Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Sketches from Croatia - Part 7 - Žrnovo

More armchair travel from my Croatia trip last fall...

Most of our day trips on the island of Korcula had been to seaside towns, but one day we traveled a few kilometers inland to the lost-in-time village of Žrnovo.

Sketch of buildings in Žrnovo by Leslie Fehling
Ink & watercolor, 7.5" x 7.5", in a handmade sketchbook filled with 140 lb. Kilimanjaro paper

Žrnovo, one of the oldest villages on the island, was all but abandoned years ago when the Croatian government offered incentives for people to move to coastal areas in an effort to jumpstart tourism.

Years later, as tourism flourished and property prices rose along the coast, inland villages like Žrnovo started to look more appealing again.

Now, people are returning, buildings are being renovated, and signs of life are everywhere.

My favorite stop on our stroll through Žrnovo was the Eko Škoj organic food shop, where we tasted homemade liqueurs, olive oils, and jams made from produce grown in the garden and fields next to the store.

It doesn't get any more local than that!

There were so many great spots to sketch, both inside the store...

and outside.

It was hard to choose just one, but I couldn't resist this row of pumpkins on an old stone bench.

I had already finished the sketch of the buildings (at the top of this page), so time was short when I settled in to sketch this garden scene.

Of course, there's always someone looking over your shoulder when you sketch on location....

First, I blocked in the stone bench, then drew all the fun shapes of the pumpkins and squash.

The vines came next. I love drawing free-flowing organic shapes.

The peach tree and potted coleus were drawn with minimal lines. When it comes to sketching masses of foliage like this, I usually let my watercolors do most of the work rather than painstakingly drawing every detail with pencil or pen.

I found that it was surprisingly difficult to make an arrangement of bamboo poles look random!

To paint the rough texture on the stones, I first applied a base wash using several different colors, like Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and gray (Burnt Umber + Ultramarine Blue). I allowed the colors to mingle on the paper, then, when it was dry, I added texture by dabbing on random strokes of paint then softening the edges here and there with a damp brush. Sometimes, I smudged the paint with my fingers or used a drybrush technique. Together, these techniques give the impression of rough-hewn stone.

I really liked the abstract design of the shop's logo, so I wanted to include it in the sketch. I roughed it in onsite, then refined it later at home before I inked it. To get the rusty look, I painted it with mixtures of Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, and Ultramarine Blue (to darken the browns).

The journaling was the last element to be added, after the sketch was painted. I left an open space for it early in the sketching process but didn't finalize the text and lettering style until all the painting was finished. That allowed me to judge what color would best complement the rest of the page.

I loved our quiet day of meandering and sketching in Žrnovo. I'm looking forward to returning some day to paint some of the views I didn't get to last time.

(Click to enlarge)

With the pandemic in full swing as I write this, it looks like I'll have to wait awhile. My 2020 workshop tour to Croatia has been rescheduled for May 22-31, 2022.

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