Last week, in the depths of winter, we had a day that was 25 degrees. That’s 77. We decided that though we had a late start we would go to the Botanic Gardens. The succulent garden has a wall around it, so we headed there, because there was quite a breeze. It gets very hot in there in the summer, and you have to go very early if you don’t want to cook, so it was a great opportunity to sketch there.
Many of the succulents were in flower, and the majority ranged from red, through orange, to yellow. I decided to make the orange ‘a feature’. I was sketching the flowers in the upper left when a couple came and watched me. He said, “She’s cheating, she’s putting flowers”. I just pointed upwards at the flowers and said nothing. Not very observant, huh?
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.
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.
Saturday was the sketchcrawl, luckily on a cool day, after the previous day was 46.4C at the airport. That’s 115 and at the closest weather station to my house. Due to the hot day, the colour of the Gardens was looking a little more ochre than usual. That made my decision for me, as to whether to work consecutively in my new book of toned papers, or whether to choose the background for the sketch. Well, it seemed a little silly to go consecutive, just because I always do, when I’ve specially put some watercolour paper in there for when I need it.
In choosing the papers for my book, I used the lightest colours at the front and worked though to darker colours at the back. This was so, when I opened a page where two colours of paper created the spread, they wouldn’t be tonally very different. This is one of those spreads.
My first stop was the succulent garden, because usually you get baked in there on the concrete, and it was cool enough to tolerate it even though after 10a.m. Next stop was the statue so that I could draw something hard edged. Finally we found a stand of bamboo with shade as it was hotter by then. I like to draw bamboo from time to time, and I knew it would fit in to finish my spread quite well. I want to draw the black bamboo next. At this time of year its a matter of finding a place in the shade.
A beautiful day in the Gardens for sketching but lots of mozzies at the first spot. Luckily I had some RID, but they still managed to sneak in quite a few bites. We decided to sketch this plant, though we had no idea what it was. After a while a guide came by with a group, so we asked her. It is a ginger, and the red part is the bracts and only the yellow is the flower. I looked it up online and it is called Spiral Ginger. Once you know, it is easy to see, because it is a lot like the Beehive Ginger I drew in the Tropical Centre.
This week I was excited by a drawing of a boat by Jorge Royan where he used selective colour. It is not on his blog yet, but you can find it on Facebook on the Urban Sketchers page. Hence I decided to do selective colour in these sketches.
Next we moved away from the mozzies and as the sun was high in the sky we wandered around looking for a patch of shade. We found this little ‘glade’ not far from Twin Ponds and sat under the shade of a large tree. A breeze was coming off the harbour and we were nice and cool on a very hot day. These paperbark trees are so interesting to draw. The park at the end of my street has many of them.
On Friday we were back in the Botanic Gardens for the first time this summer. I’ve been wanting to go back there for a long time. It was a perfect day for sketching. We found a shady place out of the hot sun. I enjoy drawing palms, but there are a lot of leaves and it to0k me some time.
After lunch we went to Main Pond. I like to draw the lotuses every summer. This year, after the stormy weather on Christmas Day it was no surprise that there were no flowers. Only a bud or two. I always enjoy the play of light and shade on anything I draw, so that is why I am just as happy drawing the leaves.
A Happy New Year in 2013 to everyone.
I am doing a demo at The Art Scene from 12- 2 on 14th June. It is about decorative papers made with inks. I’ll be making the itajime paper, pictured, and some bubble paper and one or two others if there is time. There’s not much room there, and its supposed to be only a demo, but I’m happy if people want to have a try.
One week later at Leichhardt Library from 2-4pm, I’ll be teaching a hands-on workshop in the same skills. Hope to see you at one of these free events.
Now that June is here we can look back at the huge success of Every Day in May. This year it resulted in the spontaneous creation of Every Day in June groups in both Facebook and Flickr, and so it goes on. I wonder if it will also continue in July. If you want to take part, so the sidebar off to the right there.
I’ve decided to take part in the Wild Weird Wonderful art swap. Starting today. You have to make six pages and get them to your nearest coordinator before 1st July. I’m planning to base mine on the weird wonderful plants in the tropical centre in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Today I might prepare my pages and Gelli print the back, then I’ll have a number of pages to work on with the back already done and no risk of messing up the artwork on the front (apart from the usual way).
Another thing going on in June is 30 days of Creativity. It’s a little bit different, being on Twitter and Pinterest as well as Flickr. I very much like their calendar. It is clever as it can be used for any form of creativity, including sketching. I plan to pop in there to use it for prompts for sketching.