Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sketching on the bus - Ancient Viking Burial Ship

Sketch of Viking Burial Ship from the 9th Century

We have traveled a lot in the last two days. Track repairs required a bus bridge to a train, so we were driven about 3 hours into Sweden this morning and put on a train to Stockholm. Bob and I got wedged into the next to last row, with a wet German Shepard under the seat behind us and next to the busy bathroom. I was delighted to relinquish the olfactory embellishments when we arrived at a train station and left the bus.

To occupy myself on the bus, I looked at some photos on my camera from the awesome Viking Ship Museum and did a graphite sketch. The bus was jostling me around, so the results are a bit crude. The museum is one of several on the island of Bygdoy. We took a boat using our Oslo City Pass and returned via bus.

Three ships were found in burial mounds and dated back to the 9th and 10th century. A wealthy Viking would be buried in a seaworthy ship with many possessions. This ship is the Oseberg in which a wealthy woman was buried, along with her slave girl and horses. I didn't ask the gory details that remained unexplained.

I love the shapes of the boat and the intricate carvings on the prow. There were many artifacts found in the three ships, including some sleighs that were finely decorated with carvings. I took some closeups and I want to do a little research at home -- I'm sure the shapes mean something and I am hoping someone has deciphered them. I am always drawn to shape and plan to paint some pieces from the carvings.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Clouds and Rain in the Fjords

"Rainy Day in Balestrand, Norway"
7" x 9" watercolor sketch

From our balcony at the small hotel on the Sonjefjord, we have 180 degree view of the spectacular mountains and inlets. This scene is to our right. There were heavy clouds over the fjords.

We visited the small aquarium where the very best display, for us, is woodcarvings of various scenes from the early 1900s. The Norwegians have perfected this craft. We emerged in an electrical storm and took cover at the art gallery/old objects display/restaurant. We added to the economy and checked out a textile exhibit. Later we had a smorgasbord at the Kvikne hotel, a historic place run by the sixth generation. In fact, our innkeeper is a descendent.

Today we look forward to two ferry rides on the fjords, then a bus up the mountains and train back to Oslo, where we move on to Stockholm by train tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sailing the Sognefjord

"A Room with a View 2 -- The Sognefjord"
Balestrand, Norway

In the sketchbook
"Memories of Copenhagen"

We left Oslo this morning on an 8:11 train bound for the longest fjord in the world. We climbed above the tree line where we had a few minutes to take a glacier photo. At Myrdal we changed to the Flamsbana Railway that took us on an hour-long steep descent to Flam. There Bob and I left the "Norway in a Nutshell" tourists and boarded a ferry to Balestrand on the Sognefjord. In spite of a slipup on my part with dates when I made the reservation, the lovely people at the Balestrand Hotel were able to accommodate us in a fjord-view room due to a cancellation. The first watercolor sketch shows the view from our window and balcony. We've been blessed with incredibly nice weather and today is picture perfect.

The second piece was a continuation on the shoe theme. I thought of the 39% of trips being made by bicycle in Copenhagen and the wonderful way the city dwellers just jump on their bike in whatever they are wearing and ride to their destination. CPH as the brochures call it has spent many years building a liveable community where people can walk, cycle, and mingle. I thought about the various shoes on the cyclists, unlike so many US cyclists, including me, who often wear special shoes. Then I picked up the CPH brochure and saw a photo by a man who's become famous photographing cyclists in the city and posting them on his blog. It was the image I had in my mind, so I used it as the basis for this sketch and hopefully have given proper credit. You can check out Mikeal Colville-Anderson's two blogs if you are curious:

Tomorrow we will do some hiking and relaxing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Island Eccos hit the pavement in Oslo

"My New Eccos"
10-minute graphite sketch

Yesterday, just before checking out of the CabInn in Copenhagen after attending the Velo Global 2010 conference, I plopped my feet on the bed and did as Hallie suggested -- I sketched my new sandals purchased on the Danish island of Aero in the tiny town of Mastral. Picture black leather and red toenails. I am terribly boring when I buy shoes. I needed to be able to walk miles and I bought this same style in bone suede about 6 years ago and they are still in good shape, but alas, they are not here. I know they work well with my narrow foot because the straps all adjust with velcro.

