On Sunday I met up with Chris Haldane at Balmain. We sat on some stairs and sketched the view over the water. I looked further west to Spectacle Island and Chris sketched Cockatoo Island, slightly to the east of where I was looking. Chris is a great artist with a lot of experience in watercolour.
It had been a dull morning and was supposed to rain later in the day. Instead the skies cleared. As we started out, there were these impressive shapes in the sky, so I piled water onto the page and some colour and spent most of the rest of the time chatting and waiting for the page to dry. I was sorry I had taken my ‘sketcher’s box of paints as the Perylene Green was left at home in my travelling kit. It is so useful for all those dark greens. Must switch it over.
Last week, in the depths of winter, we had a day that was 25 degrees. That’s 77. We decided that though we had a late start we would go to the Botanic Gardens. The succulent garden has a wall around it, so we headed there, because there was quite a breeze. It gets very hot in there in the summer, and you have to go very early if you don’t want to cook, so it was a great opportunity to sketch there.
Many of the succulents were in flower, and the majority ranged from red, through orange, to yellow. I decided to make the orange ‘a feature’. I was sketching the flowers in the upper left when a couple came and watched me. He said, “She’s cheating, she’s putting flowers”. I just pointed upwards at the flowers and said nothing. Not very observant, huh?
Although things have been busy since I got home, I went out sketching at Summer Hill with Chris Haldane recently. Chris showed me some local architectural gems and we both chose this old milk bar to sketch. You can see Chris’ sketch here, and she tells a lot more about the history of the milk bar, that I didn’t know at all. She knows the area much better than I do, though it is not so far from where I live.
It is winter here, but the sun was bright and we could sit outside on a corner without getting cold. We both found this sketch a challenge in the bright sunlight. To me, the point of interest was the pale washed out blue around the upper window. But the sun on the red brickwork was so strong. It was hard to get the tones right. We both want to go again and give it another try.
On my final day in Hong Kong I went for a walk around Tsim Sha Tsui. I always stayed there on my previous visits to Hong Kong, so it was revisiting familiar places. But it was a Sunday morning and none of the shopping centres were open.
Shopping in Hong Kong has changed a great deal since I was last there in 1983 (!) and seems to be completely aimed at visitors from China. Back in the old days there were shops with beautiful things from China, cloisonné, jade, embroidered linens. Now shop after shop contains Chinese traditional medicine, of interest to visitors from China who prefer to buy in Hong Kong, but not to me. Although I did have a quick look to see if I could find the product called ‘Rejuvenation of Youth’ that I saw in Shanghai in 1983. No luck. The shopping centres were slow to open after midday, but again, not much of interest to the westerner. Wrong shopping centres, obviously. I went back to the hotel to pack and have lunch, then the heavens opened.
In the early evening I caught a cab for the airport. I had high hopes of sketching an amazingly attractive cocktail. Hong Kong airport is huge, and Cathay Pacific has three business class lounges. On our previous visit we had gone to one called The Bridge. As I had gone to get a second drink, I had seen people sitting up at the bar drinking these amazing cocktails. But this time I was directed to a lounge called The Pier, where drinks were plain and the food plainer. Cathay Pacific is supposed to be ‘best business class’. I think they can do better than that. So here is what I had. A vodka and tonic, a muffin, then the ten hour flight home ( and yes they did feed us on the plane).
Hong Kong airport, as I said, is huge. I think I’ve got the hang of it now. Once I had divested myself of my large suitcase, I still had my hand luggage which while not so huge, was heavy. It contained all the Italian ceramics, both for me and for gifts for a friend. Heavy.
So, after passing through immigration and security, up and down many escalators, and then catch a train, and more escalators. Rome is the same, catch a train to the boarding gate. But I am wise to them now, where there is an escalator, there is a lift. So I sussed out the lifts and didn’t beat my heavy little bag about on the escalators.
This particular Saturday in Hong Kong I was lucky enough to be there for an Urban Sketchers Hong Kong event. Three of us got off to an early start, and the rest of the Urban Sketchers arrived around lunchtime. We were sketching the Sheung Wan area, as the group had an upcoming exhibition in a coffee shop there, and wanted plenty of sketches of the local area.
There was plenty to sketch there. Lots of urban grunge with a Hong Kong flavour. What I chose to sketch was limited by finding a handy step or wall to sit on. I was so lucky to find somewhere right opposite the wonderful old green door. Or would you call it a gate?
Then I moved on to Tai Ping Shan Street, a steep street where the upper area was populated by urban sketchers and the lower part by graffiti artists. A real artistic happening, much commented upon by passers-by.
The rain mostly held off, but during a little sprinkle of rain I saw something that will remain in my mind. One of the sketchers, sitting on his stool, sketching in the rain, with another person standing holding the umbrella over him. I guess that’s what happens when you’re so good that people want to watch you work!
Arrived back in Hong Kong and this time to a different hotel – the YMCA Salisbury. An exceptionally nice hotel down by the water and in the same street as the hotel I stayed at last time with a ‘partial harbour view’. This time I had ‘premium harbour view’. Well, all hotels in Hong Kong are expensive, but this one was standard price, not a premium price. I had a huge room on the 11th floor with a panoramic view of the harbour. Free wifi, a bowl of fruit and Hong Kong Harbour view in both directions as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t believe my luck. I had no idea you could get a room like this without paying a fortune.
Yes, as you see it rained again, but I didn’t have to go anywhere to sketch. I could sit in a comfortable chair in my room. See my paints on the window sill?
Symphony of Lights from Wendy Shortland on Vimeo.
I put together this video….sorry about the music.