Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chapel Sketch + GIVEAWAY

This is one of my favorite sketches so far in my 2016 Tuscany travel journal...

10" x 7", ink & watercolor in a Handbook Field Watercolor Journal

I had pre-painted the page earlier with watery washes of blue, yellow, and burnt sienna and let it dry thoroughly. I did a little bit of planning for color placement, concentrating more blues in the sky area and more of the burnt sienna where the building would be. Then I drew and painted the page while sitting at a wrought iron table under the huge chestnut tree in front of the villa. Several of my students watched while I painted, asking questions now and then about the hows and whys of what I was doing.

It was peaceful and quiet, just perfect for painting, except when a light breeze rustled the chestnut leaves. Then we had to duck to avoid being bombarded by falling chestnuts, which clattered to the ground all around us. 

The drawing was done with my favorite Platinum Carbon Desk Pen filled with permanent Platinum Carbon ink. I prefer the extra-fine nib on the pen, because I like the lines to be secondary to the watercolor in most of my sketches. When I drew the vine-covered wall of the chapel, notice how I drew very little detail with ink. I merely indicated where the trunks of the wisteria showed through the greenery, and a few leaves here and there. It would be tedious to try to draw the entire mass of foliage, and it just isn't necessary. It's much more easily done with paint.


To begin the vines, I mixed up puddles of yellow, olive green, ultramarine blue, and purple on my palette, then began painting a loose wash of color using mostly yellow-green but also dropping in areas of blue or purple or a deeper, darker green where there were shadows. The colors softly combined on the paper and were allowed to dry. Later I went back in and added strokes of darker green to suggest masses of foliage and individual leaves. I had to be was careful not to overdo it, though, because I didn't want to cover up all those nice light colors of the initial wash.

The olive oil jugs were painted with two or three layers: first the initial graded wash of yellow ochre and burnt sienna, which was laid down wet-in-wet with the light yellow on the sunlit side of the jugs, grading to a deeper medium-value burnt sienna on the right. Later, the brown stripes and the shadows were added to finish them off.


The wall of the chapel, like many buildings in Tuscany, is made of what appears to be a base of cement embedded with stones and bricks. To paint it, I gave it a base wash of pale gray-tan (burnt umber + ultramarine blue) then added splotches of varied stone colors after the first wash had dried.


For the windows, I was careful to keep some glimmers of white on the black wrought iron grillwork to indicate highlights.

The brick steps were painted in stages of light, medium and dark: light background color for the mortar, medium bricks, and dark shadows.


I planned for the lettering box early on in the process, but left the lettering itself for the end. 


The inspiration for the decorative script was the ceramic sign that hangs next to the front door of the villa at Fattoria Bacio.

These borders would work great on a sketchbook page, too!

I always pencil in my lettering on a sketch first, so I can plan the spacing, then once I have everything to my liking, I go ahead and ink or paint it. Here the black text was inked with a Platinum Carbon pen and the larger lettering was painted with a #2 round brush.

Well, that's the last sketch in our Paint Brush Giveaway series this week, but I have a lot more pages in my Tuscany sketchbook that I'm working on finishing up. I'll share them with you as I complete them. For now, why not leave a comment below to be entered in my DECEMBER GIVEAWAY?


Enter for a chance to win a set of five American Journey Interlocked Synthetic Brushes plus a handy Cheap Joe's Folding Brush Holder to keep them all in, courtesy of the friendly folks at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff.

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on one or all of the seven Italy sketches I've posted between November 27 and December 3. The drawing will be held on December 7, 2016.

If you like, you can answer the following question in your comment....

What are you most looking forward to about the holidays this year?

Leave your comment below, and good luck!


36 comments:

  1. Seeing my son and his bride to be who is coming home from Maine.

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    1. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas in the making!

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  2. Very helpful explanation of planning this pretty page! What a joy to be in such a lovely location for sketching and painting. I hope to be able to take such a artsy vacation one day. :)
    As to your question, we've had a lot of loss in our family this year so we are going to treasure time spent with our family who are still with us with extra joy and gratitude. We'll be simplifying to have more time to be with one another laughing and talking.

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    1. Wish you could come along to Fattoria Bacio next year with me, Katie. From reading all of your comments, I just know we would become fast friends. I'm sorry to hear about the tough year you've had, but it sounds like you have a wonderful attitude and will make this year's holidays a time of special remembrance.

