Waikuku exhibition coming up

This summer I’ve not been very active with my paintings although I have managed a couple of works. This one of the General Store at Waikuku beach was inspired by the many colours of the advertising signs and will be among the works I will be showing at the annual Waikuku Artists Inc exhibition coming up on the second week of February.

DSC03616n Waiadd

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Heading (too quickly) to Christmas

Over the last few weeks there seems to have been a lot going on in my life and with Christmas coming up it is not quietening down at all. I’ve exhibited (and sold) work in a group exhibition in Christchurch’s Transitional (cardboard) Cathedral and in conjunction with two garden shows, and I’ve prepared and presented a talk about the European Galleries Paulette and I have visited over the last few years. But, fortunately,  I’ve also managed to produce at least one new water colour painting each week. Here are four of these works executed in the new style I’ve been working on for the last few months. I’m pleased with them. Let me know what you think.

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Latest paintings and other news

Following a successful exhibition with the Rangiora Art Society I’ve continued working with the new style I am trying to develop. I’m more or less happy with the work I’m producing, the vignette has been an important part of my work for a few years now but I’m trying to take it in a new direction. These works are, like all my work, based on a fairly detailed drawing, but the painting starts with very loose bands of wet on wet colours swiped across the work before the light patches are lifted out and the painting executed with varying levels of detail. The amount of detail which is necessary is where I find my self in a bit of an artistic quandary. Oh well I suppose I’ll settle on what works for me before I head off on some other tangent.

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A bit of a change of style

Since returning from our recent trip I’ve been working on a bit of a style change. The subject matter of these works is similar but the execution is a bit different. Here are a couple of these experimental works.

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Meandering to Munich

Here we are sitting at Munich airport, having checked in and waiting for boarding. We’ve had another excellent day except for the last hour crossing Munich at rush hour with major road works, several km of stop start and crowded five lane autobahns with traffic travelling at up to 120km/h.

Boat houses at Kochel
Boat houses at Kochel

Our first stop was just over the German border at Mittenwald, a real picture postcard alpine village where we had a walk, visited a church, had a coffee and managed a sketch. Sounds much like the rest of our holiday doesn’t it, except that each place is different.

We used “Tim” to keep us off the autobahn and stopped at a couple of charming lakeside towns. The first one was Kochel, a quiet place where we had a walk around the lake and nearer Munich we had a long walk following a tourist map recommended walk around Starnberg which was very enjoyable and featured another church, a small castle and a pizza in a cafe at the lakeside.

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To and In Innsbruck

Paulette and I have had a couple of good days since I last posted, and as we fly out of Munich tomorrow evening this may be my last post, although I might get a final one written if I find time and a wifi connection at the airport.

Leaving  Salzburg yesterday morning we stopped in Berchtesgaden (back in Germany briefly) for a wander around this attractive alpine town. We then went to Konigsee, a very beautiful alpine lake which has very steep mountains descending into it. The tops of the mountains still have a little snow. We had a good walk to the lake past 500 metres of souvenir and food shops. At the lake there are around twenty boat houses built out into the lake so the tourist boats each have their own garage.

St Johann in Tirol
St Johann in Tirol

Back in Austria we drove over a highish pass through lovely alpine scenery to St Johann in Tirol. It was warm so we travelled with the roof of our convertible down. Over the mandatory coffee I sketched the church above. Our route then took us, mostly on the autobahn, to Innsbruck where we found our Gasthaus high above the city near a ski area, although the town is only a ten minutes drive away for dinner.

Innsbruck
Innsbruck

Back in Innsbruck today we spent our time exploring in a very relaxed fashion. Another coffee and a good chat with some Aussies who are having a longer holiday than us. They are traveling by rail with a eurail pass and we discussed the pros and cons of rail v car and decided that the jury was still out. However the 14.7 euro ($22NZ) we paid for parking today might sway the argument.

We visited two more churches, the Hofkirche contains the tomb built for Emperor Maximilian in around 1500. It took over 100 years to finish and is guarded by a dozen,or so, giant bronze statues of kings Maximilian considered his ancestors. Albrecht Durer worked on some of the statues and, interestingly one is of King Arthur.

Later we took a modern funicular railway part way up the mountain but I did not try to persuade Paulette to go up higher on the cable car.

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Mostly Salzburg

Salzburg old town from the river
Salzburg old town from the river

Yesterday was, I think, the biggest drive of our whole trip. I was a bit apprehensive about driving out of Vienna, but it turned out to be pretty straight forward, the route was easy and, perhaps because it was Saturday morning, the traffic was light. Because of the distance we took the autobahn and had decided to stop in the pretty town of Enns, on the way we had another dramatic thunderstorm with rain so heavy that it slowed the traffic to below 70km/h. Our stop in Enns was only successful in that we found a nice cafe for lunch but the rain prevented us getting much of a look at the place.

