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Posts from the ‘sketchbook’ Category

Breakfast at La Baita

Autumn is a love-hate time for me. On the one hand, I relish the new spectacle of fiery colours transforming the landscape from green lushness to a wealth of auburn warmth. On the other, I bemoan the passing of my favourite season of Summer, and the conclusion of my sun-drenched travels, which feel as though they have ended before they even begun. But in this latter respect, I have an antidote, right around the corner from my London home; a place where I can go and feel every inch as though I am back on holiday, surrounded by the vivacity of the Sicilian spirit, and food to match the very best Italian fare: La Baita on Clapham Common.

Located at the very centre of the Common, alongside the grand Victorian bandstand after which the cafe is named, from a distance you would assume La Baita is your bog-standard park cafe selling bacon butties and ice cream. However the Italian name signifies that this cafe is more than your British norm. Rather, run by Sicilians and southern Italians with a true passion for the food of their great nation, it is a fantastic little eatery with food so good that I have never found an Italian restaurant in London to beat it.

Clapham Bandstand

Breakfast at La Baita (2018© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Whether it be because of the fine food, the passionate staff, or the beauty of its parkland surroundings, La Baita has become our “local” in every sense of the word. Some weekends we even go twice a day! So it felt only natural that over our last few visits, I should capture the cafe’s terrace in my sketchbook, at the season’s leafy best. After all, it won’t be long before those leaves have fallen ground-wards, and the terrace of La Baita becomes paved with a transient crispy carpet of auburn gold.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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 Travel Sketchbook: Ancient Rubble in Jerez Cathedral

Having dusted off the pages of my travel sketchbook twice now this summer, once in Crete and again in Cadiz, I was on a roll, and it felt only natural that I would get drawing again once we had arrived in Jerez. However, while a natural choice for a sketch might have been the impressive baroque dome of the city’s Cathedral, rising over the skyline, or perhaps a barrel or three at one of Jerez’s famous bodegas, my attention was caught by a pile of ancient rubble looking rather abandoned in a corner of some sunny cloisters, hidden at the back of the Cathedral.

I can’t tell you how the rubble came to be in the Cathedral, nor exactly how ancient it is, but the splendid mix of lines and angles, dimensions and textures was a real temptation for me, and I set to work almost immediately, taking great care over the shadows cast and the rough texture remaining from these once fine architectural elements.

Jerez Ruins

Ancient Rubble, Jerez de la Frontera (©2018 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

The result is a sketch which shows very little of Jerez itself, but certainly captures something of the historically rich, often dilapidated fabric of this beautiful Andalucian city. And for that reason alone, it seems like an appropriate note on which to end this series on Cadiz and Jerez… until Southern Spain beckons again. It won’t be long in coming.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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 Travel Sketchbook: The Parque Genovés

The curves, the twirls, the uninhibited wonder of the topiary of the Parque Genovés could not help but sew the seeds of creation in my head. From one creator to another, the spirit of free and unhindered artistry traversed the air like pollen flying on a Summer’s breeze. Within minutes of entering this verdant wonderland I put pen to paper, and this was the result.

Sat on a bench in this hallway of manicured box-hedge, it was difficult to feel totally at ease. Somehow those twisted and tailored trees took on an anthropomorphic quality; like statesman gathering for a discussion of grave national import. Yet at the same time, the quality of the air, filtered through a haze of botanical layering, and the sound of nearby birds fluttering from one crafted bush to another, induced a somniferous sense of tranquility which pervaded the moment, and this sketch.

Parque Genovés

The Parque Genovés, Cadiz (©2018, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

Lucky I had my trusty travel sketchbook with me to capture this scene. As gardens go, the Parque Genovés is a true mark of humankind getting creative with nature, and nature seemingly condescending to the mark of beauty which ensnares it.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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 Travel Sketchbook: Chania Harbour

It’s been a long time since I took out travel sketchbook. Not since Aix-en-Provence have I set pen to paper, and yet I suppose there’s plenty of argument for London being sufficient source of sketching inspiration. Sadly, this life of ours does not provide time for everything, but our Cretan Odyssey was one such occasion which felt apt for a little sketching. So to Crete we return (after our brief sojourn in Sussex) and onto the pages of my sketchbook which had turned their sights in the direction of Chania’s stunning little Venetian harbour.

Chania Harbour

Chania’s Venetian Harbour, looking East (©2018 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

When we first arrived out our hotel in Chania, and stepped onto the balcony, light met our eyes with a dazzling intensity as the Grecian sunshine reflected off the cerulean sea and onto the glimmering whites and creams of the painted harbourside buildings. As an artist, spoilt for choice was to put it mildly. I could have painted and sketched and taken inspiration from 50 or so details of the awe-inspiring views set out before us. But sadly, time was short. With only 4 days to enjoy the vistas, I set about painting the view looking East in the evenings, when the sun from the West illuminated the mosque and the surrounding buildings, and in the mornings, I would turn Westwards, to this beautiful view of the harbour curving its way around the sea, like a mother’s embrace of the ocean – her favourite child.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. 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 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 

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