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.

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.

Key West 2016

Tom and I were fortunate to be able to escape Buffalo’s winter for two weeks in February. We love Key West, the architecture, the plants, the birds, the people, the arts community, the beaches – very different from the rest of Florida, and enjoyable for both of us, no small task!

I sketch in Key West, and I painted twice with the Key West Plein Air Painters. I also took a class from Sean Callahan at the Studios of Key West. It was a good two weeks for me. I love to draw in my 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook, using ink pens, and watercolors. I often sketched on site and then add watercolor at the kitchen table. That’s how these sketches were done.

Sometimes I don’t add any color. The architecture or plant form is enough.

Sometimes I work with both ink and watercolor on site. These are small “sketch paintings.”

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The beach scene from Englewood, Florida, spans an open Moleskine. I tried using different colored pens when we were waiting for dinner and enjoying the surroundings at Blue Heaven.  Not sure that this one is successful, but it is fun.

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This ink sketch and the watercolor were both done at the kitchen table after a disappointing failure on site. We were having a lovely brunch at La Creperie. My perspective was too off to complete, so I worked from a photograph on Tom’s iPad. Much better.

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Every time we visit Key West, I sketch or paint the sea grape.  I love the way light shines through brightening its colors.  This is pen and watercolor pencil minus the water.

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I enjoyed painting with the Key West Plein Air Painters. It was a challenge.  The light and architectural and plant forms are so different from Buffalo.  It will take me some years to become comfortable. These are the two paintings I did, no ink in either.

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For fun I sat in on two sessions of a watercolor class at the Studios at Key West.  The teacher artist, Sean Callahan and I do not have similar approaches to watercolor, but it’s always interesting to keep an open mind. Everyone worked off the same photograph provided by Sean. Here’s my painting from the first week, done on the kitchen table. I couldn’t complete the second one, instead I sketched Sean and then added the subject, yellow eggs!!! over the top of my sketch. Pretty silly, it expresses my frustration.

I reinforced what I already know, I love to sketch and paint my surroundings, not from others photographs.

Thank you to Joanne Sloan for introducing me to the Key West Plein Air Painters!

 

 

Paris by Sketch

My husband and fellow traveller Tom and I spent a month in Paris in an apartment North and West of the Pompidou Center, about a 10 minute walk. It was a great month. We walked and metroed and bussed, and drank cafe au lait, and ate and saw almost everything we wanted to see. I had planned to do 4-5 or even 6 paintings, and only did one. We learned a lesson, being don’t expect a lot of yourself when you are in a fabulous city like Paris.  Every day was too interesting and too full of new experiences to find time, say 3-4 hours, to sit down and paint. Next trip will be planned with a section of time in a fascinating city, and a section of time in a delightful town.

So, the only painting is of the Ile Saint Louis.

Paris painting

It’s an ink (pigma micron) and watercolor, 10″ x 15″. I sat on the banks of the Seine in the same place I had sat and sketched back in 2006 when we first visited Paris together.

It took me a few days, really two weeks, to forgive myself for not painting, but I did sketch everyday. I took my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, 5″ x 8″, with me everywhere. Used pigma micron pens, some watercolor pencils and watercolor graphite pencils, and filled the book with items we collected, sketches and daily journal entries. I love doing this.  It adds a lot to our trips for me, and serves as a good record for Tom when he creates his videos of our travels for youtube.  His youtube name is Graygeek.

So, here are the pages from my book.  Hope you enjoy them.

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The sketch on the left is from our dinner table the first night in our neighborhood. On the right is from our coffee break near the Pompidou.

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There are always things to draw. Left is shelves from a creperie on Ile St outs, and right is a market on Rue Montorgueil in our neighborhood.

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Left is a wonderful Sicilian Restaurant near our apartment, and right is a very quickie after visiting the Musee du Quai Branly. Place de la Contrescarpe at the head of one of our favorite streets, Rue Mouffetard.

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Left a trip out to La Defense, and right Rue Cler.  So different, both fascinating sides of Paris.

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One of our favorite hidden treasures, Saint Paul Antique Village in le Marais, and the Eglise Saint Eustache at Les Halles for a 5 pm Sunday organ concert.

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A quick, very quick and unfinished sketch, during Richard Sack’s walking run, not far from Palais Royale, and a leisurely dinner sketch at Restaurant Le Taxi Jaune, a favorite.

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Musee Rodin, Paris, though under reconstruction, still a glorious place, and our back view out the kitchen window on Rue Saint Martin.

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At Metro station Abesses at the base of Montmartre, and a quick view from the top of Georges, the restaurant on the 6th floor of the Pompidou.

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Another quickie, this one from the steps of Sacre Coeur. Another sketch over coffee at Rue Montorgueil, our market street of choice.

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Our only day trip, to Giverney, and a sketch from the rooftop cafe at Musee Picasso.

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The magazine stand by our coffee stop one mid morning in the 2nd arrondissement, and a beautiful fountain, Fontaine de Louis Visconti at Square Louvois.

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We loved our metro ride to Saint Denis.  The basilica was wonderful, being lovingly restored, and we lucked into the Festival of Saint Denis, the town!

