On Thursday I went out and about in Newtown with fellow Urban Sketcher Liz Steel. I was showing Liz some places around my local area where we might be able to have an Urban Sketchers event. King Street, the main shopping street in Newtown is too popular on the weekend with people lunching and brunching. Not much room for sketchers on the pavements and certainly not in the cafes.
I took Liz to my favourite building which has a little park opposite. I’ve sketched this building before here and here. I could spend a lifetime drawing this building in sections and with different media. The blue of the paper was similar to the blue of the steel, so that is why I chose to sketch this section. The scan is not really true to the colour.
I particularly like this sort of ‘industrial’ image on toned paper. Not working consecutively through the book is serving me well, but I will be glad when the book is fuller.
Here is the crazy building in all its glory. Liz sketched the whole building here.
Saturday was the ‘Crane Crawl’ at Cockatoo Island. The weather wasn’t promising but I wanted to go anyway. At Cockatoo Island the sky was dark, so rather than start to sketch and get rained on before I was finished, I went straight to the Industrial Precinct. I’ve only sketched inside there once before and was longing to do it again.
Even while I was doing my first sketch, the rain came down and was hammering on the tin roof. I love sketching these old machines. I wish I knew what they were for. The top one is a bit like the Beam Benders but not as big, and it has a wonky ‘bender,’ if that’s what it is.
For the next machine I chose a red background. I am jumping around in my book of toned paper. I chose a nice industrial brown for the first one, but then I wanted to keep the day’s sketches together as a group. What do you think this machine does? Maybe the wheel at the top lowers the head and it cuts metal between those two wheels. There is a bit of commonality between this and a sewing machine.
My last sketch of the day was this little grouping of a cupboard, some boxes and a thingy. I was running out of time, and chose something without a lot of ellipses.
We got soaked waiting to get on the ferry to go home (all those people disembarking at Cockatoo Island in the pouring rain!) But we had a great day sketching and I wouldn’t have missed it. Can’t wait to go back. All sketches with Lamy Safari pen, and Prismacolour pencil(s) on Canson paper.
Woke early on our last day to the smell of smoke. Our original plan was to sketch on the beach till checkout time, however we thought perhaps that had better change. In January there were terrible fires at Sussex Inlet not far to the south of us. I loaded down the Rural Fire Service app “Fires Near Me NSW”. The fire was 23km to the north, but it seemed like a good idea to get onto the main highway, as the breeze was already up.
After a short stop at Nowra, we headed for Kiama, a beach place famous for its blowhole. We had a berry smoothie to cool down and then found a spot by the water with a stone wall to sit on and even a tap to fill up our water jars.
Again I was working on a prepared background. I had found my method by then. Because of the way I had applied the paint, I was able to use some of the white areas for the waves. In fact there is no sand in this area, there is a wall, but the page had been prepared thinking it would be painted at the beach at Huskisson, but really, I don’t care.
So I am still using my Stillman and Birn sketchbook. It is so robust for all kinds of mixed media experimentation. An unexpected and happy side effect was that I used my Lamy Safari pen with Noodlers Bulletproof ink and it didn’t run. It dried right away. I mostly make my own sketchbooks with fine art papers – Stonehenge, BFK Rives, Fabriano Hot Press, and the ink doesn’t dry, sometimes even after ten minutes. My plan had been to use the Lamy Safari, then a wet brush to dilute the ink and apply some mid tones (back when I did the spattery one). I got the wet brush onto the newly applied ink and it didn’t budge.
We had planned another stop for late lunch and more sketching, but somehow didn’t find the turnoff, and ended up back in Sydney mid afternoon with no lunch.
On our second day at Huskisson, we were up early in the morning, picked up some coffee and breakfast from The Bakery, and were on the beach before 7.30. We went to a beautiful beach just around the corner, but it faced east and the (hot) sun was in our eyes. We ate breakfast and moved back around the corner.
The previous afternoon I’d prepared a page with an idea from a book with a lot of spattering. I thought it looked a bit fierce, so while it was half dry I sprayed the page and did a few brushstrokes to disperse the paint a little. This first sketch is with Lamy Safari and a little watercolour, with some white gouache for the edges of the waves. The background colour doesn’t show the beautiful day, but other than that I quite like the technique. Fantastic for a rainy day.
I did another quick sketch in absolute crash bang wallop mode. I wanted to sketch with the tip of a large round brush. I wished for a fine liner brush to do finer branches as well, but I worked with what I had. Again working on an underpainted background. I like the way what was already on the page gives the impression of light on the water, but I think it looks like moonlight whereas it was like this.
And then it was lunchtime.
Drinks before dinner at Huskisson RSL each evening with total waterfront views, comfortable leather lounges, and club prices. We took our sketchbooks and sat looking out the window from about 6pm, sketching, with a glass of wine in our hands. The view is total perfection and best seen on Huskisson RSL Facebook page.
In the afternoons at Huskisson, the wind comes up, so in the late afternoon of our first full day we went back to the hotel and had a browse through some art books. I wanted to do some experimentation, though I didn’t have a lot of art materials with me. I decided to do some very free and loose underpainting.
The first sketch is with a Derwent Sketching pencil, dark wash. I think it was the least successful, because the watercolour was a bit strong to use pencil on top. The next two evenings we ate in the Bistro (seafood basket) which had the same view, so we were there till well after dark and saw the light change on the water. The direction of the sea was a real challenge with this seascape because it was quite chaotic round that point.
Every afternoon, back in the room we would prep pages of our sketchbooks and try different things. The second sketch was done on our last night in Huskisson. It was also on underpainting – more about this method when I write about Day Two. This worked well. Lamy Safari pen. Very little colour needed to be added.
On Friday I went to Meadowbank where I started attending the Sydney Gallery School 10 years ago. There was a teachers’ exhibition I wanted to see. First I had lunch with a friend. Went to the gallery – closed. So I went to the art shop for a while and back to the gallery. Closed. I got into the car and drove down to the river where they sometimes used to take us to paint and draw en plein air. I painted my first landscape here, in oils. I was never interested in the landscape as a subject for paintings. Still not – except for urban landscape. I remember the oil painting turned out quite well because Fariha helped me, though it has been consigned to the bin a long time ago. There are only so many paintings you can fit in your house.
I sat in the sun in a stiff breeze, trying to keep my sketchbook from flapping. Then I started to sneeze. Then some mysterious text messages started coming. What with answering the phone, sneezing and dealing with the breeze, it was a bit of a struggle.
I never saw the teachers’ exhibition. The gallery was still closed when I went home. Grrrr.