Popular demand (believe it or not!) made me do it: Over the course of the next few days I’m going to post the travel drawings and prints of the last few years. Today starts with my personal book of genesis, the ink drawings from 2016’s Paris – Rome tour. Next in the queue are the etchings designed after these drawings, the documentation of the recent short journey eastwards and finally the experiments from last summer in France. I’ll keep the technical notes about which I’m usually rambling too much to a minimum.
If any of these drawings depict a place or a scene of great significance, it’s by pure chance: Generally, their choice has been dictated by where we could sit down, in the dry, with no pressing business ahead of us. Hence long gaps, no Paris nor Rome (but why did I not draw the pope!?), plenty of random countryside locations – after two months I had 18 canonical drawings in my bag, and about half a year later two more intricate remakes joined the set.
Dijon, Café des Beaux-Arts on the rear side of the Palace of the almighty Dukes of Burgundy. A nice little park area to sit down in, write postcards, draw a bit – the portal was struck by perfect grazing light.
The Cathedral of Besançon. A free organ concert gave us an excuse to sit still for an hour. They played Buxtehude, I seem to remember.
Pontarlier, the mythical French absinthe capital in which some of our weirder adventures took place. There is little exaggeration in this image, the spiders were there in fact.
By the point we arrived to Le Locle I was lacking a challenge, always just drawing architecture. Slightly freaked out by the insane amount of tidiness we encountered in Switzerland I decided to remove just that. This was the view from our hosts“ window, outside it was raining non-stop (not depicted).
Tramelan: For once we got a nice landscape view from our hosts“ place. The cows did not cooperate and went away as soon as I started to draw them.
Bern, Bärenplatz: Still unhappy about just getting to draw standard architecture I flooded this square that lies tens of metres above the riverbed.
Bern, the next day, lacking its previously burning sun.
Fribourg, back eventually to standard architectural stuff. The spectacular sunset spiced up the skyline sufficiently.
Parella, a small village in Piemonte, in our hosts“ garden. Much more than the grandparents“ villa in the background, the main attraction is the garden itself. Meanwhile, not having drawn anything between Fribourg and there, I regret not having any Alpine pictures.
Since our hosts in Parella asked for the drawing and I didn’t want to give away the original at that point this is one of two extra pictures I made at my desk, many months after the actual trip. Comparing the two version, precision didn’t quite concern me enough.
Genova, inside Santa Maria delle Vigne. Originally I had planned to add a black layer to the drawing, superimposing the outside façade of the same church, yet never got around to do it. The interior isn’t remarkable for anything but the scaffolding, but even so it’s a nice perspective exercise. I have no clue how I solved it.
A rocky beach near Sestri Levante. The one violently expressive drawing in the set, its surface ripped open by the nib, recklessly slashing back and forth – in short: This day was shit and so did I feel at the time. Wouldn’t the result almost warrant embarking on a day full of mountains, accidents, strife and failure on purpose?
Parma, in front of the Palazzo Pilotta. In case you visit the city you have to go inside, for there is a hidden jewel inside, a museum on the work of Bodoni, the Parmese typographer. The drawing is just nice and that’s all there is to it.
Parma, on the roof of our hosts“ place. The brushstrokes on the bottom are superfluous and the areas misaligned: The foreground should have occupied a third at most, for the main attraction was the vast landscape of rooves, antenns and satellite dishes.
Reggio nell’Emilia, the parco del popolo. Here I got the brush out for the first time and promptly underestimated how much darker the iron gall ink gets when drying: Even though it looks like a night scene it was bright midday and the lamps were off.
Firenze, Loggia dei Lanzi – we spent most of our time there, it seems in my memory. On this occasion we didn’t plan to, we just sought some refuge when it rained for 15 minutes. 15 minutes aren’t enough to make a drawing very elaborate.
Siena – except for Firenze and Bern in rain, most drawings took one hour. This is the outlier: It took one hour and a half till my butt hurt too much to continue, sitting on some stony stairs in front of San Clemente.
The view of Siena is the other picture of which there is a second version done at my desk. This took ages. The hill on the left, unfinished in the original, would actually be topped with the cathedral. Like a dark portion of a drawing makes its highlights appear brighter by means of contrast, the city’s beauty might be enhanced by a counterpoint of greater ugliness.
Siena, San Lorenzo. The rusty colour approaches its bricks somewhat.
Anzio. This picture’s appeal might lie in the backstory: The blocks in the foreground used to belong to the harbour constructed under Nero, Anzio’s most infamous scion; the hill in the far distance is the Circeo, the once-island reigned by the sorceress Circe who transformed Gregor S. into a giant vermin.