Tag Archives: Cockatoo Island

Started a new sketchbook

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.


Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

More monster machines

machine_10226Sydney Sketch Club met at Cockatoo Island on Saturday. It has been hot, hot, hot and I haven’t been sleeping. But I never miss an opportunity to go to Cockatoo Island so we decided to catch an early ferry and try to beat the heat. A few others had the same idea. We had a chat and a coffee first, then off to the shade of the Turbine Hall.

I have drawn a lot of the machines now, but you change the angle and the machine is totally different. The lime green machine is a detail of this one I did a lmachine_821ittle while ago when I first starting drawing machines as monsters. I used a green Copic Multiliner for this one.

The yellow one was previously drawn on toned paper here. This time I used a wine Copic Multiliner. Don’t they look different? There is a world of material to sketch  just right there in the Turbine Hall.

I used a half-inch flat brush, and only took a small round brush. A large round would have been more useful for the shapes of the shadows in this case. I will have to find a new way to carry extra brushes without wrecking them while not adding to the weight of my sketching kit.  This is becoming more important because of a major sketching trip coming up. I am going this time with a friend who is a sketcher and printmaker, and some of the time I will be travelling alone, so more sketching this time (touch wood).


Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

Angelina Jolie has left the island

cockatoo_angelinaSaturday was an Urban Sketchers event. I nagged for Cockatoo Island (again) and they humoured me because it was my birthday. My nephew Geoff came down from Brisbane with a friend and we caught the ferry to the island on a perfect morning.

As the interstate visitors hadn’t been to the island before, we set off to walk around the lower island. All blocked off. We were directed in a different direction, but on the west side of the island you could only get to the cafe. Why? Angelina Jolie has been there filming. All celebrities had left the island, but the barriers had not yet been removed (and won’t be gone until 20th).

cockatoo_is_tapThat left us a little less choice of sketching spots out of the sun, and it was hot. I went to a place that has a conglomeration of pipes, where I have sketched before. You might be able to see that the previous one has this same metal box from a different angle.  This time there was a tiny piece of shade so I had very little choice for composition if I wanted to stay cool. I wasn’t so happy with my result. Our aborted walk around the island seemed to have put me off my stride.

So I went for a chat with a friend who was still sketching and decided to do a quick sketch of this little tap. I like it a lot better.

Delicious hamburger for lunch. A long time since I had a hamburger.


Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, Urban Sketchers Event, watercolour, working harbour

Machines like monsters – Cockatoo Island

Back before I went to Europe I read this article on Lynne Chapman’s blog about Inma Serrano‘s workshop in Barcelona at the Urban Sketchers Symposium. I had meant to try this technique in Europe, but….well…. there was too much else to think about.

Last week we went again sketching to Cockatoo Island. On the ferry I remembered this technique (which I read about three months beforehand), and decided to give it a go. I had my usual sketching kit, n0 special materials, so I had to make do with what I had. Watercolour and some Copic Multiliners in various colours.

monster_2In a nutshell, the idea is that you draw the object as if it was a monster. In Barcelona, Lynne Chapman drew the Cathedral; I drew machines at Cockatoo Island. We had planned to sketch outside. It was a beautiful day, but the breeze was flipping the pages of our books so we went into the Turbine Hall.  The first one I sketched was the Scary Monster. It sends rays out of that white thing at the front to disable its enemies. You can see what a complicated piece of machinery it is. I NEVER would have chosen this particular machine if it hadn’t been a monster. This technique takes the technicality out of sketching and the fear not not ‘getting it right’.  And it is quick.

monster_3How I did it. Well, as I said, the memory of the technique was slightly dim, but I gave it my best shot. I used a biggish round brush and put the blue on, then I dropped Alizarin Crimson into the darker areas, a little bit of yellow on the highlighted areas and  tried to leave some white for the lightest lights. Straight onto the page – no pencil guidelines.  I allowed it to dry then worked into it with a wine coloured Copic Multiliner. Brought back two little highlights with white gouache and – finished.

I didn’t worry about realistic colour; it is far more fun to have colourful monsters. In real life though the top one was battleship grey, the next was grey with a greenish cast, and the last was a creamy sort of colour(ish).


Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

Cockatoo Island Urban Sketchers Event

Saturday morning was another Urban Sketchers Event at Cockatoo Island. Remember we got rained out (well, rained in) last time, and I sketched the machines?

This time a cloudy day was forecast with strong winds. It can be cold there out on the island, and although the weather has been perfect, we are well on into the autumn. In the event, it was yet another perfect day and we were stripping off layers.

I wanted to sketch this hugely complicated crane that I haven’t tried before. It is always trickier than you think, sketching cranes. They are so very tall. You have to anchor them on the ground somehow, then you run out of page when you go upwards. This crane is just gorgeous where that rectangular thing is, and next time I shall attempt to draw a detail of that area. As it was I went off the page at the top, and across onto the other page once I got the rope-thing hanging down. So I continued to add more buildings coming closer to me, able only to fudge the perspective and the proportion because it was so unplanned. Nevertheless I quite like it.


Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, Prismacolour pencils, sketchbook, sketching, Urban Sketchers Event, working harbour

Cockatoo Island with collage


Yesterday was Anzac Day, a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand. There is a huge parade through the city, but instead we went to Cockatoo Island again. Any opportunity……

These pages in my Stillman & Birn sketchbook have been pre-prepared with collage for ages. Even since I came back from Huskisson, and so long that I can’t quite remember if I used Matt Medium of Matt Gel Medium. I used a variety of torn pieces of Japanese papers. They were all cream or white, some with metallic bits through them, others plain or with various other bits through them. When I had stuck them down and they were dry, I threw some watercolour on them.

cockatoo_sandstoneI was always planning to use them at Cockatoo Island, so I used the yellow ochre on them both, thinking of the sandstone there. One I used a dusky pink as well, and the other I mixed a grey blue from ultramarine and burnt umber.

It was a perfect autumn day. Chilly at 9:45 when I arrived, but by mid afternoon we were looking for a patch of shade. Another glorious day on Sydney Harbour.

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Filed under Cockatoo Island, collage, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Stillman & Birn, watercolour, working harbour

The Pipes Book – a work in progress

pipes_p1Some time ago I began a book especially for sketches of pipes.  The book is here along with the sketches I did a year or so ago. I have moved away from my plan to do all the pipes grey except for where there was paintwork.  At Cockatoo Island on Easter Saturday I noticed that mostly the pipes were rusty, and though I don’t intend to always follow that, I have introduced that colour.

I layered some of the rusty pipes along behind the original ones to pull the whole thing together and carry the sketches from page to page in my concertina book. One pipe  below the yellowish one that hasn’t had colour yet. The concertina has ten pages, and this is five of them, so I am half-way there. The trick will be to leave the right amount of white space.


We just had time before catching the ferry back to Circular Quay to go into the Industrial Precinct and sketch another machine. This one reminded me of a sewing machine but I’m sure its not.

Cockatoo Island was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it before with people everywhere, and many many campers and more tents than I have ever seen before. Sadly, one of the campers never made it back to the mainland, after falling from a cliff overnight.


Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, drawing, Prismacolour pencils, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour, working harbour