Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Essaouira Part Five - The Cantina Square

I am sure this has a proper name but it is a small square at the north end of Avenue Sidi Mohamed ben Addellah and in one corner is La Cantina, a cafĂ© owned by a lovely english lady.  I only have a pen sketch of La Cantina and the shop next door:

La Cantina from the sketchbook

I had two sessions in the square, both very enjoyable.  The first one tackled the shop in the NW corner:

Clothes and Art Shop, Cantina Square (12x8)
 Then I had a long stretch doing three paintings in the square from the closed shop next to La Cantina, on our last full day:

'Mosaique' (10x7)

Two Doors, Cantina Square (7x10)

Cantina Square, Early Evening (10x8)

One morning early I pitched at some closed shop doorways at the Cantina end of Ave Sidi Mohamed ben Addellah.  I started to paint but then the shop owner arrived and opened up.  He was trying to put out his beautiful wooden wares - boxes and lanterns - but I was in the way so I said I would move.  He insisted I stayed put and later on offered me a cup of tea.  I wonder if I would have got the same kindness from a British shop.

By The Box-Maker's Shop (10x7)

When I had finished and waited for him to finish his prayers, I bought a small box.  Michael and I returned there to buy two much larger boxes for our wives and were shown round his tiny workshop.  We were both amazed at how, with a few handtools and some old blocks of Thuya wood and lemon tree, he could create such exquisite things.

Essaouira Part Four - The Port

The port is one of the busiest on the coast with large and small vessels landing their catches and constant activity both in the water and on shore.  Most of the day-to-day fishing (well night fishing really) seems to be done from very small open boats of a dictinctly 'Portugese-looking' design and powered by outboards.

My first proper excursion was not a happy one.  I was nursing a monumental headache that painkillers just didn't want to shift.  I took acrylics and managed to drop some brushes into the harbour, get myself covered in Titanium White when my sleeve caught it without me realising and almost lose my water pot when I tipped it over and it rolled to the edge of the harbour wall.  Somehow I managed two acrylic paintings, neither of which I was particularly pleased with:
Boats And Slipway (9x7)

Large Boats On Slipways (9x11 approx - acrylic)
Things improved later.  The headache began to recede and i then enjoyed doing this one of small boys diving into the area where some of the small boats are moored:

Blue Boats And Boys (8x10)

On the other side of the arch is another little mooring pool that drains at high tide.  I had three goes at the scene, the best one being this view caught just as the tide was coming in:

Rising Tide (10x8)
The other two were 12x8s in which I tried to catch more of the foreground water but they are rather dull and will need livening up or 'wiping'.

Michael Worthington and I also had a morning in the port later on.  Again, I was not particularly happy with my efforts - just too much going on and I should have chosen really simple subjects:

Small Boats In The Port (10x8)

Large Boats In The Port (10x8)

I think the first painting could be turned into something bigger as I did a couple of pen sketches, took notes and actually remembered to get out my camera.  The next part of the Essaouira blog will concentrate on the 'Cantina' square inside the Medina.