Last weekend we have been visiting a friend in Amsterdam. It was my first visit to the city and in fact to the Netherlands, and it was a pleasant and interesting stay.
I’ve been surprised by how many buildings in the city centre lost their alignment, due to the instability of the soil underneath. I find amazing how the houses stay habitable and still look pretty and well-kept.
The weather was hot and dry, as in many places in Europe and around the world, and the vegetation was suffering a lot. The contrast with the greenhouses and gardens of the Hortus Botanicus was striking.
I even found time to sketch a bit, and chose three different windows from the houses around the square where we were stopping for a drink.
I’d like to come back to visit more landmarks and get a better picture of everyday life. If any of you have been to Amsterdam and surroundings and wish to share impressions and tips, I’d be very grateful!
Berlin is known for being a capital city with extensive green areas, both within the city and around it. Many wooded areas include waterways and lakes, and are beloved hiking destinations for Berliners and tourists.
A wonderful collection of hikes has been made available by the Berlin Forestry Commission, on the city’s website and in two books (as far as I know, only in German, but the level of German is not scary. Anyway, it is always possible to translate the webpages on the fly.). I have bought the books and regularly pick a destination for our weekend’s tours, and so far I have been very happy about the choice of trails, the thorough informations about landmarks along the path, and the reasonable length of each hike. I tend to make few pictures while I walk, so here are two pictures from Lake Tegel that I made some time ago:
I hope this tip will come handy for your next Berlin visit!
I found a few pictures from our last trip to Trentino and I thought about my strong feeling of belonging to that region. I lived there four years, and left with sorrow, as I quickly grew attached to its landscapes and peculiar history – human and natural, back to the dinosaurs and the ammonites in Trento’s pavements.
Every time I come back there, I feel an increasingly impatient joy when recognising mountain peaks, buildings, landmarks, and finally breathe again the many scents that were so familiar, and the overall freshness of the air. I definitely feel coming back home, then I feel puzzled because my home is currently somewhere else. Are they comparable? Will my current home ever become similarly familiar and yet remote, at the favour of some other corner of the Earth?
It’s hard to say. When I lived in South Africa I had the same feeling of home. I wonder how I would feel if I travelled back there.
“Landscapeito” is John Muir Law’s name for mini-landscape drawing (by adding the Spanish diminutive –ito). John succeeded in motivating me to draw more often, because this technique offers a few goals at my arm’s (or pencil’s) reach, but yet challenging enough to make them interesting. Even more important, his video gave me a lot of tips on how to spot mistakes myself, and how to avoid them in future drawings. I am so grateful that he has shared the mental paths that he uses during drawing, because it makes me confident that my own way can lead to better results.
So here is my second landscapeito:
I liked his suggestion to start with only three levels of luminosity of a single color, before using the actual colors of the landscape. The first step is using a pencil and create three shades, from light to dark. I thought that it would be simpler if I used felt pens and chose three fixed shades of a single color – in this case, blue. So out I went and found a cute little corner near the river. I started with the lightest blue and used the two others in sequence. I took time to understand which shade to use for each area, and I am quite satisfied of this first attempt, even if overall it is too dark. I actually used a fourth color, and that too has made the picture too dark.
Today it rains, so there are no chances to draw outside – but stay tuned for more landscapeitos!
Today I watched John Muir Law’s lesson about drawing 5-minute landscapes and got inspired to draw one myself. I went to the park near my house and picked a corner with a couple of trees. The sun started to shine nicely right as I started drawing, so that it made better shadows. I took longer than five minutes, but not more than fifteen. Here is the result:
I am quite happy with the result! The subject in itself is not so exciting, the drawing is far from pretty, but I am proud of having been able to watch the video, grab my sketchbook and pencil, go outside, find a subject to draw, and actually draw it. I could have stopped anywhere in the process – I could have thought: yeah it’s late for today, there is not much light, there are no nice landscapes around my house, this sketch is not looking that good, I’m not going to finish it… instead, here it is!
I hope this inspires you to do the same, find a small art task like these 5-minutes landscapes, complete it and feel proud of your achievement. Any journey starts with a small step!
Yesterday we went to a large natural area near Berlin, Grünewald. I brought paper and pencils and made a few experiments with color pencils. The first subject I drew is the shrub in the middle, and I realised I didn’t observe it quite well before starting, so most proportions are wrong. Moreover I didn’t decide how much detail to draw, and the colors are not so right, but yes, it was my starting point 🙂
Then I tried to draw the whole landscape. There was a line of needle trees in the background, then broadleaf trees of various species (therefore shapes and colors) and a dry grassland, up to where I was sitting. I think that the third drawing, the one on the left, gives an impression of distance. I suppose that the colors are too bright (the needle trees were much darker but not black) and that the texture is uncertain, but I will keep experimenting 🙂
I hope I have given inspiration to start (again) with color pencils, and am open to suggestions to good books and links about coloring techniques!