I am going to Italy well armed with sketchbooks. The first three weeks (in Sicily) will be a workshop including drawing, printmaking and bookmaking. I have already made my books. I liked the format I used on my last trip, and the Canaletto paper is very robust, so I decided to go that way again.
The red one with the medallion is not for me. It is for a gift for a friend, and it is Fabriano hot press paper, hence the slightly different format. I like the way the paint moves on this paper, so my next trip I will use Fabriano, though the paper is thinner…200gsm I think. Canaletto is 300gsm. The Fabriano makes a thinner book with the same amount of pages. Lighter too, I suppose.
The red paste paper (above) was made on one of the scarce sunny days we have had recently. I made a whole lot more paste papers, but I still need to photograph them.
You will have seen the stencilled papers before. So now the yellow one inspired by Sicilian ceramics is bound, and the other red is pierced, ready to bind. I will take my needle and thread with me, in case I decided to re-bind on my travels. I am taking print-making paper (BFK Rives), cut to size. I may decide to re-order my pages, so the binding of the yellow may be cut up and done again. Taking an unbound book also means I can take just some pages with me if that would be useful.
This red paper is recycled stencils from my Bologna artist’s book. This time I have decided to call it my Vasari book, as although I am going to Bologna, I will also be in Arezzo for a week, where there is Vasari’s house and arches as well.
As for endpapers, my two books are plain. But the one that is for a gift has amazing endpapers. I can’t show you. Something has to be a surprise.
Saturday was the Urban Sketchers event, led this time by Rod Byatt around the streets of St Peters, before sketching in Sydney Park. Made the wrong decision and caught the bus, although we could have walked there much faster, so missed the walk around the streets. Still, it is in my local area, so I can easily go back.
These tall chimneys are a feature of the local landscape. Yes, they might be in St Peters, but when you see the chimneys, you know you’re in Newtown. King Street, the main street of Newtown, continues through St Peters and becomes the main highway south.
The weather had seemed dodgy (which it has been for weeks), but it was perfect in the end. I decided to draw the chimneys. Being late, we couldn’t find the other sketchers, so I thought I’d better sketch the chimneys to prove I was there. But they had gone off for their walk to the famous much-graffitied May Lane and surrounding streets with original architecture. So we caught up with them in the end, and had a wonderful morning sketching and socialising in the shade of a tree.
This park is new since I came to live in Newtown in the 1980s. It is on the site of an old brickworks. I drive past it often, but it seemed very open, and not very interesting. Also it is on the highway, so you need to go into the car park to stop and have a proper look. But there is plenty of shade, and even in the middle of the day, there is shade around these wonderful old brick buildings. Plenty to sketch here.
Sunday and early in the morning out in the courtyard, Exercise Two of One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration and Mixed Media (One A Day) . Broni put in a watering system for me when she was visiting recently, and my Hawaiian hibiscus loves it.
The exercise was to use dip pens with a number of different nibs. I found I have many nibs, and four thingy-os to stick them in. In the event, I used three. My trusty Post Office pen with matching Post Office nib. I love to draw with this pen. It has a wavery line on the watercolour paper (hot press) and to me that really shows the hand-drawn-ness of it. As well as that. I used a wide calligraphy nib, and another nib … I don’t know what you call it. It tapers off like a normal nib, but it has a small round flat piece that glides along the paper. I used these three nibs to sketch my hibiscus.
And then…..on only exercise two, I added colour. I have seen some lovely sketches recently with selective colour, and my hibiscus are such a rich vibrant red…I couldn’t help myself.
I have long been interested in the book,One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration and Mixed Media (One A Day) and this week I bought the Kindle version. I want to take it travelling with me. I only wishhhhhhh (amazon, are you listening) that they also had the Kindle version of One Watercolor a Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity Using Watercolor, Pattern, and Design (One A Day). They have it in the shop up the road now, but I want it on my ipad. Amazon, you’ve got six weeks. Oh, wait, no, it’s five now.
My reason for sudden acceleration of interest in these books is my old bugbear, finding time to sketch while travelling. Because I am a painter originally, the tone is as important as the line, maybe more so. But the tone takes the time to get on paper. These exercises are designed for working quickly with different tools. I’m trying to be less precious, less critical. The ‘monster’ technique from Inma Serrano has helped a lot with that, but I want to take it further. (Read about that technique here.)
So the first exercise was with a fine pen. Semi blind contour. More looking at the still life than at what I am putting down onto my paper. I was also not supposed to rest my hand on the paper, but I kept forgetting that. I will have to do another one and concentrate on doing that. No control!
My still life was meant to be of things important to me, so ……it is my new benjarong pot from Thailand, a green glass bottle with a lovely stopper I bought in Arezzo, and a plant that Annie gave me for a gift. It’s a challenge to me to leave out the colour, and also a challenge not to put the tones and reflections on the bottle and the pot, but with that fine pen I would have been there all day.
I hadn’t been to the Botanic Gardens for quite a while. It has been supposed to rain all week, but in fact though it has been cloudy, it hasn’t rained. We took a risk and went to the Gardens yesterday. It didn’t rain. It was very hot and sticky, and though not sunny, I got sunburnt.
I like to draw the lotuses each year, when they are blooming. Or if they are not I still like the way the light falls on the leaves. Here is one from two years ago, and another. This is from 2010, and this one from 2009 might be the first one. I turned some of these into solar plate etchings that I printed in many colours. And this smaller solar plate etching is from the leaves of the very first lotus sketch I did. They all look so different, don’t they? Which one do you like best?
Yesterday’s effort is large-ish, 35cm wide by 20cm high. Green Copic Multiliner for the leaves and Wine for the flowers. It is so nice to be able to work right across the spread again.
Hmmmm, why do I decide to sketch the things I do? I have worked out that I prefer to sketch hard-edged things rather than landscape, foliage etc. Why? I think it’s the challenge. During the period I was sketching in the Botanic Gardens, I found all the things to sketch there quite easy. Sit down, sketch, move on.
The other thing that might be a reason, is that the tonal values are so important to me. Hard-edged things cast great shadows and the way the light falls on them interests me more. I am only happy when the tonal values are correct, then I can move on. Many sketchers concentrate on line only. Tone doesn’t really enter into the equation. I can’t be like that, nor do I want to. Slows me down of course, but I don’t see that as a problem.
So Saturday was 42nd Worldwide Sketchcrawl. We were meeting at 10am under the Harbour Bridge at ‘the little patch of green’ at the end of The Rock Market. The first sketch is ‘the little patch of green’. As you see it is currently a building site. But I wanted to sketch it, because these steel blue pipes rising up reminded me of the stands of bamboo in the Botanic Gardens. You can see here that I drew bamboo on the 38th Worldwide Sketchcrawl.
So because of the building works, which have pipes running up to the bridge, and along the bridge but not over the bridge, I didn’t find the rest of the sketchers, but I did find Rod. So I lucked out. He is one of the most interesting men I know, and you should follow his blog, and if you like textiles, or Japan, follow this one too.
So from there we walked down to Circular Quay and while Rod headed for the palm trees, I sketched the mooring ropes and bollards of the Sun Princess. Rod and I will be planning an art pursuit together before too long. Keep an eye on both our blogs!