Essaouria Medina

Essaouria Medina

I was looking to cheer myself up from the cold January weather and toothache, so I went through my photos of Morocco. I found a picture of an archway in the Essaouria Medina. It has lovely warm colours, depth, and interest in the traders on each side. The shops are busy and I wasn’t sure how detailed I should go.

I’m focusing on composition at the moment and I find this really difficult. I made several sketches and looked at options using the computer screen and decided on a portrait shape with the focus on the archway.

I’ve kept the colours soft with the main shadow under the arch. There is more detail for those who look a little more deeply as I wanted rewards for the viewer and not give everything away immediately.

For those who went to Morocco I hope it captures the essence of the place.

Essouria Morocco Medina

Essaourian Archway

I’ve noticed this picture was not looking very warm so I’ve taken the photo again to match the painting


I think there is quite a difference!

Relaxed Commissions

As friends see my sketches they sometimes ask for a painting. Most of my paintings collect dust in a draw so I normally don’t mind working on a relaxed commission as they provide me with a challenge and will, hopefully, be liked, even displayed by the recipient. A relaxed commission brief is normally quite woolly  but often I have an idea at the time of the final painting.

A while ago an Archery friend was quite brazen with her request and it made me laugh. She chose a painting from my sketchbook and asked for it as a Christmas present.

The original sketch is one of my favorites and  one I really wanted to develop as a painting. As it came from my sketchbook I had an idea of the composition, style and tone. I painted it in less than a day and felt satisfied with the result. Halfway through I took a photo of it as I was pleased with the progress and wanted a record in case it all went pear shaped. (Janet notice I have exaggerated the perspective)


Essaouria half way

I liked the way the city appears out of the mist and this reminded me of the first day when the sea mist had rolled in, making everything very mysterious. Of course I couldn’t leave it alone and had to add more detail . Here is the finished piece.


Essaouria Medina, Morocco

The camera has distorted the horizon line a bit but I’m pleased with the painting. The birds provide movement and interest and the boats are needed in the foreground for perspective, tone and balance. I hope Carol likes it.

The other relaxed commission came from one of my Tango teachers. Sandra had looked though some of my sketches of Sorrento and quite off-hand said she would like a painting of the pair of them dancing. I don’t think she had expected me to paint one, so it was a surprise when I presented her with one.

Now this is quite a different  subject to a previously planned & sketched picture. One, this was of people, two, of people I know, three, dancers who would instantly know bad technique if I drew it, four, movement is a must  and a further hundred other issues. Tricky!

I started by looking on the internet for styles that would suit the subject. I used Pintrest a lot and found wonderful illustrations of dancers, all quite beyond my capabilities. But it did inspire me and I looked for a picture of the couple when they danced recently in Naples. In the end I used a scene from a video they made but it was terribly out of focus. The colors were interesting and the light amazing. Finding good technique was tricky as often one of them would look out of balance or in a strange position. I chose a simple move, called a sandwich with the follower on pivot. Pretty safe but a little static. No matter ,it was a start.

The drawing took time but the painting was relatively quick.


Sandra and Santiago in Naples

There are elements I changed after taking this photo but I forgot to rephotograph. I’m pleased with the light and color but I think the pose is too static. I did give it another go at a later date but it went terribly wrong and I had to bin it. I plan to do others but I need inspiration and more practice.