Last Saturday was the 34th worldwide sketchcrawl and we ended up at the Australian Museum. The original plan was to go to Hyde Park. We met there and by that time it was already sprinkling with rain. We hoped it would stop, but as we waited for latecomers, down came the rain. We had to put our wet weather plan into action right way because it was bucketing down. We only had to cross the road, but it was like wading through a creek. We were wet through. They put all our wet things into a room for us and we dispersed throughout the museum till lunchtime.
There is a reason I chose to sketch these two. I live 4km from the very centre of Sydney. Nearby there is a park and an old church. In the churchyard there are possums. Less than 5 times in the more than 25 years I’ve lived here, as I’ve walked along beside the churchyard, possums come to the fence, or low down on a tree. Just before Christmas a possum started coming to my courtyard. Then he’d go from my tree to the roof, and end up in a tree out the front. (Possum poo on the roof of the car.) At the beginning of January, one night I was sitting in my kitchen with a friend, quite late, having a glass of wine. Arabella, my cat, came near the screen door and started to hiss and hiss. I turned the outside light on, and here was a possum with its pink nose sniffing along the screen door. I put some rejected cat food in an old plate out on the table just outside the window. The possum retreated to the bottom of the tree while I was out there, but as soon as I was safely back inside, it climbed up on the table and had a leisurely meal for 10 minutes or so, with the two of us just sitting the other side of the glass, watching.
The plover is another story. I went to Cockatoo Island with a friend in the spring. As we walked along one particular path, a plover started to divebomb us. At first we ignored it. They’re bigger than, say, a pigeon, but not a huge bird. Obviously we were getting nearer its nest though, because it has quite a wingspread, and it got very scary. We retreated with our arms wrapped round our heads.
The second drawing is one started in Hyde Park as the rain was starting. I used a sanguine Pitt Pen, size M. I noticed the white reflections of the flagpoles on the wet ground as we ran off to seek shelter. The background was drawn in with watercolour pencils.
It’s winter again so the Australian Museum is the place to go to get out of the cold and rain. The only one of these birds I had drawn before was the southern boobook (owl) and my previous drawing is very different.
It was school holidays and by midday we needed to get away from the noise. That often happens and it doesn’t matter because it’s such a wonderful place for children and adults. You just go and get a bird or an animal on a plinth, put it in front of you and draw. Then when you’ve finished you go and get a different one.
These birds are all solar plate etchings printed from plates I made from drawings done at the Australian Museum.
The first bird is a Shining Starling. Originally there wasn’t enough light in his eye (I proofed him last month) but I cut down a very small paintbrush and painted a little highlight directly onto the plate with shellac, and it worked! I printed him a few times using the blended colours on different parts of a large roller.
The next one is a gang gang cockatoo. To make this solar plate I put a piece of architects drafting film over the original drawing and traced it with Liquid Pencil. I added a few darks with a large propelling pencil. The print has been done by inking up in black and rolling over with the a large roller with a blend.
Last Saturday we went sketching at the Australian Museum again. I am on a roll using the timer or stopwatch in my camera. I am doing these drawings in around 10 minutes and when that takes into account sharpening my Prismacolours – it’s not so bad. I go straight in with the pen, and I am really not feeling that my drawings are noticeably worse that when I’m sl-o-o-o-o-ow.
Yesterday on a horrible wet day we went to draw at the Australian Museum. My plan was to complete a GRID page layout as a sample for my sketchbook/journal class. I started with each page divided in pencil into six squares. Then I made space for my headings…and started.
I drew the longnosed bandicoot first. then the ringtail possum. Then I found the wonderful yellow tailed black cockatoo. The musk duck was next – he had such wonderful feet. Then I found a little space in the corner for the white-browed scrubwren (I didn’t see any white!)
It turned out quite different to what I had expected, but I liked the way the extremities of some of the animals poke out of the boundaries of their space.
Last week we went to the Australian museum again, not for so long this time. I am very happy with my gang-gang cockatoo. I’ve realised that my drawing from ‘life’ (taxidermed life in this case) is entirely different from my drawing from photographs. My drawing from photographs are rather drawings of photographs.
The gang-gang cockatoo in the museum was blackish, though the ones online are more grey and pink. I’ve never seen one in the wild – endangered I think. The rosellas, yes, all over the place.
I wonder if anyone else has read this book I just bought DRAWING FROM WITHIN: UNLEASHING YOUR CREATIVE POTENTIAL by Nick Meglin. My favourite book shop has a 10th birthday sale & I went in to see what was there & came away with two books. This book has really impressed me. It’s about the philosophy or mindset of drawing. It’s all common sense, and only took me about 2 hours to read. Now I have to read it again & put yellow stickies, or maybe even highlight some places (I NEVER do that).
There is no Artspeak. Pictures of wonderful drawings, but just for eye candy – not for how-to. Only one assignment per chapter, but the intention is to implant the habit of drawing. Nevertheless, although this book is very different to Danny Gregory’s books, the writer has much the same idea, that you learn to draw by doing. It’s also a breath of fresh air after having had teachers in art school who preferred anything rather than realistic drawing. This writer says there’s no bad or good. It’s all subjective. There’s no place for judgement – only constructive criticism.
The thing where his ideas perhaps diverge from mine, is that he says you should draw for yourself, not to show others. I like the ‘community ‘ aspect of drawing and communicating with others who draw online.
This author says you should just draw, never ‘make a drawing’. Not worry about how the finished work is going to look. I actually think he’s right. It’s just as ‘good paper’ inhibits many of us, we all want to come up with something that we’re happy to post online. If you’re not worried what the end result will be like, you’re more inclined to stretch yourself – take risks.