Monday, 31 March 2014

Essaouira Part Three - The Medina Walls

The North West side of the Medina faces the sea and the coast there is very rocky.  I was able to get a better view of the sea walls by venturing out at low tide.  On one occasion I did not quite make it back to shore before the tide came in and had wet feet for the rest of the morning.  Both the following paintings were done in the teeth of a very strong down-coast wind that at one point lifted the easel jammed between my knees and I only just caught it as it swept over my head!

The Medina Walls from the rocks (8x10)

The Medina Walls From The Rocks (8x12)
 The classic view of the Medina is from the Port Gate:

Unfinished Classic View of the Medina
I was not happy with this and abandoned it but since returning I have decided to work on it as I have nothing to lose by so doing.

Under The Medina Walls (7x10)
Looking back towards the port one evening after an excursion onto the rocks, I noticed how the light was striking a lovely shadow and people were beginning to sit on the sea wall to catch the last strong rays of the sun:

The Sea Wall, Evening (10x12)
In the evening stillness at high tide one could also catch some nice reflections of the Medina walls:

Reflections In The Rock Pool (10x7)
Part of the Medina wall facing the sea is a 'Skala' or gun battery with extra fortifications.  This acrylic sketch was done on our last morning from inside the Skala wall at 'Bab Skala' (the Skala Gate):

Unfinished Acrylic of The Bab Skala (approx 10x11)
The next part of the Essaouira blog will cover the port.

Essaouira Part Two - Inside The Medina

The Medina offers endless possibilities but gets very crowded after mid-morning.  Eric Davis and I sketched early so we could establish where things were without getting in everyone's way.  Then I tended to paint outside the walls. 

The Moulay Hassan square was convenient for its own sake and also close to good views of the Medina walls:

Place Moulay Hassan - Late Morning (10x12)

Place Moulay Hassan - Mid-afternoon (8x12)

Place Moulay Hassan - Late Afternoon (8x10)
 The other main street had the clock tower in it:

I rushed this one and wished I had chosen a better angle.  The avenue also provided a view back towards the Bab Doukala:

Avenue oqba Ibn Nafiaah (8x10)
The sketches were done in pen and coloured in a little with brush pens:

Communal Tap, Ben Achia

Towards Bab Marrakech

Avenue L'Istiqlal

By Souk Jdid
The next blog part will cover the Medina walls, particularly the sea wall seen from the rocks at low tide.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Essaouira Part One - The Forts

At last I have found some time to record the great trip we had to Morocco earlier in the month.  We were there from 12 to 19 March and over the 6 full days and the final morning I did 31 small paintings and numerous pen sketches of Essaouira.  Apart from the warm if windy weather and the fascinating life that exists within the Medina, what I found most attractive about the location was the variety.  When you are tired of street scenes you move to the port.  When fishing boats are no longer firing you up you move to the rocky coastline and when that palls, you move to the beach.  There is always something to paint in Essaouira.

I thought I would divide the blog into sections that cover particular locations.  The scenery with the most 'pull' for me was the sea and islands off the North side of the town.  The Port Fort (Skala de Port) has such an irresitible shape that it crept into many of the oil sketches.

I think this was the first one I did, from under the Medina wall:

The Port Fort and Island Fort - Early Morning (8x12)

As the sun moves round in the morning the whole scene becomes contre jour :

Port Fort Contre Jour  (7x9)
 I was drawn back several times to this view or one looking more towards the island fort:
Midday Under The Medina Wall (10x8)

The Island Fort 7x9

Island Fort - Sunlit Sea (7x9)

Port Fort From The Medina Wall (10x8)

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Why Is This Google Software Playing Up?

It doesn't seem to matter whether I am using Chrome or Explorer I am having allsorts of problems with things that used to be very straightforward. For example to correct allsorts to all sorts I would have to delete right back to the original error.  Pictures are much harder to place and inserting captions is a nightmare.  I have a Masters in the Design of Information Systems and this one currently gets 1/10 - at least it is free and available - just.  I shall be scouting around for a blog provider with intuitively easy and reliable software.  As Sam Goldwyn famously said  (but not to Google) 'you've improved it worse'.

Am I a victim of planned obsolescence?  I still use the XP operating system but that should not make any difference because it is the browser that is interpreting the HTML not the OS.  It is a mystery but very time-consumingly annoying! Perhaps I should give up Google for Lent.  Twenty years ago Alta Vista was the browser to use but then personal computing was still in its youth.

ROI Friends Day

Terry 1
Last Thursday some ROI 'Friends' and members assembled at the Winsor and Newton (now in the ColArt group) headquarters just west of Holland Park.  We painted Terry - a wonderful model who sat for all the morning and afternoon.  Last time we did many small studies and I had assumed that the format would be the same so only had small boards.  As Terry was asked to do a single pose I moved round a little to give myself some variety.  I did 3 sketches.  Terry has a wonderful head and it was a joy to paint! Here they are in order:

Terry 3 - With Sue Edwards in background

Terry 10x8

Actually the last one shown was the second one painted but as I am having so much trouble with this crap software I will simply leave them in that order.  Finally a pic of Ian Cryer, Bill Dean and Alice Hall packing up, with Terry lurking near the door:

Wet Wet Wet Continued

I am having real trouble editing these posts. 

Doing them in small chunks might be better.  We went to our favourite place to stay in Dorset recently and before the walk each day (along sections of the South Coast Path) I managed several tiny studies of local flowers:

Primroses In A Copper Bowl 5x7 inches

Then more still life on our return:

Clementines And A Pomegranate 8x8 inches

Still Life With Chinese Figurine 9x11

So, although I have missed the Plein Air buzz I feel that I have kept going and looking at the log I have already clocked up 50 small paintings this year.  The next blog will report on the Royal Institute of Oil Painters' 'Paint In' at the Winsor and Newton HQ.

Wet Wet Wet

Unlike braver souls I have not been out much.  Michael Worthington and I struggled over to Dorchester on Thames in late January but it was 4 times wider than usual and racing along.  I had better luck on Otmoor at the start of the year but this view is normally a dry track through woodland:

Flooded Track, Otmoor 9x7 inches

To keep myself going I have been trying simple still life subjects in the early morning:

Grapes And Clementines 8x10

I have also been playing with pastels to see if any of the smaller Venice sketches I made in 2011 or 2012 would scale up or could be made into a different sort of picture:

Zitelle from The Zaterre - Pastel 11x9