Saturday was an Urban Sketchers event. I nagged for Cockatoo Island (again) and they humoured me because it was my birthday. My nephew Geoff came down from Brisbane with a friend and we caught the ferry to the island on a perfect morning.
As the interstate visitors hadn’t been to the island before, we set off to walk around the lower island. All blocked off. We were directed in a different direction, but on the west side of the island you could only get to the cafe. Why? Angelina Jolie has been there filming. All celebrities had left the island, but the barriers had not yet been removed (and won’t be gone until 20th).
That left us a little less choice of sketching spots out of the sun, and it was hot. I went to a place that has a conglomeration of pipes, where I have sketched before. You might be able to see that the previous one has this same metal box from a different angle. This time there was a tiny piece of shade so I had very little choice for composition if I wanted to stay cool. I wasn’t so happy with my result. Our aborted walk around the island seemed to have put me off my stride.
So I went for a chat with a friend who was still sketching and decided to do a quick sketch of this little tap. I like it a lot better.
Delicious hamburger for lunch. A long time since I had a hamburger.
Sketching yesterday around Newtown. A little park with some lovely old houses around it. One row of very elaborate large houses had so much architectural detail that you could sketch there for a month and still do something different every time. The first sketch I was trying out the three-media technique (with a variation). I used a red Copic Multiliner to sketch it initially, then put my mid-tones on with pink and peach Tombow pens – a bit too similar to each other. I needed to do that before the light moved around. Then a purple Tombow to reinforce the main lines and the darks. A waterbrush to just wash some of the purple over the windows. Very quick, and even better…nothing to finish afterwards.
The second one was from a row of small simple, but still old houses on another side of the park. This is the two-media technique. Green Copic Multiliner and watercolour mix of Antwerp Blue and Paynes Grey.
I did enjoy doing the pink and purple one. I have been wanting to do something in completely unrealistic colours and now I have. It is the monster technique of course. Such fun to do, but perhaps I should get back to some serious stuff. I do enjoy trying new techniques though. Any suggestions?
For a while I have wanted to try another of Lynne Chapman’s techniques. In fact I did try this one at Cooks River and was a bit dissatisfied with my results. After attempting it a second time, I decided it might be better for me to knock out a few problems while working without external distractions like boats swinging wildly in the breeze. We have had many rainy days recently so I looked through for a photo from my travels to try this technique with and found this very complicated roofline of San Marco in Venice.
This is the technique. It comes from Lynne Chapman’s Barcelona workshop Sketches that Sing. You choose three colours, each of a different medium. In this case I chose a Wine Copic Multiliner, a red-violet Big Brush Pitt Pen and Ulltramarine watercolour. I would have preferred it with the orange-red Copic Multiliner because it is very different to the red-violet colour of the Pitt Pen. The technique is about patterns and textures, so I have emphasised some of those, more than I perhaps would have otherwise. The sketch was straight in with the pen, quite quick, but it would have taken me a week if I had tried to do it ‘properly’. So its another ‘monster’.
A couple of weeks ago I sketched this tree using the same technique. It had a lot of patterns in the bark. First wrong step (remedied later). You need a strong dark. I chose a yellow Big Brush Pitt Pen, a brown Copic Multiliner, and olive green watercolour. The problem is the brown Copic Multiliner. I am still on the hunt for a pen with a rich dark brown. Both Copic and the Pigma Micron have a medium brown that is more like a sanguine and doesn’t give strong darks (so I don’t use it much). When I got home I used a Tombow Pen in a Burnt Sienna colour to strengthen the darks. It was a great improvement, but the colours would have been better if they were totally unnatural, (purple, pink, orange?) rather than earth tones.
What I learnt from the boats swinging in the breeze was this. It’s not a good idea to use your biggest strongest pen to sketch them initially unless you are drawing large. I had some small boats on a page. As they moved on the water, I needed to restate my lines, and there just wasn’t room. So start with a finer pen with moving objects, or work larger.
A beautiful day in Sydney last Thursday so we were off to Cooks River again, on the northern side of the bridge, closer to the boats. I did do more than this one sketch. I did try another of Lynne Chapman’s techniques, but not so successfully. So I’m not showing you……yet, till I get it right. The breeze was up, the boats were swinging about and I had used one of those jumbo Pitt Pens. Because I needed to restate my line when the boats moved, and the sketches were fairly small, the original line was too bold. Something learnt there.
So I tried the technique with the red primary object again, because that one was fun and successful first time. (Well, I thought so.) Funny shaped boat, isn’t it? I had to sketch it. Though it was a beautiful sunny day, it got chilly in the shade, yet it was too hot and glary in the sun. In the end the breeze drove us away. I was really hungry and we went to the Locantro cafe for some of their delicious pizza for lunch.
Last weekend was another Urban Sketchers Event, this time at Luna Park. Leaving home, walking up over the park, I could feel it in my chest that there was smoke in the air. Once the train emerged from the tunnel onto the Harbour Bridge I saw how much smoke. The Opera House was distinctly hazy, even from so close.
Once at Luna Park I looked for ‘monsters,’ to sketch. You’d think it was a good place for monsters and it is, but the necessity for a patch for shade and other factors sometimes limits where I want to sketch. They had just washed the pavements and one friend didn’t have a chair.
We found some seating and I sketched this roofline (they’re starting to be a habit). Colour first, then line. I tried with a yellowish tombow pen, but the line was too thick. I didn’t like the effect in this particular sketch so I washed it away.
When I had finished, I left the others and walked back towards the front of Luna Park; towards the bridge. What a surprise. Almost no Harbour Bridge to be seen through the heavy smoke haze although we were almost directly underneath. Not fires, just burning off to try to halt the fires that can’t be controlled.
I found another little shady spot where I could see a potential ‘monster’. It is the back of one of the towers that flank ‘The Face‘. I now always work colour first, so I slopped my colour on, and as she developed she turned into a nice little Rampant Rabbit female monster, don’t you think?
Last week on Halloween we went shopping in Burwood. Summer is just beginning but my summer clothes seem a bit worn after wearing them on my travels.
After lunch we decided to go into Burwood Park to sketch. The main objective was a place to sit in the shade. There was a good place, but occupied. I sent thought waves about it being time to go back to work to the young man sitting there, and sure enough, he got up and went.
Soon after I started sketching, my friend K called, to tell me his mother had died. I knew he had been keeping a vigil for several days, so it wasn’t a surprise. But this sketch will forever be associated with the death of K’s mother, just like this one is associated with the loss of my friend Adriana. This is how sketches take you back in time.
I used the ‘monster’ technique again, though this one is not ‘monstery’ enough for my liking. I have to go wilder next time. It is ingrained in me now to try to get the perspective right, and as each end was actually obscured by trees, I was concentrating on trying to overcome that. Still, same technique, slop on the watercolour and draw into it with coloured pens, fast. The tonal values didn’t aid me in getting the sketch to make sense, because the sun was almost directly above, so I had to work at it, to get it happening.