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:
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