Friday, 19 October 2012

Canyons and Red Sandstone ...

This years trip to the USA was really special.Our centre was the town of Flagstaff some 7000 feet up on a plateau which made for a great place to take in all the delights of the Arizona countryside. Anyone who thought Arizona was all desert should spend some time here and get a whole new perspective on the place.

After a very long flight and 3 airports later we arrived at our house in Flagstaff which was large and airy and only a stones throw from the airport which made a nice change ( usually have had to travel hours to our accommodation in the past ) After a good ole breakfast at The Place we got the local info and headed out to some of the locations for painting.

Sunset Crater and the magnificent outline of the Sanfranciso Peaks were our first port of call and then we drove on round the 'loop' to paint at the pueblo ruins at Wupatki. Our next trip down the Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona was an absolute marvel.Snaking our way down this canyon presented us with breathtaking views at every turn.After lunching at Sedona we made our way to the Cathedral peak group of bluffs which is a famous landmark in the area. After a recce of the area we set up our easels under the shade of some trees and did this sketch of the rocks.

Our BIG trip was to the South rim of the Grand Canyon which we joined on the eastern edge and then made our way west. Well what can I say !!!!! it was truely AWESOME !! There were a few clouds about which laid some lovely shadows over the canyon and made the whole experience very exhilarating.. I was here in 1980 but it was still a big thrill to take in this VAST landscape once again.

Our last outing took us to a small town out on Route 66 with its own 'Grand Canyon Railway'. The old loco parked up on a siding was too good to miss so I sketched it in the heat of the midday sun... and I got roasted !

The Rain in Spain ...!

One of the things that really struck me this visit to the Finca was the fact there were a host of grapes hanging from the vines in the patio I just had to paint them ! In previous years the vines had always been cut back so this year it was good to see this area in a new light. The shade from the vines also made for some very welcoming shade against the sun and cast some lovely shadows.
The first week was wall to wall sunshine but the second week saw some rather wet and windy weather towards the end of the week which was rather a pity. Our trip to The Balcon at Nerja saw us sitting under a cafe awning watching an absolute downpour and the people in various rainwear trying to dodge the wet !

One of the highlights was to actually get to paint the 'Gaudi' House in Benajarafe. I named it thus as it reminded me of the architecture of Antonio Gaudi whose vivid coloured buildings grace many streets in Barcelona.

The Hills of Lazio/Tuscany !

Once again I was off to pastures new with Bella Sardinia, this time to the delights of Lazio /Tuscany up around Lake Bolsena. We stayed in a lovely old converted castle which was our base for the week. During the week we visited the small town of the rain would you believe !!!!!!!! Aparently the weather had just changed and we were due for a wet spell which was not what we were expecting !

As the week wore on however the weather picked up and we got some real Italian heat and also some cracking places to paint.Our trip to Lake Bolsena was lovely and we spent the full day painting over the lake to Capodemonte in the morning and then back to the town of Marta.

But the jewel in the crown was the 'dying city' of Civita which was literally perched on top of a huge dome of rock in the middle of this valley. Over the years buildings have fallen into the valley due to earthquakes and soil erosion and what is left is this stunning group of buildings hanging on to the hillside.I painted this sketch in the morning then made my way up the very steep bridge to the town itself, and boy was it HOT !!
So we got some good weather in the end !

Urchfont Swan Song ....

This was my last weeks painting with the folks at Urchfont Manor which was to close in a couple of weeks due to a council sell off !! But we went out with a bang !! Once again we were painting the 'Pubs of Wiltshire' and we managed to get some super ones in our sketchbooks. We were lucky with the weather as the forecast was quite gloomy but we managed to dodge the downpours.
Needless to say I had to sample some of the terriffic local ales that were on tap, many from micro breweries in the area.

We had one really awful day  weatherwise when we decided to give up on the pubs and headed out to Salisbury Cathedral for the day. What an incredible building it is too ! We managed to get to paint in a part of the cloisters that was cordened off to the public so we had a nice quiet place to paint away from the hustle and bustle...but it did get darned cold towards the end !!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Life on the Ocean wave....!

Once again I did a cruise with P & O this year, this time on the Oceana around the western Med. Thankfully this cruise was a whole lot better than last years as this time I was not ill and I also had my old mate and 'Watercarrier' Keith with me which made it a very pleasant experience.
The Painting workshops were well attended and people were very enthusiastic, some turning up half an hour early for the sessions. Also there were some very bright and vibrant paintings produced during the voyage which was really exciting seeing as many had never done watercolours before.

Once we docked at Barcelona we went ashore and walked around the city taking in the sights, especially the Gaudi architecture ( the top pic is the Casa Batllo ). Rome was fantastic and we walked miles around the city taking in most of the famous sights and seeking out some of the quieter backstreets on the way. The temperature was around 37 C and at times I thought I was going to melt.

The ship moored up in Monaco and we made our way up to the Princes Palace where I did the bottom sketch in the shade of a small garden overlooking the harbour.
I did the sketch of Ajaccio harbour from the ship and just managed to get it finished before the ship pulled out. How's that for timing.!

Our return to Southampton saw bright sunshine which was a nice change seeing how the weather was lousy when we left.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Out and About in Wiltshire...!

Another great week with the 'Travelling Sketchbook' seeking out some of the lovely places in the county of Wiltshire. The weather forecast for the coming week was not good but as luck would have it we only had to run for cover a few times and that was only light rain so we were let off really lightly.
 We started off at Devizes wharf and during the week we made our way round to visit Littlecote House, Stonehenge, the Woodfords and also Pewsey Wharf ( the pic above).Luckily ,this visit was to be bathed in sunshine, unlike last year when we were to spend the day in the pub !!!!!!!!!!( I know, what hardship !)

On the last day I did this sketch of Urchfont Manor to remind me of this lovely building and grounds before it is sold off by Wilts Council ! It will be a crying shame when this place goes as I have spent many very happy weeks teaching here . The staff have always been great and made me feel at home and we have had some great fun teaching people to paint in and around area.
 Well I have just one more week in Aug, Painting the pubs of Wilts and I guess that's it !