Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Travels in Lanzarote Day 13: the Volcano Park

We were driving through the volcano park in the south west of the island. This is a stunning place, where every turn in the road reveals yet more shapes, colours and textures. 

I was desperate to get out and paint, so John pulled up and I sat beside the car on my little stool, with my A3 sketchbook on my lap:

I spent most of my time on the one above. The sun was going down fast, so I was about to call it a day when I changed my mind, did an about-face, and painted another, really quick, instinctive sketch of the view behind me:

I was really pleased with the gestural, abstracted way the lava in the foreground worked. Hope you agree!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Travels in Lanzarote: Day 12. Volcanos and Cacti

Another long walk: again from the hills above Haria down to the sea, but down a valley which brought us a little further down the coast. It was a steep valley, so we were pleased to be walking downhill:

We pootled along the coast, via our favourite little café at Punta Mujeres, had a quick paddle to cool our feet, then walked back up to Haria by a different route in the afternoon. The return journey took us past a good view of the volcano, La Corona, the same one a painted on Day 6. We had time for me to sit and have another go. I perched up on a lava-wall to get a good vantage point:

This time I was faced with the challenge of painting a field of cacti in the foreground. Not ideal. Walls made of lava-boulders are a bit of a challenge too!

I did my best with watercolour first, then worked into it with my Inktense pencils, being VERY careful not to drop any through the gaps between the rocks of my wall. I've done that more than once in the past. I also dropped my pencil into a pig-pen once, when I was sketching in a city farm. An enormous, ugly pig rushed up and promptly crunched it up. Pigs, it seems, really will eat anything. but I digress...

Again, my concertina book was the perfect thing for sketching something long like this, without it having to be draw really quite small, to fit in a regular book.

As you can see, I extended the sketch at the last minute, with my watercolour pencils alone, as I didn't like the way the composition worked with the section I had done in watercolour - another thing that you can only do with a concertina book. There wasn't time to go back and paint that new section, as we had to get going, to get back before dark.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Travels in Lanzarote: Day 11. Sand EVERYWHERE!

This was a day of two halves again. In the morning, we visited another of Manrique's projects: his house on the lava field at Tahiche. The upper section was sleek and minimal. It had more recently been turned into a gallery, showing his paintings and those of his friends.

It featured big windows framing views of the volcano and lava which, in one place, was actually allowed to flow inside:

But it was the subterranean section which was really unusual. Manrique had sited the house amongst more lava-tubes. These were less gigantic than the ones we visited previously, and consisted of a series of 'bubbles': rounder sections between narrower fissures.

He made corridors from the narrower walkways through the lava and turned the bubbles into a series of connected indoors-outdoors rooms, with the uppermost part of each bubble open to the sky. Perfect spaces for somewhere so hot.

After our sightseeing, we went for a walk along the beach beneath the Famara Cliffs which I painted earlier in the trip. It was VERY windy, so apart from a couple of other walkers, the only people on the beach were a few kite-surfers.

When we had walked up and back, I really wanted to paint, but the only shelter from the wind came from some sand dunes. We tucked ourselves in behind one, which did help a lot.

It was only after I had been painting for about 10 minutes, that I realised how much sand was whipping round behind the dune and sticking to my watercolour. If you enlarge the picture below, you should be able to see the sand all over the sketchbook:

A few more minutes, and there was more sand than paint on my palette! I soldiered on, but very soon it was ridiculous. We realised that we too were covered in sand - it was all in our clothes and encrusted into our hair. 

So we beat a retreat. At least I got more or less finished and the majority of the sand brushed off once it was dry.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Travels in Lanzerote: Day 10. A Little Bit of Fame

Another walking day. This time we walked from the hills of Haria, down to the sea, finishing at the lovely little place we were at the day before: Punta Mujeres.

When we got there, we visited the same little street café as the day before. After our café con leche, we sat down at the sea edge. The colours were so vibrant.

It was mesmeric, watching the sea crashing over the rocks and gradually filling the swimming area. I took the opportunity to do a painting. It was a bit of a challenge, but I was very interested in the clear water in the walled-off section.

Little did I know, but a resident of Punta Mujeres was watching me from the café above. It turned out that she was a regular writer for the Lanzarote magazine. She took lots of photos and says I will be a feature in the March or April edition!

We chatted to her and her husband and they bought us a beer. Then, when we realised we had missed our bus home, they invited us into their home, gave us home-made lentil soup and local wine and then drove us back to Haria. How lovely is that? Sketching does it again!

Friday, 17 February 2017

Travels in Lanzarote: Day 9. Meeting the Locals

This was another day when I only managed one sketch, because we were off sightseeing most the day. We went into an extraordinary cave-like system of tunnels - volcano tubes - which are caused when lava is pumping out in a channel. The outside cools and then acts like a pipe, through which molten lava keep pouring. Until, when it stops, the tube is left. They are gigantic:

Not only was it dark inside, but you had to walk round with a guide, so not great for on-the-spot-drawing. So, afterwards, we stopped off at a lovely little place just down the coast called Punta Mujeres.  We sat outside a little street café overlooking the water, while I did a quick sketch. I experimented with a coloured line, using one of my new Graphik Line Painters (another Christmas gift from Derwent). Then I tinted it with my Inktense pencils.

It's not the best sketch I've ever done, but it had the usual effect of introducing us to the locals. The owner got very excited and borrowed my book to show to the various punters I'd drawn. Some little girls then came over to practise their English, talking to me shyly about my sketch.

There was a little section of sea walled off with volcanic boulders, where people could swim, though there was nobody in there. It was full of little fish. It was a much warmer day and the water was so beautifully clear that, before heading back, I had to have a paddle. So I got my white, English legs out and went into the sea in my knickers!