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Posts from the ‘sketchbook’ Category

My Travel Sketchbook: A Fountain in Aix

I dragged my trusty travel sketchbook all the way down to the South of France, and in my bag from Marseille to Cassis to L’Estaque. Yet it wasn’t until we got to Aix-en-Provence that I was inspired to take it out, and begin sketching the romantically quaint streets of this Provençal gem. Aix is a town of such interrupted charm that any part of the place could have been picked at random and replicated as a painting or sketch. Yet for me, Aix’s enduring appeal arises in the trickling of its fountains, be they wall-mounted masterpieces or the large round basins from which statues peruse the streets and spray water high into the air while around them diners sit and enjoy the somniferous trickle.

A study of Aix’s many fountains could easily occupy a day, at the very least, especially if you take time to sit back and enjoy a glass or two of rosé wine alongside their ripped waters. It was a study which inspired my painting of Aix’s many fountains shortly after my last trip to the city, yet the hours of work which that painting required did not render them commonplace in my eyes. Rather, it was one of my favourites of the lot – the fountain just off the Cours Mirabeau, with a three dimensional star crowning its apex- which finally encouraged me to reopen my sketchbook to the light of day. This is the result.

Aix Sketch

Aix, street detail (©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, 2017, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

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My Sicily Sketchbook: An Aperol in Taormina

Just when it looked like the Daily Norm’s Sicily series was at a close, I have a few final hurrahs to add to the collection, in the form of Sicily inspired artworks, naturally. The first is this one, a further page of the second volume of my trusty travel sketchbook, which was started in Catania and went with me along my travels across the south east of Italy’s most inspiring island. This sketch depicts the Piazza 9 Aprile in the bustling little hilltop town of Taormina.

Taormina Sketch

Drinks on the Piazza 9 Aprile, Taormina (© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, 2017, pen on paper)

Given its reputation as the Capri of Sicilia, Taormina is a town aptly peppered with plenty of boutique designer stores, baroque embellished houses and a panoply of cafes, their tables spilling out onto the black and white chequerboard pavements. It was in one such café that I began this sketch, an aperol spritz appropriately placed on the table before me, while around us, street musicians provided the perfect accompaniment to a wonderful afternoon moment. But the aperol did not last long, and soon enough we were off to dinner. The completion of this sketch had to wait, therefore, until many weeks later back in a decidedly less Sicilian UK… hence its delayed publication on The Daily Norm. But as they say, better late than never…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

My Sicily Sketchbook: Cattedrale di Noto

It was the evenings in Noto that we enjoyed the most. Strolling down the Corso Vittorio Emanuele with the sun sinking straight ahead to the West lent an ephemeral golden light to the time of the passeggiata stroll, touching people’s heads with a radiant halo, and reflecting wonderfully across every shiny surface, each café table top, ice cream kiosk and resplendent baroque building.

From the first of these euphoric evenings onwards, we found ourselves a local haunt. The Chiosco della Cattedralle was a cafe sprawling out of an old fashioned gelato kiosk which benefitted from an unrivalled position in front of the sweeping staircase leading up to Noto’s Cathedral of Saint Nicholas. Appropriate, give the name, that I should feel so comfortable there, although my partner was likewise a fan – for there we could enjoy the best affogato al caffe in town, while the prosecco packed a mean punch too.

Cattedrale di Noto 2

Cattedrale di Noto (Pen on paper, ©2017 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

So with affogato, prosecco, a book (for Dominik) and a sketchbook (for me) we would hang out each evening in front of our favourite cathedral view, and it was in those delirious moments of complete calm that I set about sketching the marvellous vista before us. Of course being baroque, the facade of Noto’s cathedral is pretty much as complex as they get, and there was no way I was going to attempt to capture it all. Contenting myself instead to a small portion of the mighty facade, I created this work, a sketch which remained mercifully free of drips of melted affogato, but which nevertheless retains for me the beautiful spirit of those golden summer evenings in one of the most beautiful towns in Italy.

IMG_1826

Sketching in Noto…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

My Sicily Sketchbook: Bellini’s Fountain, Catania

It’s been a while since I last opened the pages of my travel sketchbook. I believe the last time was in sunny Granada, almost one year ago, when I sat in Andalucian cafes, happily sketching away at views of the Alhambra and the rooftops of the Albayzín. In fact part of the problem (asides from a vast international house move from which I am still recovering) is the fact that with my last sketch, I filled the final page of my first travel sketchbook, and there was something about starting a new volume which I found daunting, especially because this one is a sexy Fabriano sketchbook, with a ravishing red cover designed to resemble the tiles of San Marco’s basilica in Venice.

