Naval Museum, La Spezia, Italy

Day 59, Thursday November 2, 2017

This is the view from the little balcony at the back of our apartment. Take a look at the long stairway covered with grape vines up to the yellow house. Imagine climbing those stairs every day!The view from the balcony in the front of our apartment looking down the hill and…this is looking up the hill.  The town of La Spezia is built on hills and it is the closest bigger town to Cinque Terre. The trains leave frequently for the short trip to the ‘Five lands.’I stayed home today for some much needed rest after our two days of hiking the trails in Cinque Terre. I didn’t accomplish much, photographed my sketches of people on the bus and metro and did our laundry.

I never know how long I will have to draw before a person leaves. I drew the fellow playing the violin standing in front of me on the Milano metro, and had less than a minute before he moved on.Bob went for a long walk today to the Naval Museum by the harbour. He took these great photos of some mast heads. He knows how much I like dragons.More mast heads.They are also known as figureheads.This model of the Santa Maria, the ship that Columbus sailed to North America is about three feet long.

Yesterday’s photos of the netting in the trees shows how olives are harvested. The trees are shaken and the olives drop onto the netting. The strange little machine is how they move the harvest down the mountains and steep hills. It is loaded with olives, and runs on cogs, kind of like a roller coaster for olives!

Bike Ride

Day 50, Tuesday October 24, 2017

Our Airbnb has bikes so today Bob went for a 34 km bike ride along this river.  It only took him 3 1/2 hours, including his lunch break. Much better time than if I was along for the ride! You can see the mountains way in the distance in this one.I had a much-needed quiet day. I did all our laundry and a bit in my journal. I finally was able to take photos of the finished pages. Usually by the time get home it is too dark to get decent pictures. 
I drew this page in the car on the way to Dubrovnik.When we were in Venice I finally started to draw while I was on the bus or waiting for the vaporettos. I took a hardcover Stillman and Birn Alpha Sketchbook for this trip instead of my own handmade signatures. It is nice having everything already bound in a book but it is much heavier to carry around. The 9″x6″ landscape format is a bit awkward when I draw standing and a bit too big and obvious when I try to draw people without them noticing that I am doing so. I think I will go back to my old system of carrying a signature at a time in a folder and then binding them all together when I get home for any other trips.

I started to draw in a little notebook that is maybe about 3″x5″ and that is working for those times when my bigger book isn’t. I showed the lady in the last drawing her portrait as she walked by on the bus, and she was quite pleased. She told her friends so I held it up for them to see, and lots of other people saw it and were smiling at me about it.  Kind of nice. 
I had a chance to sit and draw the Karaka on location which was fun and challenging.This ‘steam punky’ fish was interesting to draw . I used my favourite Bic pen for this one. I have bits and pieces done on other journal pages, but really I am quite behind. I am trying to draw more on location whenever possible.

Pula, Croatia

Day 15, Tuesday September 19, 2017

Well, it was raining all night and still raining when we got up this morning but it stopped mid morning so we decided to go check out Pula. We found a parking lot and this is what we see when we get out of our car! An incredible Roman Amphitheatre.

But…I turn around and this is what I see…

The sky is very dark but we go check out the Amphitheatre and hope we don’t get wet. We decide to walk around the amphitheatre today and go inside on a drier day when we might not have to leave because of the rain. There are some great views from the outside.

We take a walk around the central part of the old town and we see some more Roman monuments: the Temple of Augustus, The Roman Twin Gates and and the Triumphal Arch. Image 2017-09-19 at 9.06 PMBy now it is raining quite heavily so we make our way back to the car, passing this interesting looking candy shop with huge candies. The banana candies are life size!Of course as soon as we get home the sun tries to peek out, but it doesn’t mange to do so for very long and soon it is raining again.After a late lunch Bob reads and I work on my journal which, of course I am already behind on.

