall 2016 NFWS Workshop Artist. The NFWS Website is up and running and a huge improvement over our outdated site. I’m the webmaster, so-called. Our NFWS Facebook page is also in good shape. I’m the administrator, and that is pretty easy and mostly fun.

The puppy, our now almost 5 month old Golden Retriever, Bessie, and our tabby kitten, 6 month old Diego, are not wrestling with quite as much abandon as they were in the first 4 months, but they are still a handful, mostly joyful.

I haven’t done much painting, though when I look back through the spring and summer months, I am surprised at what I did produce!

On May 13th, I began a watercolor painting as a demo for the Evans Art Guild.  I finished it at home and entered it in the Niagara Frontier Art Exhibit at the Kenan Center, juried by Gerald Mead, and won an Honorable Mention Award. It’s of one favorite views, from my morning walk, “Sunrise Over the Rose Garden” at Delaware Park here in my neighborhood in Buffalo, NY.

Sunrise over the Rose Garden

From Mid-May until today, I’ve taken part in a drawing fundraiser for Hallwalls, our very cool contemporary regional gallery. Buffalo RiverYou draw for 45 minutes together with 15 other artists, and then the drawings are bid on in a silent auction.There are two sets of 16 artists each. Fun. I also donated a pen and ink and watercolor painting for their gala fundraiser. It’s Allentown on a First Friday Open Gallery night in early spring.

First Friday.Allentown

During the Buffalo Gardens Buffalo Niagara, I painted one night in Gordon Ballard’s and Brian Olinski’s garden. Gordon and Brian'sI love their home, and concentrated on it, being the retired architect that I am.

The Garden Walk took a lot of my energy. We love opening our yard to the hundreds of garden enthusiasts that come through the last weekend in July, but it is a lot of work, work I love. Gardening definitely trumps painting for June and July. I do a bit, though. These two paintings inspired by our gardens were in two shows in Western New York this summer. The one on the left was in the Garden Mystique Show at Artsphere, and the one on the right in the Buffalo Society of Artists Matchbox Show at Miebohm Gallery in East Aurora, NY.

New Pieces

I am painting a bit again.  Have three new paintings, two of which are I’m submitting for juried selection into the Buffalo Society of Artists Fall Exhibition 2016. On the left is “Tom’s Shop”, and the right is “Keep Alley”. We’ll see if they make the cut. You absolutely can never tell!

My most recent painting, finished last week, is watercolor on yupo paper. I love this paper because it’s impossible to control what you are doing! As an inveterate control freak, this is a great freer! This is a night view across the street from the end of our street, called “Penhurst Park.”
Penhurst Park

Before I finish this long blog post, I am going to promise that I will post in mid October after our one month trip to Italy.  I sketch every day, post every day on my Facebook page, but won’t be posting here til we get home.

My last image is my favorite. In July my daughter Liz and my wonderful granddaughters Savannah and Eliza came up from North Carolina for a brief visit. Savannah and I painted together. She entitles this beauty, “The Ballerinas.” I love it. Savannah's Ballerinas

Bye for now.

Yes, I paint flowers, but not a lot ::)))

I don’t choose to paint flowers often, though I am a serious gardener from May through October, and I love flowers and gardens. Occasionally my watercolor mentor and friend Sally Treanor gives our Monday morning group a flowers assignment. I am generally reminded when she does that I like to paint anything and everything.daffodils

These are daffodils from last year at this time.

The freer I am with my brush and paint, the better. The painting on the left is more successful, in my opinion, than the one on the right. Painting freely is a struggle for me. Why? Because I can paint realistically so easily, so much easier than painting an impression.

Compare the “pansies” on the left, “begonia” on the upper right and “red cabbage” to these more realistic paintings. Nice, but not what I want to do!

My hero Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928, the Scottish architect and designer turned watercolor painter, paints graphic interpretations of flowers.  Look at these!

Mackintosh’s architectural designs, primarily viewable in Glasgow, not the least of which was the Glasgow College of Art which was nearly lost to a devastating fire in 2014, inspired me to become an architect.  His paintings inspire me in my painting.

My favorite floral painter today is the Brit Shirley Trevena.  Her work is both nuanced and free and full of color and line and I love it!

I will keep painting floral subjects, though I prefer landscapes and cityscapes. Here a few more of my paintings and sketches from the recent past. Hope you like them.

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westside grapesFlowers at Taormina, Sicilia10945656_10152973364469774_160330681644190070_n

This Spring and Summer I will have two of my paintings on posters for great events here in Western New York.  The first will be the 3rd Annual Buffalo’s Cherry Blossom Festival.

cherry blossom

The second event, the largest free Garden Walk in the USA, will feature my hosta on its poster for Garden Walk Buffalo 2016. Happy Spring and Summer!

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Captured Travels

These past months of January and February 2016 have been so intense! My solo show, Captured Travels opened with a beautiful, well-attended reception at Betty’s Restaurant, 370 Virginia Street in Buffalo, on Monday night, January 25, 2016, and will be on view through March 20th. I collected brand new and some older paintings, both studio and plein air, and sketches, and put them all together. Kathleen Sherin did a marvelous job curating and hanging the show, and I sold 10 of the 23 pieces on opening night!

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This is a very recent painting that graced the publicity for the show, Palermo’s Finest. I could have sold it several times!

Isle du Saint Louis.Paris.web

This is a plein air painting, watercolor and ink, from our trip this past fall to Paris. The painting of the Pont de la Tournelle below is from a photo Tom took of me painting the Isle du Saint Louis above!

Painter.Pont de la Tournelle.Paris.web

Two more ink and watercolor paintings are of the Paris Backyards and Cimitiere du Pere-LaChaise, Paris.

Detail.PalaisGarnier.Paris.web

My architectural background and love for detail comes out in this ink sketch of a Detail from the Palais Garnier in Paris.

These two plein air ink and watercolor paintings from Varenna on Lake Como “capture”

 

I have painted many views of the towns and landscape around Lake Como.

Perledo above Varenna, with the “hand of God light”, and the Villa Monastero, one of two beautiful villas open to the public along Lake Como in Varenna.

Carol sketching.Varenna.web

Here I am painting in Varenna.

The first year that I started to sketch when we travelled was 2010 when we spent some time in Cinque Terre, Italy. These two ink sketches are from there.

We also visited Bologna where we were fascinated by the medieval timber frame architecture.

MedievalTimberframe.Bologna.web

In Tuscany it was all about the views.

Tuscan View.Italy.web

Then there’s our time in Istria in Croatia,

Istrian Town.web

LanguedocView.web

the province of Languedoc in FranceIstrian View.Croatia.web

 

and Scotland, Portree near the Isle of Skye and the Duart Castle.

Portree.IsleofSkye.Scotland.web

Duart Castle.Scotland.web

We will continue to travel as long as we can and I will continue to capture our travels in sketchbooks, plein air paintings, and studio paintings. Such a rewarding time.