Thursday, August 25, 2016

Italy: Venice

 

Venice! From the minute we stepped onto the water taxi at the Venice airport, it felt like we were wandering through a fairytale. It is a city so beautiful and improbable that it feels like it could have only been designed by artists.


Every view, archway, bridge, window, and pattern, is worthy of a painting, and becomes even moreso as the evening light begins to hit. Once I sat down to draw, I found it hard to focus on the reality of one view. The whole city felt more like a montage, with layers upon layers of beauty.


We decided to indulge in the romance of the city and stopped to have a cocktail in St. Mark's square at sunset, while a string quartet played behind us.



The whole city begins to feel like Venetian glass, where everything is reduced to layers of color, light, and pattern. As I was pondering the extravagant beauty of the scene, a seagull dropped a half-eaten pesto sandwich into my drawing bag. Ahh romance! Nice to be reminded that this place actually exits in reality.


People complain that Venice is touristy, but if anywhere deserves to have millions from all over the world come to visit, it's here.


And nothing captures the romance of Venice more than the gondolas. The tourist trade is a far cry from the days when the dramatically shaped boats were the main method of transportation. But the elegant sweep of black as it glides across the water is still a miraculous sight.




---------
This week central Italy experienced a devastating earthquake. If you appreciate these drawings and the beauty of Italy, please consider donating to help the relief effort:
Italian Red Cross
--------- 

This post is part of a series of travel illustration from a three week tour of Italy. For more of Evan Turk's travel illustration, check out the link below: 

Friday, August 19, 2016

DisneyWorld with Dalvero Academy!


I just got back from another great workshop in DisneyWorld with Dalvero Academy and instructors Veronica Lawlor and Margaret Hurst. It was 5 days of drawing, experimenting, and working all day on-location in the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT. Can't get enough!

Below are a few drawings and thumbnails:


The Victoria Crowned Pigeon in Animal Kingdom 


 People around the Magic Kingdom


EPCOT China


EPCOT Morocco


Harambe Village in Animal Kingdom


EPCOT Italy's Flag Throwers


Eating lunch in Animal Kingdom

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New York Classical Theatre: The Winter's Tale


I recently went to see the New York Classical Theatre's production of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" in Battery Park in Lower Manhattan with my good friend Julia Sverchuk, who is an associate artist for the Theatre and does brilliant drawings of all of their productions. (See her beautiful drawings for A Midsummer Night's Dream here).

I had never seen The Winter's Tale before, but it was a fun and silly soap opera that I really enjoyed. The story begins with two kings who are childhood friends. King Leontes of Sicilia tries to get his friend, Polixenes of Bohemia, to stay longer, but is unable to convince him. When Leontes' wife, Hermione, is easily able to convince him to stay, Leontes begins to suspect that they are having an affair.


His suspicion and jealousy balloons and he orders Camillo to have Polixenes killed, despite his protestations.


Camillo instead warns Polixenes and the two escape together to Bohemia.


Leontes discovers their escape and is furious. He accuses his wife of the affair and that the child she carries is Polixenes', not his own, and imprisons her.


Hermione gives birth to a baby girl, and her friend Paulina, tries to convince Leontes to free Hermione, hoping the sight of his daughter will soften him against her. But he is not convinced, and instead orders Paulina's husband to exile the baby and abandon it somewhere.


Hermione pleads with Leontes, proclaiming her innocence, but he cannot be convinced.


Hermione faints upon hearing that their son has wasted away because of the stress of these accusations. Paulina then lets out a cry offstage and comes back to report that Hermione has died as well. Leontes laments his decisions and resolves to atone for his crimes.


Meanwhile, Antigonus goes to abandon the baby in Bohemia, naming her Perdita. He leaves her in a basket with trinkets suggesting her noble heritage. He is then eaten by a bear! Two shepherds then take the baby to raise her.


The character of "Time" is played by a bard, who announces that now sixteen years have passed.


