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Posts tagged ‘Sketch’

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 

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 

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 

Norms go to Verona // Piazza delle Erbe

The Norms have come to the end of their Verona trip, and if they had heels, they would have dragged them deep indeed to stay a little longer in this magical city. Sentimental as ever, the Norms are marking their sad departure with a sojourn in the Piazza where it all began… the Piazza delle Erbe, at the city’s epicentre.

It’s a perfect place to recollect their adventures in Verona. For the Piazza delle Erbe presents as a kaleidoscope of city life, as small fragments from across its demographic burst in a series of slow motion captures across the square. There are the children playing in the fountain, there the dog drinking it’s water. There is the ice cream seller, a queue of Norms awaiting a treat, and here in the Piazza’s grandest cafe, Norms sip cocktails in keen admiration of the scene before them.

Norms VERONA Piazza Erbe

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

Ah Verona, how the Norms will miss you.

© 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.

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.

Norms go to Verona // The Castel Vecchio Bridge

The Norms are enjoying Verona like no city before or since, and are in fact so guilty of over-indulgence at the Giardino Giusti that they fell asleep among the lush box tree hedges, and work up quite pink and overheated. Nothing then like a refreshing riverside walk to take down the Norms’ temperature a bit. So on their way back to their central digs, the Norms have taken a moment to enjoy the Adige River.

Here we see the Norms as they admire one of Verona’s most iconic sights: the Castel Vecchio Bridge which is unique for many reasons. First its red-brick segmental span which was the widest in Europe when it was first constructed back in the 14th Century. Then there’s its unique integration within the fabric of the eponymous Castel Vecchio, providing its original resident – Cangrande II della Scalla Norm – with the perfect escape-route in case of attack. Finally there are those lovely fortress like spiked points which characterise the bridge, but make the soft and jelly-like Norms feel a little nervous if they’re perfectly honest.

Norms VERONA Ponte

Norms at the Castel Vecchio, Verona (2018 ©Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, pen on paper)

No wonder that these Norms are keeping their distance then, be it viewing the bridge from the distance of a leafy river bank, or via the white-knuckle experience of water-rafting. Wooohooo! That should get their appetite up for a perfect night’s dinner in Verona.

© 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.