Ostuni


Ostuni is a hilltop town in the province of Puglia in the south if Italy. Set several miles back from the sea the old village is bounded by white fortified walls and rises to a central cathedral with adjacent views stretching across the flat plane to the sea. The village has a strong Greek influence which is apparent while walking the undisturbed back streets of the old town. The town has now extended to cover three hilltops but still maintains a village feel.

I had worked intensely on sketches while in Matera. Ostuni became a place to reflect on what I actually wanted to get out of the holiday from my drawing.

Looking across to the old town while having a Panini I had to do a sketch. I noticed the little gap between buildings at the bottom of this image and realised it would contrast with, and set up a diagonal relationship with, the solidity of the cathedral spire. I used my A3 sketchpad for this with graphics pens. Diagonal hatching brings out the form of the buildings.

At the top of the old town is the cathedral with a square and the necessary cafe. Looking around this little chimney presented itself. The sun had moved past right angles to the elevation which helps sculpt the masonry. It was clear to me that this sketch had to be about tone so pencils were required. A drawing like this causes you to observe closely. The picture is only about 5cm x 10cm but carefully checking the relationship of value at differing parts of the scene is good practice for painting. Little subtleties like reflected light on the animal face become apparent.

I had to do this as much for the challenge as anything else, the overall scene is just a bit too picture postcard.. I'd seen this scooter the night before on the way back from dinner. I've drawn scooters and the likes before but always in pencil so the challenge here was to use pen straight from the tube (no pencil lines first). A3 in graphic pens. I have to admit to always getting a kick from overlapping geometry and perspective as seen at the top of this sketch.

Back up at the cathedral square with a cuppa and the tourists kept standing in front of me so the bottom of the image only loosely drawn.

A little street adjacent to the walls. Bit of the usual here , washing on lines and TV aerials. The locals stopped by on their way to and fro to see how I was getting on. I used diagonal and vertical hatching as necessary here for the shadows. The black in the arch recess was a design decision to create more variety in the image and to throw the washing forward. This is A3 in graphic pen.

Stopped for a drink after dinner in a little square at the back of the cathedral. This had to be the coolest of spaces. Outdoor lighting and projections, funky bean bags and chillax music. Daylight was well gone so there was just dim artificial background lighting. So the challenge here was to draw the darkness on a white page. This was looking around a corner out of the square. There was a street light just around the corner. On an A4 page in pencil, image about 8cm x 15cm.Irene had to nip back to the hotel around the corner so the challenge here was to bang out a pic as quickly as possible with a shop owner over my shoulder watching the whole process. No time for considered thought on the likes of this, it was all about keeping the pencil moving and mapping values onto the paper. All in all about 8 minutes in pencil on an A4 page.

Another little pencil drawing focusing on the values.


This was one of the last drawings I did in Ostuni. Standing outside of the city walls and looking up the layers that make up the construction are visible. At this location you are already significantly above the surrounding landscape. Upon the limestone base the city walls are visible with fenestration from the buildings behind, then above are the superimposed buildings. The roofscape with chimneys and aerials helped draw me to this (as well as the washing on lines of course). The blacks inside the arches help bring out the form. A3 in graphics pens.

The visit to Ostuni resulted in other notes and sketches that will inform series of works over the next year.

Next off to the costal town of Polignano a Mare.