Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Towers at Cesky Krumlov

I took brochures for DoorsOpen over to Nooch today and was told that people were enjoying the paintings. So I'm continuing the "stories" that go with them. This one is also in the Czech Republic - in Cesky Krumlov. In some ways, it is like a miniature Prague - castle on the hill, town square, same river curling around the town, red-tile roofs and interesting old buildings. However, it is medieval style buildings where Prague is baroque. One thing that made me smile was that a lot of older buildings were "updated" a way back when - with false fronts just like towns you see in the old Western movies. Well, not the same style, of course - but the same idea. Another interesting thing was the doors on the shops - when opened, many had display cabinets that then became street-front displays. Our pension had a breakfast at 9 am - which was too late if you wanted to be at the castle at 9am - so we got a discount and then found a great cafeteria on the town square - where the locals ate. Regular food was in one part and the coffee was in a separate Art-Nouveau style area that also had incredible pastries - and so, we created a special-to-Cesky-Krumlov tradition of "breakfast dessert". The two towers in this painting are the clock tower from the Castle - which is big enough to go up and walk around - and the church tower in front. The turquoise roof is oxidized copper- such a beautiful complement to the red tile roofs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Top of the Stairs

This is another of the paintings currently on display at Nooch (#3 and Anderson,Richmond)
This one is from the route up to Prague Castle and the cathedral. I took one photo and then a man dashed by and I snapped him as he reached the top of the stairs. I liked the energy of having someone in action - and I liked the way his leg echoed the leg of the cherub statue on the wall. And, of course, more of those red tile roofs that I like! Needless to say, this was painted from the photo but I think, when you have done enough actual work from life, it is a painting, not a mere photographic reproduction. I wanted to emphasize the contrast between shadow and sunlight. I like paintings with a bit of a story and I like to imagine where he might be going and what is around the corner.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Prague Rooftops

Before we left for Prague, a person who had grown up there told us to "look down" to see the various mosaic cobblestone patterns and to "look up" to see the statues and decorations high on the buildings. One day we went up the clock tower in the town square and got to see the rooftops in all their variety from up high. The architecture is mostly baroque with the red tile roofs providing extra charm. The colour of the tiles can vary- no doubt some came from different factories and they may have been installed in different years. Some roofs have a copper trim which has oxidized to a lovely complementary turquoise. This painting was a challenge because I did not want it to be photo-realism, yet I wanted it to be true to the actual scene. Working out the perspective was another challenge. As well, I didn't want the painting to be overly busy and felt the viewer's attention should remain focused closer in - so I created a bit of a late-afternoon mist in the background. This is where an artist can interpret and *be* an artist, not a camera. This painting is hanging near the entrance in Nooch restaurant - right by the bean-bag chairs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pottery Fair, Czech Republic

Of the European paintings displayed at Nooch cafe on #3 Road, this one was Nick's favourite. He liked hearing about it so I've decided, for the next wee while, to tell the stories that go with the various paintings. After our initial stay in Prague, we headed out into the countryside in our little van driven by Iva's former school-bus driver. We went to Beroun - a small town that has a biannual pottery fair that attracts hundreds of potters. The entire town square is filled with pottery displays and booths. There was everything from huge garden statues to tiny decorative pieces. Each potter had their own style and choice of colours. This was the work of just one potter - all displayed on the cobblestones. I've never seen anything like the incredible array of pottery. At lunch, Bonita and I shared a table with a friendly resident who was delighted to find we had come from Canada. In a nearby closed fabric shop, a tabby cat was snoozing. There was a sign on the window asking that she not be disturbed. It seemed like a really nice town. Then we went on to overnight at Karlstein.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Poppy Patch

This is the painting that I started as a demonstration for a senior's group. I worked out the composition ahead of time and outlined the poppies so that I would have time to do a bit of actual painting. Thirty or forty minutes is not long for a painting! They all thought it looked like a bit of a mess to start with. Then I painted a loose green "wash" over everything that was not a poppy head and they were surprised to see the poppy shapes jump out. I got a little bit of "beginning" pinks and reds in and a little variation in the greens before we ran out of time. I promised I would post the finished painting on my blog. Alas! the blog has been neglected and not much was done on this painting. I haven't been all together idle - there were two figure-painting weekends and some weeding and tidying in the garden. However, I have now finished it. This is the third painting inspired by the poppies in the community garden kitty-corner from Choices on 57th. "Poppies by the Fence" was the first (and I used that for a Christmas card) and then there is one just called "Poppies" which is California yellow-orange poppies and now this one. Maybe more yet. They are nice to paint because the planting is quite random. I don't grow any in my garden as they wouldn't really fit with my other plantings. Somehow, that makes it all the easier to appreciate them elsewhere. I worked from my own photographs but did a bit of rearranging. A few years ago I had fun with extreme close-ups of flowers but right now I'm enjoying the "pattern" effect of a group of flower heads. We'll see what the next inspiration is!