Category Archives: sketching

Terracotta terraces

park_lane_orangeBack sketching around Hollis Park in Newtown last week.  Along one side of the park there is a whole row of tall terraces similar to this one. Unfortunately, from a sketching point of view, the ornate tops of them are often obscured by trees. This one, we could see the top. I also liked  the much smaller house right up against it.

It is currently being restored and quite soon one of the builders came over to chat. He said that this one and the one at the bottom end of the row, which I sketched previously  are ‘bookends’.  He had also been involved in restoring the other one. Another neighbour who stopped to chat told us that this house and the one next door have been bought by the same people and are being made into one residence. Huge!  The verandah stretches right off to the left before you get to the next house.

They are being painted a glorious shade of terracotta. Strangely I had a new colour of orange paint I wanted to use. I used the same method as I used for the previous house. I wasn’t aiming for realism in colour at all. This time I used ultramarine for the shadows, dropped in my new Translucent Orange and some Permanent Rose.

I played around with this one, probably more than I should, but as it got into early afternoon the view of  the house became dominated by the glow of the new terracotta paint on the side wall, so I washed it with the orange. A bit ‘colourful’, but also a good reminder of what I saw, and I hadn’t want it to be too similar to my earlier sketch of the other house. I agonised about whether to leave the car unpainted (it was a red car) but white, it was the ‘lightest light next to the darkest dark’ and became in danger of being the centre of attention. I mixed the orange and the rose and painted it, and then the eye again was drawn to the terra cotta wall and the height of the house.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, Newtown, sketchbook, sketching, Sydney, watercolour

More machines at Cockatoo Island

lime_green_machine Back at Cockatoo Island last Sunday. I had hoped to go sketching on Saturday also but it had rained all night, was really damp outside and I thought I was getting a cold. Winter had arrived last week, but on Sunday the weather was much improved and we hopped on the ferry to Cockatoo Island with a visiting group of sketchers from Newcastle.

I decided to lathebaby myself a bit and stick to sketching inside the Turbine Hall, but in fact it was quite warm.  I drew the Indian Yellow machine in the morning. It was one I hadn’t seen before, and apparently it is a lathe. I blocked it in in Indian Yellow, dropped in some Alizarin Crimson, allowed it to dry, then drew with my Copic Multiliner. I made another pass, dampening it with a little more yellow, and adding some Antwerp Blue for the darker shadows.

Things are concerning at Cockatoo Island. I saw a big FOR LEASE sign – for retail, hospitality, corporate etc. Next thing they will be moving the developers in. That will be a tragedy. All the machines are being moved around, taken away,  and the view of those available is less than optimal now.  Perhaps they are being worked on by the team of volunteers, which of course is a good thing.

But finding a machine with a little light on it, while not sitting in the wind tunnel  of the walkway through the Turbine Shed proved a little tricky. After lunch I sat very close to this tall machine to sketch. I worked the way I have been doing a lot since my trip to Bali. I use either a yellow oxide or a blue-grey coloured pencil and roughly put the shape on the page. Depending on the complexity of the object, I either use pen first or watercolour first. I never rub out the watercolour pencil, so in most of my sketches, if you look at the larger size, you will see the original lines still there. Often they are a little distance from the final sketch, because I am not aiming to draw the object with the pencil, but to just get the size and proportion on the page. This one was done in Cadmium Yellow Light and Antwerp Blue


Filed under sketching, watercolour, watercolour pencils, Copic Multiliner, Cockatoo Island, sketchbook

Boma – paint first, pen later

boma At Darling Harbour on Good Friday I was chatting to Fiona Verity who was painting the cityscape loosely and planning to draw into it when dry.  I enjoy working that way also. So a couple of days later, on a wet afternoon, I decided to paint this statue of Boma loosely, from a photo,  then draw into it.

I took the photo at Pura Gunung Kawi at Sebatu. Not the Gunung Kawi with the beautiful views of rice terraces and all the steps, but a temple tucksebatu_2ed away in a valley in the middle of Bali and not much frequented by tourists.

Boma is a guardian figure. He is son of Wisnu and the earth goddess Pertiwi. Wisnu had turned himself into a boar and raped Pertiwi who understandably, in that form, had knocked him back. Hence the face that looks somewhat piggy (in my sketch). Boma is a guardian figure and his face is often seen above doorways. You can read more about Boma here.

So, my method was to paint first, not too carefully. I allowed some of the colours to run into one another, and others I left a tiny gap of dry paper. Then once the paint was dry, I drew into it with a Copic Multiliner. In hindsight I wish I had splashed the paint around a bit more, although the paint was my guide in all this decorative detail when I started in with the pen.  Maybe I will put a few splatters of bright paint around him.


Filed under Bali, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour

Good Friday with USK International

boat_good_fridayAt Easter, Paul Wang from USK Singapore was in town and also Helen Chan from USK Hong Kong, so the Sydney Urban Sketchers got together on Good Friday to sketch with them. We had hoped to go to Luna Park, with views of the Harbour Bridge etc, but it rained. Luckily we had a wet weather plan. We met at the National Maritime Museum, hoping against hope that the rain would stop and we could sketch outside where there are a lot of old ships.

