Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fabulous opportunity.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sketching Trinidad in Cuba

 Iglesia de Santa Ana © Sue Pownall 2011
The other town I visited in Cuba was Trinidad, where I ended up spending 10 very relaxed days. Apart from having a sketchbook in some form always with me, I was not actually very disciplined with my art whilst I was there. The first morning, after a downpour, I walked through the steaming and rapidly drying streets to the ruined church of Santa Ana, with the thoughts it could be a potential subject. It was, as you can see above, however I ended up with the very difficult perspective due to it being the only available bench in the shade. That evening I went for dinner at Sol y Son restauran,t which is in a beautiful old colonial building. Whilst waiting for my delicious meal, I sketched some of the eclectic objects and plants, such as an angel, adding colour later back at my accommodation. So that was 2 drawings on my first full day.

Sol y Son restaurant. A6 sketchbook. © Sue Pownall 2011

The next morning after another heavy morning downpour, I stopped at the Pelanque de Los Congas Reales to see a group that play rumba, African rhythms, and have a troupe of dancers too. Unfortunately, I planned the page to have musicians top left then dancers below bottom right, but got too distracted by watching the show that I didn't draw the dancers.
Tonadas Trinitarias. Pencil in A3 © Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011

The following day was the fiesta for the official end of summer and I went to the beach to see how the Cubans did it. The answer with lots of live music, dancing, beers, rum and laughter.
On the beach. © Sue Pownall 2011

Having skipped another day of drawing in order to have a dance class, I went out the next two consecutive mornings to draw. On the first I did a painting of the main square, which was dreadful, and then the following morning I wandered to the outskirts of town and inked and painted these dwellings (above) taking about an hour and a half. As this was a poorer part of town I did have several people begging for money, pencils or soap, however most people just said a cheerful hello asked who I was and what I was doing.

Near Ermita de la Popa. A3 pen & watercolour. © Sue Pownall 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Painting in the Vale de Viñales II

Corner building, Viñales main road. A3 pen & ink © Sue Pownall 2011
to continue...
The day after I hopped on and off the bus (the afternoon had been spent stuck in a bar listening to music because of the torrential rain- honestly), Elio drove me into the countryside to a small cascade and was left there for an hour and half to paint it. Having wandered around a bit, the sun hitting the plants in front of the water was the obvious subject for my painting and seemed an okay composition. It was already very hot at 9am, so I sat under the road bridge, where nothing passed over, and painted the scene. I normally photograph a scene like this, and did, so the painting was a challenge. I think I did okay, but think my pen & watercolours are always more successful than pure watercolour for scenery. Also, this looks better in the original: blaming scanner!
Una Cascada. 35x25cm 425gm cold pressed, watercolour © Sue Pownall 2011
After Elio picked me up, I was taken to his mother-in-law's house, a real campesino (country person/peasant)'s abode. After being shown around, especially the new building they were constructing to rear pigs, I sat with the mother-in-law, who stared but wouldn't speak to me, and a niece, who chattered away in dialect. By then it was very humid as well as boiling and I started a drawing of some outbuildings. The photo shows the beautiful setting and the drawing when I abandoned it - I couldn't work out how to continue with sweaty hands despite leaning on tissues.
Farm buildings. © Sue Pownall 2011
On the way back into town I took advantage of Elio knowing everyone and got him to ask permission for me to sit on someone's porch the next morning to draw. Back at Elio's B&B I worked up the farm drawing by increasing tonal values and strengthening lines.
Edificios de la granja. © Sue Pownall 2011
Mid-morning the next day, my last day in Viñales, found me sitting on the porch of an old lady because 2 days ealier I had seen a fabulous building I HAD to draw, but had found no shade on the street to do so. The photo, shows the building across the way, a great vintage car (perfect timing) and my finished drawing. You can also see the afternoon's storm clouds rolling in. The finished drawing, completely drawn on the porch, is at the top of this post.
© Sue Pownall 2011
I left the area early the next morning heading for Trinidad, which is about 6 hours east of Havana and where I spent the majority of my time. The drawings from there will make up another post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tattooed lady

5 min warm-ups. © Sue Pownall 2011
As I'm stuck in UK, problems with paperwork for new contract yawn, I thought I would take advantage of my local drop-in life class. Despite the fact I haven't been since last summer, several people recognised me and so chatted to them in the breaks. I was preoccupied as I was going to a printers for the first time that afternoon to arrange prints of some of my work and was unsure if I've choosen the right pieces, number, size...
30 min pose © Sue Pownall 2011
Despite that, I was very pleased with my 5 min warm-up sketches and the half hour long pose afterwards. However after the break and the resumption of the long pose, I started a new piece which got too over-worked and pretty. Oh, and despite remeasuring, checking  and altering several times the hands still look too small.
arrrgh too pretty © Sue Pownall 2011
Towards the end of the class, I abandoned the pretty drawing and I grabbed a sketchbook (35x25cm), a pen and sketched the tattoos.
Pen © Sue Pownall 2011
One of the reasons I attended the class, apart from opportunity, is that I feel it is important to practise the basic drawing skills whenever possible as well as sketch and produce finished pieces. By coincidence, the fabulous writer and ceramist Diana Baur wrote a post on that this week click here to check it out. It's very worth reading.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cuban Transport

© Sue Pownall 2011
Please remember all images and photos on this blog are: © Sue Pownall 2011. All rights reserved.
© Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011
© Sue Pownall 2011
Forgot to add: there are quite a few modern cars on the roads, all owned by companies, and usually to support the tourist industry... Suzuki 4x4s & other Japanese brands, Mercedes,etc.
From Museo de la Revolucion © Sue Pownall 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Painting in the Vale de Viñales. Part I

  Calle Sergio Dopico, A3 pen & watercolour © Sue Pownall 2011
After Havana I travelled west to Vale de Viñales. After settling into my B&B (Casa El Relojero - Elio's which I'd thoroughly recommend) I went for a walk around the small town and when I saw these houses (above) I settled down at a bus stop, for shade, to draw them. It took just over an hour to paint by which time the heavens had opened for a tropical downpour and one of the neighbours had sat talking to me for about 10 minutes, both spoiling concentration, but both interesting in different ways.

