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Roman ruins at Uthina
Watercolour and crayon
©2009 Charlene Brown
Most galleries and museums don’t allow photography, and artists or even whole classes of art students are often seen sketching famous paintings or sculpture. Outdoor locations that prohibit photography, on the other hand, are kind of unusual, but I found one – an archaeological site at Uthina, in Tunisia. A French research team had unearthed some great-looking stuff, and they didn’t want anyone getting pictures of the site into circulation prior to publication of their findings.
Soon after I set about sketching the ruins of the temple, the amphitheatre and, in the distance, surviving parts of the Zaghouan-Carthage aqueduct, I learned that drawing or painting the on-going dig was not encouraged either. Here’s another little script in the Drama of Painting Plein Air…
Approaching archaeologist: Vous êtes canadienne? (they’d heard we were coming) Parlez francaise?
Moi: Un peu.
Archaeologist: No pictures! (glances at sketchbook and immediately becomes…)
Roving Art Critic: (trying not to laugh out loud) Well, maybe zat is okay.
It’s unusual for my imprecise renderings to draw such jolly comments from Roving Art Critics!