We find out that Polixenes' son, the Prince Florizel, has fallen in love with a shepherdess, also named Perdita (!!).


Polixenes and Camillo conspire to stop the Prince's wedding to Perdita, but with Camillo's help, they flee to Sicilia in disguise.

"Time" switches his clothes with Prince Florizel, and posing as a nobleman hears how the shepherds are going to prove that Perdita is of noble birth by showing Polixenes the royal trinkets she was abandoned with in the basket.


Everyone ends up going to Sicilia, and after everyone's true identities are revealed, everyone is friends again and all is well.


In even more exiting news, Hermione has apparently been pretending to be a statue of herself for 16 years, but is actually still alive! So, that worked out well! She also forgives Leontes, I guess. And now everyone is reunited and happy. Except for Paulina's husband, who was still eaten by a bear. But she gets together with Camillo in the end! Hooray!

It's an absurd story, but it was so wonderfully brought to life by the actors and the production of the New York Classical Theater. It's so beautiful seeing these plays staged against some of NY's most beautiful backdrops. The expressive actors always make it so satisfying to draw! Definitely go check out this production, on through August 7 at Battery Park, and from August 9-14 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo. 

More information below:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Italy: Cinque Terre


After Florence, we traveled to Italy's western Ligurian coast to see the famed Cinque Terre villages, a series of five impossibly quaint villages dotting the rocky coastline. We stayed outside the industrial hub of the area, La Spezia, overlooking the Golfo dei Poeti (Gulf of Poets), where poets and artists (including Lord Byron!) have come for centuries to absorb the beauty. Our first night, we went to Porto Venere, an honorary "sixth village" of the Cinque Terre, at the tip of a peninsula. Less secluded than the "Cinque", but also less touristed, it was wonderful to spend time in this charming and beautiful town.


It felt more like a beach town for Italian tourists, rather than the international hotspot that the Cinque Terre have become. It was fun watching the Italian families gather, nap, chat, and relax under the shady, seaside trees.


A nearby wedding brought glamorously dressed guests, mixing with the older locals who sat and watched the sea and the visitors pass by.


We enjoyed a perfect sunset over the marina as boats bobbed in the tide and seagulls soared overhead.


The next day, it was on to Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre villages. It's not hard to see why the towns are so heavily touristed, as you see the gorgeous, brightly-colored houses tumble down impossibly steep streets into the lapping waves of a grotto at the seas edge.


Up the inclines, the town dissolves into sweeping hills of vineyards that surround the city.


The bustling town during the day is a far cry from its quaint, isolated former days as crowds of foreign tourists pour in every hour on the trains.


Although Manarola is without a true beach, dozens of sun-worshippers plop themselves out on the hot, steep pavement near the grotto to soak up the rays. Chris and I dubbed it "walrus-ing".


Both men and women donned their teeniest bathing suits to display their tanned and toned physiques. No complaints!


As the sun set, the crowds began to thin, the walruses departed, and the town began to feel small and cut off from the modern world again. I made this last drawing inside the grotto, perched on a rock as I watched a group of girls swimming and jumping from the cliffs into the water below. What a magical place!

This post is part of a series of travel illustration from a three week tour of Italy. For more of Evan Turk's travel illustration, check out the link below: 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Italy: The Duomo of Florence


Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region, is almost more impressive than beautiful. While other cities, like Siena or Venice, are breathtaking in their elegance, the architecture of Florence feels somewhat austere and almost macho. Its crown jewel, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is jaw-droppingly massive. Adorned with Brunelleschi's incredible dome, it makes for a soaring spectacle.



One can easily imagine the overwhelming awe and fear that pilgrims centuries ago must have felt upon seeing a building of this grandeur. Even today, I couldn't stop exclaiming just how HUGE the cathedral feels. From certain angles, it appears more like an entire city than a single building.


Today's pilgrims help themselves to dozens of selfies, trying to fit the whole building into the frame.

