Sunday, November 22, 2020

Croatia Travel Journal - Finished!

I finished up my 2019 Croatia travel journal a few months ago but never got around to posting the last few sketches, and, since I hate to leave things unfinished, I thought I'd wrap up this project with one last post. 

Our day on the little island of Vrnik was one of the best of the entire trip. It felt like we were in a different world. 


Those happy days in Croatia almost seem like a dream now.

Ink & watercolor, 7.5" x 7.5"

Sketching together with friends is one of the things I miss most these days.


And the traveling, of course! But my 2020 workshop has been rescheduled for May of 2022 - surely by then we'll be out of our living rooms and having fun again!


I snapped a photo of my sketching setup for you when I was working on this Vrnik sketch. You can read all about "The Perfect Plein Air Sketching Setup" in this post. I've been using this configuration for years now, and I love it. 


On our final day on the island of Korcula, we visited Korcula town one last time. Some people shopped or headed for a café, but I took a dedicated group of painters down to the harbor area to sketch this view of the old city walls.


I think it's interesting to compare the photo with the sketch I did that day. The drawing is fairly faithful to the scene, but I eliminated the boats in the foreground, added a palm tree, and exaggerated the height of the bell tower. (It's also a little off-center - oops!) 

For the painting, I used brighter colors than I saw before me, added some clouds to the sky, and left out some of the details on the buildings. It seems that my sketches capture the feel of a place better than my camera does. With photos, I'm usually disappointed that the colors and light don't come across the way I remember them, whereas my sketches capture the light and color plus something intangible. I think it's the joy I feel when I'm there. 


I painted most of the sketch on location then finished up the water later at home. I wanted to add the word "Korcula" to the page but was initially stumped as to where I could put it. I finally came up with the idea of painting the title on watercolor paper then cutting out the letters and gluing them over the water.


It worked great! The bright color and added dimension helps them to stand out from the painted background. Where there's a will, there's a way!

I managed to squeeze in one more sketch after the rest of the group ddecamped to a café. I happened upon this wall on one of the shady side streets and thought it was really cool, so I plopped myself down on a handy bench and whipped out my sketchbook and pen.


I drew lines with abandon, making the frames crooked and a little misshapen, just for the fun of it. 


The drawing was finished so quickly that I thought I might as well slap on some paint in the time I had left.


Miraculously, I managed to finish it before I had to meet the bus -  45 minutes from start to finish. Now that's seizing the moment!


I had been meaning to sketch this next scene since day one, and, with only a few hours remaining for our stay on Korcula, I figured it was now or never (or until I return for another workshop!)


After doing a quick pencil drawing with minimal detail, I did some inking then dove right into the watercolor. I started with the sky, using a drybrush technique to paint rough edges on the clouds.


Next I added some muted tans and greens to the distant mountains.


Moving on to the foreground trees, I used my round brush to paint a stylized pattern that suggests the long, soft pine needles on the trees. I used greens ranging from light yellow-green to deep blue-green and added splashes of pink here and there just for fun.


The pink carries over into the flowers, which I worked on at the same time as the trees, bouncing back and forth between the two areas as I let different areas dry. I made sure to leave plenty of highlights to give the scene a sunlit look.


I tackled the water last, because it's always challenging for me. (I usually put off the hard part of a sketch until the end when I'm loosened up and in the groove.) A varied blue & green base wash was put down first, then, after it dried, I added some strokes with a small flat brush to indicate movement in the water.


Put all the pieces together and here's the result...

Click to enlarge

The next morning, we took the ferry back to the mainland and waved goodbye to Korcula. 


We had a farewell dinner in Cavtat that evening and enjoyed a beautiful farewell sunset. 


I hadn't really known what to expect when I signed on to teach in Croatia, but I ended up loving every moment of my time there. The country is beautiful, the villages are charming, the people are friendly, and life moves at a much slower pace there. And we had time to appreciate all of it. Having my mom and many of my sketching friends along on the trip was the icing on the cake - we had so much fun together! 


Thanks for coming along for the ride! If you missed my earlier posts of Croatia sketches and would like to catch up, here are the links:

Monday, October 26, 2020

Fall Road Trip Sketchbook - Part 2

My last post was all about our trip to the Delaware shore, but there's more to the story. After four days in Cape Henlopen, we hooked up the camper and hit the road, headed for a park in Virginia that overlooks the Potomac River. 

All sketches done in a 5" x 8" Pentalic Aqua Journal

The drive turned out to be a lot longer than I had expected, but we made it to Westmoreland State Park in time to go for a blustery walk along the river before the sun set. The Potomac at that spot is so wide that you can barely see the other side. It's 6-7 miles across and feels more like a huge lake than a river.


The next day we spent the morning just hanging out at our spacious campsite in the woods. I finished up some sketches...


while Fred worked on an airplane model he had brought along (something he never has time for at home).


Then we packed a lunch and took off for a walk through the woods,


up and down hills, 


finding interesting things along the way,



until we finally arrived at Fossil Beach, where the rock formations are absolutely loaded with fossils, and shark's teeth are readily found in the sand along the shore.