 

 

Our Extra Day In Amsterdam

Day 9, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

All of Holland was on a severe storm alert so that was why our flight was cancelled yesterday. I decided I was staying home today and catching up on my journal.  I love to journal when we travel but with blogging and journalling I sometimes get a bit behind. My blog has been giving me a bit of grief, some of the settings have changed, either I did it unknowingly or the site has been updated. Not sure which, but it is a nuisance, and it has been taking me much longer than it should to do each post.  I think I have sorted it out, but then a new challenge arises.  

I need good light to photograph my journal pages so I can’t do it when we get home late.  A scanner would be so much better but I can’t carry that around with me! When I can I draw on location but I also use my photos as reference when needed.

The view looking down from our third floor window into our neighbour’s yards.I worked on this page wile we waited in a cafe for our entrance time to the Van Gogh Museum.

What can I say, I just loved these little statues! 

Somehow I got this page out of order, I labeled it Saturday and then wrote Sunday’s activities on it.  White Out is handy in an art kit.

I finally got up the nerve to start sketching on the tram. This always seems intimidating to do but once I start it really isn’t so bad.  The young gentleman in the hoodie knew I was drawing him. When we got up to exit the tram I showed him the sketch and he smiled. Most people don’t really seem to mind all that much if they figure out what I am doing. I like to draw with a ballpoint pen, that way I am committed, and there is no erasing.

Real Madrid Stadium Tour and Retiro Park

Tuesday October 13.

While Bob went to the Real Madrid Soccer stadium for a tour I went to the public library near Retiro Park to work on my journal.

Madrid soccer club was granted the name Real (meaning Royal) in the 1920’s by the King of Spain.  Tuesday was a much better day to tour the soccer stadium as there were no crowds, unlike Bob’s first try on Sunday.imageThe stadium holds over 80,000 fans.  The tour is very inter-active, with lots of video screens showing the rich history of the club.  Somewhere in this player’s montage is Bob with the European cup.  The montage is made up of photos of the day’s visitors.imageThe tour included the top view of the stadium, the pitch, the player’s benches, the locker rooms and the media room.  Lots to see in 90 minutes.  Soccer equipment has changed a liitle since the 1950’s.imageWe walked through Retiro Park before going home and saw a rather strange art exhibit at the Crystal Palace.  There were mammoth bones and a crucifix hanging from the ceiling as well as some letters and other ephemera in boxes and on the walls.  The information on the exhibit did little to explain anything. Maybe you can spot the crucifix?imageThe Crystal Palace itself is a beautiful conservatory, but unfortunately it is no longer used for plants, just art exhibits and other functions.image  I loved the reflections of the trees and the conservatory.image

This cute fellow was guarding the pond in front of the conservatory, imagewhich had trees growing right in the water. imageParks in Madrid are much like parks in Paris, with lots of hard surfaces, plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers and a bit of grass, which you usually are not allowed on.  With so many people using the parks it is the only way to maintain grassy areas.imageRetiro park has a large ‘pleasure’ lake with row boats for rent and a half moon colonnade with a large equestrian statue of Alfonso XII.  It was a bit cool today so no boat ride for us.
image  Another view of the park.imageWe exit the park here and catch the metro back to Moncloa Station to catch our bus home. Almost everywhere we look in Madrid there are beautiful buildings. It sure makes the architecture in Edmonton seem rather drab.image

It is a 35 or 40 minute bus ride home, but it is quite relaxing and Bob is enjoying the break from driving, and I am happy not to have to navigate. I am finally doing a bit of drawing on the metro and busimage

My Last Full Day In Paris

I decide to go back to the Louvre today to do some drawing but on arriving I discover that the first Sunday of the month the museum is open to everyone, so it is absolutely packed, wall to wall people!  Certainly not conducive to study and drawing so I head over to the Eugene Délacroix museum on the Left Bank instead.

On the way I stop in at Saint-Germain-Des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris.  There are marble columns inside that date from 512 AD.  The church has been repaired and enlarged over the centuries and is an example of Early Gothic and Romanesque styles. The church as I saw it today was mostly built in 1163 but it is once again in need of repairs and restorations.

