Among My Souveniers

Along the Canal, acrylic, 18″ x 24″

Husband and I have been fortunate to be able to travel quite a bit to a wide variety of places.  And everywhere we go we see souvenir shops.  People want to remember an especially enjoyable trip.  But is another tee shirt with some sassy comment written on it the answer?  As an artist I don’t think so.  I know that the really artistic way to capture where I’ve been would be with a sketch book and pencil.  But that is hard to do if one is with other people who want to move on to the next site, or the weather is not great, or there are a lot of strangers around who will want to look over my shoulder.

So I do the next best thing and take lots of photos.  And you do have to take a lot to get that one or two that will make a good painting.  Most people these days take photos with their phones, but I still carry a small, simple camera in my pocket or purse.  And of course you have to have your camera with you at all times because you never know when you are going to see something you just have to paint.  I remember a teacher in a photography class I took long ago telling us that at a time when cameras were big, bulky things with detachable lens.

So here I was in Amsterdam in October of last year out walking by myself while husband attended a convention.  The day was sunny and warmer than usual and there were people everywhere enjoying the day.  I took the photo I based the above painting on standing on a bridge over the canal.  There were more people and bicycles in the photo than I included in the painting.  One does have to edit and people and bicycles are hard to paint.  The buildings were hard to paint too, especially trying to get the correct perspective.  But I’ve found a way to do that.  If you have a tile floor in your kitchen or bathroom as I do, lay your painting’s horizon even with one of the tile lines.  The choose a vanishing point somewhere outside the painting and mark it with charcoal.  As you draw in the buildings, lines of windows and doors, take two yardsticks, since one may not be long enough, and lay them across the tops of the windows, etc. and down to the vanishing point.

I think I captured the essence of that scene with young people hanging out beside the canal enjoying the sunshine.  It will be my souvenir of a lovely afternoon in Amsterdam.  I won’t need a tee shirt or wooden shoes.

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