I addition to keeping a sketch book while in Sicily, I also did a lot of sketching in watercolor. Sometimes a camera just doesn’t capture the full experience. When a camera takes a picture, the lighting is always a little different from what the eye is seeing. A camera focuses on everything instead of letting one focal point really come out. The camera doesn’t take into account the air and the wind and the smells of a beautiful scene. The camera is a tool that captures an image without any sense of awe or emotion. This is why we paint!
A painting may not represent every minute detail to the finest degree of accuracy, especially if it was sketched out in a matter of minutes, but a painting talks about all of the things that a raw photo does not. A painting points out what is most important in a scene, and what made the biggest impact on the artist. A painting captures colors in low light the a camera would turn into muddy grain. A painting captures an emotion ambiance that the camera is not sensitive to, and a painting preserves the physical conditions that took place on site in the way that the brush laid down the paint on paper. You can see the energy, delight, pain and discomfort of the artist’s hand in the brushwork. Whereas the camera removes the physical prescience of the artist in her work.
In this post are the field watercolor paintings that I did on-site in Sicily. Balancing my block and pallet on one arm and my brush in the other, I painted standing, perched on rocks, sitting on hillsides, crouched on a curb, and all sorts of other less than comfortable places. Some paintings took only five mints, while others I worked on for an hour. Each sketch only took up half or a third of my block so that I could paint multiple sketches a day without having to remove the paper and worry about storing and protecting the loose sheets. A the beginning of each day I would prepare a fresh piece of paper on my watercolor block, sectioning it off with tape, and at the end of the day I would remove the finished paintings and tuck them away in the hotel rooms so that I wouldn’t have to take any finished paintings back out into the field.
The sunrises and sunsets in Sicily were gorgeous, and a favorite subject for all of the painters and photographers on the trip. The trick to painting the moving sun is to do it quickly. The light of a sunset can change in a matter of minutes.
Speed painting is great practice because it keeps the paintings loose and decisive. There was no time to mess around over-working or over-thinking.
You can view these and all of my other sketches from Sicily in the sketchbook gallery.