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Posts tagged ‘Art’

My Travel Sketchbook: View from the Hotel Gatto Bianco

I laboured long and hard over choices of where to stay in Capri. It wasn’t that the choice was overwhelming – far from it. Being small, Capri has a more limited stock of good hotels, and with even the cheapest threatening to implode the most generous of budgets, finding something of a deal was always going to be difficult. In the end, I went for the Hotel Gatto Bianco, something of an institution in Capri, which has long been a staple and celebrity haunt (aren’t they all!) thanks to its excellent position in the centre of Capri Town and, in some rooms at least, the most ravishing views over the Town and the island beyond.

We were lucky enough to enjoy one such view, and upon first encounter of our balcony, its floor delightfully tiled with multi-coloured majolica, and its railings filled to bursting with vibrant pink bougainvillea, I didn’t know where to begin in capturing it artistically. In the end, I opted to work on both views, turning inland towards the steep house-covered hillside with my sketchbook, and swiveling 180 degrees seawards for a gouache painting (yet to be revealed… coming soon!).

El Gatto Bianco

View from Room 210 of the Hotel Gatto Bianco (©2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

So here is the result. It’s a jam-packed image, and appropriately so, as Capri is something of a populated place, despite its innate exclusivity. But even despite the squeeze, given the stunning scenery and views to die for at every turn, I can well imagine that any one of the many houses captured in this sketch would be well worth the having. One day maybe…

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2019. 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: Castello Aragonese

I knew I would have to sketch the Castello Aragonese. Its mighty imposing mass, looming over the town of Ischia Ponte makes the islet and fortress the undisputable icon of the beautiful volcanic island of Ischia. It was only a question of angle.

The answer came from a cafe perfectly placed on the quayside, almost inline with the narrow causeway which leads triumphantly to the castle entrance. However, the location also provided some interest to the composition in the form of both a distant and foreground cafe structure.  And better still, taking a seat in the cafe terrace provided us with the perfect excuse to enjoy a coffee and a pastry, while before us one of Ischia’s most ravishing views unravelled, for the hungry movements of my sketch pens to devour.

Castello Aragonese

Coffee in front of the Castello Aragonese (©2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2019. 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 

Honeymoon and Hotels: Tenuta del Poggio Antico

I have spoken much of the incredible garden and grounds of the Tenuta del Poggio Antico, a hotel in Ischia which personifies the meaning of “boutique”. But I have not really addressed the views, and more particularly the views from our bedroom which were quite frankly breathtaking. Looking westwards over the sweeping bay of Citara, across to the Punta Imperatore, and across the horizon towards the tiny islands of Ventotene, the view was quite honestly jaw-droppingly beautiful. I had already promised myself, the hotel staff, and anyone else who cared to listed that I would make the most of our terrace and paint that ravishing view. But when it came to it, I was so awe-struck that I didn’t even know where to begin. Eventually, however, I did.

Our terrace benefited from every inch of that incredible view. Given its westerly direction, we enjoyed the most incredibly sunsets by night and watched the sea mist dissipate over the sea as the morning sunshine cleared a path for its golden rays. But my favourite time to enjoy this view was around about 5 in the afternoon, when we would return from a day’s sightseeing, and I would settle down to paint this…

Tenuto del Antico Poggio FINAL.jpg

View at the Tenuto del Poggio Antico (©2019, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

This view is the latest in my collection of Honeymoon and Hotels gouaches. I love it for the extent of the view it captures, but also for the creamy pinky dusky hues contrasting so starkly with that wonderful Hockney-style blue pool. It goes down in my collection as one of the favourites.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2019. Unauthorised 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.

My Travel Sketchbook: Naples

Many berate Naples for being a filthy city; strewn with graffiti, laden down by crime, full of waifs and strays wandering the menacing dark streets until visitors are so scared they depart swiftly on a ferry for Capri…Are such concerns an illusion? For me, the madness of Napoli is what makes the city so enduring alluring. Yes, it’s somewhat tragic that the local authorities turn a blind eye to the relentless street art and vandalism coating some of Italy’s most beautiful baroque palazzi. But look beyond it, and you will find a city as architecturally rich as Rome or Palermo, with countless sources of visual spectacle.

So when it came to flicking over the pages of my sketchbook from Pompeii to this great city, I was once again spoiled for choice. I settled upon a location that we discovered when we were in search of Naples’ undisputed masterpiece – Caravaggio’s Seven Acts of MercyThe painting’s location, in the Pio Monte della Misericordia is right opposite one of Naples’ smallest but most beautfiul squares, the Piazza Sisto Riario Sforza, in the centre of which stands a structure of breathtaking baroque beauty… the Obelisco di San Gennaro. And here it was that I settled down to sketch.

