Last week we went sketching at the Powerhouse Museum. I took watercolour pencils and used those inside the Museum. Also Copic Multiliner. It is quite dark everywhere in the museum so it was tricky trying to catch the different shades of grey from the shadows and the water in the tank and in the pump area.
We tucked ourselves away in a corner because there were some school groups visitng the museum, and we didn’t want to be in the way. However this water pump is able to be used, and most of the children who came by wanted to try. we had to reassure the parents that they weren’t blocking our view (well, not for long). Some little boys said it was really difficult to pump, but then two little girls came along and they really thumped at it and made it go fast. We didn’t try, ourselves.
As I am off again in a couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about travel sketching. And panicking. I am travelling with a friend who is not a sketcher, and I know I am not ruthless enough to impose sketching upon her (except sometimes). Last time I went to Europe I was in third year at art school but I wasn’t ‘a sketcher’. I took a little A5 spiral bound sketchbook and much to my surprise I filled it.
I started off by taking notes at the galleries I went to, just as I did at home. Tyler Print Institute, Singapore was the first one. All my notes came in very handy, as they were reference material for writing essays and reviews back at art school. After that I was staying with relatives in Switzerland, though we went to Barcelona and also to Italy. The first sketch here is from memory, of vineyards seen from the train on the side of a hill near Lausanne. The second was done on a hot day in Fiesole near Florence. Both these sketches were later turned into acrylic paintings on canvas. The Vineyards one was quite large and sold immediately.
In Basel, we came upon a Schwitters and Arp exhibition at the Kunstmuseum. I was inspired. From then on I made small collages in my sketchbook with the bits and pieces I picked up along the way. So I show you a ‘Bologna Schwitters’ and a ‘Gaudi Schwitters’.
So, though I doubt that I will be taking notes at exhibitions, I do plan to collage again. I do hope to fill my sketchbook…even if it is just collage and bullet points about my experiences. I learnt in Bali that I also need to spend time soaking up the scene and enjoying being there (even though I have been to Bali so many times.) I was looking at the Italian sketchbook of another artist, Leslie Fehling, and I do encourage you to read this post she has written about travel sketching. While you are there, have a look at her wonderful watercolours of Italy. I do so agree with her that sketching should not be an obligation.
I do have a strategy to help me get some stuff in my book. I don’t think I have the discipline to do more than finishing off and tidying up when I get home, so I am doing some preparation now. I’ll tell you about it in another post.
Derivan Dave and I had a play with this technique…oh, I don’t know…. over a year ago. At the time we were looking for new techniques suitable for Liquid Pencil. I found this idea in Moira Handly’s book “The Artist’s Drawing Book”. It’s an oldie but goodie, and if you are happy with a second-hand one, the price is certainly good!
I have had one of these left hanging on the fridge with a magnet since that day. I decided that this technique would work just as well with inks, so I had another practice at home before the demo.
The first step is very simple. You need a limited palette, a blue, a green and a brown. I usually add a bit of red to the green to make it more of an olive green. The aim is for it to look like the forest floor. You drip a few drops of ink ( or watered down Liquid Pencil works just as well) onto the area that will be ‘the ground’. Then tip the paper so that the inks runs in various directions, then take an ordinary drinking straw and blow little tendrils and branches out from the main lines of ink. When you are happy with your composition, allow to dry. One alternative is to paint on a little colour before you start, as I have done with the olive green colour in the second one.
The first one pictured is the Liquid Pencil one from a long time ago. I drew into that one with ink and a ‘post office pen’. I used actual plants and drew them from life (weeds actually).
The second one is a new one with the inks, and I do wish I had toned that blue down with some orange.This one I used watercolour pencils as Moira Handly does, but for my preference they don’t stand out enough. I prefer the pen.
The third one is also with the inks. It is the one I like best. I loved the Liquid Pencil one before I drew on it, and wanted to think of a way to simplify. So I just started doodling some diagonal lines and I found that they looked like the veins of leaves, so I carried on in that theme. Easy as anything. You can do it with children.
Oh I am home now and it is coooooooold. I have finally done all my washing and paid the bills and now it is time to sketch again. I sketched this one from a photo, as I am finding it too jolly cold to be outside sketching. This sketch was mostly done with a Derwent blue-grey watercolour pencil, then finished off with various orange wc pencils, all Albrecht Durer. It is taken from an area on the left hand side of the gate.
The day of our cooking course I wandered around the hotel and the area nearby taking some photos of Balinese patterns and textures. This gate was on the footpath where the street of our hotel met the main road. Nearby were a couple of shops – the sort with the roller-door front. It just sold Bali clothing and bags. We both bought bags from this shop, though I can’t remember what else, if anything. The seller was a friendly lady so we spent some time chatting to her.
This is the top of the same gate. An amazing gate, just placed nowhere-in-particular. That’s what I love about Bali.
Finally a sketch! On Saturday, thanks to Peny Setyowati, BB and I met up with the Bali Urban Sketchers in Denpasar. We left Ubud at 8.30 and were at Museum Bali well before ten. Peny found us easily, and we three went into the Museum for a look around. I had wanted to see that museum since reading about it not long ago. After a while quite a number of other Bali Urban Sketchers arrived and we went into a courtyard to sketch. The Architecture here is ornate, complex and beautiful, but utterly different to anything we are used to sketching at home. Seeing the proficiency of the local sketchers, I had to put in a major effort to produce something passable. I am using watercolour pencils, which I don’t use so often now. Lucky they are quite forgiving.
I did another sketch also, but it is in my ox-plough book, where many of the sketches are unfinished. Our timetable in Ubud has been to rise early and get out and about before it gets hot. Problem is, we forget to come home. So we have been arriving back late afternoon, hot and exhausted, then going for a swim. After that it is getting towards dusk often, and I am just too tired to think about anything sensibly, never mind finishing sketches.
This trip has helped me to work out what I will take to Europe for sketching. I made books for us that are square and Coptic bound. That will be perfect. Using the ox-plough book means you don’t work a spread at a time and gives very little opportunity for collaging in interesting bits (of which there are many here in Bali). I will also use watercolours and pen, because that is faster for me and also doesn’t need spraying. This sketch needs some darker darks when I get home and can spray it.
I feel very spoilt by being able to meet the Bali Urban Sketchers. They are very friendly and made us feel very welcome. This photo is me with Peny and Achmad. Taken by BB. I hope to sketch with them again before too long. Note my new hair courtesy of the chemo treatment. Difficult for me to get used to after my whole life having straight hair. Here is the previous me.
Well I thought I wasn’t going to be blogging for a month. Now it seems plans have changed. I am not sure if they are going to change again so I’m blogging today and every chance I get. With a bit of luck we’ll reach the 500th post before too long and the giveaway. I will photograph the book as soon as we get a nice bright day. It has toned papers of all colours and if you win it you’ll be drawing across the spread from one colour to another. Won’t that be fun! I saw a picture of Danny Gregory drawing across a spread – maybe it was only white and cream – but it looked great. And there are some nice bright colours like this and this .
These are my shoes that I use to exercise. Munro American. I really wanted to go to the pool and draw the architecture that day but something prevented me – can’t remember what. Watercolour pencils.