But as I suppose was inevitable, it was the bright light and the perfumed air of the Mediterranean which had me taking out my sketching pens once again to create this first creation of my new travel sketchbook vol.2. This deliciously baroque fountain, with four handsome dolphins spitting water across a round stone pool, sits at the centre of the Piazza Vincenzo Bellini in the heart of Catania, Sicily. Celebrating the life of Catania’s favourite son, opera composer Vincenzo Bellini, the Piazza is also the location of the resplendent Teatro Bellini, which can be seen to the right of the fountain.

Catania Sketch

Bellini’s Fountain, Catania (©2017, Nicholas de-Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Requiring an awful lot of details and the challenge of drawing water to boot, this sketch was my first lesson in how tricky the baroque details of Sicily can prove. But it made for an enjoyable and meditative experience, and is a welcome first page of my new travel sketchbook.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the artwork of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com 

My Granada Sketchbook: La Plaza Bib-Rambla

I’ve lost count of quite how many pages my leather-bound moleskin sketchbook has. What I do know is that it has been my trusty travel companion for over 2 years now, from the first tentative sketches in Dubrovnik in May 2014, through to Capri, Marbella, Mallorca, Venice, Vienna and of course Granada to name but a few. And finally, with its corners now thoroughly battered and its pages filled, I have reached the last page of the sketchbook, and drawn my last sketch.

Between you and me, my last page was actually the rooftops of the Albayzín which I shared on The Daily Norm last week. It was an appropriate last sketch, since with its terracotta tiled rooftops it very closely resembled the first sketch I made in Croatia, albeit that there has been a clear improvement in my technique (practice makes perfect). But today’s sketch, while  being the first I undertook in Granada, is the last I have to share from my sketchbook of plenty.

Granada Bib Rambla

Tree in the Plaza Bib-Rambla, Granada (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

The scene was set for this sketch in the beautiful Plaza Bib-Rambla, a tranquil leafy square a stone’s throw from Granada’s imposing cathedral, and a real centre point for restaurants and cafes, and a place merely to relax surrounded by flowerbeds full of roses. When I sat down to make the sketch, my initial strokes made to shape the image of the rather unusual fountain, complete with ogres holding up the main basin of water, which sits at the centre of the square. But within seconds of starting, my attention was captured by this beautifully bumpy looking tree standing by a kiosk near the cafe where we were enjoying afternoon tea. So I quickly changed tack and the result was this far less clichéd, much more atmospheric sketch.

And with that, my sketchbook is at an end, a true testament to my travels and my enjoyment of capturing those experiences on paper. It will not be my last sketch however, of that I am sure. Once a new sketchbook is purchased, the journey will continue…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

My Granada Sketchbook: Rooftops of the Albayzín

I love people watching, especially over a coffee in the most chic of cafeterias, but I love view-watching more. It’s why I always ask a hotel for the best view they have available and so often they come up trumps. This was very much the case during my recent stay at the Casa 1800 Hotel in Granada where a room with terrace provided exceptional inspiration for a painting of the Alhambra seen from our own exclusive viewing space. But this was a terrace with much to offer, and sat looking the other way, we were able to enjoy an equally appealing view of the ancient rooftops of the Albayzin.

Famed for its tiny narrow maze like streets and its historical Islamic heritage, the Albayzin is one of the most iconic areas of Granada. Seen from above, it is just as alluring, as layer upon layer of rickety roof tops and old wooden balconies appear to interweave like a well-trodden tapestry. Keen to capture the sight, I set about sketching it in my now almost complete travel sketchbook.

Granada Albayzín Rooftops

Rooftops of the Albayzín (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

I never imagined there would be so many terracotta tiles to draw, but as I sat on our terrace slowly executing the piece I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the monotony of it all!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

My Granada Sketchbook: Patio de Daraxa

Sometimes it can be pretty unnerving sketching in public, especially when to do so means being sat in the heart of a tourist location. Very quickly, the budding artist finds themselves being subsumed into the attraction itself, and becoming every bit the focus of the tourists´gaze. This is the position in which I found myself in the Alhambra when, desperate to sit down in a shady spot after hours of queuing and touring the mammoth complex of the Alhambra, the Alcazaba and the Nazrid Palace, we found a perfect little bench in the Patio de Daraxa, an idyllic little shady garden set at the very heart of the palace complex.

With a direct view onto the patio’s ancient fountain, its water sparkling in the light, and surrounded by the intricately trimmed box-tree hedges, fragrant orange and cypress trees, and agapanthus flowers dancing around in a gentle breeze, I knew that I had to capture the essence of this space in my sketchbook. So reaching more my pen, I started nervously mapping out the space, hoping to do homage to the perfect symmetry which the Moorish inhabitants had executed with such precision. However no sooner had I placed pen to paper, than tourists, without any kind of timid apology, started peering onto the page, beckoning their friends closer, taking my photo and waiting stubbornly for the completion of the piece. That never happened. After only a basic sketch I retired from the spot, unable to bare the intensity of the tourists´gaze any longer.

