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.
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.
We were talking about perspective. If there is one book about perspective you have to have it is is this one. In fact if you don’t want any art books at all, I still say you need two. The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be the Artist You Truly Are, and this one, The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium
After my art training at the Sydney Gallery School, I’m up to speed with perspective. I might not get it right every time, but I sure do know when it’s wrong. Last year I was asked to extend my sketchbook course to some extra weeks, so one of the subjects I thought I should have notes on, was perspective. (I give notes for all my classes). Oh, so one-point,2-point, 3-perspective, ellipses…..yes, what else? So I got a bunch of books from the library to see how writers structured writing about perspective, and I found this GEM. This book is suitable for any media. Perspective is across everything.
In another life I’m an acrylic painting teacher. What I found in this book was example after example of the things I explain constantly to my students. Things not to be found in other books. The book is broken up into three sections
- Natural Perspective
- Linear Perspective
- Linear Perspective (special problems)
The Linear Perspecive (1,2,3 etc) was what I expected to find in a perspective book but this book has so much more. Buy THIS book, not any other. I had an earlier book by the same author but this one is far superior. It is the Natural Perspective section that makes it really stand out….for any landscape painter or urban sketcher.
Just looking at my copy right now, I have a yellow sticky in the page about ‘distant hills’, something I am constantly explaining to my students. Another is in the page about advancing and receding colours. It is a wonderful teaching aid for any medium. With this book, I can not only explain, but show an example. It has all manner of useful information, such as ‘What affects a cast shadow’. You see what I mean? You need this book.
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.
As a January project I volunteered to join a collaborative portrait project as part of the SW Games Facebook Group. I had expected my section to contain a nostril, or a section of chin, but as you see what I got was far more complex. I used watercolour and my NEW purple Copic Multiliner pen.
Apart from the Rome Map we did recently, I haven’t done this type of project since 2004. My final year painting class at the Sydney Gallery School, Meadowbank did a collaborative version of a Cezanne still life. And here it is!
My section (A4 size) was part of the dark underneath the table. I did it in oils with acrylic underpainting. Many glazes. It was chosen by the other students for the invitation for our exhibition. Luckily these images were still hanging around on my computer.
So, this January 2014 collaborative project is MUCH more complex that the one ten years earlier. I haven’t the foggiest what the image will be like when it is all revealed. It will be any day now, and I will show you.
Hmmmm, why do I decide to sketch the things I do? I have worked out that I prefer to sketch hard-edged things rather than landscape, foliage etc. Why? I think it’s the challenge. During the period I was sketching in the Botanic Gardens, I found all the things to sketch there quite easy. Sit down, sketch, move on.
The other thing that might be a reason, is that the tonal values are so important to me. Hard-edged things cast great shadows and the way the light falls on them interests me more. I am only happy when the tonal values are correct, then I can move on. Many sketchers concentrate on line only. Tone doesn’t really enter into the equation. I can’t be like that, nor do I want to. Slows me down of course, but I don’t see that as a problem.
So Saturday was 42nd Worldwide Sketchcrawl. We were meeting at 10am under the Harbour Bridge at ‘the little patch of green’ at the end of The Rock Market. The first sketch is ‘the little patch of green’. As you see it is currently a building site. But I wanted to sketch it, because these steel blue pipes rising up reminded me of the stands of bamboo in the Botanic Gardens. You can see here that I drew bamboo on the 38th Worldwide Sketchcrawl.
So because of the building works, which have pipes running up to the bridge, and along the bridge but not over the bridge, I didn’t find the rest of the sketchers, but I did find Rod. So I lucked out. He is one of the most interesting men I know, and you should follow his blog, and if you like textiles, or Japan, follow this one too.
So from there we walked down to Circular Quay and while Rod headed for the palm trees, I sketched the mooring ropes and bollards of the Sun Princess. Rod and I will be planning an art pursuit together before too long. Keep an eye on both our blogs!
I decided to make this sketch a separate post because it is in a new sketchbook (at last). This past year has been weird with sketchbooks. I started my Stillman and Birn at the beginning of the year and I have digressed into other books and been distracted by off-sketchbook art, that it has taken me so long to finish it. I have decided I really don’t like to use more than one sketchbook at a time.
I still have my Bali sketchbook unfinished (that means another trip to Bali). As well, my ‘pipes book‘ is only a bit over half finished. And let’s not talk about the book of toned papers. And any time now I will be making books for my travels, so that means I will digress again.
So this sketch is a place at Cockatoo Island I sketched before also. It is the ‘header page’ of my sketchbook, so the grey box now has my contact details in it. The book is this blue one that I made when my nephew and I made books together. Hurray to be in a book that I can work right across the spread.