Oil pastel study after Hercules Brabazon Brabazon,1821-1906, the pink palace,Venice
The palaces in Venice have fascinated visual artists of all times. The city has attracted artists from all over the world. Such famous names like Canaletto, Turner,Ruskin,Monet and many more are associated with the image of the lagoon city. In general one would assume there is nothing to discover anymore, but maybe not…
I found a remarkable study of a pink palace in Venice in the Tate archive by an artist named Hercules Brabazon Brabazon The man must have had an interesting life as someone who lived “for art and sunshine” as a gentleman amateur, who denied to sell his work until he was in his mid-seventies. Obviously an enviable existence with considerable capabilities and enough cash to devote his life to the arts without depending on sales.
The gouache study of the pink palace impresses with the strong contrast between the dark framing by houses and posts in the foreground against the pink, pale facade of an old renaissance palace building. The ultramarine sky,shadows on the walls and the moving water surface add to the scenery of a sunny afternoon.
The digital archive of the British Museum holds a larger number of interesting works by Hercules Barbazon, who apparently had an admiration for JMW Turner. He paraphrased some of the very abstract sketches by Turner with hardly any solid form content but a fluid colour continuum (see this example of a Venice sketch). Turner seems to have been a very strong influence on Barbazon.
But Brabazon was capable also of very detailed and controlled drawing as the example of houses at Tivoli illustrates so well.
A typical November day, drizzling rain, moist air and a colossal grey sky with slowly moving clouds. I tried hard to capture those thin clouds that smoked from the wooded hill named “Burgberg” in the background. I have been there on top to meet the “Schreckstein” which translates to “the stone that scares you”. And indeed the name is justified. It is a big black massive landmark that suddenly appears in front of you while you walk on a narrow path through dense woods like a ghost from the nowhere. It is said that some wimpy lap dogs (not laptops) passed away by heart attack when meeting the “Schreckstein”, at least some pale bones lying around there suggest something like that, if nothing worse yet.
As usual the thing is done down from the sky and from back to foreground. The grass around me and the thicket, that constantly whispered in my back, had been spaded by hordes of wild boar. Only recently a whopping number of seventy of them had been laid down on a single hunting afternoon. Unfortunately the sketch does not show these circumstances at all, instead it pretends a peaceful loveliness that seems to scorn the creator being a scared cat.
This small gouache sketch with a view on local vine yards was done on the 1st of November in sunshine. I taped the paper to get a clear borderline, I had seen this on Nathan Fawkes Land Sketch blog.The autumn foliage is at its peak at the end of October to the first days of November. Only a couple of days before there was snow falling. It was quite dangerous to go into the woods, but I could not resist to take some images of such a phenomenon that occurs only every 40 years as meteorologists said.
At the end of October and beginning of November the colors of autumn seem to peak in our forest and gardens here. I was on the way into the woods but decided to stay on a meadow with some fruit trees and an old garden shack near the forest edge.
I am experimenting with primed paper in one of my sketchbooks. This gouache sketch was “hard work” as I had painted the paper first with some abstract acrylic colour pattern which then was covered with a layer of white wall paint. The wall paint is hydrophobic to some extent. Some spots on the sketch need hours to dry. I had to apply a bit of gouache color, that floated a lot on the surface of the paper. The next time I will sand the wall paint layer to see whether gouache colors will connect easier then.
The re-print of the entire forest diary sketchbook is now available as color paperback in the Blurb bookstore. The book preview shows the all 158 pages. The size of the book is 6X9 inches, it has more than 100 images,the book weight is 275 grams. 61 gouache sketches, done on site between January 2009 and October 2011 in the forests of Maulbronn,Germany, are re-printed on double pages. As the original sketchbook covers on front and back are re-printed too to book contains a mini version of the original sketchbook.
Apart from the images there is an introduction and notes on sketching gear. Seven image series that show sketches in intermediate state illustrate the sketching process. The book is for people who are interested in sketching and painting outdoors and nature diaries. Collectors of sketchbook art might be interested in the re-print of this sketchbook project dedicated to the forests.
At the seam, in the middle of the double pages, the layout was adjusted to compensate the loss that occurs by printing/binding in the middle of the book. This is visible in the online book preview,but will not show in the printed book.
I made some adjustments based on the proof print I had received recently from Blurb. The colour print in paperback is a new option for Blurb customers. The colored pages are printed “semi matte” on white coated paper, which is quite similar to the appearance of the original sketchbook paper. The image quality is remarkable, a real 4-colour picture print. From my point of view coloured paperback books are a great addition to Blurb books and worthwhile to check out.
A couple of days ago I went to the same place I started the forest diary sketchbook on a grey afternoon in January 2009. I started with a humble sketch in ink, black and white,which still reminds me of those insecure days when the financial crisis hit.
Now at beginning of autumn 2011 the scenery is much different with lots of leaves and the undergrowth developed and the general outlook is not that grim anymore, but life has changed a lot and permanent since 2008/2009 for many of us.
Until end of the year I hope to finish a paper back facsimile re-print of the entire sketchbook with some extra text and “technical” information on these sketches. As usual I will publish on Blurb (Editionh on Blurb)
The acorns were coming down almost like rain and hit my sketchbook and color trays. No wonder that the soil around me is disturbed by wild boars.
I proceeded in this sketch again from back to front of the scenery.