Blackwattle Bay with salamander ink

blackwattle_salamanderLast Friday I had lunch with a friend I met at art school.  It was lunch first, then sketch.  Over lunch I told her about the Marc Taro Holmes Travel Sketching in Mixed Media course. I showed her all my ‘homework’, not all of which have been on this blog.  This course is very comprehensive. I have been sketching en plein air since I left art school in 2007. (Before that I was far too busy painting, print-making, doing large drawings on an easel, and making artist’s books.)  However, Marc shows a different way of working, so still many things to learn. Marc Taro Holmes is a generous teacher and gives so much information. You can ask him a question and within a day or two you get a really comprehensive reply. I couldn’t recommend this course more.

I have watched Lesson 3 now, and looking forward to trying it. I am off out now to try to track down some waterproof black ink. So few options available here. Failing that, I will go ahead with my trusty Copic Multiliner, and abandon the fountain pen(s) in the meantime. I think the way of working in Lesson 3 will be invaluable for travelling. It is not so different from the way I work already, just quicker and more casual.

I also like this way of working with the water-soluble ink and the water. This sketch of Blackwattle Bay was done quickly because it was quite cold and breezy. If you click on it, it will blow up larger than life size. Then you will see that though it is a pretty ordinary sketch, the ink does amazing things on the (cartridge) paper. If it was San Francisco  (for example) rather than Blackwattle Bay where I go all the time, and I only had a short amount of time, I think a sketch like this would be acceptable in a travel sketch book. Particularly as I would write something about my experience also. (Probably, I write very little in my sketchbooks, travel or not.)

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Filed under Blackwattle Bay, boats, fountain pen, Hero pen, sketchbook, sketching, Sydney, Sydney Harbour

The gate at Tirta Empul again

tirta_empul_gateYes, still on Lesson Two. There is a lot in that lesson, for me in particular. I always work in colour. Prefer it. But I took this course to find new ways of travel sketching, and working without colour is new for me.

I have sketched this gate before. Last time I started in the same way, with water soluble ink, but I added colour, then had to restate my lines. I was using my Hero pen then, and it puts out more ink.  This is my Super5 pen, which is finer. The ink colour is called Dark Brown, and I bought it in Florence, where I bought my Salamander ink. I hadn’t used it before, but I do like the colour.

I wanted to do another harder-edge sketch in this method, because I think it is a good quick way of getting it on the page. All that hatching to render tone is slow.  It would have worked better with the Hero pen and more ink on the page before I added the water, so I had to restate my lines afterwards. Hmm. But then I thought, that’s not a bad thing. I am usually fiddling with my sketchbook over a drink before dinner, and this is very little to add to have a finished sketch.

This gate makes me laugh and mystifies me a bit. The two men who came out the gate while I was photographing it looked at me so strangely. Maybe it was the ‘men’s changing shed’. Tirta Empul is holy springs and people go into the water there (see here), so I guess they change somewhere. Then again, maybe it was just a private residence.  The light was hitting the edges of all those different levels on the gate so beautifully that I had to take a photograph and I have to do a sketch that captures that.

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Filed under Bali, fountain pen, inks, sketchbook, sketching

Sketching in Glebe Point Road

glebe_houseDuring the last few months, I have been taking note of sketchable old houses all over the inner west of Sydney. There are so many beautiful old houses in such varying styles. On Saturday morning we decided to go sketching in Glebe.   Glebe Point Road runs from the city, down to the water at Glebe Point and Bicentennial Park. Blackwattle Bay also. Past the shops, as it starts to go down the hill towards the water (though not with water view) are some huge houses. I went to a party in one once. Inside they are enormous.

We bypassed some gorgeous houses because they were opposite cafés with outdoor seating. Saturday morning the cafés were full. Earmarked them for a weekday when the cafés are less busy and we can sit over coffee longer. It takes some time to sketch these houses because decoration is a feature of the style of house. While it is mostly good to simplify, one needs to capture a certain amount of decoration or one loses the flavour of the house. All the houses I have sketched have been greatly simplified, including this one, (though it doesn’t look like it!). It’s a matter of achieving a balance.

I was pleased that I could sketch this one in horizontal format, because all my Newtown houses have been tall houses in vertical format.  There was a place to sit just beside someone’s driveway, so our view wasn’t blocked by cars. I wanted to sketch this one because I love the dome. I might have been sketching in Glebe again today, but it’s raining.  Better luck on Saturday, I hope. A bonus of sketching in Glebe is that  lunch at Blackwattle Cafe is nearby.


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

Another exercise from Lesson Two

treeI have sketched this tree before. Hero pen and Salamander (colour) ink.  This is not waterproof ink, so it is exactly what I wanted for this exercise in Lesson Two of Marc Taro Holmes Travel Sketching course. There are many exercises in Lesson Two. So much content. I plan to do this exercise again. I had already done this tree in the same way before. Now I want to do an urban landscape to see how that goes.  I do love the colour of this ink.

It is an amazing tree. It meanders along the ground. There are a million sketches in it. I think now, that it is best to include the upright branches (though there is much more going along the ground). But it was quite a miserable day and I was exhausted, so a quick sketch, close to home is better than no sketch.

You will probably be relieved to know that I only want to do two more exercises from this lesson and I can go on to Lesson Three, which is COLOUR.

