Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sketches from Croatia - Part 4 - The Island of Korcula

Most of our time during my Croatia workshop was spent on the island of Korcula, which lies just off the mainland, about a two hour drive from Dubrovnik. Our home base was the small town of Lumbarda, and it was nice to be able to settle in for eight days without having to change locations. The first morning, we took a walk through town to a spot where we had a beautiful view of the bay.

14" x 7", ink & watercolor on 140 lb. Kilimanjaro watercolor paper

I often gravitate toward painting the big picture when I'm on a trip (there's just so much I want to remember!) and this time was no exception. I decided to sketch the whole panorama spread out before me, complete with a beach, sailboat masts, and the peninsula of land where my apartment in the Lovric guest house sat on top of the hill.

The people I drew were teeny tiny, so it was nearly impossible to be accurate or include any detail, but at least they add some life to the sketch and help to tell the story of my first day on the island. I love the sparkling water and bright colors in this sketch. They hardly begin to describe the actual color of that water, though - it was amazing!!!

The next day we took an excursion to Korcula town where I taught a lesson in front of St. Mark's cathedral, encouraging my students to incorporate motifs from the stonework on the church and other nearby buildings into their sketches. I chose to draw the Marco Polo Tower, which is part of a house rumored to be the birthplace of the famous explorer. The borders on the page were inspired by stone columns and medallions on St. Mark's, combining two interesting Korcula sites into one sketch.

7" x 7", ink and watercolor on 140 lb. Kilimanjaro watercolor paper

We returned to Korcula again later in the week and I found myself with some free time in the afternooon, so, rather than shop or sit with friends at a sidewalk cafe, I wandered back to one of my favorite spots....

and settled in to sketch. There was a comfy cushioned chair just waiting for me in the perfect spot, where I had a view of this quirky wall of frames filled with random objects. I felt happy and carefree as I sketched, dashing lines onto the page quickly, intentionally making things casual and crooked, not worrying about perfection, just having FUN!

14" x 7", ink and watercolor on 140 lb. Kilimanjaro watercolor paper

As I sketched, I wondered about the person who created this wall. What was their motivation for expending so much time and effort on it, purely for the enjoyment of people passing by? I wish I could thank them for the pleasure it gave me that day.

The painting was almost finished by the time I packed up my kit an hour and a half later and headed off to meet the group for our ride back to Lumbarda. All it needed was some additional spattering on the stone wall behind the frames.

With all these sketches, I felt free to change elements of the scene to suit me, rather than painting exactly what was in front of me. When I was a beginning sketcher, I always tried to faithfully copy exactly what I saw in front of me. It took years of sketching for me to realize that, as the artist, I could move things around, change or exaggerate colors, eliminate objects from a scene, or add whatever I felt the sketch needed to make it successful. Now, I try to retain the essence of a place while putting my own spin on it. Without the spin, I might as well just print out the photograph I took that day. A sketch can bring out the best in a place and speak volumes about the artist who created it.

For more information about my Croatia workshops, check out the following links:
     Click here to read about my 2019 Croatia workshop.
     Click here for information about my 2020 Croatia workshop tour.
     Click here to register for Croatia 2020.


  1. Your sketches are beautiful! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  2. I always love your panorama sketches. They capture so much in a small space and are so much more emotionally evocative than a photograph! Framed Korcula Town is so interesting. I, too, would wonder about the person(s) who created it, and also about why they chose the objects they chose to showcase—is there a cultural history behind that noose, what bird did those feathers belong to, whose ancestors played those instruments? It’s a fascinating collection, beautifully rendered.


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