Not the best sketch I have ever done. I was exhausted for some reason. But I told myself “do it anyway!”
The ink is a new one I bought in Florence at the pen shop and hadn’t used yet. I’ve been home since 19th May, but so many days with cold and rain. The colour of the ink is called Salamander. I was using it with a dip pen. As you see, it’s not waterproof. But the lines read as black, and when you add a little water you can pull out a wash in a sort of Perylene Green. I love the colour. I will fill up one of my fountain pens with it in a while. I added a bit of watercolour pencil to brighten it up a bit. I need the colour.
While sketching, I had Cossie Foo in a harness, attached to a chair. Immediately he goes round the hibiscus bush and shortens the length of the leash by about 90%. But he played happily there and wriggled a lot, chasing an insect as far as the leash would allow (maybe 12 inches) then wriggling on his back. Suddenly he jumped up, and ran inside, obviously scoffing at me. The harness lay there on the ground still with the clasps fastened. How did that happen? I had one eye on him the whole time.
His real name is Cosmo. But I sometimes call him Cosimo Foo the Fighter. It’s me he fights. Not so much now, as he will be two years old at Christmas. And I’ve worked out that when I get teeth and claws buried in my ankle, it’s always when I’m walking away from the kitchen. Food.
He’s a ragdoll, and they aren’t fully grown until they are three years old. He has settled down a lot, but we have still got a way to go.
He’s an inside cat. Unlike my previous cats he can’t be trusted in the courtyard. He’s up over the fence and across the back lane chasing another cat, with no thought of looking out for traffic. And then there was the day he got out the front, went down the street and into a neighbours house through her security door. One big dog ignored him, but when the German Shepherd came, he came running out.
So what has taken me so long to start sketching him, when I sketched my other cats regularly? He hasn’t sat still. Here is what he was like when I first got him early in 2013.
Now you see he is a lot woollier, a lot bigger, and better still he has grown into his nose. He likes to get involved with the sketching. He knows if he can sit on the sketchbook AND the iPad he’s more likely to have my full attention.
Last Friday was a filthy day and I was stuck in a small room for several hours with only a view of these rooftops to amuse myself. It was so dark and rainy that often I couldn’t see the edges of the buildings at all. I had only my Lamy pen, and a blue-grey watercolour pencil. The little extra colour was put on later.
I also had only one hand free, so had to keep my sketchbook steady with the hand I was sketching with. At one point the sun came through the clouds and I was able to see where the shadows would fall. A crowd of people were walking along in bright sunlight, and suddenly umbrellas were up, coats were pulled over their heads and any free object held above their heads. Pelting down, while the sun was shining.
St John’s College is a residential Catholic college attached to the University of Sydney. It has a number of well-known alumni including the prime minister and treasurer (enough said) and is a beautiful building. However I am in two minds about it, because this college was relatively recently involved in a scandal about bullying. You can read about it here. Privileged young people with an over-developed sense of entitlement. Beautiful building or not, I turn my nose up at it as I go by.
I have the John Lovett DVD and the way he does reflections is just amazing. I watched the video, but mine is nothing like the way he does it. His are so simple and direct. Mine are played about in. But then again he has done it a million times. I was working from a photo. (No turning your nose up here. It has been raining for three weeks and I also have some health issues.) My water does look like the photo, so that’s something.
It is a photo I took in Siracusa, in Sicily. We were staying on the island of Ortigia, which is part of the city of Siracusa. It is joined on to Sicily by three short bridges and I took this photo when we were on our way to the flea market one morning. Although it was supposed to be an art tour, there was no waiting for anyone who stopped to take a photo, so it was just ‘grab a snap’ and move on.
And yes, I bought some interesting little things at the flea market.
Filed under boats, Charcoal pencil, Copic Multiliner, dip pen, inks, Italy, Ortigia, pen, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils
Finally I get a brown ink that suits me fine. It has been a long search. I have looked for inks, pens, whatever, for a few years now. The pens are either so light as to not give definition to a line, or so dark as to read as black. I bought some lovely brown ink in Florence, gorgeous colour, but not at all impermeabile (waterproof).
Cathy Johnson recommended this Noodlers Ink, Brown #41, to me a long time ago, but there are very few Noodlers colours available here. However recently my friend Peter had a holiday in New York, and asked me Do you want anything? Well!
I have the Noodlers Bulletproof Black and Lexington Grey for quite some time. They’re ok, but on the fine art papers I use in my handmade sketchbooks, they don’t dry quickly enough. This new brown ink seems to dry quickly and I LOVE the colour.
My sketch of a church for the test run, is from Buscemi in Sicily. I wrote about this when I was there in April – a small town that is a living museum. There were two quite wonderful churches, and as was usual (and very disappointing) with our tour, there was no free time to sketch. So now I sketch it from a photo.
My printer died last week and this is my first scan with the new one. It seems simpler than the old one and quicker, and there was no learning curve at this stage …. Until I start to customise it.
A valued friend of many sketchers, Jorge Royan, died unexpectedly just over a week ago as the result of a medical procedure. He is being missed by many people all over the world. Though I never met him face to face, I always thought I would. There is nothing I would have liked better than to sit and have a chat with Jorge.
Jorge’s sketching friends are doing a book of portraits, or they are sketching floral tributes, that will be put together as a book for his family. This is my contribution. I didn’t know how to approach it. A hard thing to do. I decided to use the mixed media techniques I have been using recently. Watercolour, watercolour pencils, gesso, charcoal pencils, both black and white. I am not a portrait artist, so I am happy enough with it.
Jorge started the Sketching Workshop a couple of years ago and I was lucky enough to be asked to join right away. The group is deliberately kept to 150 members, so that we all have the opportunity to get to know one another. We are all peers – relatively competent in sketching – so that we can critique one another’s work from an equal footing. And critique we do. The words ‘wow’ and ‘amazing’ are forbidden. It is a truly international group – not dominated by any one nationality. We have great projects and great fun with them. Jorge never asked for anything in return. He wasn’t selling anything. His motto was “all that is not given is lost,” and that philosophy has influenced the group. To me, he was the non-commercial face of sketching.
On Sunday I met up with Chris Haldane at Balmain. We sat on some stairs and sketched the view over the water. I looked further west to Spectacle Island and Chris sketched Cockatoo Island, slightly to the east of where I was looking. Chris is a great artist with a lot of experience in watercolour.
It had been a dull morning and was supposed to rain later in the day. Instead the skies cleared. As we started out, there were these impressive shapes in the sky, so I piled water onto the page and some colour and spent most of the rest of the time chatting and waiting for the page to dry. I was sorry I had taken my ‘sketcher’s box of paints as the Perylene Green was left at home in my travelling kit. It is so useful for all those dark greens. Must switch it over.