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.
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.
On Thursday I went out and about in Newtown with fellow Urban Sketcher Liz Steel. I was showing Liz some places around my local area where we might be able to have an Urban Sketchers event. King Street, the main shopping street in Newtown is too popular on the weekend with people lunching and brunching. Not much room for sketchers on the pavements and certainly not in the cafes.
I took Liz to my favourite building which has a little park opposite. I’ve sketched this building before here and here. I could spend a lifetime drawing this building in sections and with different media. The blue of the paper was similar to the blue of the steel, so that is why I chose to sketch this section. The scan is not really true to the colour.
I particularly like this sort of ‘industrial’ image on toned paper. Not working consecutively through the book is serving me well, but I will be glad when the book is fuller.
Here is the crazy building in all its glory. Liz sketched the whole building here.
Saturday was the ‘Crane Crawl’ at Cockatoo Island. The weather wasn’t promising but I wanted to go anyway. At Cockatoo Island the sky was dark, so rather than start to sketch and get rained on before I was finished, I went straight to the Industrial Precinct. I’ve only sketched inside there once before and was longing to do it again.
Even while I was doing my first sketch, the rain came down and was hammering on the tin roof. I love sketching these old machines. I wish I knew what they were for. The top one is a bit like the Beam Benders but not as big, and it has a wonky ‘bender,’ if that’s what it is.
For the next machine I chose a red background. I am jumping around in my book of toned paper. I chose a nice industrial brown for the first one, but then I wanted to keep the day’s sketches together as a group. What do you think this machine does? Maybe the wheel at the top lowers the head and it cuts metal between those two wheels. There is a bit of commonality between this and a sewing machine.
My last sketch of the day was this little grouping of a cupboard, some boxes and a thingy. I was running out of time, and chose something without a lot of ellipses.
We got soaked waiting to get on the ferry to go home (all those people disembarking at Cockatoo Island in the pouring rain!) But we had a great day sketching and I wouldn’t have missed it. Can’t wait to go back. All sketches with Lamy Safari pen, and Prismacolour pencil(s) on Canson paper.
Back in Sydney and continuing with the water theme we went sketching at Bicentennial Park this week. I am so missing the blue skies and beautiful colours of the water on the south coast. This is on Sydney Harbour and this area is Rozelle Bay, just along from my previous sketch of Rozelle Bay. The sky was the most interesting thing because it was black in bands. Rain was forecast but it didn’t rain. It actually turned out sunny.
Whereas my previous sketch looked across at the Heritage Shipyard, this one looks at a marina on the left and a place where they seem to repair tugs and other working boats. I would love to get in there. So many things to draw. However it is a very busy place and I am certain they wouldn’t allow it. One wonderful area like this off to the left has already fallen to developers, but I got there first with my camera.
Oh, this page was also prepped with blues and greens for the south coast, but it worked just as well on the harbour.
Woke early on our last day to the smell of smoke. Our original plan was to sketch on the beach till checkout time, however we thought perhaps that had better change. In January there were terrible fires at Sussex Inlet not far to the south of us. I loaded down the Rural Fire Service app “Fires Near Me NSW”. The fire was 23km to the north, but it seemed like a good idea to get onto the main highway, as the breeze was already up.
After a short stop at Nowra, we headed for Kiama, a beach place famous for its blowhole. We had a berry smoothie to cool down and then found a spot by the water with a stone wall to sit on and even a tap to fill up our water jars.
Again I was working on a prepared background. I had found my method by then. Because of the way I had applied the paint, I was able to use some of the white areas for the waves. In fact there is no sand in this area, there is a wall, but the page had been prepared thinking it would be painted at the beach at Huskisson, but really, I don’t care.
So I am still using my Stillman and Birn sketchbook. It is so robust for all kinds of mixed media experimentation. An unexpected and happy side effect was that I used my Lamy Safari pen with Noodlers Bulletproof ink and it didn’t run. It dried right away. I mostly make my own sketchbooks with fine art papers – Stonehenge, BFK Rives, Fabriano Hot Press, and the ink doesn’t dry, sometimes even after ten minutes. My plan had been to use the Lamy Safari, then a wet brush to dilute the ink and apply some mid tones (back when I did the spattery one). I got the wet brush onto the newly applied ink and it didn’t budge.
We had planned another stop for late lunch and more sketching, but somehow didn’t find the turnoff, and ended up back in Sydney mid afternoon with no lunch.
On our second day at Huskisson, we were up early in the morning, picked up some coffee and breakfast from The Bakery, and were on the beach before 7.30. We went to a beautiful beach just around the corner, but it faced east and the (hot) sun was in our eyes. We ate breakfast and moved back around the corner.
The previous afternoon I’d prepared a page with an idea from a book with a lot of spattering. I thought it looked a bit fierce, so while it was half dry I sprayed the page and did a few brushstrokes to disperse the paint a little. This first sketch is with Lamy Safari and a little watercolour, with some white gouache for the edges of the waves. The background colour doesn’t show the beautiful day, but other than that I quite like the technique. Fantastic for a rainy day.
I did another quick sketch in absolute crash bang wallop mode. I wanted to sketch with the tip of a large round brush. I wished for a fine liner brush to do finer branches as well, but I worked with what I had. Again working on an underpainted background. I like the way what was already on the page gives the impression of light on the water, but I think it looks like moonlight whereas it was like this.
And then it was lunchtime.