The thing that drives me crazy about my own sketchbook is that, unless I plan ahead and draw a line around the page, I always fill the whole page. So with this sketch I cheated, and digitally put a white border around it. Recently while reading Matthew Brehm’s book Sketching on Location, I read what I already knew – sketches look better with white space around them (Flickr, take note).
So why do I do this? A couple of reasons.
I was a painter and drawer long before I became a sketcher. I am used to filling up the canvas. Used to filling up the paper.
The other reason is that I am used to working big. BIG. Before I went to art school I thought A4 (letter size) was big. Immediately when we started in first year, we were onto A1 size and expected to fill the page. That’s around 23 x 33 inches. Then A1 became small, and we were expected to work much bigger.
Cartridge paper – six sheets of A1
Here’s one I did of the studio. I started with one A1 sheet and it grew to six. So the whole drawing is about 99 inches across by 46 high.
Stonehenge paper – nine sheets
The next drawing is on nine full sheets of Stonehenge paper. Each sheet is about 22 x 29 inches. So this one is nearly 90 inches wide by 66 high.
This is probably the reason I can’t fathom the use of tiny sketchbooks. They make me come over all peculiar (more peculiar).
These large drawings were done about ten years ago. The last one may look abstract, but in fact it was an investigation into drawing ‘the bound object’. We all had to bind an object during the holidays as a basis of our drawing for the next term (final year- Advanced Diploma of Fine Art). I got some old metallic helium balloons with congratulatory messages on them, and bound my object (rags? I can’t remember) with yellow curling ribbon. I was the only member of a large class with a coloured ‘bound object’. Beige, white, grey, black…and then mine. I did the realistic colours first and then was instructed to do more in different colourways till I had a large wall full of them.
So on Thursday we sketched around Newtown. In this area is one of the best streets in Newtown. An interesting link on this blog. So is mine by the way, but my street is full of ‘workers’cottages’ whereas this area has large mansions with lots of lovely architectural detail to sketch. I slopped on watercolour first and drew into it. There’s a nice little park opposite where we sat to sketch. Forced to listen to a ‘lovers’tiff’ which, it seemed to me, had only one obvious ending.
Saturday was the Urban Sketchers event, led this time by Rod Byatt around the streets of St Peters, before sketching in Sydney Park. Made the wrong decision and caught the bus, although we could have walked there much faster, so missed the walk around the streets. Still, it is in my local area, so I can easily go back.
These tall chimneys are a feature of the local landscape. Yes, they might be in St Peters, but when you see the chimneys, you know you’re in Newtown. King Street, the main street of Newtown, continues through St Peters and becomes the main highway south.
The weather had seemed dodgy (which it has been for weeks), but it was perfect in the end. I decided to draw the chimneys. Being late, we couldn’t find the other sketchers, so I thought I’d better sketch the chimneys to prove I was there. But they had gone off for their walk to the famous much-graffitied May Lane and surrounding streets with original architecture. So we caught up with them in the end, and had a wonderful morning sketching and socialising in the shade of a tree.
This park is new since I came to live in Newtown in the 1980s. It is on the site of an old brickworks. I drive past it often, but it seemed very open, and not very interesting. Also it is on the highway, so you need to go into the car park to stop and have a proper look. But there is plenty of shade, and even in the middle of the day, there is shade around these wonderful old brick buildings. Plenty to sketch here.
Sketching yesterday around Newtown. A little park with some lovely old houses around it. One row of very elaborate large houses had so much architectural detail that you could sketch there for a month and still do something different every time. The first sketch I was trying out the three-media technique (with a variation). I used a red Copic Multiliner to sketch it initially, then put my mid-tones on with pink and peach Tombow pens – a bit too similar to each other. I needed to do that before the light moved around. Then a purple Tombow to reinforce the main lines and the darks. A waterbrush to just wash some of the purple over the windows. Very quick, and even better…nothing to finish afterwards.
The second one was from a row of small simple, but still old houses on another side of the park. This is the two-media technique. Green Copic Multiliner and watercolour mix of Antwerp Blue and Paynes Grey.
