Polignano a Mare

So this was the last location on the trip. Thirty minutes on down the coast from the city of Bari, Polignano a Mare is a popular holiday destination and spot for a day trip. The old town is modest is size but abuts the sea with a cliff face which creates a lot of drama.

This building in the main town square was under renovation. This caused a lot of texture so a small drawing in pencil resulted. I had more or less finished the drawing but it needed something else. Putting in a slightly distorted ground texture helped the image rest on the page.

Sitting having a coffee and this man sat in the square opposite. Not happy altogether with the picture but there was something about the simplicity of the figure, tree and window I wanted to capture. I was spotted so he came over. With French as a common language (trying to remember back to my O level) it transpired he was a stone mason and on revealing I was an architect he immediately took me on a tour of the old town architectural hot spots. Irene was abandoned with her glass of wine.

I had brought a little tin of watercolours with me. No watercolours done for a few years so I was determined to get back into them. Holiday time was fast running out so had to go for it. This is on an A4 page 140lb watercolour paper. I did loose initial pencil marks on the page before painting so these peep through. I also made a slight adjustment to the building so that it appears to exactly face the viewer. This was necessary to stop the viewer falling off the left of the page. There was a bright sun so important to bring out the warmth of the stone.

We stayed in an apartment with a little square and church outside. So had to do this one with pencil. The darkness of the inside and follow through to the window on the opposite side of the building is critical to the image. I set off the stonework with the sky behind and then followed through with a little distorted ground texture.

This is the stony beach at the edge of the old town. It fills up with bathers over the day. Had to capture some sense of bathers in the water and on the beach. To do this I focused on the darkness of heads and shapes of bathing costumes. A4 in pencil.

There is this rocky area that overlooks the old town so I set up there for this watercolour.

Just inside the walls of the old town and looking towards the main church spire in the main square. The light was hitting on the building interestingly. This was about trying to capture the values. Looking carefully there was reflected light from the main square paving illuminating the bottom of the tower. Halfway through I was moved on by a shopowner. He was opening up and I was occupying the spot for his main outdoor display. We struggle for our art!

Another watercolour sketch on the beach. Italians are funny! Had a few come over to get their photo taken with me as I sketched.

Nipped a few miles down the coast to Monopoli. This was the corner of a folding shopfront screen with curtain and sign and a bottle of wine on wall rack inside. Again this was all about values so a pencil was the preferred tool. The restaurant was being used for a fashion shoot at the time. Now I know why the shirts fit the male models so perfectly – there was a big bulldog clip gathering the shirt at the back.

The train was due in 5 minutes and I suddenly noticed this water tower so quickly planked myself on the platform floor and got stuck in. Got the sketch and three moskito bites for the effort.

Back down to the beach for another go with a pencil. Here I focused on trying to catch the texture of the sea. I also put in a little tone for the sky behind the buildings to help give depth to the picture. All in pencil. Happy with this.

Headed back over to this view of the old town for another go. A bit of cloud had come over which allowed me to have fun with the sky. The sky was very much a wet in wet approach starting with coating the paper in water and then dropping in the colour. Holding the sketchpad I was able to tilt the sheet to cause the colour to run where I wanted. There are a few dabs of tissue paper on the sky too, to lighten and create edges. I also used a wet in wet approach initially on the sea and then, when dry, followed up with marks with a horizontal emphasis. The stonework colour is a more muted yellow than in the earlier paintings reflecting the illumination by the overcast sky rather than a yellow sun.

Looking along the side of the same little church outside our apartment into the square. Graphics pens again. Another one of those pictures topped off with a TV aerial.

And a picture to finish off the visit. This was looking up at the walls of this old town. Again an A3 in graphics pens.

And that was it, holiday over.

More travel journals here.