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Wandering through the sun dappled Cemetery Pere Lachaise. Quiet except for the gathering at Jim Morrison’s grave. Our view from Cafe de la Paix after being amazed by Opera Garnier.

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I loved Centre Pompidou, especially reconnecting with Sonia Delaunay. We understand why Parisians love Luxembourg Gardens, especially the Medici Fontain.

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The view from our balcony on Rue Saint Martin.  This is the church that has been adaptively reused as part of the Musee Arts et Metiers across the street.  We took many photos of this view and down toward Centre Pompidou whose rooftop we could see. A wonderful airbnb apartment we recommend to anyone thinking about a week or more in Paris.

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Our last night we stayed in the hotel on the Left Bank that I stayed in with friend Yvonne and her mom, 2001. The Hotel Pas de Calais has been renovated and is perfect, especially the living wall in the lobby.

So that’s it. We had a time unlike any other, and hope to return to Paris someday. Here’s a picture of me sketching, and another of Tom and me. Now that I’m home I have much to do.  Will post again soon!

t&c3c sketching

Painting in Gardens

For the past two years, in July, as part of the National Garden Festival here in my home city of Buffalo I have taken part in the Artists in Gardens, a very enjoyable opportunity for local artists to sit in beautiful gardens and paint. These gardens are open to the public the same time each week, Thursdays and Fridays. I painted in four gardens this year and twice in the same garden last year.  I also enjoy sketching and painting in my own garden.

http://nationalgardenfestival.com/garden/opengardens.asp

Here I am hard at work on a pen and ink sketch of Ellie Dorritie’s front yard. I haven’t finished the watercolor additions yet, but here’s the sketch too.  A great cottage on Little Summer Street in Buffalo.
IMG_3411Dorritie drawing

I also painted at Arlan and Dominic’s Garden on Norwood Avenue. Arlan and Dom have been involved in the Garden Walk Buffalo since its inception. They have a wonderful victorian home and a yard full of surprises. As a former architect I was drawn to their back porch and back elevation.

gardenwalkbuffalo.com

PetersandDeFilippoGarden 2015.web

 I drew this in pen and ink and added the watercolor while I enjoyed ice tea and even birthday cake made by Dominic. What lovely people!

There were two other homes whose gardens I painted, one the Timlins’ on Park Street. The point of view was challenging, but I think I did an ok job.This is a beautiful brick home with a very  sensitive entry and garage addition. Nicely done!

Timlen.web

The last garden I painted in I also painted in for the 2014 Artists in Gardens. 8 Paths Garden is unlike any other I have seen. Such a eye and attention to detail. The gardener has an unusual selection of plants, some that I’ve never seen before.

2014 8 paths 2014 8 paths 2

Image 68 paths 2015.web

I also like to paint and sketch in my own garden. Here are a few from the last three years of Garden Walks, together with some photos of our garden.

 5.Tom's Garden Fence.2013.web 4.Last Night - Open Garden.web our garden.web3.SummerBackyard .ElmwoodVillage 2013.web

pansies our house front hellstrip  begonias backyard2 backyard photo

I also like to pick flowers and make bouquets just as my father the gardener used to pick so that my mom the artistic flower arranger could work her magic. Every bouquet reminds me of them.

bouquet 2 bouquet 1 front hellstrip

An Amazing Amarylis

Every Christmas Holiday my wonderful friend Judy Shanley gives me an amaryllis bulb to watch grow.  This years lay dormant for some time, and finally started to show green in February.  It didn’t bloom until just before Easter, and then it was amazing!  Not red, but crimson-tinged white with green centers, eight flowers on its two stalks at first, and then, when they were done and I was about to put it in the cool back hall, four more! Definitely worth photographing and drawing, it sat in my kitchen window next to the sink so that I could enjoy it all the time.

Here’s the photo, taken at night, with the window blinds on the left and the kitchen cabinet doors on the right.  I liked the contrast the dark window and door made.

amarylis photo.webBefore I tried any painting, I sketched the beauty in my moleskin sketchbook with pigma micron pens. It obviously begamarylissketch2.webged for color.  In Sally Treanor’s Watercolor Salon on Mondays we were trying our hands at ink and watercolor on rice paper.  What better subject, I thought.  I had forgotten a lot about painting on rice paper, especially how you really have to be patient and let it dry in between layers.

amarylis drwg.web
I began the drawing with an 03 pigma micron pen, very light, knowing that I would want to darken it, accentuating the places where lines began and shapes met, at a later sitting.

Starting to paint, using hansa yellow, pthalo blue, permanent rose and quin gold.  Let it dry. This is when the lines begged me to be brought to life, so I added some defining with an 05 pigma micron, and added some more color, still not much of the darker colors, though my dark reds were a bit worrisome.  Must have included some brown madder at this point.

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When I started to add the background, the painting took on new life for me, but then in the next sitting I began to lose the light from the darker blossom.  Not good.amarylis4.webamaryllis5.web

I resorted to chinese white to rescue the light in the darker blossom, and felt pretty good about the results. Now to finish the blossom on the left, very sparingly though that is tough for me, and to to complete the background.

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And for the final touches on the lighter blossom, and the background, darkening here, lightening there, and I can call it finished! I am proud of myself for taking the time to do it right! Hope you like it. amarylis final.web