Last weekend was another Urban Sketchers Event, this time at Luna Park. Leaving home, walking up over the park, I could feel it in my chest that there was smoke in the air. Once the train emerged from the tunnel onto the Harbour Bridge I saw how much smoke. The Opera House was distinctly hazy, even from so close.
Once at Luna Park I looked for ‘monsters,’ to sketch. You’d think it was a good place for monsters and it is, but the necessity for a patch for shade and other factors sometimes limits where I want to sketch. They had just washed the pavements and one friend didn’t have a chair.
We found some seating and I sketched this roofline (they’re starting to be a habit). Colour first, then line. I tried with a yellowish tombow pen, but the line was too thick. I didn’t like the effect in this particular sketch so I washed it away.
When I had finished, I left the others and walked back towards the front of Luna Park; towards the bridge. What a surprise. Almost no Harbour Bridge to be seen through the heavy smoke haze although we were almost directly underneath. Not fires, just burning off to try to halt the fires that can’t be controlled.
I found another little shady spot where I could see a potential ‘monster’. It is the back of one of the towers that flank ‘The Face‘. I now always work colour first, so I slopped my colour on, and as she developed she turned into a nice little Rampant Rabbit female monster, don’t you think?
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.
I live five minutes’ walk from King Street. I drew this sitting in a cafe called Citrus. You can see the street view here and if you whirl it around you can even see where I was sitting. It’s an excellent cafe but it replaced a wonderful Greek cake shop many years ago. I was sorry to see it go, but Citrus has been a good replacement. Newtown is a quirky and edgy suburb, only 4km from the centre of Sydney.
The small building in the middle is a Thai restaurant and Newtown has many many thai restaurants. Flight Centre is there to the right, and beyond that is Vintage Cellars, my local bottle shop. On the left hand side is a nicky-nacky giftware shop, a cool hairdresser called ‘Dirty Girl’, and another restaurant.
Right near where I’m sitting is a pub with a big window at the front in the public bar. Opposite that window is an art deco building and a wonderful pink one. Look tempting, don’t they? Some time soon, perhaps in the winter, I’ll be sitting in that window with a glass of wine while I sketch from there.
I’ve started carrying a Blue-grey Derwent watercolour pencil and a yellow ochre one. Instead of doing my preliminary sketch with graphite pencil, this enables me to use my Lamy Safari pen as I don’t have graphite lines to rub out. That ink may be bullet-proof but it doesn’t dry particularly quickly & smears when you rub out within 10 minutes or so. The watercolour pencil lines don’t disappear, but they merge into the sketch a lot better as long as you use warm with warm and cool with cool.
Yesterday we were expecting a downpour but the morning was fine, (got it later) so I went up to Newtown for a walk to try to sketch this building that I eventually want to paint. This is the rear of the building and it is the most fantastical conglomeration of pipes & air conditioning ducts that you can imagine. There is a little park opposite with some seats. Unfortunately when I sat down I realised that a great deal of the bulding was obscured by trees from that position. For that reason I used my tiny Fabriano sketch book to just capture what I could see. And on the positive side I got a really good photo of the whole back of the building. Often a lot of the building is in the shade, & the beauty of it is how the shadows fall, so now I’ll be able to do some more drawings from the photos. I used a Pitt Pen in sepia – looks black, doesn’t it?
The next sketch is a sepia pen also, in another brand. Looks just like sanguine, doesn’t it? When will someone make a sepia pen that is sepia-coloured? There is one, but it bleeds through the paper like billy-o, so can’t recommend. This drawing is of the upper floor of a dress shop that has great stuff in it and a sale on at the present time. I used the ‘sepia’ pen, plus two of my Big Brush Pitt Pens, in the green and red. I put the sky and the pink on afterwards with Prismacolour pencils. Nice texture for that on this Fabriano paper.
Last Thursday we went sketching in Glebe. It’s a suburb very close to the city and has some lovely old buildings. We were hoping for a nice day to go sketching an old fishing boat, but though it is high summer, the street lights were still on at 9.30 when I left home. We chose Glebe not only for the old buildings, but for its cafes, and for the fact that there is a shopping mall nearby that we could spend the day in if it rained.
In fact it was a nice day to be outside. We saw some wonderful things to draw if only we’d had stools or chairs with us. Nevertheless this old building, which is an Indian restaurant downstairs, was diagonally opposite a cafe where we had our morning coffee. I am embarking on experimentation with different colour pens. This one is a Pigma Micron brown 0.1 and I have since retired it. It is too fine and that makes it too indistinct. The drawing has to rely totally on the colour & that is not my aim.
We then wandered further up Glebe Point Road on the shady side, interviewing cafes solely on the basis of what was opposite. I really liked these three chimneys. The cafe was a great choice. I have to go back to find out the name. We both had ‘spicy fish salad’. It was so yummy – almost like a spicy fish slice. I have to have it again. I had an ‘aloe’drink with a flavour of ‘pink lemonade’. It was a bit too sweet, but as I got to the bottom it had so much lemon in it. I’ve never had a bottled drink with so much fruit. I have to try some of the other flavours.
After lunch we walked back down on the other side of the road and went into the little park there. It had wonderful old trees with contorted trunks. We just sat on a seat there and drew the nearest one. I used my Lamy pen with grey Noodlers ink for the tree.