Granada Garden Alhambra

Patio de Daraxa, Alhambra (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

 

This sketch was finished over coffee in one of my favourite haunts in Marbella. Despite that, I believe it still captures the magical spirit of that perfect Alhambra resting place.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

My Granada Sketchbook: Alhambra Aniconism

Andalucia, perhaps the most iconic region of Spain – the land of flamenco and polka dots, sun-scarred landscapes and toreros – owes a huge bulk of its entire identity to the cultural and aesthetic character of the Nasrid dynasty of Al Andalus, the islamic rule which gives the area its name. Despite having been flushed out by the reconquering Catholics, the arabic influence lives strong in the region, from the wailing arabesque of the flamenco cry, to the geometric imagery which characterises the multi-coloured ceramic tiles lining the walls of traditional patio gardens in practically every Spanish house.

The predominance of geometric patterns in Arabic art resulted as a cleverly constructed, beautifully executed solution to the rule of aniconism, that is the proscription in Islam against the creation of images of sentient beings. The most absolute proscription is of images of God in Islam, followed by depictions of Muhammad, and then Islamic prophets and the relatives of Muhammad, but the depiction of all humans and non-human animals is likewise discouraged. The result, especially in the times of Al Andalus when the style was still finding its feet, was to decorate palaces not only with geometric patterns, but also with calligraphy and the barely representational foliage patterns of the arabesque.

The palace of the Alhambra in Granada is renowned for boasting some of, if not the best examples of early Islamic wall decoration in the world, and it is the plethora of incredibly intricate wall calligraphy there, surrounded by delicate renderings of foliage patterns, which inspired my next Granada sketch.

Granada Motif Alhambra

Alhambra wall detail (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Spelling out what I believe inscribes the Nasrid motto “There is no victor but Allah” (but correct me if I’m wrong) – this is a pattern which can be found repeated endlessly around the palace as a kind of freeze above and below relentlessly repeated geometric constructs in the most splendid and mind-bogglingly calculated patterns. When I came to sketch just this tiny portion, it made me fully realise the astonishing detail with which the Alhambra decoration has been created. No wonder it is today the most visited of all attractions in Spain.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

My Granada Sketchbook: Alhambra, viewed from the Albayzín

I have just returned from Andalucia in Southern Spain. It’s an annual pilgrimage to a place which inspires me deep from within its passionately romantic soul. While the old town of Marbella, in a house radiated by the fragrant perfume of jasmine, is always my base, each year I try to embellish my trip with a sampling of the region’s rich cultural offerings. This year it was the turn of Granada, a true jewel of the Iberian Peninsula, a city so rich in cultural and religious heritage that from one street to another you find yourself whisked across different centuries and richly divergent cultures.

A combination of 4 nights in Granada followed by 12 in Marbella meant for a trip front-loaded by inspirational madness, and a fortnight which then provided ample opportunity to live out the fruit of those ideas. This meant that my trusty sketchbook went with me not just in Granada, where I would sketch sat in shady plazas, and in the echoing gardens of the Alhambra, but also in Marbella, where every morning I got into the habit of finishing off my Granada sketches over a rich coffee and a slice of spongy bizchoco.

Granada Mirador Alhambra

The Alhambra viewed from the Mirador San Nicolas, Granada (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Today, I considered this sketch to be the best way to start my Granada tales, for it shows perhaps the most famous Granada view – the stunning Alhambra palace as viewed from the Mirador de San Nicolas, with the might of the Sierra mountains behind it. I’m not going to talk too much about the Alhambra for now… that time will surely arise as I share my Granada adventure with you. But for now I hope you enjoy this first of 9 works created on this very inspirational trip. I look forward to sharing them all with you.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com

My travel sketchbook: Hvar

I’ve already described those dying moments of a creamy honey-coloured sunset when we sat in the perfectly picturesque port of Hvar, the indulgently exclusive little island off the coast of Croatia, waiting for our ferry to take us back to Split. The ferry arrived late, a fact which might have caused vexation were it not for the opportunity it provided for the commencement of a new sketch in my trusty travel sketchbook. That same enthusiastically filled moleskin book was mercifully one item which the woefully incapable lost luggage services of Vueling did not have at their relentless disposal, and constantly, deprived of my paints, I was at least able to sketch out the most significant and happy episodes from our trip.

The beauty of Hvar Town’s little harbour, looking over to the Italianate cathedral of St Stephen’s, was one view which could not go unaccounted for as I embarked upon my last sketch of the trip. Here is the result, hoping as ever that in its creation and subsequent sharing, I can relive with you a little of those special moments of our brief Croatian summer.

Hvar

Hvar (2016 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at www.delacybrown.com