DSC02558This is the view from the north west corner and the sculpture of a head in the bottom right of the picture is by Picasso.

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The view from the front door.  This church was beautifully painted with many stained glass windows high above the church floor.

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The pillars and columns are covered in painted designs…

DSC02536 and I also loved the pillar’s beautiful bases.
DSC02517I was surprised to see that one of the stained glass windows had a small part that opened.  It was very high up, so I have no idea how they get it opened and closed.

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A bust and chandelier were nicely silhouetted against this window.

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The colours are incredible.  Stained glass windows need light to show off their beauty.

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This picture is a bit dark, these cathedrals are always quite dark inside, but it does show the windows that encircle the church.  Just around the corner from the church and down a little side street is the museum I am looking for.

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Here is the entrance to the Musée National Eugène Dèlacroix’ which contains his home and studio.  One of the fascinating things about Paris is the way a door will open onto a courtyard or garden and offer a glimpse into a secret place.  You just have no idea what might be behind one of those big old doors.

DSC02570This is a palette that Delacroix is thought to have given to Henri Fantin-Latour who, like Délacroix prepared his painting palette with great care.

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Dèlacroix’s studio had many of his paintings and lithograph prints and in the house there were many lithograph prints with their original stone printing plates.  He had the studio built to his specifications, with huge north windows and skylights.

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Here is a view of the studio from its private garden. The garden has been recently restored, under the supervision of the gardeners of the Tuileries and due to the generosity of a donor named Mr. Kinoshita.  There were lists of the plants purchased and the work carried out in Délacoix’s archives so it has been faithfully restored, and is a beautiful calm oasis in a busy city.  His home is in the building on the right of the photo, it was quite large and well appointed.DSC02573A view of the garden looking from the studio.  I decide it is time to think about heading home and walk from here towards the Louvre, as I want to stop at their bookstore and a couple other shops nearby.

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There are some sights that are very definitely Parisian.  Do you notice all the parked cars?

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I have no idea how the drivers here manage to park in such tiny spots, or even how they manage to get out of them, but they do!  It is quite something to watch.

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I pass some very interesting looking shops, but as it is Sunday they are all closed so I take some photos through the windows.  Too bad, or maybe good, as I am sure I would have found some fascinating item that I would have wanted to bring home.

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All sorts of curious and interesting things.

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This window was intriguing, especially in light of all the figure drawing I have been doing.

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I snap a couple last photos and head home to get packed and ready for my flight home tomorrow.

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Me and the Mona Lisa!

Here are my metro drawings from the last couple of days.imageimage

Thursday’s Drawings

I wish I could say I did my best drawings on my last session but I struggled for the first part of the day.  Our model was an older fellow and he was a bit fidgety which I found distracting today.  I switched over to watercolour washes and quick line drawings during the last few poses and it went better.

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Our model in the afternoon brought props, which can be interesting but it can sometimes make drawing more difficult if they hide the neck and shoulder area.  She was a great model, no fidgeting or moving about at all.

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And finally another set of metro drawings. The last few days the cars have been pretty packed so drawing was sometimes impossible. I had to be content with people watching, and there are always interesting people to watch on the metro, or anywhere in Paris, for that matter.

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Saying Goodbye to Académie de la Grande Chaumiére

Today was the last day of drawing at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiére, and I felt quite sad when I left.  I really loved the time I spent here, and this week I have had several conversations with some of the artists drawing there.  I guess it took a while for me to feel comfortable enough to do so, and today several people came and initiated conversations with me, which was really nice.  Here is ‘my spot’ in the studio

imageI came back for one final look around before heading to the Musee d’Orsay. The stools get stacked at night so the studio is ready for a painting class in the morning.

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I am really going to miss being here.  This intensive life drawing experience has convinced me that  I need to do this more than once a week when I am home.  I often  didn’t even manage to go every week, but I am determined to change that.

I made my way to the Musée d’Orsay, which used to be an old train station and now is the home to an impressive collection of art, especially the works of the Impressionists and the Post Impressionists.

