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.
I did it about fifteen years ago (maybe longer), under tuition with Lyn Butchart whose studio used to be in Manly. Lyn lives in Grafton now, but she does travel teach. I recommend taking classes with her if you can. She’s a star in the field of creative watercolour techniques.
We used to struggle over there against the peak hour traffic early in the morning. Lyn had many huge reference books to browse though. The first time I went, though daunted, I found two different images, combined them, and drew this up, even though I couldn’t really draw back then. Lyn guided me through the various techniques to put the painting together – creative techniques. It is ‘full sheet’ size, and it took me a long time to finish it (at home) because each little water drop had to be individually masked and have a shadow painted under it.
The lotus one was done from my own photos from Bali, also under tuition from Lyn (more and different creative techniques). This photo is so old it was taken with a film camera and the photo scanned, so the colour is slightly off. Also a full sheet.
The jellyfish (full sheet again) I did at a friend’s place. Very bravely going it alone without Lyn, but using her techniques.
The orchids were done at home. There are a lot more of these paintings, mostly florals or marine life, but you don’t want to see them all.
You might be thinking ‘Why is Wendy showing us this stuff? What happened to the One Drawing a Day”. It hasn’t gone away, but trip preparation has had to come first. Bottles of black ink don’t mix with making sketchbooks. All the pristine white paper and decorative covers. We had a paste paper day, but time and weather haven’t co-operated in photographing that. And now the table is covered with half made sketchbooks (three) and I don’t want to get ink on them.
This time last year we went to Huskisson for a few days. It is right on the ocean, but instead of a long straight beach, it has an interesting coastline. We sat on the beach painting the sea. I paint the water in Sydney Harbour a lot, but the open sea is a different story. It has direction. When I got home I trawled the net, looking for a book about painting water. Not as easy as you would think. A number of the books were about painting American lakes and rivers. Colours all wrong for us. Even more of the books had painting that was ‘too pretty’. Finally, while reading through reviews of quite another book, I found one that said, “Don’t buy this book. Buy “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook”. It is the best for painting water. And if you buy the 10th anniversary edition, you get two books in one.”
Of course I had seen it around. It’s not a new book. But in view of this recommendation I ordered it from the library. Sold! Yes, it is two books. Without any indication on the cover, which as you see says, “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook”, half way through there is a new title page and it becomes ” The Watercolorists’s Essential Notebook – Landscapes”.
It is perfect for me. I have done ‘creative watercolour’ for some time, about 15 years ago, (I will show you soon) and never really been taught the basics. This book has it all. It’s perfect for someone who wants to learn the fundamentals, and also perfect for the sketchbook. If I’m out sketching, if it’s not buildings, then it’s landscape. And it’s all in here. So many watercolour books rely on the artist’s idiosyncratic style to sell them. Beautiful watercolours, yes, but not particularly translatable to another artist’s style. This one is different. It is like an encyclopedia of watercolour.
Back to my original hunt for painting water…just the thing I wanted. Wave direction and surface patterns. Pages and pages about painting water. Just to dip in elsewhere…trees, branching options. The quality of sunlight, making billowy clouds. You want to paint it? You can look it up in this book. For example, in the first part of the book there is a chart of watercolour paints, colour by colour, brand by brand. Lots of small exercises. Painting with brushes, palette knives, sticks, sponges. There is a chapter about the factors to consider when you put together a composition. Anything you might want to look up about watercolour painting is here. And it is done with humour. It’s a thick book and a bargain at the price.
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 showed you my section of a collaborative project a little while ago. Here’s the finished project with all parts complete, beautifully put together by Amanda Lee Condict who ran the project and chose the image as well. If you click on the image, you will see whose is whose listed below. Mine is around the middle. If you would like to see the original of this painting it is here.
As I said in my previous post, what I got in my square was totally unexpected. I had expected a portrait to be a face, or head and shoulders. Instead I got quite a complex little square (as did everyone else) with two faces, and creepy little ones they were too.
Norman Rockwell is not an artist who is on my radar. I am vaguely aware of him, and know that he did magazine covers. Oh I see… here… it is a puzzle! No wonder it was confusing. It says in Wikipedia that his work is popular in the United States. However he is not really talked about here. He seems to me to be an illustrator rather than a painter, but what would I know. I guess I am old enough to remember those magazine covers, but he is not an artist you would see in a gallery in Australia or whose work would be studied here.
Anyway it gave us all a workout with the level of detail we had to complete.
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.