(Click here for a larger image)

After we ate our lunch, I whipped out my sketchbook and dashed off a drawing of the broad cove framed by cliffs at both ends.

Then it was time to head back up the mountain. We stopped along the way to take a rare selfie of the two of us...

It was such a fun day, and as I thought back over our walk later, I realized how uneventful it was in many ways, but how truly special it was, too. Just getting out in the woods together, talking, laughing, and seeing new things - it's those shared experiences that create lasting memories. 

I decided this walk deserved to be commemorated...every detail of it! So, I created this:


(Click here for a larger image)

It captures the day perfectly with its bright colors and simple drawings. I love it!

The next morning, it was time to head home to Pennsylvania. It had felt like summer all week, but as we drove into the Virginia mountains, we started to see more and more red, orange, and yellow on the hillsides. The day was overcast, but the autumn color was still spectacular.


We took a wrong turn somewhere along the way and ended up on Route 50 in West Virginia, a road that's famous for its steep inclines, hairpin turns, and serpentine route. I'm sure Fred was silently blaming the navigator (moi!), but, to his credit, he never said a word of rebuke as he drove up, down, and around mountains hour after hour.


We finally made it back to good old Prosperity, PA, and Buckley was there to greet us with all the exuberance of a puppy. 


Even though I love going away, it's always good to be home again. 


Thanks for following along! Check out this video of my Fall Road Trip 2020 Sketchbook...

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Fall Road Trip Sketchbook - Part 1

Fred and I loaded up our camper trailer in early October and hit the road, headed for points east. 

All sketches done in a 5" x 8" Pentalic Aqua Journal

We ran away to Cape Henlopen State Park near Lewes, Delaware, and spent four days with no work, no TV, and best of all, no politics! 


Cape Henlopen has beaches on both the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic, so we got to enjoy the crashing waves on the ocean side and beautiful sunsets on the bay side.


The park was originally a military installation used to defend and protect the Delaware Bay during WW II and the Cold War, and there are historical markers and displays throughout the park that tell the story of Fort Miles. The base closed in the 1940s and was then used for decades as a recreation facility for military families.


Observation towers from WW II and the Cold War still stand at Cape Henlopen

I remember going to Fort Miles when I was home from college one summer in the '70s. My dad was in the Air Force, stationed at Fort Meade, MD, and it was just a short jaunt from there to Fort Miles. Our family spent a week there, body-surfing for hours each day, slathering ourselves with baby oil to get tan, and just being together on long summer days when the sun doesn't set until after 9. Those were happy times.  

Lighthouse in Delaware Bay (click to enlarge)

Fred and I made our own happy memories, too, on this trip to Fort Miles. We really enjoyed being able to get away from home, have a change of scenery, but still feel like we weren't putting ourselves at risk during the pandemic.

Fred enjoys cooking breakfast outdoors (mmm, bacon!) when we're camping

We took advantage of the bike trail that winds through the park for miles along the bay and out to the ocean, passing through sand dunes and pine woods along the way. 


We took time to sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in, read a book, and sit around the campfire.



We walked around the nearby town of Lewes, which is really cute, with nice shops, cafes (with outdoor seating), and immaculately maintained Victorian homes.



We had plans to do a lot of kayaking while we were there, 

It was so peaceful and pretty, while it lasted!

but our one trip out on the water ended abruptly when I was walloped by an attack of vertigo when I was paddling in the middle of a canal. Scariest thing ever!


I recovered enough that afternoon to go to the beach and try my hand at sketching seagulls from life. 


Just before sunset, I headed off into the dunes with my sketch kit. Sitting all alone with my sketchbook on my lap, drawing, painting, and really seeing my surroundings, I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to be there, to travel, to see new places despite current circumstances. 


I used to roam the streets of Paris and Barcelona, and hike the hills of Tuscany. I sketched the Greek Isles, Provence, Croatia, and Ireland, but right now, a state park in Delaware gives me almost as much pleasure as those amazing places did.


The weather was perfect every day, and it was so nice to feel carefree, with all the time in the world to draw and paint...or do absolutely nothing!

Fred said to tell you that he was meditating, not napping. 

I taught myself a new lettering style called Mathilde that I can use for journaling. It has a jaunty, casual look that I like.


It's challenging doing long text passages like the ones in this journal when you're retraining your brain to write a certain way. I can feel the mental strain of forcing myself out of long-held routines, but I think it's worth the effort, to have another lettering style option at my fingertips.


I used QOR watercolors for all of the sketches in this travel journal. I enjoy the richness of the QOR paints - when they hit a wet page, the color explodes on the paper and flows like crazy. There's a learning curve with them, because they move and combine differently than traditional paints, but I'm having fun using them to paint sketches that burst with color.   

We had such a good time at Cape Henlopen that we've already booked a campsite for next fall. There was so much more to do in the area that we just didn't have time for this year.  

Let's just hope that next year I'll be able to kayak without things getting crazy!


But wait, there's more!

Part 2 of my Fall Road Trip Sketchbook will be coming up tomorrow. 
Here's a sketchbook flip preview:




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