Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Essaouira Part Five - The Cantina Square

I am sure this has a proper name but it is a small square at the north end of Avenue Sidi Mohamed ben Addellah and in one corner is La Cantina, a cafĂ© owned by a lovely english lady.  I only have a pen sketch of La Cantina and the shop next door:

La Cantina from the sketchbook

I had two sessions in the square, both very enjoyable.  The first one tackled the shop in the NW corner:

Clothes and Art Shop, Cantina Square (12x8)
 Then I had a long stretch doing three paintings in the square from the closed shop next to La Cantina, on our last full day:

'Mosaique' (10x7)

Two Doors, Cantina Square (7x10)

Cantina Square, Early Evening (10x8)

One morning early I pitched at some closed shop doorways at the Cantina end of Ave Sidi Mohamed ben Addellah.  I started to paint but then the shop owner arrived and opened up.  He was trying to put out his beautiful wooden wares - boxes and lanterns - but I was in the way so I said I would move.  He insisted I stayed put and later on offered me a cup of tea.  I wonder if I would have got the same kindness from a British shop.

By The Box-Maker's Shop (10x7)

When I had finished and waited for him to finish his prayers, I bought a small box.  Michael and I returned there to buy two much larger boxes for our wives and were shown round his tiny workshop.  We were both amazed at how, with a few handtools and some old blocks of Thuya wood and lemon tree, he could create such exquisite things.

Essaouira Part Four - The Port

The port is one of the busiest on the coast with large and small vessels landing their catches and constant activity both in the water and on shore.  Most of the day-to-day fishing (well night fishing really) seems to be done from very small open boats of a dictinctly 'Portugese-looking' design and powered by outboards.

My first proper excursion was not a happy one.  I was nursing a monumental headache that painkillers just didn't want to shift.  I took acrylics and managed to drop some brushes into the harbour, get myself covered in Titanium White when my sleeve caught it without me realising and almost lose my water pot when I tipped it over and it rolled to the edge of the harbour wall.  Somehow I managed two acrylic paintings, neither of which I was particularly pleased with:
Boats And Slipway (9x7)

Large Boats On Slipways (9x11 approx - acrylic)
Things improved later.  The headache began to recede and i then enjoyed doing this one of small boys diving into the area where some of the small boats are moored:

Blue Boats And Boys (8x10)

On the other side of the arch is another little mooring pool that drains at high tide.  I had three goes at the scene, the best one being this view caught just as the tide was coming in:

Rising Tide (10x8)
The other two were 12x8s in which I tried to catch more of the foreground water but they are rather dull and will need livening up or 'wiping'.

Michael Worthington and I also had a morning in the port later on.  Again, I was not particularly happy with my efforts - just too much going on and I should have chosen really simple subjects:

Small Boats In The Port (10x8)

Large Boats In The Port (10x8)

I think the first painting could be turned into something bigger as I did a couple of pen sketches, took notes and actually remembered to get out my camera.  The next part of the Essaouira blog will concentrate on the 'Cantina' square inside the Medina.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Essaouira Part Three - The Medina Walls

The North West side of the Medina faces the sea and the coast there is very rocky.  I was able to get a better view of the sea walls by venturing out at low tide.  On one occasion I did not quite make it back to shore before the tide came in and had wet feet for the rest of the morning.  Both the following paintings were done in the teeth of a very strong down-coast wind that at one point lifted the easel jammed between my knees and I only just caught it as it swept over my head!

The Medina Walls from the rocks (8x10)

The Medina Walls From The Rocks (8x12)
 The classic view of the Medina is from the Port Gate:

Unfinished Classic View of the Medina
I was not happy with this and abandoned it but since returning I have decided to work on it as I have nothing to lose by so doing.

Under The Medina Walls (7x10)
Looking back towards the port one evening after an excursion onto the rocks, I noticed how the light was striking a lovely shadow and people were beginning to sit on the sea wall to catch the last strong rays of the sun:

The Sea Wall, Evening (10x12)
In the evening stillness at high tide one could also catch some nice reflections of the Medina walls:

Reflections In The Rock Pool (10x7)
Part of the Medina wall facing the sea is a 'Skala' or gun battery with extra fortifications.  This acrylic sketch was done on our last morning from inside the Skala wall at 'Bab Skala' (the Skala Gate):

Unfinished Acrylic of The Bab Skala (approx 10x11)
The next part of the Essaouira blog will cover the port.

