Transylvania: the home of Dracula

A View of Peles Castle in Transylvania

Just by way of a break from the painting of Grand Canal, on which I haven’t worked for a while because of Christmas and the New Year Break. Happy New Year everybody by the way

We spent the New Year in Romania, in Transylvania to be precise, looking at sites associated with the Dracula legend, amongst other things. The topography looks like the sort of backdrop that you would expect, mountains, forests, snow, but I didn’t hear any wolves. I was brought up on the Hammer Films from the 1960s starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. The dialogue was very serious. Nothing was done for laughs unlike some modern adaptations. You did not mess with these guys

In the background of the photograph is Peles castle, which had nothing to do with Dracula although it looks as though it should have. It was built as a summer residence under the direction of King Carol I and his wife Queen Elizabeth, and was finished in 1914

The castle associated with the legend of Dracula, is Bran. We went there later that day. Two of our party went awol and wasted more than an hour whilst we looked for them. We were late getting to Bran, and it was getting dark. Our coach driver didn’t say “This is as far as I will take you”, but I was waiting for him to do so. It was a very steep climb up to the castle and I attach a picture to give you an idea

Bran Castle

Romanians are always mystified by the legend of Dracula, who to them is Vlad, and known as the Impaler because of the way he put his enemies to death. To them he was a hero, because he gave them years of stability and good rule. he also protected them from the Turks. As far as I can see, there is no cult of the vampire coming from Transylvania. That was fiction from the pen of Bram Stoker, although they were grateful for the flood of American tourists that came looking for Dracula

We ended our tour in Bucharest, with an excellent city tour. It is 30 years since their revolution when the two dictators Ceausescu were executed by firing squad, after the fall of the Communist regime in Europe. We saw their newly completed palace, bigger than any building I have ever seen. It was a symbol of their greed and power which they had now had taken from them. Small wonder that Romanians said “Enough is enough”

A really enjoyable trip, although tiring towards the end, and both of us have heavy colds

Eilean Donan Castle Painting Completed

Eilean Donan Castle Completed

The painting completed

The foxgloves were really all that was left to do. I took great care with the colour match, yet still they turned out a tad too dark. I did actually remove some pigment which put in some highlight, and I thought they might dry lighter than that, but they didn’t. Perhaps they are a more exotic species.

Having said that, I quite like the colour even if not authentic. They give a welcome relief to all that green

I’m sitting here typing and my spotlight is on the painting, and the flowers look quite good. I shall have to recommend front lighting to anyone who might be interested

Not sorry to put this one to bed and perhaps move onto something else

Eilean Donan castle Painting part Finished

The castle Part Finished

This is the painting so far

Still quite a lot of green even though I have left some out. I am hoping that the green effect will be mediated by the two foxgloves in the foreground. I have just removed the masking, and I think the shapes will work well enough. I only have to get the colour right. Permanent rose with Crimson I am told by my reference books, but no clue how much of each so I will have to do some trials first. Also some more green for the stalks but I have a bright green in mind for them

I have put the little figures in on the bridge, and tiny as they are, seem to add some life to the composition. Also they gave me an opportunity to add a spot of hot colour into the painting

The base colour for the painting was from a mix of raw sienna and Naples yellow. This gave a bright light source in the background which lit up one side of the castle conveniently. The bridge was in deep shadow so that seemed to work. I had to tone down some of the reflections in the water, otherwise the painting turned very dark

All now rests on two simple foxgloves which hopefully will relieve the green. They will make or break the composition, so I will need to be careful

The Eilean Donan Castle near Kyle of Lochalsh in Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh

I thought I would have a crack at painting this scene by way of a change. I have never tried painting a Scottish view before, usually too busy with the Mediterranean. Scotland has a lot to offer, with any amount of castles ea ch set amongst stunning scenery. Every family or clan had its stronghold, which they needed in lawless times. many are ruined as was this one, but thankfully restored in the 19c, when the bridge was added too.

Quite a gem. We went here when cruising around northern Scotland and its islands early in July.

I have got as far as doing a drawing, first in pencil and then in ink, which I have transferred onto watercolour paper

I have drawn the pink foxgloves separately, and then traced my drawing. I think I will include them right in the front of the painting. What I tend to do, is slide the tracing paper over the picture until I find a spot where they look right

I have just had a commission to paint the entrance to the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath, which will be interesting. Pure architecture which I quite enjoy