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Sketch your life wherever you are

I took this course while on holiday so my sketches reflect this. The course was good for me - it got me back into a regular sketching habit.  All of these sketches were made in the area around Bad Münster am Stein, a spa resort in the Nahe river valley in Germany. 

Here are some of the sketches that I made during the past couple of weeks, with the reasons why I chose the subject. I used a fine liner in a Hahnemühle A5 sketchbook with watercolour (Derwent Aquatone watercolour sticks - I break off small sections and keep these in a piece of polystyrene in an old cough sweet tin - very portable!).  I also use a portable water brush. 

This old bridge over the river Nahe is in Bad Kreuznach, another larger spa town.  It caught my eye because of the house built in the middle of it.  There are a couple of bridges in Germany with buildings as part of their structure. I like quirky architecture and unusual structures.  It was a hot day around midday and so there were few shadows but what shadows there were were strong.  I didn't get the perspective quite right but the quirkiness is definitely in the sketch!

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This sketch was one of four that I made of these sandstone rocks at different times of day.  I love the drama of sheer rocks.  These rise from vineyards down below (the area is known for its white wines) and it is possible to walk along the top near the edge for some way - there are beautiful, far views of the region.  At 10.00 am, there are strong shadows but also patches of sunlight on the rocks, creating strong value contrasts. 

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This is a view from the balcony in the apartment where I stayed, which I drew on the day I arrived.  I like to draw new places because it helps me to look at them closely and to understand a bit of the layout, and maybe get ideas for places to explore.  The strange mushroom shape on the bridge is a sheltered seating area so that you can sit out over the water and watch birds fishing and feel the cool breeze on a warm day (and strong gusts of wind on a cold one!).

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I used continuous line drawing to draw my knees and feet on a hot, humid afternoon when I could not be bothered to move and wanted a drawing challenge! Not an easy subject - I redrew lines and made quite a mess. Definitely bony knees!

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This sketch is of an old mill in a village called Odernheim am Glan.  Glan refers to the river which can be seen in the sketch.  I was actually on the way somewhere else and had just got off a bus.  I had never been there before and when I saw the mill and a shady bench, I knew that I must sit down and draw it. 

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This sketch is of a part of a ruined monastery on a hill called Disibodenberg, above the river Nahe.  Parts of the monastery date back to the twelfth century and this was the planned destination for my walk (see note to sketch above). I love ruins.  Most very old buildings were built from local stone - they came from their surroundings and are gradually returning to them. While I was drawing this, a woman came and sat nearby.  She waited quite a while until I had finished and then asked to see the drawing and we had a conversation.  This has happened a few times when drawing in public and it is one of the nicest aspects of drawing! 

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This is the ruin of the old abbey at the same site.  I chose it for the beauty of the old stone as well as for the structure - the floor is mostly destroyed and you can see deep down into what was once the crypt. A surprising thing was how many women were wandering around the ruin, perhaps because it is a quiet place of contemplation. 

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One hot day, I walked up into the forest near to where I was staying. I got lost and decided to just walk, knowing that I was not far from "home".  I would use my GPS when I was ready to find my way back.  I found a place on top of a hill to eat my sandwiches, and afterwards decided to draw the view so that I would better remember the moment.  I have simplified it so that more of the distant vineyards are visible. The drawing lacks a focus but it reflects how it felt to be sitting in silence near the top of a hill on a very warm summer's day.  The forest has lots of pines and oak trees and feels more like an Italian forest than a German one - definitely a Mediterranean feel!  I only met one other person in about three hours. 

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After I came down from the forest, I bought an ice cream and ate it while looking up at this castle.  The rocks rise directly out of the river and the area has a wild feel, even though it is just across from a small town.  So then I decided to draw the rocks and the castle perched on the top. About a week later, I walked up there - more stony, Mediterranean-like paths and wonderful views on a sunny day.  I had the castle to myself that day.  It was worth the climb to the top.

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This is another view from my balcony.  It is of another small town, Ebernburg, just across the river from Bad Münster am Stein, where I was staying (this is very common in Germany - it looks like one place on a map but is actually two and each place has its own atmosphere).  I like roof tops -  I like to imagine the gardens, courtyards and small lanes and streets which are invisible in such a view.  How would the place feel if you walked through it?  All of the hidden lives that go on beneath the roofs.  I visited the town one evening and walked through the empty streets.  It is hilly, as the view suggests but it felt nothing like I imagined.

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