Sunday, February 26, 2012


Arches, 30 x 40 cm (12 x 16 in)
The Mexican resort where we stayed prided in its Eco theme. The grounds were turned into a park and much of them were left as the original jungle. A number of wild animal species lived freely there - wild parrots, woodpeckers and other colorful birds, monkeys, iguanas, racoons and coatis. We did see monkeys twice jumping through the trees outside our window. To make things more interesting for the guests, the hotel had a few introduced species, like these gorgeous Macaws and several peacocks. These birds were left free during the day, but spent the nights in an enclosure. Why take the risk to have any of these beauties become the victim of those little bandits, the racoons...

The above painting I did at home, while the two sketches below were done live. The place where the parrots spent the day was relatively crowded and I drew the attention of a number of people with my activity. That wasn't so terrifying after all. A good exercise to overcome my fears.

Live sketch 18 x 23 cm

Live sketch 18 x 23 cm

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sun, sand and sea

Last week we took a break from winter at a sunny destination. I used the opportunity to do some plain air sketching. The colors of the sea were so enticing, I was constantly imagining the blues and greens mixing wet-in-wet.

The real challenge was sketching people. I had read somewhere that the best place to paint people is at the beach, as there people tend to maintain a position for a long time. So not true! The moment you start drawing someone, they move.

Nevertheless, I managed to do a few sketches. And, of course, took tons of photographs for future reference. 

Here are a few pages from my little sketchbook.

watercolor pencils

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My father

My father, 23 x 30 cm
My father, who passed away two years ago, would have been 92 today.  I painted these two portraits, a couple of weeks apart, from an older photograph. What a satisfying feeling it is to be able to re-create, albeit in a tiny way, the person you miss.
I remember the time as a child when I realized that my parents are not all-mighty gods, but more or less ordinary people. Every child probably has such a moment of revelation. Yet, for me, my dad always remained a kind of a semi-deity. I could discuss with him almost anything, from complex math and science subjects to art and culture. He was my Wikipedia, in the pre-web era. He had a nice, refreshing sense of humor and a fine taste. A true model to aspire to, which all of us, his children, still do.

While from the same photo, the two portraits ended up having two different expressions, both typical of him. In the first one, he is about to crack a joke, and smiling on the inside already. In the second, he's glad and content. So I couldn't pick the one over the other. I'm grateful to my niece for trying to help the selection and for her articulate descriptions.

My father 2,  23 x 30 cm

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Back to basics

This is a quick sketch of the kind of glass jars I use as water containers for painting.

It has been a year since I posted a photo of my, then brad new, improvised, studio in the basement. So, here is how it has changed since. The flimsy garden table is replaced by a decent one, and a tilting desk was added. There is storage for all paints and materials and a comfy chair. One of the best things about this basement setting is that I don't need to protect the floor and furniture from water and paint, and can concentrate solely on what happens on the paper.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sunny day in Aix-en-Provence

Another sunny scene in an attempt to bring some warmth and sunshine to all friends in eastern and southern  Europe, suffering through an unusually cold and snowy winter.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Flower market in Aix-en-Provence

Flower market in Aix, Arches, 30 x 40 cm