Archives for the month of: July, 2014

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 27

I can’t say much about sea snail shells except that they are really joy to draw. The snail shells seem to be perfect spiral home to their owners. Later, when the snails are gone, they become a perfect home for hermit crabs. And after the crabs are gone too, they eventually get broken and expose the iridescent spiral interior. And when crushed, the fragments get lost in the beach sand. Yes, the shells are cool subjects to draw too. I play with delicate textures, subdued colours, and shadows. This helps me break out of the shell in my sketching endeavours.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 16 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 26


tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 38There is something about rocks, that just makes me want to draw them. They seem so strong and reliable! They stand undeniably fixed to the ground, they are the ground! But on a closer inspection I see twisted layers, kneaded eons ago as they were some giant’s play dough. What was horizontal became vertical and what was smooth became all crooked. I observe these rugged and gnashed rocks of the dalmatian islands. They are being bitten by the teeth of little stones in the waves and winds, and whipped by raindrops day after day, year after year. Weathered away, continuously changing.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 12 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 32  tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 44 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 48 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 49 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 52

World wouldn’t be the same without Trees. They build important living communities. They give the air that we breath. They can be mysteriuous or everyday, but never ordinary. In the summer they are the shade and in the winter they are the shelter. They are beautiful to look at, smell, touch, and to listen to, when the winds blow through their crowns. They give wood for the cradles and coffins. They can make people happy, when they grow, and they can make people sad, when they die. They are the oldest creatures in the world. I tried to draw Trees.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 15 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 13 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 24

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 45tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 25 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 28  tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 53


There are many beautiful pine trees in Kozarica. At some places their limbs extend almost to the sea. Their crooked growth seems as they take a lot of beating by the stormy winds.

tanja simonic korosak kozarica_sepia ink

I wanted to draw their sturdy yet somehow fragile character. I sketched the first sketch in quick lines in dip pen and sepia ink and finished with wash. For the second sketch I fashioned a folded pen from a drinking straw, a piece of coke tin and some masking tape. The broken yet vivid lines of the wash were as already faded under the hot Dalmatian sun.tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 18 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 19

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 14

There are three islands in the sea just off shore of Pakoštane village in Dalmatia, namely Island of St. Justinus, Veliki Školj and Babuljaš. I read somewhere that locals also call them the Islands of Belief, Hope and Love. There is a small church on the first one, a cross on the second – the largest, and there is just a small wood on the third, the smallest of the three. There was a roman Vila rustica in the mainland and they also found remains of an antique pier in the seas. This is an old landscape!

One day we rented a funny white and blue pedal boat and pedaled across to each of the islands. The following two sketches show the so called Love Island.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 22

The same island, only instead in watercolour technique I used pen and brown ink.tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 23

A partial view of the middle island and some boats nearby. I’m sure there are some goats up there in the rugged limestone rocks too, grazing delicious adriatic herbs .

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 33

And a tiny sketch of the small one, again, this time I was cleaning my palette and the colours were more greenish and brownish and I like this almost monochromatic effect very much.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 46


I wonder what was the view  of these island like from the Vila rustica, back in the old days.

It can get really hot under the croatian sun. At the beach, one can really enjoy swimming and playing but we also had plenty of time to rest in the shadows of the pine trees. And then I had some time to sketch too.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 11 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 17

Spending leisurely time at the beach is also perfect for people watching. it is absolutely marvellous to see how people mark small temporary   territories at the beach with towels and chairs. People read a lot at the beach but very many just stand by the sea and gaze in the distance.tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 30tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 31

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 57

The sound of cicadas and children playing in the water  and pine fragrance fill the air. It is so hard to sketch all these shadow patterns and lots of fun too!

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 37

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 39

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 42

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 43

Even when one day seemed that the early morning rain would turn into a cloudy afternoon and we decided to visit the city of Zadar, on the arrival the sun was out again and we were searching for some shady corners where I could also sketch. I sketched St. Donatus (on the left), an 9th century church – the most important cultural treasure of Zadar.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 21

I managed to sketch some of the places where we had delicious local food, and some lovely red wine too.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 20tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 47

I wrote about rapid sketching some posts ago, but this time I took up one other challenge. The challenge was to sketch the landscape with fountain pen and watercolours as we traveled on the highway. We were taking a five hour drive to one lovely seaside place Kozarica in Pakoštane on the Dalmatian coast, near Zadar. We traveled from Maribor, past Zagreb and then through Lika region (where, by the way, famous Nikola Tesla was born). I sketched with fountain pen Pilot Falcon with Platinum Carbon Black Ink and Schmincke watercolours.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 1

I tried to sketch the landscape character, pattern of fields and meadows, and even the morning fog in one of the valleys we passed by.tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 2

