Virtual Paintout – Romania

February 11, 2011

8×10″, 3B graphite pencil, Lamy Safari fountain pen XF nib, watercolour pencils. Biserica Piarista, Bulevardul Regele Ferdinand, Timisoara, Romania.

I have spent hours (virtually) wandering the streets of south Timisoara via Google Maps street view, mainly in the south, starting with Strada Aries, Strada Culj and out to the south-west where the new industrial areas are impinging on farmland.

Established in the 13th century on a flat, fertile plain, and the scene of recent Romanian political uprising, the city is the fourth most prosperous in the country, being front-of-mind for a lot of West European businesses investing in Romania these days. I couldn’t find a map reference anywhere in Timisoara to the new skyscraper, Fructus Tower, which I believe is under construction.  It’s enormously intriguing that Google have worked on all the major boulevards in and around the city, all of them four lanes highways of Soviet proportions. They have filmed in the bright summer months; people are out in the sunshine. I would have liked to have contrasted the old Romania with the new, but all the old buildings are away from the main boulevards. Some of the smaller streets, such as Strada Paris, may have older houses but are largely obscured from the street by massive trees in leaf. The modern businesses lining the boulevards are so generic, the buildings so non-descript, it was impossible to find anything characteristically Romanian; the factories and company showrooms are identical to those in any large rural town in Western Europe, Asia or here in Australia.  

There are however truly delightful scenes in the still photos, taken away from the boulevardes; they demonstrate the impact of different seasons and the  colour work in some is nothing less than stupendous.

I thought depicting a McDonalds a little too crass. Victoria Square, with the Opera House, looked interesting but the view from a side street seemed too restrictive.  I settled on this church, Biserica Piarista, surrounded by what I think is the Liceul Piarista. What is not visible beyond the far right of the picture frame is a modern, multi-storeyed residential block, which if portrayed somehow in panoramic form, would have showed the clash between the old and the new Romania I originally wanted. I was conscious of the very careful skyline drawing of Ian Simpson; the tonal hunting-for-shadows of Ernest Watson is still strong; the watercolours helped portray the joy of the season and the large, contrasting white spaces in the foreground cryptically refer to the winter scenes of the photos away from the Google street view. The unfinished quality is deliberate, representing Romania in transition.


Virtual Paintout,


2 Responses to “Virtual Paintout – Romania”

  1. sarah Says:

    I really like this drawing and enjoyed reading about your path to the choice of scene.

    • rodbyatt Says:

      Thanks. I may return to the subject to get the top of the church spire and the high-rise apartments next door.
      It’s curious that if I want to return to the subject in the future, it will be in the same unchanging light, like a still photo (until Google updates its street view), which is great for beginner sketchers – but compositionally, I can slightly alter the angle, as in moving pictures.
      I’m finding the nexus between sketching the built environment in real-life and via online still/moving pictures quite fascinating.

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