The situation in Salzburg was much the same, we stayed in our hotel room until the rain eased then took a bus to town but before long it was raining heavily so we headed back quite early. We’d seen enough to know that Salzburg is a nice place, but went to bed feeling that it had been a wasted day.

Today, however, was a complete contrast, the rain threatened at times but never set in and we really enjoyed the city. We walked up to the Hohensalzburg castle (a considerable climb) and found it to be really lovely, a real medieval fortress with steep, winding access and many arched gates which could easily have been defended. It stands high on a steep hill above the town but is large enough to enclose several courtyards, one with an ancient church. I managed another drawing which includes a tower, I think many of my sketches from this trip look the same.

For a complete change this afternoon, we took a “Sound of Music” tour along with heaps of English speakers, many with an obsession with the movie. We had great fun visiting the sites where the film was made and singing along to the songs. Our guide was quite mad but made it enjoyable for everyone. The highlight for me was a visit to the lakeside town of Mondsee, a real Austrian alpine town, so clean and manicured it almost felt like a giant theme park.

Salzburg and environs are really beautiful with magnificent buildings everywhere all surrounded by mountains and with a fast flowing river flowing through the centre.

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The Vienna Waltz

The Schonbrunn Fountain
The Schonbrunn Fountain

Well, with us, it is not so much of a waltz as a slow amble, but whatever we’ve been on our feet a lot over the last two days. However that’s been the norm for much of our holiday so we are very much used to it.

Having avoided cathedrals and palaces for a couple of days yesterday we managed one of each and we walked through the grounds of a second palace. Schonbrunn palace was the summer home of the Habsburg family and Emperor Frans Joseph’s palace before WW1. The fact that the household numbered fifteen hundred suggests that it might be quite large and it certainly is. It’s construction was intended to match the magnificence of Versailles, and there are similarities, but although it may not be quite quite as grand it is really awesome with very extensive grounds, lovely formal gardens and the house has around 1400 rooms. We bought the cheapest tour tickets which allowed us access to twenty five of those rooms focussing on the state rooms used by Franz Joseph and his wife Elizabeth known as Sisi. Sisi has almost mythical status in Austria, she was apparently a beauty and, sadly was assassinated while still comparatively young. The most impressive room we visited was the grand gallery a long hall with large windows on one side and matching mirrors on the other, decorated in white with bulk gilding.

My sketch from near the Gloriette
My sketch from near the Gloriette

After our tour we walked, and rested in the gardens, climbing the hill to the Gloriette, a building with several arches which face the palace from the top of the hill about a kilometre away. There are grand fountains, the largest of which has a waterfall about fifty metres long with horses and riders rising from the water.

Later we visited Stephens Dom cathedral in the centre of the city which rates with the most beautiful we’ve seen, took a tram ride around the towns inner ring (road), walked through the grounds of the Hofburg palace and managed a sketch near the home of the Spanish Riding School.

Over the course of our holiday we seem to have been pursued by a couple of artists. I posted a photo of Tracey Emin’s infamous bed from the Tate Britain and we had run into some of her drawings somewhere else. In Cesky Krumlov I’d read that famous Austrian artist Egon Schiele had lived there briefly before being kicked out by townsfolk outraged that he’d been paying young girls to pose as nude models for him. Today they came together during our visit to the Leopoldo Museum. Schiele, a very talented artist, was obsessed with the erotic and must have been very controversial in the early twentieth century. Nonetheless his drawings are extraordinarily evocative and his larger paintings very powerful. Tracey Emin was very much inspired by Schiele and much of her recent work on show is even more sexually explicit. I wonder whether the motive of both artists was/is to shock.

Our visit to the Leopoldo Museum was primarily to see some of Gustav Klimpt’s work and I enjoyed his early work and the two or three of his works in the style for which he is best known, but the quantity and possibly quality of Schiele’s work on show overpowered it.

Paulette on the Giant Ferris Wheel
Paulette on the Giant Ferris Wheel

After a walk to the Rathaus (gothic town hall) we decided to catch a train to see the famous giant Ferris wheel which was built in the 1890’s and when we got there we found a vast modern funfair. The giant wheel was a forerunner of the London Eye and although perhaps only half the diameter still offered great views over the city. Paulette surprised me, and herself, by coming with me on the wheel and although she did not look down seemed to enjoy the ride. We had a great time strolling around the funfair which had everything from sideshows to dodgem cars. We were most fascinated by the extreme rides such as the chair o plane which rose up a 100 metre tower as it span.

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