Holiday flashback

Queueing isn't something that comes naturally to Kiwis, there aren't enough of us to form a decent example of one.

So naturally I arrived totally unprepared for the Uffizi Gallery. Turns out you have to book online weeks in advance to avoid the dreaded queue, and of course I would have done that if I'd known.

What else should a sketcher do then, for almost 2 hours while waiting to enter one of the worlds most impressive art galleries? Get out the sketchbook of course!

The wait is worth it though, great to see in the flesh so many amazing works only previously seen in books. I took a break after a few hours of intense art ogling to sketch the view over the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio.

Finally a sketch inside our hotel, Hotel Bretagne, just a block or so along the river from the Uffizi. A bit of fluke to find this place at last minute, we were miraculously upgraded to a rather palatial room complete with frescoed ceiling! Apparently once the room of Napoleon's brother, Luigi Bonaparte, King of Holland. A bit like sleeping in a Renaissance museum but with nice helpful staff, it totally made the whole Florence experience.


ITU Triathlon World Championship

Unfortunately I didn't make it into town yesterday for the Woman's event. It was held under clear sunny conditions, unlike today's Men's event which was miserable. A shame because sketching while holding an umbrella about to take off isn't my idea of fun! It made capturing the moving competitors really tough, and I wasted several spreads of my sketchbook before I got this one.

Exciting race to watch though with New Zealander Kris Gemmell making a huge breakaway in the cycle leg, probably over a minute ahead of the pack, only to get sucked back in to finish 20th. The kids had a great time screaming 'Go Kiwi' with the rest of the enthusiastic home crowd too. The race was eventually won by Javier Gomez of Spain who just out sprinted Jonathan Brownlee of Great Britain in the final stretch. Brownlee claims the overall World Championship title for 2012.


'Villa not Filler' on Jervois Road

I was greeted by the clever slogan 'Villa not Filler' on my way to work this morning. Good timing too as I'd just yesterday posted my sketch and gripe over the probable removal of the Erawan Thai building on Jervois Road. This is a (very quick) sketch of the remaining picketers. Great to see others feel the same way!

Don't demolish Erawan Thai!

Erawan Thai, Jervois Road, Herne Bay by Mr Dewhurst
Yet another classic for the developers axe. Unfortunately this ones a near neighbour too, a grand old (120+, old for New Zealand anyway) villa and well known local landmark. I've sketched parts of it before but this time a little more respectfully as it may be my last chance.

Sadly the owner doesn't appreciate it's true value to the area, and our council isn't prepared to act with more meaningful protection for the character of the area.

Read NZ Herald articles, here Removal of historic Herne Bay villa 'an absolute shocker' and here This landmark is a genuine icon - but it's doomed.


Florence II

More sketches from Florence, including an obligatory Lambretta, we have plenty of these in Auckland but hey.

Note the spelling mistake due to a brain more focussed on the Chianti and bruschetta I was enjoying at a street side cafe. Quite liked the simplicity of some of the street places like this one, here they did Bruschetta or Bruschetta (which is really just a fancy name for some tomato oil and basil on toast), and a couple of wine or beer varieties, nothing more. perfect.

Another go at the Duomo below, this time I really got into it and got thoroughly lost in all the marble detail. I had to totally zone out and didn't notice anything or anyone else around me for an hour and a half.

At the bottom a fast one on Piazza di Santa Croce. With Santa Croce basilica behind me I tried to focus on the topography of the square, the feeling of scale and mass of the buildings and the alleys between. It reminds me a bit of the sketches of Eduardo Salavisa, he's an expert at capturing quickly the feeling and scale of a place.


The recent trip is quickly becoming a faded memory thanks to the wall of work that awaited my return. Looking back over these sketches helps bring it all back though. Lots of street corners feature the Virgin Mary either in sculptural form or oil paintings that are now covered with perspex or mesh to protect them. They also feature coats of arms as well, this is the enormous Medici coat of arms on a corner by the Duomo Plaza. A work of art in it's own right.

Florence was a lot of fun to draw with so much history to absorb and so much to get down on paper. I reckon you could draw there for weeks and not run out of interesting subjects. They have an interesting selection of electric cars and trucks in the city centre - you can only park in the centre if you are electric, but I ran out of time to draw those. Next time! I had to draw the Duomo though, it's simply amazing. But it's also enormous and packed with
so much marble detail that I decided to play it safe
and bite off just a small portion of it. I had a go at the
whole thing a few days later, will post this sketch soon.


(not very) Sexy Auckland

She's a bit run-down and worse for wear, her nipples no longer flash and the clock above her no longer keeps 'Vegas Time'. A bit like Karangahape Road in general really, it still has it's moments (as I sketched a couple of working fa'afafine casually looked over my shoulder to check out what I was up to), and the brass lettering beside the door boldly proclaims 'Australasia's Premier Striptease Club', it's all a bit optimistic I think!

The Las Vegas Strip is one of the last remaining clubs from the streets seedy 60's and 70's heyday as Auckland's red-light strip. When I heard the place was on the market, I thought I'd try to capture that infamous sign before it disappears forever. With any luck it might go the way of a neighbour, the The Pink Pussy Cat and get redeveloped as an art gallery.


More Rome

Another leg in our whirlwind visit to Europe. First stop, just a few blocks off the train is Santa Maria Maggiore, an intriguing combination of architectural styles. To be honest it was so hot, I was so excited to finally be in Rome and I was mobbed by children, my perspective went way out the window.

Our room was pretty standard, but the view was great, colorful, busy, just how I thought it should be.

Eating out at night after many hours traipsing the sights...