Yesterday was Anzac Day, a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand. There is a huge parade through the city, but instead we went to Cockatoo Island again. Any opportunity……
These pages in my Stillman & Birn sketchbook have been pre-prepared with collage for ages. Even since I came back from Huskisson, and so long that I can’t quite remember if I used Matt Medium of Matt Gel Medium. I used a variety of torn pieces of Japanese papers. They were all cream or white, some with metallic bits through them, others plain or with various other bits through them. When I had stuck them down and they were dry, I threw some watercolour on them.
I was always planning to use them at Cockatoo Island, so I used the yellow ochre on them both, thinking of the sandstone there. One I used a dusky pink as well, and the other I mixed a grey blue from ultramarine and burnt umber.
It was a perfect autumn day. Chilly at 9:45 when I arrived, but by mid afternoon we were looking for a patch of shade. Another glorious day on Sydney Harbour.
Last week I went to sketch The Pink Building again on a dry day. However, even at 10am there was no light on it. I have been watching it for years and I know that for quite a lot of the year it is in shadow. Perhaps that time of year has come.Back along the lane I found this group of buildings with the sun coming from one side.
Tone is so important to me, and that is probably one of the reasons I don’t work particularly fast, because I am refining the differences in the tones. So I had to find something to sketch with strong tonal differences.
When I got this one home I wasn’t particularly happy with the colour, so I actually got up in the night to alter it, because I couldn’t get back to sleep for thinking about it. What did I do? I lightened the two sunny yellow areas using sfumato. I lifted off the colour of the front wall to a pale raw umber, as I thought it was muddy. In the morning I glazed very watery ultramarine over the front wall and the other shadow areas. Finished.
Now I am happy with it. If time permitted (which it won’t) I would quite like to do a 12″ square acrylic from it for the Pyrmont Art Prize.
Strangely enough I painted one from here for the Glebe Art Prize, though it sold before that and never made it to the exhibition. It is from a totally different angle, but do you recognise with area it comes from? It’s called Up Up and Away, partly because of the repeating upward thrust of the roofline, but mainly because it was the rear of the Flight Centre building at the time.
Some time ago I began a book especially for sketches of pipes. The book is here along with the sketches I did a year or so ago. I have moved away from my plan to do all the pipes grey except for where there was paintwork. At Cockatoo Island on Easter Saturday I noticed that mostly the pipes were rusty, and though I don’t intend to always follow that, I have introduced that colour.
I layered some of the rusty pipes along behind the original ones to pull the whole thing together and carry the sketches from page to page in my concertina book. One pipe below the yellowish one that hasn’t had colour yet. The concertina has ten pages, and this is five of them, so I am half-way there. The trick will be to leave the right amount of white space.
We just had time before catching the ferry back to Circular Quay to go into the Industrial Precinct and sketch another machine. This one reminded me of a sewing machine but I’m sure its not.
Cockatoo Island was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it before with people everywhere, and many many campers and more tents than I have ever seen before. Sadly, one of the campers never made it back to the mainland, after falling from a cliff overnight.
I had in mind to do a painting from sketch of the paperbark trees in I did recently the Botanic Gardens. I found a half sheet of watercolour paper that I had stretched in the distant past and got started. I wanted to do a stylised landscape using the techniques from Linda Kemp’s book Watercolor Painting Outside the Lines. Some years ago I got this book from the library. At first I thought there wasn’t a lot of information in it but closer inspection found that I was wrong. Everything you need to know about negative painting is covered in this book. I had to buy it.
This method of painting involves working in layers of washes. First I did the underpainting by wetting the whole sheet and dropping colours in and allowing to dry. Then I drew on my two main trees and some grasses, and painted negatively around them. Each layer has to dry thoroughly before going on to the next layer.
The second image shows the work when partially done.
After a while I ran out of layers of trees coming directly from my sketch. I took my painting on its board, and my pencil and rubber up to the park at the end of my street. I sat in the shade amid the paperbark trees and drew another layer.
I worked with a limited palette. It just worked out that way. Viridian and Brilliant Alizarin, Ceruluean Blue and Burnt Sienna, and also Aureolin Yellow. I group the colours in this way because the first pair was used to make a range of greys for the washes, as was the second pair.
There are a number of book reviews on my blog, but if you go to my website you will see a number of different art books I have reviewed (and I don’t review anything I don’t recommend) , and where there is a review on my blog the website will link back to it. Just click on the Resources tab.
Back in Sydney and continuing with the water theme we went sketching at Bicentennial Park this week. I am so missing the blue skies and beautiful colours of the water on the south coast. This is on Sydney Harbour and this area is Rozelle Bay, just along from my previous sketch of Rozelle Bay. The sky was the most interesting thing because it was black in bands. Rain was forecast but it didn’t rain. It actually turned out sunny.
Whereas my previous sketch looked across at the Heritage Shipyard, this one looks at a marina on the left and a place where they seem to repair tugs and other working boats. I would love to get in there. So many things to draw. However it is a very busy place and I am certain they wouldn’t allow it. One wonderful area like this off to the left has already fallen to developers, but I got there first with my camera.
Oh, this page was also prepped with blues and greens for the south coast, but it worked just as well on the harbour.
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.