Naples San Gennaro.jpg

Obelisco di San Gennaro (©2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

It was an ambitious composition to choose to be sure. During the hours of sketching which proceeded, I secretly cursed all of those elaborate baroque embellishments which made the scene such a challenge to draw. I also didn’t realise at the time that the stunning domed structure which can be seen in the distance is the cupola of Naples’ Duomo. So a significant scene to sketch indeed. And at the end of my many baroque-induced struggles, I must say that I am pretty pleased with the result.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2019. 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: Pompeii

How could I not take my travel sketchbook out with me on this trip? With antiquity abound, stunning scenery and the ancient city of Naples splayed out before me, I could have sketched non-stop. Sadly, time never allows for such a frequency of activity. But it did allow for this sketch of a pile of ruins in Pompeii.

Pompeii is the kind of place which lends itself to monochrome sketching at every turn. With so many ruins, textures, half-battered statues, discarded pots and mosaics (to name but a few features), all set against a backdrop of mountains and that ubiquitous Vesuvius, I was spoilt for choice in my decision of where to open my sketchbook. In the end I opted for this place – a pile of rubble towards the exit of the archaeological site, which appeared to lack the significance attributed to some areas, but which had one very striking highlight at its heart – a magnificent bronze nude, rising from the rubble and set against a staggering mountainous panorama.

Pompeii Sketch

Pompeii Ruins (©2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

The statue itself is a modern addition to Pompeii, but by no means an unwelcome one, embodying the spirit of the place but providing a startling green/ bronze contrast to the monochrome colour of rubble and ruins. Of course the colours cannot be appreciated from this sketch in black pen, but the variance of topography it provides is what, for me, makes the landscape, and the composition of this sketch, interesting.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2019. 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 

Honeymoon and Hotels: Mareluna Napoli

Four years ago, I started what was to become a collection of gouache images of hotels. From my first image painted during our honeymoon, of our pretty pink little bedroom in the ravishing Colombe d’Or Hotel in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, with the iconic Calder mobile visible through the window and my painting tools spread on the wooden desk, a story of images was born – images which have since gone on the capture countless bedrooms and views from the many incredible hotels which have played host to us on our holidays.

As we arrived in Naples and looked onto the most ravishing views of the sea and the Castel dell’Ovo, I knew that the next chapter in my narrative of honeymoon and hotels was just around the corner, and I painted this work: Mareluna Napol, named after the hotel of the same name.

Mareluna Napoli FINAL

Mareluna Napoli (©2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

This small painting is no traditional capture of the Neapolitan landscape, but in its haphazardness drunkenness, vivacity and freshness of colour, and that centralised seaside view, it is a very much a homage to Naples. All that is missing is a pizza! But true to form, this is very much an image of our hotel room in the Mareluna Suite de Charme, whose wooden floor and ceiling contrasted dramatically with the fresh white walls and retro curved plastic ceiling light, while its wrought iron balcony so perfectly framed that resplendent view in all its Mediterranean majesty.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2019. Unauthorised 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.

Venice 201618

The Daily Norm is kicking off 2019 (better late than never!) with something of a carnival-coloured bang, by bringing to your screens a glimpse of Venice to knock back the winter blues, and add something of the decadence and Casanova spirit of La Serenissima into this bleak mid-winter. This I do with the introduction of my newest painting: “Venice 201618”. The title of the work references the fact that this painting has something of a lengthy history which pans an interesting period in my art.

I started the work shortly after returning from Venice at the very beginning of 2016. But just as I started the work, my attention was diverted by the very significant pull of Kandinsky and Las Meninas, and my period of interpretative abstracts began. Since the new Venice work no longer fitted into that line of simplified, more abstract works, I deserted the canvas and set it to one side.

Unable to dispose of this unfinished work, I brought the canvas back with me to England when we returned from Mallorca, in case the day should come when I would return to the more figurative style of painting which had dominated my pre-2016 work. That moment came late on in 2018 when, excited by the prospect of a 2019 trip to Venice, I brought out the unfinished canvas and continued with the work. It was a deeply cathartic exercise as I took this work to new levels beyond which the 2016 planning had gone, adding, for example, energetic new ripples to the centre of the work, designed to resemble the marble reflections bouncing off Venetian canals, as well as the marbled ink paper which is a typical product of the city.

Venice FINAL

Venice 201618 (©2018, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, oil on canvas)

For me, the finished work encapsulates touches of the many aspects of the Venice I love – the gondolier waiting patiently for some passengers, his glittering gondola moored nearby;  the predominance of the turquoise green of the canals, contrasting with the pinky red of the buildings; the masks of the carnevale flittering nearby like dancers whisked around the dance floor of a masquerade ball; and the steadily crumbling facades and algae-covered steps which characterise the city.