Essaouira Part Two - Inside The Medina

The Medina offers endless possibilities but gets very crowded after mid-morning.  Eric Davis and I sketched early so we could establish where things were without getting in everyone's way.  Then I tended to paint outside the walls. 

The Moulay Hassan square was convenient for its own sake and also close to good views of the Medina walls:

Place Moulay Hassan - Late Morning (10x12)

Place Moulay Hassan - Mid-afternoon (8x12)

Place Moulay Hassan - Late Afternoon (8x10)
 The other main street had the clock tower in it:

I rushed this one and wished I had chosen a better angle.  The avenue also provided a view back towards the Bab Doukala:

Avenue oqba Ibn Nafiaah (8x10)
The sketches were done in pen and coloured in a little with brush pens:

Communal Tap, Ben Achia

Towards Bab Marrakech

Avenue L'Istiqlal

By Souk Jdid
The next blog part will cover the Medina walls, particularly the sea wall seen from the rocks at low tide.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Essaouira Part One - The Forts

At last I have found some time to record the great trip we had to Morocco earlier in the month.  We were there from 12 to 19 March and over the 6 full days and the final morning I did 31 small paintings and numerous pen sketches of Essaouira.  Apart from the warm if windy weather and the fascinating life that exists within the Medina, what I found most attractive about the location was the variety.  When you are tired of street scenes you move to the port.  When fishing boats are no longer firing you up you move to the rocky coastline and when that palls, you move to the beach.  There is always something to paint in Essaouira.

I thought I would divide the blog into sections that cover particular locations.  The scenery with the most 'pull' for me was the sea and islands off the North side of the town.  The Port Fort (Skala de Port) has such an irresitible shape that it crept into many of the oil sketches.

I think this was the first one I did, from under the Medina wall:

The Port Fort and Island Fort - Early Morning (8x12)

As the sun moves round in the morning the whole scene becomes contre jour :

Port Fort Contre Jour  (7x9)
 I was drawn back several times to this view or one looking more towards the island fort:
Midday Under The Medina Wall (10x8)

The Island Fort 7x9

Island Fort - Sunlit Sea (7x9)

Port Fort From The Medina Wall (10x8)

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Why Is This Google Software Playing Up?

It doesn't seem to matter whether I am using Chrome or Explorer I am having allsorts of problems with things that used to be very straightforward. For example to correct allsorts to all sorts I would have to delete right back to the original error.  Pictures are much harder to place and inserting captions is a nightmare.  I have a Masters in the Design of Information Systems and this one currently gets 1/10 - at least it is free and available - just.  I shall be scouting around for a blog provider with intuitively easy and reliable software.  As Sam Goldwyn famously said  (but not to Google) 'you've improved it worse'.

Am I a victim of planned obsolescence?  I still use the XP operating system but that should not make any difference because it is the browser that is interpreting the HTML not the OS.  It is a mystery but very time-consumingly annoying! Perhaps I should give up Google for Lent.  Twenty years ago Alta Vista was the browser to use but then personal computing was still in its youth.

ROI Friends Day

Terry 1
Last Thursday some ROI 'Friends' and members assembled at the Winsor and Newton (now in the ColArt group) headquarters just west of Holland Park.  We painted Terry - a wonderful model who sat for all the morning and afternoon.  Last time we did many small studies and I had assumed that the format would be the same so only had small boards.  As Terry was asked to do a single pose I moved round a little to give myself some variety.  I did 3 sketches.  Terry has a wonderful head and it was a joy to paint! Here they are in order:

Terry 3 - With Sue Edwards in background

Terry 10x8

Actually the last one shown was the second one painted but as I am having so much trouble with this crap software I will simply leave them in that order.  Finally a pic of Ian Cryer, Bill Dean and Alice Hall packing up, with Terry lurking near the door: