Yes, sketching in purple again at the Urban Sketchers February Event on Saturday. I do like to vary the colour I use. It was a hot morning when we met on the steps of Sydney Town Hall. Sketchers scattered for the patches of shade before beginning.
My first sketch was the north door of St Andrews Cathedral. A few sketchers ended up there, because we could be in the shade and there was some light falling on parts of the door. We were surrounded by interesting buildings but not so many fitted the bill for light and shade.
For the next sketch we crossed the road and perched on our stools right next to one of the busiest intersections in Sydney. We sat back in the entrance of Citibank, otherwise we would have been run down by pedestrians. A myriad of wonderful rooflines to explore, hampered only by buses blocking our view when they stopped at the lights.
I enjoyed this sketching because I’ve still got in mind that these buildings are Inma Serrano’s monsters….a bit more organic that I would have done in the past. I think I can go a bit more organic yet.
Jeffrey Smart’s exhibition at Sydney University is not to be missed. Before you read any more, have a look at the image, ‘Night Stop, Bombay’ (1981) on the university web page about the exhibition. This one interested me, because the travellers among us have all seen things like this. (Urban Sketchers always sketch the cabin of the aircraft. I don’t because I’m perverse like that).
Jeffrey Smart was an Australian artist who lived in Italy. He died last year while I was in Bali. I think he is my favourite artist of all. He painted those hard edged things that I have come to sketch and paint in the years since I left art school (2007).
So what do I draw on the aircraft? My drink. It started when I did my first trip after a long time without travel. I was going to Bali on Garuda Indonesia, and I ordered a Bintang beer and drew that. So much associated with Bali. Then my next trip I was flying Finnair. That airline uses Ittala glassware, so another sketch closely associated with the country of origin. Next trip will be on Cathay Pacific. I wonder what that will bring.
But this image from the aircraft window interested me. It was painted before the advent of readily available digital cameras. Now, what we would do is sketch, then take a photo to aid in developing the painting. Not then. The sketchbook associated with the painting was there. Smart had done three sketches. There were also some notes which said he had used a truck tyre to finish his work for the painting because they were more readily available.
If you are in Sydney, don’t miss this exhibition. It is on until 2nd March. If not, Google Jeffrey Smart and look at the images. You will see why I like his paintings so much. Urban landscape, clear clean colours, interesting skies, not necessarily blue.
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?
Our last day in Tuscany involved a bit of glueing, writing, finishing sketches, then a sketch for the day at the Antica Posta in the main square. I had wanted to sketch this building showing the way the light falls on the various planes. However, the light was very flat, and as it was my last day I just had to put up with it.
So this day we had to pack for our trip to Rome the following day. That completed, we went for a delicious farewell dinner with a friend. Great Cook!
This image was photographed in a hotel room at night, but……best I could do. Lack of opportunity to photograph my work is what has been holding me up…added to (1) out all the time and (2) lack of wifi. (Image now replaced by scanned image – what an improvement).
Only a few short hours left in Bologna and I sat in our room to do a last quick sketch.
We then went out for a coffee, a gelato, a last look around, and were amazed to find the streets completely empty of cars. A bit concerned about getting to the station in this car free city, we went back to the hotel to find out the situation regarding a taxi to the station with our luggage. It seems that every weekend the historic centre of Bologna is free of traffic. Picture shows Via Indipedenza, the main street. The woman who runs our hotel made a very long phone call to the taxi company, explaining that we were ‘anziane’. Finally she took the phone off the hook, came down in the lift with us, and took across to a corner where the taxi immediately pulled up.
The station at Bologna is now many times the size it was during my last visit. These two ‘anziane’ struggled down what seemed like five escalators with two bags each, to find the platform. Once there, we positioned ourselves, by the ‘Business Class’ indicator which showed where our carriage would pull up.
Wrong. All the indicator boards were wrong, which meant we spent half of our 30 minute train trip to Florence battling down the corridors with our luggage, meeting other passengers coming in the other direction with their luggage.
A quick snack at the station in Florence, then on to our next train for an hour and a half to the Tuscan village where we were to spend ten days.
On the Sunday we went into Schaffhausen, a city quite nearby to see the Albert Anker exhibition at the art gallery there. Quite a large exhibition with also included a number of Daumier lithographs. Anker is a Swiss artist who painted in an extremely realist style.
After the exhibition we went to some swimming baths in the Rhine, and our hostess swam (brrrr) while we drank coffee and ate cherry tart and I sketched some houses across the river.
From there we went to see the Rheinfalls. I had been before but not for many years, and they still impress. We sat there for a long while, watching the water. On the way home we visited a roadside stall to buy pumpkin and took a lot of photos of the amazing variety of pumpkins we had never seen before.