Category Archives: Copic Multiliner

The sun on Mount Etna

Finally the sun! Mount Etna revealed right outside our terrace. Snow in plenty, still cold, but the sun. Walking down into Taormina we noticed the orange blossom scent in the street from the fully laden trees. It doesn’t seem quite real.

The thing that had first interested me in coming to Sicily was the buildings I saw in the backgrounds in the Commissario Montalbano tv series. At the bottom of the hill this morning there seemed to be standing with his back to us…Catarella, a character from the series. Same uniform, same stance, same hair. It was a bit like seeing an old friend.
We went back to Licchio’s Bar, where the friendly waiter with the fuschia pink jumper and scarf ensemble brought me hot water for my Tachifludec.
We sketched from the same spot as the previous day, drinking lemon tea, until the cold drove us to look for another spot in the sun.


Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, Italy, Sicily, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Finally I sketch in Taormina

Another rainy morning, and cold, but we tumbled down the hill into Taormina. A wander around the Corso in the cold, dodging the raindrops, and we found a Licchio’s Bar with an umbrella to sit under while we sketched.
My sketch is the doorway of Palazzo Corvaja. It was one of a number of things we could have sketched from the same bar.

I can’t emphasise how beautiful Sicily is. There is so much to look at, wherever you are. We got some delicious takeaway pizza and sat in a weak gleam of sunshine, then back to Casa Cuseni for a while to get warm. I really hadn’t expected it to be this cold.

In the early evening we were off down the hill again, tempted by the food at the Trattoria da Ugo, and the friendly people there. We ate zuppa di pesce (fish soup) and that warmed us right down to our socks. Same little taxi driver appeared just at the right time to take us back up the hill

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Filed under sketching, collage, watercolour, Italy, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, Travel, Sicily

Rome to Sicily

imageMorning, and here we were in Rome’s Fiumincino airport. We had several hours to fill in before our flight to Catania, but had needed to leave a slice of time in case of delays. We wasted a bit of it trying to find the stop for the ‘free shuttle bus’ between the terminals. Got some confusing directions. Because we had been up all night? No. Because you could walk it in 5 minutes with your luggage.

We had a plan.
A. Buy Desigual scarf at the Desigual shop in the terminal. Easy. We even got sconto (discount). This was to prove a very sensible purchase rather than an extravagance.
This is it

B. Buy TIM card. That’s a Telecom Italia SIM card. Done. I now have an Italian phone number.

In the early afternoon we flew off to Catania on Alitalia. We had somehow stumbled across a ridiculously cheap fare. When we boarded the aircraft, we seemed to have been given a semi-upgrade. The cabin had a 3-3 formation, and we were given a row of three seats each. How did that happen? I am guessing that because Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Alitalia are all part of the ‘One World’ Alliance. We are Qantas ‘frequent flyers’ and we had been Cathay Pacific business class passengers from Australia. We were probably ‘on their system’.

It was cloudy and we didn’t see Mt Etna. I couldn’t help wondering where it was. A very slightly bumpy flight. I never worry if it is no bumpier than the back of a bus, but someone screamed. Haven’t had that before. As the aircraft landed, there were red and yellow wildflowers in the grass between the runways. I had hoped the wildflowers would be blooming, and it was such a delight to see them so soon.

On arrival we were met by our driver and taken to the wonderful Casa Cuseni in Taormina. A national monument, museum and B&B. We were greeted by an elegant man, jeans, nice blazer and a perfectly tied light cornflower blue scarf. Or was it azzuro. Taormina is full of elegant men my age. All wearing scarves perfectly tied…..even in the house.


Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, Italy, Sicily, Travel, watercolour

The flight to Rome

image We had to check out of our hotel at 6pm so we got a taxi straight to the airport, even though our flight didn’t leave till after midnight. Hong Kong airport challenges even Bangkok airport in its complexity. Because we were so early, our departure gate wasn’t decided, so we were able to choose from four Cathay Pacific lounges. Not wanting to walk too far, we chose one of them that looked nearest the middle of the airport. Well…… up escalators, down escalators, up more, down more, and then, still following the signs…..we had to jump on a train. All the while wheeling our small suitcases and carrying our shoulderbags with iPad, sketchbook and paints, plus tickets, etc etc.

Finally we found it and fell gratefully into a seat. Got something to drink, and a plate of goodies to sketch. Some small custard tarts, and a creme brûlée. And we were not allowed to eat them until they were sketched. We also had plenty of time for some ‘real food’, salad etc. and shortly before midnight we were able to board the aircraft.