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The museum is open till nine tonight so I have almost two and a half hours, which isn’t all that much time.  Two of the floors of the museum were closed for renovations, which in a way was good, as there was less to see!  There are a lot of Monet’s paintings here.  One of the things I realized as I walked around was the sheer number of paintings these artists produced, and this is just one museum, their works are in so many other museums around the world.  It shows that it is essential to actually make art if you want to get good at it.  Completing two or three pieces a year just isn’t enough to make a difference in the quality of your work.

imageimageSome of the paintings are surprisingly small and then there are those that are vey big! I managed to see most of what I was interested in, but realized I could easily spend at least a couple of days here studying the work more closely and doing some drawings as a way of studying as well.

My focus this trip was life drawing, but I am thinking that I could very easily come back and spend more time in the museums in addition to the life drawing.  Maybe one day in the not too distant future….

I discovered that it is possible to go out on the roof of the museum and take some pictures.  It was getting dark but they give an idea of the view.  Here is the Louvre across the Seine, and Sacre Couer in the distance. You can see that it is definitely on a hill!

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I asked someone to take my picture, so here I am with the Louvre behind me.

All too soon it is nine and the museum closes, so I head home.  It is late and I am busy drawing on the metro and I miss my stop!  I have to go quite a bit further to connect with a line than will take me home and it meant many more flights of stairs and a long walk, probably two blocks at least, through underground tunnels until I got to the station I needed. I counted stairs today and on the trip to the Academié there are over one hundred stairs to climb or go down, and that is just one way!  And it is also probably the least number of stairs of all the trips that I make on the metro.  No wonder there aren’t many overweight Parisians!

imageI took this picture in a mirror on a corner, (so people don’t crash into each other? ) and didn’t realize there were lines all over my face till now!  It is after midnight, so I will post the last of my drawings at the Académie tomorrow  morning when I am not so tired and there will be better light to take the pictures.

Scary Metro Ride Home

Tonight coming home on the metro about 8:00 I had an rather unsettling experience.  I could hear someone speaking very loudly and than a series of loud bangs. Soon I see what it is all about, a very large, very upset man is walking through the metro cars yelling and slamming shut all the vents at the top of the windows.  He is either drunk or deranged, perhaps a bit of both, to judge from his appearance.  He is strangely dressed with all sorts of things tied into his hair and his pants appeared to have not much of a bottom in them, his bottom was quite visible.  To make matters worse he stepped into the area between me and the passengers facing me and almost fell on the lady beside me!

I was worried he was going to stay here, but he moved on, slamming more window vents. Everyone looked a bit upset, people were looking at each other with raised eyebrows or other facial expressions that clearly showed they did not like the situation.  A few minutes later he is walking back the way he came from, still slamming windows, as some people had opened them after he passed by.  This time no one reopened the windows!

He disappeared towards the back of the train and then a whole lot more people got on, so I figured he would not be able to make his way back to where I was sitting.   This is honestly the first time in Paris that I have felt uncomfortable, or worried about a situation.  In hindsight, I think the best thing to do would have been to get off the train and wait for the next one, but I was rather shocked by the situation and didn’t think of this until after it was all over.

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I did do some drawing on the metro today, but wasn’t able to do any after this incident.  I actually got a terrible headache, just the stress of it all I guess.

Then when I arrive at the metro station at the end of my street there are a whole lot of metro security and they are in a semi-circle around a man who is wearing an old jacket that says ‘Security’ on the back.  He has a very big muscular doberman and it appears that he wants to take the dog on the metro?  Not exactly sure, but the dog is wearing a muzzle and he is getting agitated, as is the man, who appears to be trying to explain something to the metro police.  The man ties the dog to the exit booth, so the metro people have to open a special gate so people don’t have to go through the booth.

I decide that I need to get home and shut the door on all this!  I even checked the internet to see if it is a full moon, but it isn’t, so can’t blame it on that.