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Filed under fountain pen, Hero pen, inks, Newtown, sketchbook, sketching

Inktober at Luna Park

operahouse_2015The first Sydney Sketch Club outing for October was at Luna Park. As it was the Inktober challenge, it was suggested that we use ink only. That fitted in very well with the Marc Taro Holmes Travel Sketch course 0n Craftsy. I used Super5 pen with Noodlers Ink and my Pentel ink brush.

We arrived a little early and got started right away. Luna Park is near the northern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The landscape, looking across to Blues Point, fails to inspire me. I have done a few days painting en plein air in acrylics here, as part of an art festival.  So I decided I wanted to do a quick sketch of the Opera House again. I do it once a year or so, not more. I find these iconic buildings make boring sketches, because everyone sketches them. (Oh, maybe I haven’t sketched it for three years.)I prefer urban grunge.  Finding unexpected beauty in the mundane.

It was hot but windy, so we had to hold our pages dwharfown. However we were under the shadow of the harbour bridge and that kept us cool. In rendering tone I needed to keep the shape of the dark glass panels under the shells. But I used some of Marc Taro Holmes’vertical lines also. And I am sure you will find a place where I forgot and did my usual diagonal hatching.

Next, we went along the wharf and sketched back towards the Barangaroo side of the city.  You can see the cranes of the Barangaroo site, the old wharf buildings, and a row of very old terrace houses. These houses have been state-owned accommodation for many years. Currently the state is throwing out the long-standing tenants and selling them off for millions and millions. You can see on the left, ghalf way down the page, the diagonal line of the harbour bridge.

Because I sketched the foreground first, this Noodlers Ink smudged badly when I drew the background. I hadn’t expected that. I am using cartridge paper for these ink drawings. Many people LOVE Noodlers Bulletproof. I thought they were mainly the ones who used cartridge paper. I use fine art papers usually and it doesn’t do well on that. Nor on cartridge paper.


Filed under fountain pen, ink brush, inks, Sydney, Sydney Harbour, The Rocks

Sketching with the ink brush

sebatu_inkbrushAnother exercise from the Marc Taro Holmes Craftsy course.  This one is using a brush pen which is like a waterbrush, except it has ink, not water, in the handle.

This image wasn’t ideal, but I had this photo on my ipad so I decided to go for it. It is a shrine at Gunung Kawi, Sebatu, in Bali.  There are two places called Gunung Kawi in Bali, and they are both beautiful.  This is Gunung Kawi, Sebatu. It is tucked away and not so much visited by tourists.  Our driver (and friend) was determined to take us to this Gunung Kawi though I wanted to go to the other one near Tampaksiring.

I had wanted my travelling companion (a Bali virgin) to see the other, more touristed Gunung Kawi because it has spectacular views of rice terraces.  There are a million steps. I wasn’t walking so well at the time and I had no intention of going down all those steps. I have been there many times.  You pay a small amount to get into the temple, and as you walk on, the most wonderful view opens in front of you. And the steps  go down and down to the temple and to the eleventh century tombs of the kings. So this is the one she didn’t see!

P1030454Our driver was worried about the steps. He was looking after us very well, though we had just met him. He was a friend of a friend. He wouldn’t say much about the ‘other ‘ Gunung Kawi he was taking us to. He thought he was showing us somewhere new. I don’t think he understood, back then, how many times I have been to Bali.  (In fact in May, we took him somewhere he hadn’t been before.) I had forgotten that the place at Sebatu was called Gunung Kawi. I thought of it as Sebatu.  Here’s a photo that shows you the ambiance of Sebatu with the pools of water. It is an idyllic place, tucked away in a valley. My travelling companion loved it anyway, and didn’t know what she had missed. If she goes back to Bali she is bound to go there anyway.

Back to the sketching….I am using cartridge paper, only on one side. But even then, it shows through on the scan. Continue reading


Filed under Bali, ink brush, inks, sketchbook, sketching

Rendering tone with a pen

rapperswil_hatchedI am still plugging on with Lesson Two from the Marc Taro Holmes course.  Life has interfered with my progress, but I am not willing to move on until I have done all the exercises.  Marc Taro Holmes renders tone on buildings with vertical lines. That’s new to me. I found it somewhat awkward and slow, but I bet he can do it like lightning.

Rendering tone was the second scary lesson that rocked us back in our socks when we started art school. (Scary lesson one was beginning the first drawing on A1 size when most of us had previously thought A4 was big.)

The teacher demonstrated a number of ways with rendering tone with a pencil. Hatching, cross-hatching, many other methods. Then we had to start our drawing. Long pause. “Which way is my way?”, we were all thinking. Somehow we bumbled through it. However for some time afterwards we discussed with each other “how are YOU going to render tone”.  In fact, it just happened, and each one rendered tone in the way that was comfortable and natural to them.

Europe from Ipad 084I hatch in a diagonal line. Just happened. So this sketch had me concentrating hard not to go back to my own ways. I must say that the way Marc does these vertical lines looks marvellous. As this is a travel sketching course, I realise that at this stage of the course I am not using a very quick method. It is much quicker to get tone by slopping on a bit of watercolour. And tone is important to me. More important that line. I spend time on it.  However this course has so much information that I want to do all the exercises and not miss anything.

I took this photo at Rapperswil in Switzerland.


Filed under fountain pen, inks, sketchbook, sketching, Super5 pen, Switzerland