Now that my Peru series of portraits are over, the next series of paintings in my collection will capture some of my memories from Europe. I did an exchange semester in the Netherlands so I took the opportunity to travel through as much of Europe as possible. Europe for me was more about architecture as it was my first time that and I really wanted to see as many historic landmarks as possible.
The first stop is Germany. I went to Berlin and Potsdam as I didn’t stay very long, about 3 days so I took the opportunity to see the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam. Sanssouci is the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It was absolutely gorgeous and it would have been even more so if the garden terraces were fully grown.
After touring the outside of the palace, I explored the gardens and came across this windmill – which I didn’t think I’d see anywhere but the Netherlands (naive I know) and decided to paint it. Doing the wet on wet wash for the sky was tricky but even more challenging was the wood detail. My favourite part was how the light was captured on the fan blades of the windmill.
Let me start off by saying I have to return to Peru! Maybe it will happen sooner rather than later but as I come to an end of the Peruvian leg of my travel memories I did learn a lot along the way which helped me improve my approach to portraits.
This portrait is by far my favourite. I was enthralled by the multitude of colours and the stark contrast between the turquoise background against her red coat. This one took me about 11 days. I think it was because I was so in love with everything about it and didn’t want to take too long to finish so I was excited about seeing the end product and getting it all the way I wanted to.
I did a trial version of the wall background because I needed to have it all perfectly executed and I guess this is where my perfectionist nature emerges! But I’m so pleased with the end result. After completing this piece; I was pretty much an expert with the masking fluid and capturing the details. In my reference photo, she was behind a table so I had to make up her skirt, but in the end all turned out well!
One Sunday in Lima some friends and I went to a street festival in the city centre. It was incredibly hot, however we were happy for the break away from our studies. I don’t recall the reason for the festival, but there were a lot of different traditional characters and dances parading along the square. One of which was this guy I painted earlier.
In trying to escape the heat while capturing photos of all the characters I’d never seen before, it reminded me a bit of home and our traditional characters shaped by our local folklore – a series which I have on my to do list of things to paint. But, I digress, while looking around, there was this group of women waiting against a wall in the square seemingly also taking refuge in the shade the buildings provided. I decided to capture that moment and it now features as one of my paintings. I call them the Ladies in Waiting.
The amount of detail required made me feel pretty overwhelmed and it was my first time putting masking fluid to this much use! Trying to find a tool to use with it for tiny areas proved to be a headache and at times I wanted to stop doing it, but I persevered and this is the end result. A part of my wants to attempt it again to fix all the flaws I see and do it on a much larger scale, but I do love many aspects of this, most importantly my dedication to finish!
During my last month in Peru, I decided to see as much as I could in the week or so I had left when school ended. So I decided of all the places I still had on my bucket list in the country, where would I get the best bang for my buck, and decided to return to Cusco. This solo trip was going to be my last hurrah and I wanted to make it count so I pulled up a map and charted out my adventures.
I stayed in Cusco for a couple days and decided to take a bus from there to Puno overnight for one full day of touring Lake Titcaca, the Uros Islands and Taquile Island. My logistics went seamlessly and with my improved Spanish language skills I felt invincible! After our Uros Island tour where I saw this little angel; we went to Taquile Islands where we were hosted by a family who did a traditional dance and received a traditional meal.
In preparation for the dance, I took some photos and there was this musician tuning his guitar. I was drawn to the contrast of their simpler, less colourful costumes overall so there was this stark contrast between his hat and the rest of his outfit, so I decided to capture him on canvas. Also his background made the perfect composition!
Watercolours always seemed so intimidating to me – one wrong move and it’s all ruined compared to other mediums where mistakes can be corrected more easily. I chose it anyway because I realised I subconsciously wanted to rise to that challenge. So I took all my art funds and invested in solely watercolour paints and supplies. I bought Winsor and Newton in a cotman pan set as well as some professional colours. I use the cotman for practice pieces.
Embarking on this journey also led me to rediscover my artistic inspiration which I spoke of in this post and everything made sense.
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