Back to the Bolivian Altiplano and the flamingos that inhabit the lakes. As the morning sun burns the mists away it also warms the birds enabling them to move and start feeding on the algae which colour the lakes.
Some may recognise this as part of an earlier Liverpool painting (Feb 5th). I liked the four figures backlit from the shop and their shadows cast along the wet pavement. On completion I don’t think I got what I was after. Perhaps I should have pared it down even more and lost some of the top, which I put in for context.
Well it kept me off the streets, hanging around newsagents, I suppose.
Another play with ink and watercolour. The ink runs gave a leafy texture on the trees, as if autumn was stripping the dead leaves from the branches. Again the black ink pushes the tonal range and allows a sense of recession with lighter trees in the background.
Having been playing with ink on my life drawing, I started using it on some watercolours to give them some real tonal range. This one was inspired by my recent trip in Bolivia. Driving through the desert of the altiplano and seeing the dusty collections of buildings around a mine shaft in the middle of nowhere you wonder about the riches in the ground.
Since returning from my trip I’ve attended two or three life drawing sessions. The ones I’ve been to prefer the fast and furious so I just took a pen, some writing ink and a brush. Drawing with a pen shows all the hesitations and mistakes, but the ink washes means you can get a great tonal range which, if the lighting is any good, means you can exploit fully.
The hotel we stayed in at Sucre, Bolivia, seemed to have been transported from Morocco. As the town was built by the Spanish it is not surprising to find a Moorish influence. The cool corridors interspersed with the light courtyards, painted blue exuded a solid permanence against which the human form seemed fleeting. I tried to dissolve the figure into the light and shade as she made her way across the courtyard.
I saw these guys when I was in San Pedro de Atacama as I was painting the square – see my sketch of April 1st. I had selected my view and was well into it when the front two guys sat down. Later they were joined by the guy in the background and started some banter. I almost stopped what I was doing and restarted, but thought that I could get some photos of them. In one of them I think I was spotted, as you can see.
I started this painting including the lush trees and vegetation of the square which you can see in my sketch. The painting that resulted is shown below.
I wanted to feature the lush shade to explain their situation, but the whole thing looked too busy and the greys and blues seemed to overrun the subjects.
So out came the red paint. I winged it with the left hand side of the rear figure, but the neutral background pulls the figures into sharp contrast. Looking at it again I probably need to lighten the left leg of the rear figure. I also cropped the top painting as there was a lot of red. I might have another go at this, making the figures a bit bigger, to better fill the space – but I’ll spare you that.
This was from a photo snatched as we drove through the central square at Ollantaytambo in the Incan Sacred Valley in Peru. There are Incan remains of a fortress amongst other things at one end of the village but the modern village also has facets of Incan architecture, even a pavement which incorporates a watercourse. The place looked fascinating and I wanted to wander through the streets, but we had spent too much time at the fortress and didn’t have time. I simplified the background and rearranged the dog, but the rest was as the camera caught them.
Dropping down around 1400 meters from Bolivia to the Atacama Desert in Chile we stopped at San Pedro de Atacama. A small river comes into the town making it look like an oasis from above. The town square with its Adobe Church has lush trees giving plenty of shade and the whole place has a less chaotic, less half-built feel that you get in towns in Peru and Bolivia, although there are still plenty of stray dogs enjoying the afternoon sun. Still, they all seem to be good humoured.
The Licancaber volcano glowers over the town. We entered the country close to the volcano and drove down the long hill to the plain of the desert. We brought with us a group of Chinese photographers who had been marooned at the border. As the area is reputedly mined it is better to come by car.
Later we walked up to Pukara de Quitor which is a pre Columbian settlement from where I sketched this. The river runs alongside the settlement and probably was the reason why it was established along with a great defensive position. Below us the ribbon of vegetation marks the course of the river. In the background is the Volcano and the Bolivian border.