Tractor, A43 pen & watercolour © Sue Pownall 2011
The next day, I had arranged a horse trek into the valley, but having risen early I sat outside the front of the house and started to paint the neighbour's tractor. Elio's wife kindly bought me a cup of tea so I could continue. Unfortunately, I had to abandon the painting after the tea as the neighbour drove off in the tractor and didn't return until late afternoon. I tried to continue that evening, but a combination of the curious neighbourhood children - 8 of them, who surrounded me and the still hot sun, made me give up the painting again.

A6 pen & ink © Sue Pownall 2011
In between, I went on the most beautiful ride through the valley admiring the mountains and fields. Although it is not the tobacco season we went to a tobacco drying building and had the process explained to us (we were 3 on the trek) and were shown how to roll a cigar. The final stop of the ride was to a cave with an underground pool. Whilst waiting to be led underground we sat at the mouth of the cave and I sketched the rock formations. Yes I took my moleskin type sketchbook on a horse ride. What can I say? I am totally addicted to sketching. Once inside, apart from 2 small torches it was pitch black and we swam in the icy pool.

Day 3 in Viñales I took advantage of a hopon-hopoff bus and went up to a hotel with a stunning view of the valley. Despite having taken watercolour paper to Cuba, I used my sketchbook to paint the view. It's not a brilliant painting, but served the purpose of loosening me up.

Vale de Viñales from Ermita, A3 watercolour © Sue Pownall 2011
An hour later, I was back on the bus and got taken to the other end of the valley where I painted again, but this time using pen as well as pure watercolour. I think this is a stronger painting. Neither looks quite as murky in real life as in the scans. After an hour at this site it was approaching mid-day and was very hot and humid so I caught the bus back to town for some lunch.
Vale de Viñales from Dos Hermanos. A3 pen & watercolour © Sue Pownall 2011
... to be continued.

btw I'm struggling to upload the Cuban photos, but I promise to post some soon starting with cars for Michael Bailey of Paint Bytes.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Havana in sketches

Beltran hotel
Hotel Beltran © Sue Pownall 2011
I’m going to start with an apology, as my scanner is dying and I cannot get good reproductions of my drawings from Cuba, at least you can get an idea of the sketches I did.

When I arrived in Havana I stayed in an old building with a courtyard. So naturally, my first painting of the holiday was the view from my room with the magnificent blue paint work.

The next day I went to the cathedral square and found some shade in a cafe, but was feeling very self-conscious and was not pleased with the results.

Havana (17)Havana cathedral
These were the only 2 sketches I did at that time as I spent the rest of the 2 days wandering around taking photos or sleeping. It was also very hot, humid, and with intermitant rain. I was far more productive on my return to Havana for the last 2 days of my stay, but yet again I also spent a lot of time taking photos. I'll post some of those next.
From the steps
Nextdoor to Fabrica de Tabacos © Sue Pownall 2011

Rising early in the morning, my first stop was in the park next to the Capitolio Nacional, where I did a loose watercolour painting. So loose I’m not posting it. Then I walked around the back of the building and spotted some buildings crying out to be painted. Unfortunately, a security/police man told me I was not allowed to sit there, but when I explained I was an artist and just wanted half an hour to draw the buildings, he let me stay. Unfortunately, I’d have loved to stay a whole hour, but didn’t want to push my luck. btw I was working on A4 the majority of the trip and most drawings took me about an hour/hour & quarter. Whilst I was sat there one of the other guards presented me with a pink rose bud.
On Prado © Sue Pownall 2011

Next I walked down the Prado and painted two beautiful buildings both with different styles of decoration and had been adapted differently by the inhabitants. Again, I got talking to some police, who were friendly and curious, and I think probably happy to find some relief of their boredom. Unfortunately, I cannot get the colours on the scan to come out anywhere near the original and may take a photo to add here tomorrow.

Havana 3
In Plaza del Cristo © Sue Pownall 2011

My final drawing of the day was a boarded up building, but still with inhabitants on the first floor judging by the washing draped about, in Plaza del Cristo. No police this time, but a lovely old man sat on the same bench and chatted to everyone who walked past and me when there wasn’t anyone else.
 Havana (146)

Left is a photo of the building and the completed sketch in the early evening sunlight. I was very pleased with the day’s sketches, but it had been easy to sketch a lot as it had been less humid and slightly cooler than most days I spent in Cuba.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sneak peak

A building in Viñales. © Sue Pownall 2011
To wet your appetite of drawings to come from Cuba, once I get them scanned, here is a sneak peak at one of them from the first week.

Edit: I left Cuba on Tuesday night (6th) and this was posted from UK.