I have to go and catch a train in 25 minutes, so just time for a quick update. I am running about two weeks behind actuality, with my blogging.
One thing that was holding me up is that I have been in hotel rooms with no access to the open air to photograph the sketches. On Thursday morning (May Day in Italy, very quiet, public holiday), I found a fairly deserted piazza I front of a big church. There was shade but the light was good, so I photographed everything I could, out there in the open.
Once I get home I will scan and replace all my sketches. Part of the problem is that the pages are a bit curled from the dampness of the watercolour and also there is a breeze, so it is difficult to get the photos straight under these conditions.
I am using Snapseed to improve the images, otherwise they would be much worse (and I do know they are not good). During my last trip I used PIXLR on the IPad, but once you use more than about two processes, it starts to degrade the image. Snapseed does not, and it has more flexibility. Thanks to Rob Sketcherman in Hong Kong for telling me about it.
I have sketched almost every day, except for some long travelling days, yesterday when it surprised me with thunder and lightning, and one day when we were totally exhausted and gave ourselves a day off. We carry the sketchbooks and materials every day and they get heavy on a long day out.
My sketchbook is getting full. I have another unbound one with me, but I am not sure what to do about that at the moment.
Today I go to Arezzo from Bologna. I have has wifi here as good as at home, but who knows what Arezzo will be like. That is why I thought I should post quickly now.
I’ve been in Hong Kong. Several days with no wifi, except sometimes in a cafe. Flew up late on a Monday night on Cathay Pacific and slept in the herringbone formation. On Broni’s instructions we had to sketch what we ate and drank at the airport . As you see, it is red wine and a salad. It seems salads were less plentiful in Italy when I was there last year, and anyway, it’s still going to be cooool.
We arrived at 4.30 am Tuesday morning to a deserted Hong Kong airport, and rainy streets. Off in a taxi to the hotel and sleep. By late morning the rain had almost stopped so we went walking to get our bearings. I hadn’t been in Hong Kong for more than 30 years. We were staying in Kowloon, where I stayed both times before, but this time in an even more convenient hotel and spoiling ourselves with a harbour view. Found our way to the shopping centre nearest the Star Ferry. That was where I once spent a whole day during a Typhoon Warning No.3.
I belong to Sketching Workshop, on Facebook. It’s a fairly small (150) friendly group that is truly international. The previous week we gained a few new members. One was Rob Sketcherman from Hong Kong. In my welcome comment on FB, I said, well, I’ll be in Hong Kong on 1st April, and it’s not an April Fools joke.
So I got a Hong Kong SIM card, phoned Rob, and we were off on a whirlwind few days around Hong Kong with him. But first, to the art shop…..
Due to the complications of travel sketching, and being in the company of non sketchers, though I have sketched almost very day, I haven’t always had time to add colour on the spot. This sketch of the restaurant where we had lunch in Appenzell in Switzerland is one,of these. It is a very rough and ready sketch, and the colour added in the same way, because by the time I had spare time to catch up, I had four to catch up on, plus a sketch for the day. This is why this post from Switzerland is being done after we have already arrived in Italy. Time for blogging is limited, as is time for catching up on sketchbook things. We are out most of the time.
After leaving Switzerland, where we went most places by car, I found that I had Too Much Stuff, so that if I am having a long day out, I don’t even take my paints as they are heavy. I wish I had brought my tiny box as well.
Back in Switzerland, this was a huge day out. My friends took us first to Säntis, to the mountains. We didn’t go up in the cable car; as I said before, I don’t like heights. However we had a coffee and admired the beautiful mountain scenery.
Then we went off to Appenzell, where the houses in the town are all painted in bright patterns. We lunched there (schnitzel) and took a walk through the town to the beer factory. We shopped there, but for our host, not ourselves.
Home by the scenic route, along Lake Constanz, where our hostess swam and we joined our host in drinking some wine.
Another wet day for an Urban Sketchers Event. The venue this time was the ‘back lanes of Newtown’which is my local area. You might remember that Liz Steel and I went for a reconoitre to plan the venue and I sketched this portion of the building.
It started to rain almost as soon as we started sketching, but I persevered till I had all the ink on, even though I was drawing on a wet page. The paper was the robustissimo Stillman and Birn Delta series, and I was using a Copic Multiliner pen which continued to draw on the wet paper. Not only was the rain splashing on the paper, but the building turned out to be the rear of Splash restaurant.
I sometimes walk along this back lane when I go to the library, so I am very familiar with the colours of the building and I also have a few photos of it. At this time of the year, on a sunny day, the airconditioning vents cast wonderful shadows. When i put the colour on later, at home, I painted a hint of the shadows from a photo, and although I deliberately painted a rainy sky, it looks as if the sun was out as well. It wasn’t.
Well, we had to sketch fast because of the weather, and then a number of us adjourned to The Pie Tin, on the next corner. It is a relatively new cafe specialising in pies, both savoury and sweet. I had some sort of a North African lamb pie, and it was delicious, chock full with meat.
In fact the conversation was almost worth the curtailed sketching. One of the things it let me to was Rod Byatt’s interesting discussion about Danny Gregory’s new book An Illustrated Journey, which we all own, of course. The conversation also, as always, turned to materials. My view is that there is an over emphasis on materials. Yes, they must be good quality, but more is not better. Colour mixing, rather than buying every colour. Not a popular or common view. And I have heaps of stuff.
Thanks to Chantal Vincent who made a video of our wet day at Cockatoo Island.
USK Sydney at Cockatoo Island – Crane Crawl. Saturday 02 March 2013 from Chantal V on Vimeo.
Saturday was the sketchcrawl, luckily on a cool day, after the previous day was 46.4C at the airport. That’s 115 and at the closest weather station to my house. Due to the hot day, the colour of the Gardens was looking a little more ochre than usual. That made my decision for me, as to whether to work consecutively in my new book of toned papers, or whether to choose the background for the sketch. Well, it seemed a little silly to go consecutive, just because I always do, when I’ve specially put some watercolour paper in there for when I need it.
In choosing the papers for my book, I used the lightest colours at the front and worked though to darker colours at the back. This was so, when I opened a page where two colours of paper created the spread, they wouldn’t be tonally very different. This is one of those spreads.
My first stop was the succulent garden, because usually you get baked in there on the concrete, and it was cool enough to tolerate it even though after 10a.m. Next stop was the statue so that I could draw something hard edged. Finally we found a stand of bamboo with shade as it was hotter by then. I like to draw bamboo from time to time, and I knew it would fit in to finish my spread quite well. I want to draw the black bamboo next. At this time of year its a matter of finding a place in the shade.
A beautiful day in the Gardens for sketching but lots of mozzies at the first spot. Luckily I had some RID, but they still managed to sneak in quite a few bites. We decided to sketch this plant, though we had no idea what it was. After a while a guide came by with a group, so we asked her. It is a ginger, and the red part is the bracts and only the yellow is the flower. I looked it up online and it is called Spiral Ginger. Once you know, it is easy to see, because it is a lot like the Beehive Ginger I drew in the Tropical Centre.
This week I was excited by a drawing of a boat by Jorge Royan where he used selective colour. It is not on his blog yet, but you can find it on Facebook on the Urban Sketchers page. Hence I decided to do selective colour in these sketches.
Next we moved away from the mozzies and as the sun was high in the sky we wandered around looking for a patch of shade. We found this little ‘glade’ not far from Twin Ponds and sat under the shade of a large tree. A breeze was coming off the harbour and we were nice and cool on a very hot day. These paperbark trees are so interesting to draw. The park at the end of my street has many of them.