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  3. Getting together with family I don't see often.

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  4. Im looking forward to being happy to alive - these holidays are a a time of gratitude, clarity, and appreciation for me.

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  5. Wow - you make it all seem so easy Leslie, while you're laid back and enjoying yourself! Hope to get there someday!

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  6. Getting all the family together, and the songs of the season, especially "O Holy Night."

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  7. Great breakdown of your process, see you in February!

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  8. Love this piece, as I do all your work. That yellow green sweeping in from the left is so fresh and alive.

    The holidays? Just having everyone together under one roof with lots of love and laughter! Merry Christmas to you! Now,.... off to check your recent previous posts I have missed!

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  9. Beautiful page and great explanation of technique. I remember how much fun it was doing this in your class!

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  10. I love the step by step explanations and the final page is lovely!

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  11. Such wonderful instruction. Thank you. The holidays, shared with three grandparents, our children and our granddaughters, 4&almost 6, will be magical.

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  12. Tomorrow we'll be going to our favorite holiday choral concert... it always marks the beginning of the season. I'll take my sketchbook as I always do and try to capture the chorus!

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  13. loved the sketch! And the instructions. Look forward to checking out the rest of the site

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  14. I dont have a lot of time, but I always look forward t seeing your blog. Cant wait until I am ¼ as good as you! Thanks for the instruction!!

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  15. Lovely sketch and juicy colors! And this is certainly the time of year that brings people together - both friends and family. So that's what I value most.

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  16. Thank you for such a colorful description of your plen-air atmosphere and step by step explanations

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  17. Spending time with the grandkids!

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  18. My grandson is 1-1/2 so this year he will be more involved in the celebrations. And I'm getting him some big Tonka trucks so I'm excited to see his little face light up. He loves big trucks and tractors.

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  19. Taking the week after OFF!
    Love the foliage...

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  20. Looking forward to friends and family coming to our house to celebrate. Simplifying decorations and gift giving this year too!

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  21. I'm looking forward to seeing family and friends and watching the excitement in tiny eyes as they unwrap their gifts! Christmas truly seems more magical when there are little ones around filled with awe and wonder! Love your art work and thank you for sharing tips on how to get greenery to look great! ~Gin K.~

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing how you do your sketches. I learn so much from your blog.
    The best part about the holidays is spending time with family but I also love getting to try out recipes that I wouldn't eat the rest of the year.

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  23. Leslie! Your lovely painting depicts one of my favorite scenes at Fattoria Bacio.
    The best part about this holiday is having both of my parents well enough to join us at our house on Christmas Day.

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  24. I so appreciate that you explain your processes. I love the way the foliage turned out! I dream about going on such a sketching holiday with a group of Ike minded people. Maybe someday I can. Jody

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  25. Your sketches and teaching inspire me! Thank you!
    I am looking forward to having our grandsons spend a few days with us.

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  26. Leslie,
    I particularly like your treatment of the olive oil jug and your explanation in this post. I am enjoying your Italian travels-a mini excursion!

    Thanks

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  27. Your sketch is beautiful! Thank you for the step by step description. I look forward to spending time with our kids and grandkids.

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  28. I loved reading all your comments. Thanks so much for participating, and I wish you all a wonderful holiday season!

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  29. My 98 yr. old Mom lives with us and is doing pretty well - so I'm looking forward to another sweet Christmas with Mom still with us. By the way, because of being a full time caretaker I haven't been able to take one of your workshops at the Selby (it's such a beautiful place). I can't be gone for that much time. Maybe someday!
    Wishing you and your family a very Marry Christmas!
    Elaine in Bradenton, Fl

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  30. I love seeing my family! We lost my Aunt Lori this year and it will be our first Christmas without her. So I want to make it extra special for my cousins and uncle. It's been a hard enough year on them.

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  31. Weezerame December 6, 2016

    I went out to Texas for the Thanksgiving Holiday to see my brother who cannot fly because of his health. I felt so blessed to be able to be with him and his family that I haven't seen for a couple of years.
    Being a first time flyer, I was nervous, but the flights there and back were so smooth that I really enjoyed the flights. My brother is ill so I felt doubly blessed that he was able to pick us up at the airport. I enjoyed my holiday immensely. I hope you enjoyed yours as much.

    I really enjoy your website, your blogs and they have inspired me to go back to school in the spring quarter to study art.

    Thank you Leslie

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