We took the overnight ferry (17:00 to 9:30) to Oslo. It's really a cruise ship and I used my Eurail pass discount to get a top line room, huge, stocked with fruit, champagne, and waters, included access to a special lounge complete with snacks and drinks, and a breakfast buffet in a special restaurant. It was a real steal and we felt like we were rich and famous! We got to watch Denmark play football against Japan in the world championships and mourned the loss with the locals; then we danced to live music. This morning we were treated to a spectacular entry into Norway through many islands. The Eccos hit the pavement as we continue our adventure.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Riding Denmark's Bike Route 92

"Riding the island of Aero"
Travel sketch

I brought a comfy pair of sandals that disintegrated after walking 5 miles in Copenhagen. A new friend from Aeroskolbing told us there is a great shoe store in the town of Mastral, 12 kilometers away. Bob always needs a real reason to ride a bike, and this did it. We rented bikes for 24 hours and headed off to buy shoes. Rolling hills dotted with farms, tiny villages, green grass and blue sea filled our senses on a picture-perfect sunny day. I took a couple pictures of Bob riding past fields blooming with lupines and poppies. I was delighted to see a relative of our California poppies. Ours come in orange and cream, usually, and theirs are vivid red.

I almost decided not to show this sketch as I did not get Bob's proportions at all right as I drew from memory. Then I said what the heck, it's a travel sketch and captures some of the lovely scenery and the peaceful happiness I felt. And yes, I bought a pair of Ecco sandals at Freddy Sko that will trigger memories of this day every time I wear them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Even the launderette is picturesque on a Danish island

"The Launderette"
Aeroskobing, Denmark

We arrived on the island of Aero via two trains and a ferry from Copenhagen. Aeroskobing is a well-preserved town rebuilt in the 1680s on the original 12 streets after a fire destroyed the village that was founded in 1250. The houses are kept in their authentic condition using materials from that time, and tend to sag and tilt. From our second-story room in Pension Vestergade, I decided to paint a bit of what I could see -- some wonderful roofs and a pretty house.

Today we asked our hostess, Susanna, how to find the self-serve laundry. I found out it is the yellow house that I painted! We used the washer and dryer so discretely located in what Rick Steves, the travel writer, calls Aero's "village in a bottle."

We chatted with a local resident while waiting for the ferry and learned that the pronunciation of the town's name (which includes letters we don't have in our alphabet) -AIR oh SHKUB ing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bits of Art and a Demo by Katherine Chang Liu

"Art Objects"
12" x 15" pastel

Today I went to my drawing class, the first time in a month. We had two new people join the group, so Bob was pretty busy getting them started. This pastel was done flying solo and mostly at home away from the still life. The only thing Bob did was sit in my seat and confirm that my drawing was good to go. I first used charcoal to shade values and then began with the dark cup holding the painting utensils. At that point I had to leave a bit early, so later at home I decided to finish this from memory. In case you are wondering, the three small canisters are containers of paint. The Grecian lady is one of Bob's small treasures and I have a drawing I did in one of the early classes about 3 years ago. This is the first time she's come to pose again. She is a patient model.

Yesterday I attended a wonderful presentation by Katherine Chang Liu who is doing a workshop this week for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. You can see Katherine's abstract art here:
From the Lew Allen gallery website:

“The content of my work,” Liu once said, “has to do with my feeling that in this information age, our senses are saturated daily with visual, literary, musical and verbal information. I am mapping this emotional state with autobiographical marks and a reference to the urban environment in which I live and work.”

Katherine gave us two slide shows. The first was developed for (I believe) the National Collage Society. She showed us images of abstract works by her favorite artists. She also showed some work by her mentees. Her explanation was very intellectual and thought provoking. I am still trying to absorb it, so I can't summarize it well enough to write about it here. Common to all the artists is a desire to do very unique, identifiable work. I jotted notes so I can do more research on the artists whose paintings "spoke" to me.

The second slide show was on figurative painting, which combined elements of realism and abstraction.
Katherine does not demonstrate painting. She has each artist bring 7 or 8 pieces of their work. She gives them a thorough critique and suggests how they can develop their artistic voice. I am not enrolled in this class as I have conflicting commitments.

Tomorrow our core Monday drawing class, along with some family (though none of mine) are going together to the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco to attend the show entitled:

I have twice had the pleasure of viewing the impressionist and post-impressionist collection at the Musee d'Orsay, so I am very much looking forward to attending with our instructor Bob Semans, a career portrait artist. Also, it will be interesting to see the art in a different setting.

I will again be away from the computer for a while. I will miss my blog friends.