Sunday, October 31, 2010

The ruin

I came across this ruin while cycling from Narbonne to the old abbey at Fontfroide. How old it might be, or just what it was for I don't know. Perhaps a medieval toll station controlling the road. Or an overelaborate sheepfold. Who knows?

The precise location is just south of the D613 (aka the Route d'Ax-les-Thermes), a few kilometers north of the highway.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The view from Costa San Giorgio

Looking across the Arno at the Uffizi and the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio from the Costa San Giorgio. The Costa - one of my favourite streets in Florence - is lined with vertiginous buildings, except for a brief gap near the bottom, from which I sketched this view with a dip pen and water-soluble inks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A preparatory drawing.

I recently began work on a new finished ink drawing, provisionally entitled Eurydice, Eurydice. This is its central figure, as yet divorced from background, various objects, or even something to sit on.

It's going to be one of those not-quite-a-portrait drawings in which the context of the figure, not the figure itself, is the main subject.
I hope to have it complete in a week or so.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A musician

from a recital at Victoria college.

The all-in-black sartorial convention of classical musicians can either make a concert really boring for drawing, if they all bunch up like crows, or really excellent, if one or two can stand out enough for a good composition.

Monday, October 25, 2010

From Naked Ape to Superspecies

is the name of the book she's reading.

An acrylic sketch on cardboard. Despite the fact that she's reading, she didn't hold the pose for very long. Even the best plans fail sometimes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The piano player

One of the problems with Tarragon is that he's good at too many things. When he isn't painting, or exercising his wit at the expense of family and friends, he plays instruments. One of which is the upright piano at the house in Compton.

Time for Romance

A couple keeping warm on a cold winter day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

more scenes from student life

Two undergraduate students outside the building at St.George and Wilcocks streets.

I was struck by the contrast between the two; not only did they display two very different clothing styles, the difference in apparel was mirrored in their posture. The princess and the pauper, perhaps?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pont Saint-Bénezet

The famous bridge at Avignon, sketched very rapidly from the city walls.

I redid my sketch directly on the etching plate, with the result that the image is mirrored; the chapel is in reality on the right-hand (upstream) side of the bridge. It's a very small etching, about an inch and a quarter tall.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

student life

Even in the ever-social milieu of the university campus, it is apparent that some people just want to be left alone.

Just like Greta Garbo. Being a grad student is hard work, after all.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A street in Toulouse

A small watercolour sketch, painted standing up facing the rue de Périgord. The church is attached to the Lycée Sainte-Marie de Nevers.

Toulouse is a nice city to paint in. Not only is it quite pretty (in the centre, at least), but the locals all seemed quite pleased to have a painter obstruct the sidewalk. That doesn't happen very often.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Love in Florence

A touching scene witnessed on the concourse of Santa Maria Novella station in Florence. I had to pick a spot for the hands and stick with it. In reality they were very mobile - much like their owners, who soon took off in a hurry.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Neapolitan Effigies

The shallow relief carvings of the medieval period are fascinating and aggravating. So much detail, so little time for me to sketch it.

There are too many things to catch the eye in Naples for one to spend more than an hour or so in San Lorenzo Maggiore, so this sketch is woefully incomplete. Both were tomb slabs lying flat on the church floor. I was entranced by the ornamented armour.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

News of the Pilgrimage (I)

I don’t know if this is a common experience, but I find that whenever I’m at the top of some prodigious height, I feel an impulse to jump. All of us, I think, respond to bigness of landscape – this is why people go to mountains. But I find that a sublime experience commands a sublime response, and what could be more sublime than leaping like Empedocles (or Salvador Rosa, for the artists) from a great height? I know, I’m a romantic. 

The impulse is not a strong one, of course, but it is persistent. It’s like the desire one has to touch whenever a beautiful person walks by, or the temptation to reach over a patio fence and snatch a fruity cocktail on a hot day. Being Canadian, one never does these things, nor should one.

But the fact remains, a precipice is inviting. Children, this one at least, found it thrilling to edge close to cliff-tops. I think I was aware, when I was lying on my belly in the grass above Beachy Head, that this was the fastest way out of the world in which one lived, but to which one did not belong.

As is (too) often the case, Saint Augustine said it best, some 1500 years ago: "What makes the heart of a Christian heavy? That he is a pilgrim and far from his country." 

Not Tarragon's first painting of this title.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Danielle and a chair

She's wearing jewelry by Co-operative Designs, a vintage sequin top, an Anti-Flirt skirt and shoes by Nine West. The blazer and chair (Ikea!) are mine.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


A quick pencil sketch done from the base of the bishop's palace at Albi. The tower belongs to the church of the Madeleine, erected under Napoleon III.

I later made an etching based in part on this drawing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A small sketch

This is a preparatory sketch, done in acrylic, for a large aluminum etching. It's on a dainty piece of canvas, only six by eight inches, which is why the weave is so visible.

The final etching will be about 18 inches tall, and far richer in colour.

Obviously, it's about sex.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chinatown at 4am

We stumbled into the restaurant barely conscious, all danced out and ready for dumplings.
Opposite from us, in exactly the same condition, was the bride-to-be and her bridesmaids. She looked worn out. So did we, probably.