Sepia Catacombs

23 Dec

cata 6



You never know where and when you’ll get inspiration from. Husb and I visited Malta last week and I carried my sketchbooks, scribbling as we trekked across the lovely island. But it wasn’t until late in our stay that we visited the early Christian catacombs in Rabat. They are extraordinary and I felt a strong urge to draw, but at the same time the atmosphere was so powerful and ……. maybe sacrosanct …… that I felt inhibited and only managed a couple of quick sketches. Husb felt inhibited from taking photographs there too. I don’t know, maybe it seemed disrespectful to act like tourists in a mass grave.


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Anyway, a few days after we got back, I was working with my colleagues in the 15 Hundred Lives art collective at the Creative Bubble artspace and I decided to experiment with the walnut husk ink I made a few weeks ago. I used one of those very quick catacomb sketches as a starting point and just started to develop the drawing with a brush and ink, building up layers in the rich sepia and pale washes onto a piece of Fabriano Accademica paper. It’s a new thing for me, I really enjoyed doing it and I’m pleased with what I have so far. I’ll be doing some more experimenting over the next few weeks – there are some ideas fermenting in there! There’s a lot of marks in the piece and that reflects the reality of the catacombs which have very rough, textured surfaces left by the simple chisels they used to hack out the tombs from the soft limestone.

10 Responses to “Sepia Catacombs”

  1. Rachel Terwillger January 1, 2015 at 13:57 #

    Striking Rosie, wow!

  2. mrsdaffodil December 26, 2014 at 19:49 #

    The walnut ink is perfect for this subject. The contours and textures are expressive and interesting. I look forward to seeing the directions you take with this.

  3. marystreasurechest December 24, 2014 at 21:31 #

    Happy Christmas and enjoy your day. Am enjoying your blogs and look forward to next years. Mary

  4. sharoncathrine December 24, 2014 at 20:01 #

    What a wonderful trip. I like your drawing…capturing the atmosphere and wonderful visual textures. Very nice.


  1. Walnuts And Mud | scribblah - March 2, 2016

    […] but I also had a large piece of Fabriano that I’d used for a walnut ink drawing based on St. Paul’s Catacombs in Malta. I made a batch of walnut ink a while back and it’s absolutely gorgeous to use. Click […]

  2. Time To Play | scribblah - January 24, 2015

    […] month I blogged about the drawings I did in Creative Bubble from sketches I made in the catacombs in Malta. I used one of these as the basis for the much larger drawing I did this weekend, working with the […]

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