  

It is an incredible feat of engineering. As you move around the building, the distances and angles are so immense that it feels like it moves along with you.

 

The locals seem to be a mix of refined, fashionable, artsy types, and faces that populated the paintings of the great Florentine Renaissance painters.


But as the sun begins to set, and the crowds of day trippers disperse, the light transforms the architecture and makes you understand the beauty that inspired the bravado of the city.

This post is part of a series of travel illustration from a three week tour of Italy. For more of Evan Turk's travel illustration, check out the link below: 
Evan Turk Travel Illustration

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Italy: Tuscany


Ahh Tuscany! From Rome we drove north towards the Val D'Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Tuscany region with rolling hills and regiments of spire-like cypresses punctuating the hillsides.


On the way to where we were staying, we planned to visit the town of Marta for a spring festival called La Barrabata. After a series of delays, we arrived in Marta just as the parade made it's last turn through the center of town. I drew frantically as the procession got swallowed up by the crowd following it. Only men marched in the parade, most with straw hats and plaid handkerchiefs, with floats displaying the fruits of their trades (fish, fruit, bread, cheese, vegetables, buffalo, sheaves of wheat). Women threw rose petals from the overlooking balconies as the crowds made their way up the hillside to the church.

With some help from an older local man, we made our way up to the church at the very top of the hill to find that the entire procession was now displayed for viewing behind the church. There were elaborate, flower-covered floats with tiny fountains, white buffalo, sheep, and hundreds of people celebrating. Just as I started to draw, the clouds that had been building emptied into a steady downpour. After trying to wait it out, we eventually joined the umbrella-ed masses descending the slope. I suppose when traveling you are always supposed to leave something undone, so there is a reason to come back! Next time!


It was rainy on and off for most of our stay, but that just made the landscapes more dramatic. We hadn't expected it to be so green and lush! It was amazing to see the dark thunderstorms roll over the towns and hills in the distance.


There is so much beauty, big and small. The roads are lined with tiny, delicate paper poppies and dramatic rows of cypresses.


We learned that some of the cypresses in the area date back to the 11th century when they were planted along the pilgrimage routes Via Roma and Via Francigena that led through the area between Canterbury and Rome. The trees were seen as pillars to the heavens because of their vertical nature. Many of the farmhouses sit on hilltops and were lookout posts to aid travelers as the route was often plagued by robbers and thieves.


Built by Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, also known as Pope Pius II, Pienza was constructed in 1459 as the Piccolomini's idea of the ideal Renaissance town. After being there, it's not a stretch! It has gorgeous piazzi, palazzi, and narrow cobblestone streets. The air is full of the cooing of wood pigeons and clanging bells, and the smell of delicious pecorino toscano cheese.


The city is surrounded by a walled walkway with incredible panoramic views of the Val D'Orcia. Layer after layer of hills, cypresses, villas and towns that disappear and blend into the rolling storms.


In the center of the town is the beautiful duomo, a very early Renaissance cathedral. We were there on a Sunday, so locals from the region were out in full force along with the tourists to enjoy the beautiful day. There was even a woman playing the flute under the colonnade as I was making the drawing above.


It's always nice to be able to draw the locals when traveling. People's faces in Italy often feel like they came straight out of a Renaissance painting.


On one excursion, we visited a nearby natural hot spring, or acqu calda, named Fosso Bianco. After a short walk down the hill through the woods, you can smell the sulfurous mineral baths as you approach. Steaming mineral water pours down over the enormous, white calcium-covered terraces as people collect in the various pools to bask in the warmth.


On our last day, we left the Tuscany countryside for Florence, but made a stop in Siena, one of the most beautiful cities in the area. The medieval city boasts unique, rich architecture, the Piazza del Campo where the famous Palio horse race occurs (next time!), and a striking striped cathedral. After only a couple hours, it was onto Florence, but we will definitely be returning to Siena!

This post is part of a series of travel illustration from a three week tour of Italy. For more of Evan Turk's travel illustration, check out the link below: