I live not far from Sydney University. It is a collection of beautiful old sandstone buildings. I didn’t go there for my degree though. The art school is on different (equally nice) premises, a bit further away, but the ‘word on the street’ seemed to be that the University of New South Wales was the better art school.
On Sunday, there was a ‘rock and roll market’ at Sydney Uni, with some vintage cars outside and many young girls done up in extreme 50s clothing. Hideous, in my eyes. I remember those things from the 50s. I remember all the rules for women of all ages that have thankfully gone. So don’t expect me to get excited about the 50s.
I went with the Sydney Sketch Club. Fun to go with a group and see what everyone else sketches. Many did the vintage cars. They were a temptation, but once I saw the twisty-twirly chimneys it was all over. I wanted to use my book of toned papers now that it has a new lease of life. The way the light fell on the sandstone was just the sort of thing I love to sketch.
It was a hot day. Gorgeous. We were sitting in the sun and after a while got very thirsty indeed. The only place we could get a coffee was inside the market, so we paid and went in. We found coffee and food as well. It was interesting sitting in there having our lunch and watching the over-the-top fifties gear. Many of them had little chiffon scarves tied around their heads with a knot in front. Maybe that was an American thing. I remember seeing pictures like that, but in my part of the world it would have definitely meant ‘working class’.
After lunch, out in the car park, there was a bunch of girls with little straw hats. I guess they looked as if they were going to the races. But my parents went to the races all the time, and I don’t remember those hats. The dresses, yes. We went back to sit in the sun and I sketched the entrance to the faculty of medicine. I was intending to continue up the page, but suddenly it was ‘show and tell’ time.
This weekend, spring was here! I have been longing to get out sketching but there have been so many days with chilly breezes. Now at last it is warm.
We wanted to sketch ‘the pink building‘, but at this time of the year there is no light on it at 10 a.m. With my obsession with tone, I am not eager to sketch anything without the light falling on it in an interesting way. We wandered around a few streets, looking at the way the light fell and looking to find something to sketch. In Wilson Street, we struck it lucky and found a group of attractive houses. This house was a pale blue, towards the violet rather than the green, so I added a bit of alizarin crimson to liven it up. It is a large drawing (15″ by 7 1/2″) across the two pages of my sketchbook. This house is a lot less elaborate than this previous one and its ‘bookend‘ at the other end of the block. However they are only a few streets apart.
A neighbour talked to us and told us this house is about to have a big renovation out the back. I enjoyed sketching this. I liked the palm tree taller than the house. We will no doubt go back to this street to sketch because there are other houses nearby that are quite different. And there is a coffee shop nearby.
This Volterra sketch is done on pale grey paper. The choice of colour was inspired by the colour of the building. It was partly grey, partly ochre. So I got out my Prismacolours to add some yellow ochre, partly to make this sketch fit in with the rest of the group, partly because the grey is a little pale for a mid-tone.
Something completely different coming up in my next blog post.
So far in this new Volterra series on toned paper, I am sticking to earth tones. Maybe when I get further down the track I may surprise us all with something entirely different. Strangley, I have found, now that I have three of the new series on toned paper done, that two of the earlier series can also be included, as they are predominantly ochre in colour. See below; I have included them again so you can see what I mean.
I am enjoying working on the toned paper again. However this Posca pen
has inspired me to buy a few more, and when I get off the toned paper I will be experimenting with them.
A number of other people are doing Volterra drawings from Google Maps travelling a particular route, which can be seen here.
Our drawings are due on 20th August and are slowly being published on the Facebook group SW Games.
This is my strategy for my new Volterra series. Some time recently I saw a sketch I really liked on toned paper. It occurred to me that I had a sketchbook of toned papers, half full. This is the first of my new Volterra series, aiming for streetscapes, and the ‘look’ of a series.
Another reason for this strategy is that on Saturday I bought a white Posca pen to try it out. That’s what I am using for the whites here.
I had forgotten about this sketchbook. I don’t like the cover. Now I have decided to make a new cover. The problem was that the itajime paper I had used for the cover was semi transparent, so when I glued it to the grey bookboard, it didn’t look so good. I shellacked it all over, but was never thrilled with the result. I think I will use itajime paper again, but put some plain white paper underneath. Then I will be more inclined to pull out the book and use it.
So I started the Gordon Cullen inspired walk through Volterra last week. I wasn’t happy with how it went. I had taken my own images from Google Street View, and they were mostly of doors and windows. Those, along with rooflines are what I like to sketch when I’m out in the field.
The second image (the yellow one) was the one I did first, then I realised my ‘mistake’ in not including more streetscapes, and pulled out some more images to work from. I had painted the basics in watercolour first, then used Noodlers brown ink which does not smudge. Then final watercolour and a little white pen.
But the second image I drew – the one with the red awning, I used a different process. Ink first with Super5 fountain pen with Noodlers Bulletproof black ink. But it smudged under my hand, even though I had gone away for a while to let it dry. My second step was to paint in the shadows with a mixed black, then some minimal colour. Even hours later, the ink bled into the pale yellow ochre wash on the buildings.
Well….on the third day, Cosmo the cat didn’t want me to draw. He wanted attention. He sat on the sketchbook and bit right through the page…through the yellow drawing and one on the reverse side that I was just starting. Which is why it is smaller. Eventually he had to be shut in another room because when I started the third sketch with very wet watercolour, reserving the whites – he rolled on it.
At this point in the project, there was some discussion with others who are doing the project and I decided my sketches didn’t look enough like ‘a series’. So I have started again with a new strategy to ensure that it will be more like a series.
Saturday was Urban Sketchers Sydney sketching day. I haven’t been for a while because it is too jolly COLD outside for me. Saturday was fine and sunny, though it became very windy.
The venue was St Stephen’s churchyard, just across the park from my place. I used to go up there a lot on warm mornings to do some sketching. Here is one from 2011. And another. And one from 2010. That’s enough!
In Sydney terms, this is a historical churchyard (graveyard 1848, church 1874). The park outside the walls, that runs down towards my house was a cemetery at one time, and now the gravestones are fixed to the inner walls of the churchyard. Here is how the park looks now. In its early days the church had a long drive(now a residential street) that the carriages would drive down towards the church to a circular drive within the churchyard. You can read more about the history here. And also an EXCELLENT blog post about it.
As I often do at this place, I wandered around aimlessly trying to find somewhere to sketch. I wanted to be IN the sun, and I wanted light and shade falling on what I was sketching. In the end, my decision was to draw these colourful gravestones. After I settled down to sketch, I decided to include the two sketchers sitting in front of me.
I am working quite large – 15″ wide by 7 1/2″ high. The wind came up VERY strongly and I had to hold the pages to stop them flapping about. At one point, while there was a lot of wet watercolour on the page, the book slammed shut. Strangely it did no damage. I put the red on at home and darkened some of the darks a little, but mostly it was done in situ.
I will be posting some sketches of my ‘Volterra Walk’ soon.