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Posts tagged ‘Artist’

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.

Norms in Cambridge // Punting on the River Cam

If the battle between Oxford and Cambridge was to be determined by the choice of the Norms, it looks like the latter may have won it. For here we see that the Norms have ventured as far as Cambridge where, on the delightful River Cam, they are idling their way through the afternoon on punts and pastures, picnicking, relaxing and generally enjoying life like a scene from a pointillist landscape by Seurat.

Cambridge Norms

Norms punting in Cambridge ©2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper

Upon closer examination, one can see that a fair few of the Norms have a glass in hand or a bottle nearby. But then this is a university town, where hard work is followed swiftly by revel and play. The Norms have decided to skip the former stage and move straight onto the reveling. And why not? For as far as summertime indulgence goes, there aren’t many places better than Cambridge to do it.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2019. 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: Garden of the Gonville Hotel

Cambridge is not all that far from London, but when we visited over the Easter weekend, we wanted to truly relax. And such a state was never going to be possible if we were day-tripping, with all the stress that repeated train travel would inevitably entail. Pampering campaign commenced and justified, we opted for a hotel stay in Cambridge, bedding down for the night at the Gonville Hotel, a delightfully appointed boutique establishment just off Parker’s Piece, one of the city’s largest stretches of green.

Our hotel stay was a real treat. The entire accommodation was designed with style in mind. Elegant colours, textures and fabrics combined with modern lighting, plush contemporary furniture, and all the mod cons to create an experience replete with comfort. Our bedroom had its own terrace, a soft lavish bed piled with mountains of snow-soft cushions, a little seating area, and even our first taste of Netflix. But best of all things, it had its own private garden, resplendent with a soft bouncy lawn, trees bursting into blossom, and a feel of careful but decadent neglect.

Gonville Garden sketch

Garden of the Gonville Hotel, ©2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper

It was in that garden that we spent a good deal of time relaxing after the excitement of the city, taking the time out to rest in the sun, revel in the simple purity of birdsong, and drink some tea, as one must in England. It was there that I once again opened my travel sketchbook, drawing this sketch of that very garden.

It is a simple image, or perhaps the simplicity is in the collection of roughly piled bricks it depicts. But they were a sight which caught my eye when I saw them, late in the afternoon sun, dappled with sunlight and surrounded by trees not quite in bloom. The sketch started as something of an exercise of angles and shadows, and ended up being one of my favourites of my sketchbook.

It was a truly tranquil spot in which to engage in a little sketching, and a marvellous hotel in which to extend and augment our Cambridge stay.

© 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: St John’s College, Cambridge

It’s been some time since I opened up the pages of my travel sketchbook. I had to wipe from the cover a layer of dust accumulated since I was last inspired to sketch, under the trees of Clapham Common last summer. The delay between sketches can’t be helped. I am largely creatively barren in the winter, as the minimal light and the discomfort of cold place something of a turgid dampener upon my creative energies. When the sun (and the summertime) came back last weekend, my sketchbook opened up with it. It just so happened that I was in Cambridge when this moment occurred, and I was inspired to make this little sketch with my customary pen and paper method.

St Johns sketch

St John’s College, Cambridge (©2019 Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

While the method has little tolerance for errors, I like the spontaneity of applying pen directly to the paper. It allows me to progress rapidly on site, although this particular sketch was completed a little afterwards, in the tranquil surroundings of our leafy hotel garden. I think the tranquility of both the original spot, and the subsequent finishing-place rubbed off on this image. It is one which sums up the historical magnificence of one of Cambridge’s most famous sights – the Bridge of Sighs of St. John’s College – while the still waters and leafy river bank are characteristic of what is a very green and halcyon city.

It was a perfect spot for sketching, and one apt in which to begin a new season of Travel Sketchbooking.

© 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 

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