I should perhaps tell you about Cathay Pacific Business class, because it’s a bit unusual. They win many awards for it. Going up to Hong Kong, the seating across the cabin was in 1-2-1 formation. Because of travelling together, we chose two seats together in the middle of the aircraft like this

I usually prefer to be near the window, only because I hate travelling in the daytime in darkness. If I have my own window I can keep the blind up. But all my flights are at night, so it doesn’t matter. Nevertheless, the two centre seats face slightly away from one another. So, to talk you both have to lean forward and raise your voices over the noise of the aircraft. It’s a good formation for lone travellers but not so good for people who want to chat to their travelling companion.

On this flight to Rome, the formation of the seats was 1-1-1. So we had seats in a single row by the window. This one really is a herringbone formation. The back of your head is to the window, and your feet face diagonally across the cabin. Lie-flat beds, of course, and like sleeping in a narrow corridor in a sense, but very comfortable beds.This image shows you what it is like.

I think it is going to be great on the way home, when I will be travelling alone, because you are not actually sitting next to anyone. But for travelling with a companion, I prefer the traditional side by side format.

One tip for beginners in the lie-flat bed…..things get trapped under them. Before you start pressing buttons you need to be sure of the location of all your belongings, or you might have to get a steward to help you get them back again.


Filed under collage, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Before the developers move in

mungo_scott_silosWe made it on the very last day to the old Mungo Scott Flour Mill, in Summer Hill, while the very last people were moving out. It is only about 10-15 minutes drive from where I live but I have never been before. It is one of those buildings that you see in the distance but don’t actually drive right by.

One friend found that you could go there to sketch, and what with one thing and another, four of us went yesterday.  It has rained all week, but as you see from the sky on the sketch of the silos, we had sun and some blue sky.

mungo_scott_reelsJust have a look at the photos on this blog. You will see what we will be losing. There is a huge development plan. I hate it when we lose these beautiful old places. Thank goodness for Cockatoo Island and the brickworks at Sydney Park. But who knows what will happen at White Bay Power Station.

After drawing the silos with the purple pen, I decided to sketch these huge reels on the opposing page.  I cleverly remembered that it could be a good idea to leave some space to write in my sketchbook for once.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, Mungo Scott Flour Mill, sketchbook, sketching, urban landscape, watercolour

Size matters (and I cheated)


The thing that drives me crazy about my own sketchbook is that, unless I plan ahead and draw a line around the page, I always fill the whole page. So with this sketch I cheated, and digitally put a white border around it. Recently while reading Matthew Brehm’s book Sketching on Location, I read what I already knew – sketches look better with white space around them (Flickr, take note).
So why do I do this? A couple of reasons.

I was a painter and drawer long before I became a sketcher. I am used to filling up the canvas. Used to filling up the paper.
The other reason is that I am used to working big. BIG. Before I went to art school I thought A4 (letter size) was big. Immediately when we started in first year, we were onto A1 size and expected to fill the page. That’s around 23 x 33 inches. Then A1 became small, and we were expected to work much bigger.


Cartridge paper – six sheets of A1

Here’s one I did of the studio. I started with one A1 sheet and it grew to six. So the whole drawing is about 99 inches across by 46 high.


Stonehenge paper – nine sheets

The next drawing is on nine full sheets of Stonehenge paper. Each sheet is about 22 x 29 inches. So this one is nearly 90 inches wide by 66 high.

This is probably the reason I can’t fathom the use of tiny sketchbooks. They make me come over all peculiar (more peculiar).

These large drawings were done about ten years ago. The last one may look abstract, but in fact it was an investigation into drawing ‘the bound object’.  We all had to bind an object during the holidays as a basis of our drawing for the next term (final year- Advanced Diploma of Fine Art).  I got some old metallic helium balloons with congratulatory messages on them, and bound my object (rags? I can’t remember)  with yellow curling ribbon. I was the only member of a large class with a coloured ‘bound object’. Beige, white, grey, black…and then mine.  I did the realistic colours first and then was instructed to do more in different colourways till I had a large wall full of them.

So on Thursday  we sketched around Newtown. In this area is one of the best streets in Newtown. An interesting link on this blog. So is mine by the way, but my street is full of ‘workers’cottages’ whereas this area has large mansions with lots of lovely architectural detail to sketch. I slopped on watercolour first and drew into it. There’s a nice little park opposite where we sat to sketch. Forced to listen to a ‘lovers’tiff’ which, it seemed to me, had only one obvious ending.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, Newtown, sketchbook, sketching, urban landscape, watercolour