I’m delighted I was able to resurrect this work, and present it today as my true homage to a unique city.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised 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 art of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com

Painting Budapest > Great Spa City

Funnily enough, I was inspired to paint Budapest by our hotel bathroom. Simple, understated but insuperably elegant, the bathroom of the Callas House boutique hotel featured beautiful gold fittings offset against a floor of black and white marble mosaic tiles, and a basin whose lines exuded sheer classicism. That simple bathroom exemplified for me European elegance, and a painting started to form in my mind. As the image developed, it became more and more appropriate as an image representing Budapest. For the Hungarian capital is one of the great spa cities of Europe. And as we were to find out from a visit to the famous Gellért Baths, the locals benefit from the health-giving qualities of mineral rich naturally heated waters around which an industry of bathing has developed over the centuries.

Budapest FINAL

Budapest: Great Spa City (2018 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

As these factors combined, the bath became the central symbol in my painting of Budapest, featured on this post. The mineralised waters of the city are enjoyed by two bathers, while the board which traditionally crosses over a vintage bath is replaced by the iconic Chain Bridge that crosses the Danube. There too, a sparkling afternoon is on standby for he who most indulges, behind which a leafy tree represents the elegant city boulevards, offset against the famous Parliament building subsisting in a dreamy golden landscape. Finally tram cables and the tram itself encapsulates the very European spirit which fills the city.

And of course, to frame it all, I had to paint those little black and white tiles, all the way from the bathroom floor in the little elegant hotel room which inspired this work.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2018. Unauthorised 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 art of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, visit http://www.delacybrown.com

Norms go to Verona // Piazza Bra

Despite their curving frame and voluptuous figures, Norms are far from kinky, and they don’t really go for crass language, vulgar innuendo, or sexy lingerie either. So for these rather morose little figures, the Piazza Bra in Verona had nothing of the connotations which would get some tourists giggling. Rather, this impressive open space surrounding the most iconic of all Verona’s monuments – the ancient Roman arena – was seen by the Norms as nothing more or less than the momentously impressive piazza it is.

Norms VERONA Bra

Norms in the Piazza Bra (©2018, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown – pen on paper)

With the Arena behind them, and a plate of croissants, brioches and other delicacies on a table in front of them, the Norms considered that there was simply no better place than this sweeping circular square to take a coffee, enjoy a sunny breakfast and watch the world go by. It’s why they returned to the Piazza Bra for their breakfast everyday as a perfect launch pad from which to enjoy this city of wonders. And they weren’t the only ones…as the pop star fans, the Romeo and Juliet, the morning dog walkers, the loved up couples, the stern bodyguards and the tourists aplenty in this sketch will tell you. See if you can spot them all 🙂

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

Terracotta Collective: Poolside on Mirabello Bay

I can well imagine how Hockney must have felt, when he first left the subdued isles of the UK and arrived in Los Angeles to an explosion of colour characterised by vibrant tropical plants, uninterrupted blue skies, flashy modern architecture and of course those dazzling turquoise pools, rippling and reacting to the burning ball of sunshine overhead. No wonder those pools in their respective post-modern garden spaces inspired Hockney to commit them to canvas. What a startling sight those rectangles of electric blue are for any artist… and yet it’s funny to think that before Hockney, few had ever tried to capture the pool in a painting. Perhaps they were scared of the insuperable challenge of capturing sun on water. Not me. The moment I laid eyes on our rectangle of cerulean happiness, I knew I would paint it, ripples, reflection and all.

Terracotta Collective POOL

Poolside on Mirabello Bay (©2018, Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, acrylic on canvas)

Continuing the theme of my previous Cretan artwork, working up from a painting base splashed with a terracotta undercoat, I committed myself to capturing every aspect of our marvellous villa, and the view which made it such a stunning place to stay. So having tackled the pool, which thrusts its vivacious way into the canvas like an electric eel fully charged by ultraviolet, I moved onto the mountainous landscape which so masterfully framed our view. For me, the vision of overlapping mountainous strata, in every shade of mauve and pale ultramarine, is the very archetype of Greece. And here we had the perfect specimen, to enjoy every day, and now to capture on canvas.

So with a few touches of stone surround and aspects of the lush greenery which kept our garden fresh, I finished this ode to our paradise pool. Much inspired, and as wide eyed with poolside wonder as Hockney must have been when he first arrived in LA, I decided that this pool painting would be only the first. And true to my instinct, I have already started the followup… a true homage to the pool and the beauty of Crete which surrounded 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