Here is the sketching gear and the sketch in making. By the time I finished the sketch, the scenery was long gone.

tanja simonic korosak highway watercolours tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 3 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 4

The landscape of the inland Croatia was lush and very green. One of my favourite landscapes is the picturesque scenery of mountain Zir, which peaks out of the Lika flatlands. It grows bigger and bigger while we speed by on the highway. The bottom of the mountain is wooded, but the peak is mostly rocky with some vegetation growing from nooks and crannies.


tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 5

The Lika area was very inspiring. However in the landscape of utmost scenic beauty one can sense not just the picturesque promise of holiday relaxation on the coast but also sees the abandoned fields and houses as traces of the war some twenty years ago. Today, ‘half’ of Europeans seems to travel to this beautiful coast in the summer (well according to some statistic, at least half of Slovenians really do) and enjoy the landscapes and the Dalmatian coast.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 6

The traffic became more dense when we approached the tunnel Sveti Rok. The almost six kilometres long tunnel connects the Croatian inlands with the Dalmatian coast through the mountain range Velebit.


tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 7

On the other side of the tunnel, the landscape changes are evident. Vegetation is very sparse. It dots the rocky limestone  which is exposed to the hot sub- mediteranian sun.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 8

And the views were great.

tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 9 tanja simonic korosak_kozarica 2014 10

At that point we soon left the highway to drive to our destination and there were first 17 watercolour sketches in my sketchbook.

Sketching is an essential part of my landscape architecture practice. Here are some of my design sketches for a small memorial seating area project in Tišina, Slovenia.

tanja simonic korosak_tisina sketch bench3

tanja simonic korosak tisina bench1 tanja simonic korosak tisina bench2

I have just received from the co-author of the design, architect Tomaž Ebenšpanger, a link to an internet site, which features the project, constructed last year. It is a minimalist design with a memorial bench and a drinking fountain, dedicated to two local priests. We designed a small bronze plaque at the fountain well, so when one bows to drink some water, one reads words from scripture in slovenian language: ‘I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the Water of Life freely.’ (Rev 21:6)

tanja simonic korosak tisina bench foto

The view of the memorial was photographed by photograper Miran Kambič.

Check the link for more information and photos of this project on:

We humans use hands to do things. We make tools. And we are the ultimate tool users! Going back as early as 2.5 million years, our ancestors were already making stone tools for cutting and scraping. My miniature folding Leatherman knife Squirt in my  sketching tool gear is definitely their descendant.


But the first drawn marks on the stone walls were made with charcoal, earth pigments and lime, which were mixed with either spit or animal fat. In my sketching bag I have some descendants of these too: Derwent charcoal pencils, a chinese charcoal (a present of professor Jiahua Wu) and a sanguine Conte crayon, which is made of natural pigments and clay. In Naples I also bought a beautiful portuguese Viarco – Artgraf black carbon chalk, which is water soluble. I will call these my primeval – paleontological – sketching tools:) I sketched the above croquis of a nude with a charcoal stick at one evening live drawing class at Arts Gallery in Sheffield way back in 1993. One more recent try of the new water soluble Viarco Artgraph is a simple imaginary portrait sketch on a beautiful sicilian watercolour paper.

tanja simonic korosak_face_water soluble carbon

tanja simonic korosak_850mb_045 3

Since I’ve taken up the mission to sketch 850 sketches of my hometown Maribor to celebrate 850 years of the first written record and post sketches to my blog Sketch my city!, strange and most rewarding things have started to happen.

First of all, I started to walk the streets I never walked before. I see sketching as an obligation but also a deep need. I have to sketch and I need to take my sketchbook ‘for a walk’ every day. This turned out to be sometimes rather tricky. It can rain and you don’t really have the nerve to go out again, or you just don’t have the time and there is no good day light. Yet, you overcome all these obstacles and do it anyway (and you start to study nightscapes too). So to my satisfaction, I sketch the city, everyday!

tanja simonic korosak_850mb_037

And it is a most rewarding experience, I tell you. Most of the people pass me by, ignoring my sketching endeavours and that is just fine. Yet some give me a curious look, or they stop, asking politely if they can peek at my sketches. We start to talk and they like the idea of sketching Maribor very much. Sometimes they realise that they have never noticed this house or that sculpture before, although they would pass it on a regular basis. The other day a friend just gave me a big ‘like’ while jogging past me in the park.

So far I have done some drawings which I like a lot, and honestly, some not so nice sketches too. But I keep trying,  I keep failing too, while learning on the go. I understand sketching on location not so much as seeking for perfect end result, but as a search and development of own observational and drawing skills. And while sketching, the world in front of your eyes comes to life in an entirely new perspective.