Sunday, January 30, 2011

cafe sketchbook

A quick drawing from the daily sketchbook, done in pen instead of the usual china marker.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The castle at Murlo

A tiny etching of the castle at Murlo - a dainty Tuscan village a short way south of Siena. I didn't stop to visit: this is the view from the road, and I still had a fair way to cycle on that day.

Friday, January 28, 2011


A decade-old self-portrait done in a Rembrandt frame of mind. It was winter in Tuscany. The turban was an orange scarf wrapped around my head.

Done with a china marker on paper with a very noticeable texture of vertical striations.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Florentine Suburb

A house in the Oltarno of Florence. Despite its rather rustic appearance, this view is barely five minutes walk from the Ponte Vecchio.

I'm sometimes amazed by just how many Italian landscapes I've drawn or painted over the years...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reinisa strikes a pose

The always lovely Reinisa poses for the Collective life drawing group. A twenty-minute drawing done with markers, china markers and pencil crayons.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Endurance

I distinctly remember my first discovery of Frank Hurley. The photographer of Shackleton's epic 1914-17 antarctic expedition, his photographs, printed using an old glass-negative process, have a resolution so high it's almost painful to look at them. His image of the Endurance illuminated at night is famous, but I prefer his panorama of South Georgia, which for me captures the impossible bleakness of the place in a way words never can.

Such things were on my mind when I made this small drypoint:

The print was done rapidly on vinyl and printed on Japanese paper in a very wee edition of 7 proofs. It's about five inches square.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A narrow slice of sky between Florentine roofs and eaves.

Most of the old city looks like this, so I'm not totally sure where I drew it. I think near the bottom of Via de Tornabuoni.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Henri Bachelin:

"Those were evenings when, in old houses exposed to snow and icy winds, the great stories, the beautiful legends that men hand down to one another, take on concrete meaning and, for those that delve into them, become immediately applicable. And thus it was, perhaps, that one of our ancestors, who lay dying in the year one thousand, should have come to believe in the end of the world."

The anticipation of disaster - perhaps a personal (romantic, even) catastrophe, perhaps global - is born from sensory experience, not from intelligence or theology.

Henri Bachelin, Le Serviteur, p.102. The passage was translated by Maria Jolas, around 1964, for inclusion in Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space. I did the painting more years ago than I care to think about.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sticking with the airport theme:

Thanks to the rather infrequent bus schedule from Bologna, I found myself waiting around at Forli for about five hours. I think I drew every ununiformed person in the entire airport.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Love at the airport

Transnational romance is difficult.

Another sketch from the dismal little airport at Forli.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Berlin Airport #2

I like Berlin.  In my experience it is always raining there and, as I'm sure everyone has noticed, everything looks better in the rain.  Aside from their vast wisdom on the subject of love, the above observation is one more titbit you can learn from boy bands, if you doubt your own eyes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Turning to spring

A painting from the bad old poverty-stricken days of painting on cardboard. When I saw how much colour she was wearing, I couldn't resist whipping out the paints.

I left out the hand to suggest movement; she's turning away from the viewer and her hand, due to its position on the circumference of the turn's arc, is moving the fastest.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Costa San Giorgio

Still in Italy:

At the top of Costa San Giorgio, looking back down the road in the direction of Florence.

A quick sketch done with water-soluble ink, on the same day as this one.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pieve dei Santi Giusto e Clemente

A page from a sketchbook I carried while cycling in Tuscany, showing the Pieve dei Santi Giusto e Clemente in the small village of Casciano. It's fairly high up in a saddle between two hills, a short distance south of Siena.

All over Tuscany, tiny villages partook in the glory of the big cities by embellishing their churches with green pietre verde. No one in a place like Casciano could afford an entire polychrome facade like in Siena or Florence or Empoli, so they had to settle with just the voussoirs of the arch above the west window.

Saturday, January 1, 2011