There is a soccer match on tonight that Paris is playing in and they appear to be winning as there is a lot of cheering and noise periodically.  I couldn’t figure out what all the noise was about but when I went out to get a few groceries I saw a bunch of men standing outside and inside the cafe on the corner.  I go see what they are watching on TV,  turns put to be soccer, and I ask who is playing.  A man tells me, and says Paris was up by two points.  That was almost an hour ago and there is still lots of noise every now and then so I assume they are still in the lead.

Anyways… I attended two life drawing sessions today and then went for drinks with my two new friends and met a friend of theirs as well.  This gentleman is an American who came to visit Paris with his wife for three months and is still here, more than a decade later.  That seems to happen to people when they visit this city!

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Here are a few of my drawings from today.  The first model was older, probably at least my age, and very thin, so interesting to draw.

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I could see bones and musculature very clearly, so I concentrated on trying to sort those things out, especially in the neck and collarbone area, trying to sort out the shapes and shadows in this area.  They are over emphasized a bit in these drawings but I was concentrating on a study of bones and muscles.  This model was wonderful for that.

 

Our second model was rather voluptuous, so quite a contrast from the first session.

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Sorry for the long rant about the trip home, I think I just needed to talk about it.  Thanks for listening.

 

Drawing In The Dark

Today was a very full day.  First I went to a four hour life drawing class at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

image imageMy drawings at the Académie were kind of hard work today. As is often the case when I have a day like this, the quick five minute poses turn out the best. I horribly overworked everything else.

I hurried home after class, and had a half hour to put my feet up, grqb a bite to eat, and get ready for the ballet.

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The sun was starting to set when I arrived and the light was catching the golden statues on top of the Opera Building. There are always a lot of people milling about, taking pictures, or just sitting on the steps soaking up the atmosphere. It was pretty neat getting to walk up to the big front doors, gain admittance, and walk up that grand staircase.

imageIt wasn’t all that easy to find my seat.  Turns out it is behind a locked door with no door knob, that needs to be opened by an attendant.  I am sitting in a beautiful red plush box seat!

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That was a surprise.  I knew I had a railing in front of me, but I assumed it was just a wooden railing because there would be a walkway in front of it, or something similar. I feel rather regal, I must admit. I wonder who else has sat in that very same seat over the years?

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The painted curtain rises to reveal a red velvet looking curtain.

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imageThe Opera Garnier,  also known as the Palais Garnier,  was completed 139 years ago in 1875, and is now the home of the Paris Ballet.  It holds about 2,000 people and is pretty much sold out most for every performance.  I was very lucky to get such a good seat the day before the show, there were only a few seats left.  There are benefits to travelling solo!

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The Chagall Mural and crystal chandelier are stunning!  Actually the entire place is stunning.  The pictures don’t do it justice at all.

I took my pen and sketchbook with me and drew in the dark.  I couldn’t see a thing so I had no idea what I was doing until I could take a look when the lights came on at intermission.image

The first half of the performance was very traditional so there were often dancers posed in the background for a few seconds, which made it a bit easier.  Although I was fairly close to the stage, about a third of the way from the stage, the dancers still looked  still fairly small.  I am so glad I didn’t get a  seat further back.  Sometimes during this performance all the dancers were on stage at  the same time, quite the spectacle!

image The second half of the performance was very contemporary, and the dancers didn’t stop moving for a second! I was pretty sure these drawings were just going to end up as scribbles, but I think they actually still give the feeling of dancers.

 

imageIt was a great evening, watching the ballet and trying to interpret what I was seeing on paper, in the dark!

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The Opera Garnier  was very beautiful by night.  I think I am going to have to take a bus ride at night just to see the lights of the city.

I also managed to do some more metro drawing today too, but people kept getting up and leaving.

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I was a bit nervous about taking the metro home so late and thought for a while about the best route to take, but it was quite all right. I didn’t get home until 10:45, definitely the latest I have been out so far.  I may even try going to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night, now that I know I can get myself home after dark!