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  • Writer's pictureNick Pike

Two weeks sketching and painting in rural Hungary

Due to an administrative error, in that Rita and I hadn't checked the flight details properly, my summer holiday to Hungary this year ended up as a fortnight rather than the usual one week. More time for walks, more lake time and more time to create art!

Given the longer break abroad, I spent a lot of time sketching, which I hadn't done for years. I'd brought a selection of pencils but was slightly limited when my precious 4B had broken lead all the way through - unfortunately you can't know this until sharpening right the way to the end.

The makeshift easel from last year had been updated in my absence, so I didn't need to lean it against a chair this time!

25/7/23 - Hanging flowers from the veranda

There was a huge thunderstorm the night before and it was still raining outside whilst I was itching to start my new sketchbook. I sat under the veranda and searched randomly for some music on Spotify to get into the mood (strangely landing on Lajkó Félix - my favourite Hungarian musician). The violin based music is fast and sporadic, which really influenced the way I began to draw.

I didn't realise whilst sketching that the plant pot had been gently turning in the wind and had to be very flexible with drawing from direct observation. I started to concentrate more on the shapes and shading, resulting in very much an impressionistic sketch.

Later, I chose another part of the veranda where the afternoon sun was highlighting the foreground of begonias, whilst putting the background of oleanders in the shade. For this I worked at a more considered pace and tried to see how a composition would work if I encompassed both of the sketches from today.

I found out last night that all the flowers in the foreground I've been sketching are different types of begonias. I was particularly taken with a huge leaf draping down from one of the pots and concentrated on this in the morning.

For the late afternoon, I drew the hanging flowers, also known as Bonfire & Pendula begonias. Again, I listened to some energetic music, urging me to loosely capture the beauty, rather than be too technical.

I embarked on a final sketch of the begonias to finish the composition, trying to include some of the elements that I enjoyed drawing the most.

I wanted the canvas board to be an explosion of colour, based on the light effects and rough shapes I'd studied, which would lead to a semi-abstract tube painting.


31/7/23 - On the grapevine

The family smallholding has a massive garden with vegetables, fruit trees and grapes on the vine. It took a couple of walks to find the ideal subject to sketch, eventually I settled on the grapevines, which had a great rustic look, being held up by an old wooden structure.

The light was continually fluctuating on the Othello grapes and when it came to painting them, I used a wide mixture of colours, revealing their lifecycle from light green to deep purple. As with the begonias, I used the sketches to properly understand the shapes, then create a tube painting in oil, with loose, spontaneous strokes.


2/8/23 - Tomatoes on the vine

The day didn't start well. I'd been kept awake at night by an eyelash swimming about in my right eye. Later in the morning I had one in the other eye. Two eyelashes wandering where they shouldn't seemed so unfair!

The tomatoes looked vibrant and I loved sketching the scorched leaves, which looked as if they were hugging themselves.

Painting the red tomatoes in the afternoon, I felt I'd made great progress but realised I would need another day to finish.

3/8/23 - Adding green tomatoes In the morning I made a sketch of the green tomatoes above the red ones, which I hoped to incorporate into the final painting. I really had to rush this as we were getting picked up to go to Lake Balaton in the afternoon.

On returning from the lake, I enjoyed painting impressions of the tangled leaves, mixing with green tomatoes that would sink into the background, allowing the red ones to properly stand out.


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