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Posts tagged ‘Artist’

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

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.

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 

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 

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