The rain continued, however we were able to sketch ships after all, albeit from a short distance.  Along the side of the museum there are steps up to a terrace. It has a partial roof and long tables and benches. Perfect for us. a little rain drifted in and added ‘interest’ to our sketches.

I sketched this small boat, MB172,  that interested me because of the four red ‘antennae’ sticking up.  As you see, we were sitting right above it, so the perspective was quite different to that from the dock, where we would have been on a fine day.

good_friday_w._meThe place on the terrace was great in many ways, as we were sitting together near the tables, and there was some chatting as we sketched (though long silences in concentration also). For once I remembered to get up and stretch, so I wandered around and had some great conversation with the other sketchers.

This photo was taken after a number of sketchers had had to leave, but there were 15 or more in all. A great turnout for a wet Good Friday. I hardly slept that night. My head was buzzing with ideas.


Filed under boats, Copic Multiliner, Maritime Museum, sketchbook, sketching, Sydney, Sydney Harbour, watercolour

The house in Park Lane

georgina_stWe went sketching locally again. I had overdone it at the gym and was pretty tired. We went to this little park, Hollis Park,  that is not too far away and bounded by some beautiful houses and some cute little ones too. This is from one previous visit, and this house which recently was sold for $3.5 m on another visit.  There’s a lovely side view with a turret, just waiting to be sketched on that one.

This time we sketched on the other side of the park, under the shade of some trees. As I said, I was tired, sore and stiff from the gym, but I got on a roll.  It is another big sketch 15″ high by 7 1/2″ wide. I didn’t move for a very long time. Bad idea, really, but I think it was worth it.

I had recently read Marc Taro Holmes’ book The Urban Sketcher: Techniques for Seeing and Drawing on Location. The section in it that I particularly liked was where he deals with adding watercolour to sketches. Some of the techniques I already use, though I didn’t necessarily have a name for them. However I tried this new one, where he uses spot colour, drops in the complement and other random colours. I used Paynes Grey (Maimeri Blu, very different to my usual W&N) Burnt Sienna, and some Alizarin Crimson. I finished it all on site, except for part of the wrought iron, and I also darkened up the shadows under the balconies.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, Newtown, sketchbook, sketching, Sydney, watercolour

Summer Hill Post Office

summer_hill_poOn a Sunday morning the Sydney Sketch Club went to Summer Hill. It is a suburb in the inner west of Sydney about 15 minutes’ drive from where I live. There are some lovely old buildings there, and I had been there once before, sketching with Chris. We sketched the milk bar that time, so I was looking for something else. One of the buildings on the ‘recommended’ list was the old Post Office. I decided to give it a go. It was quite a challenge. Such a complex building with a number of sections to it, and angles of all sorts.

Although I have been practising my parallel lines as recommended by Gabi Campanario, in his book, The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture and Cityscapes: Tips and Techniques for Drawing on Location (Urban Sketching Handbooks)  my lines are less than accurate here. I am working quite large. My book is 19cm (or 7 1/2 ” ) high, and across the two pages it is about 38cm wide  (roughly 15 ” ). That’s quite large to be working on your knee with your eyes not so far above the page.

On the right, below the balcony, is a coffee shop, where there were tables and chairs and people.  However, due to the nature of the building, I was quietly chanting to myself  ‘simplify, simplify, simplify’. And it is of the highest importance to me to get the tonal values working, and that takes time. So I omitted the people (and the cars). But since then I have watched this video of a chat between Danny Gregory and Jason Das, where Jason talks about putting the people and the cars in the sketch to place the building in its urban setting. I would like this sketch more if it had some of that.

HOWEVER, two of us sat side by side sketching, and concentrating so hard that we didn’t talk the whole time. But watch this space, because I plan to take on board that suggestion.



Filed under Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, Sydney, watercolour

Griya Santrian carving

santrian_carvingI sketched this with my SUPER5 pen, given to me by a friend. I really like this pen. It is currently filled with Noodlers Bulletproof black ink (which I never use with colour because it is not waterproof on may of the papers I use in my sketchbooks).   This is from a photo from my recent trip to Bali. It was taken at the Griya Santrian Hotel and is along the path past the art gallery there.

I enjoy sketching these carvings and statues. I did another one here,  and  here.  Well, there are a lot really. Of course it is someone else’s art. I talked to someone about how the carvings are done while I was there, and yes, it certainly does start with a drawing, then this is transferred to the area to be carved.

The one I like best of all my drawings of carvings is this one from Kalibukbuk, which I also made a solar plate etching of. It is from a previous trip. Of course, the art work still belongs to someone else (such elegance of line!) but my interpretation is about the way the light falls on the carving. So is the sketch in this post really, though I think the media I chose doesn’t set it off best.

This has led me to thinking ‘what is my subject matter going to be this time in Bali?’ I’m going to be there for almost a month. I need a plan. So what is it I love about Bali? Apart from the people, I love the lush tropical vegetation and I love the way everything is so over-the-top decorative.  which brings me back to other people’s art work. Though I do prefer to draw hard-edged things rather than natural things. My main interest in tone and the way light falls on things. I’m still working it out.


Filed under Bali, inks, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, Travel