I did enjoy doing the pink and purple one. I have been wanting to do something in completely unrealistic colours and now I have. It is the monster technique of course. Such fun to do, but perhaps I should get back to some serious stuff. I do enjoy trying new techniques though. Any suggestions?
Last week I went to sketch The Pink Building again on a dry day. However, even at 10am there was no light on it. I have been watching it for years and I know that for quite a lot of the year it is in shadow. Perhaps that time of year has come.Back along the lane I found this group of buildings with the sun coming from one side.
Tone is so important to me, and that is probably one of the reasons I don’t work particularly fast, because I am refining the differences in the tones. So I had to find something to sketch with strong tonal differences.
When I got this one home I wasn’t particularly happy with the colour, so I actually got up in the night to alter it, because I couldn’t get back to sleep for thinking about it. What did I do? I lightened the two sunny yellow areas using sfumato. I lifted off the colour of the front wall to a pale raw umber, as I thought it was muddy. In the morning I glazed very watery ultramarine over the front wall and the other shadow areas. Finished.
Now I am happy with it. If time permitted (which it won’t) I would quite like to do a 12″ square acrylic from it for the Pyrmont Art Prize.
Strangely enough I painted one from here for the Glebe Art Prize, though it sold before that and never made it to the exhibition. It is from a totally different angle, but do you recognise with area it comes from? It’s called Up Up and Away, partly because of the repeating upward thrust of the roofline, but mainly because it was the rear of the Flight Centre building at the time.
Something exciting happened overnight in Sydney. Last month was the gay and a lesbian Mardi Gras, a major event. A rainbow pedestrian crossing was created at Taylor Square, the main road junction the parade passes through.This week in an act of stupidity, the state government went in at dead of night and at a cost of $30,000.00 removed it.
No, I’m not gay, but I’m for more happiness in the world, so I am for gay marriage and rainbow crossings.
Last night a guerrilla movement has sprung up all over the inner west of Sydney, and other places too, and people are chalking rainbow crossings everywhere. Their motto is ‘Dont get angry, get chalking’. They even have their own Facebook page. DIY Rainbow Crossings.
Port Macquarie (a few hours north of Sydney) is sold out of coloured chalks. There is a rainbow crossing in Ballarat in Victoria and even an international one in Phoenix Arizona.
Well, at risk of sounding like the lightbulb joke, I think it’s faaaaaabulous!
Another wet day for an Urban Sketchers Event. The venue this time was the ‘back lanes of Newtown’which is my local area. You might remember that Liz Steel and I went for a reconoitre to plan the venue and I sketched this portion of the building.
It started to rain almost as soon as we started sketching, but I persevered till I had all the ink on, even though I was drawing on a wet page. The paper was the robustissimo Stillman and Birn Delta series, and I was using a Copic Multiliner pen which continued to draw on the wet paper. Not only was the rain splashing on the paper, but the building turned out to be the rear of Splash restaurant.
I sometimes walk along this back lane when I go to the library, so I am very familiar with the colours of the building and I also have a few photos of it. At this time of the year, on a sunny day, the airconditioning vents cast wonderful shadows. When i put the colour on later, at home, I painted a hint of the shadows from a photo, and although I deliberately painted a rainy sky, it looks as if the sun was out as well. It wasn’t.
Well, we had to sketch fast because of the weather, and then a number of us adjourned to The Pie Tin, on the next corner. It is a relatively new cafe specialising in pies, both savoury and sweet. I had some sort of a North African lamb pie, and it was delicious, chock full with meat.
In fact the conversation was almost worth the curtailed sketching. One of the things it let me to was Rod Byatt’s interesting discussion about Danny Gregory’s new book An Illustrated Journey, which we all own, of course. The conversation also, as always, turned to materials. My view is that there is an over emphasis on materials. Yes, they must be good quality, but more is not better. Colour mixing, rather than buying every colour. Not a popular or common view. And I have heaps of stuff.
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.