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

The house of the zine artist

zine_artistsOut sketching in the narrow streets close to where I live, we came across this cute little house, luckily with a patch of shade opposite. The little black notice-board on the left, by the window, puts out a call for female zine artists. One assumes a zine artist (female) lives here. Such an appropriate house for an artist.

This hall, which was once called Coronation Hall, is now the heaquarters of Subud. I had never heard of Subud, though, strange, I had just come back from Ubud.subud It appears that Subud  is a spiritual movement which, not surprisingly, started in Indonesia.  The hall itself is more than 100 years old. It was all in shadow, so I plan to go back and sketch it again when there is some light and shadow falling on the facade.


Filed under Copic Multiliner, Newtown, sketchbook, sketching, urban landscape, watercolour, zines

Old tree

camperdown_treeThis old tree is in the park I walk through all the time. It is so complex. It goes along the ground in various directions,  and then eventually there are some branches that go UP. But everywhere you would sit to sketch it, you’d get a different picture. I will sketch it again.

I have filled my HERO pen with Salamader ink that I bought in Florence. It is not water-soluble, so I used a waterbrush to pull in some mid-tones.


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

Stacks of Wax

stacks_of_waxThis shop is close to where I live. It sells lovely candles and also everything you need to make candles. I don’t use candles, as I have a badly-behaved long-haired cat, and I would soon have a fireball racing around the house.

But I might be buying from them nevertheless.  I went to a talk by an American book artist called Marshall Weber. Very interesting for a number of reasons, but particularly because he uses wax rubbings inside his artist’s books. It occurred to me that rubbings would be a way to get more stuff in a travel sketchbook, as well as sketching, writing and glueing.

The problem is that you can’t really take a can of fixative on a plane, so that precludes the use of charcoal or pencil. Oil pastels much the same. I did some research and there is a wax available called Gravestone Wax, but not in this country. But I found how to make it, and this shop, pictured, sells the colouring to mix with the wax, in many many colours.

I have yet to get to the hardware shop to buy the wax. Can’t use candle wax; must use metal wax. I’m not sure how it will work, but I hope to try. I have some Japanese paper that will be suitable. Apparently people use interfacing fabric, and this is similar. Then they iron it to set it. That would have to wait until I came home, of course.

bas_reliefBut I am off to Bali again shortly and there are so many bas-relief carvings everywhere. Every verandah of every bungalow. Every door. The carvings are deeper than would be ideal for rubbings, but with a very light touch and a lot of care, it might be possible to produce some artwork. Even if it couldn’t go in the book till we got home.

In the course of my research I came across this interesting artist Ingrid Calame, who uses rubbings and tracings in her work, and another caleld Sari Dienes.  There would be so many ways to intruduce rubbings into art work.



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

Five Ways, Paddington

five_waysThe previous Saturday I was out sketching with Urban Sketchers, Bali. A week later I am with Urban Sketchers  Australia in Sydney.

Paddington is a suburb in the inner eastern side of the city. I used to live in this area, back when I rented, but I couldn’t afford to buy here.

Mglenmore_terracey house is on the inner western side of the city, and now my area is almost as expensive as Paddington.

The sketch of the two windows is a restaurant where we eventually ate lunch. It is a Thai restaurant, but had lots of other options. Very good Thai beef salad. I do enjoy that.

Terrace houses in Paddington are known for ‘Paddington lace‘  –  elaborate wrought iron, though it is also found in other older areas of Sydney. The second sketch is a typical example of a Paddington house.


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

The journey home

garuda_cabin After being trapped by the rain at Murni’s Restaurant it was time to get back to the hotel and get ready to leave. I needed to change more money, buy one or two last-minute gifts near the hotel, shower, change and eat something.

I managed it all except for eating. They decided to fog the hotel garden for mosquitos, so I wasn’t able to leave my room for quite some time and when it was over it was time to go.

I set off to the airport with Made driving, just about dusk. It takes about an hour from Ubud depending on traffic, but I made sure I had plenty of time. It began to rain again and shortly my friend back at the hotel texted me to say Ubud was in darkness again. This is the first time I have had a Bali SIM card and I made good use of it. The phone was running hot with friends texting to say goodbye.

The rain worsened and the scooters were all stopping for their riders to don rain ponchos. Then it became a violent electrical storm and many places of shelter had forlorn little groups of scooter riders wearing helmets and rain ponchos, waiting for the storm to abate.  The traffic was very slow and as we neared the airport came to a virtual stop. Made was concerngaruda_loungeed, but I always have plenty of time up my sleeve.

I made it to the airport with a little time to spare, so after check-in I went to see the Garuda Business Class lounge. As I’d been told, it was underwhelming. It is partitioned off from the main concourse, with no decor, no toilets, no alcohol and very little food. I had a cup of tea and two dry little cup-cakes. We were flying at 10.30 pm and I had had no food since lunch.  I think Garuda can do better than this. Everything else about flying with them is excellent. Why this? Nothing to sketch, so I sketched the receptionist, her desk and the orchid that was the only bit of decor in the place.

On boarding, people were starting to get ready to go to sleep right away, but I asked for food. Satay, similar to the snack I had on the way up. Delicious, but not before time. Too late to sketch really, as lights were going out all around me.

I was asked if I wanted to be woken for breakfast two hours before landing and I said YES. But after breakfast, there was still an hour and a half to fill. It was 6 a.m. So I gave in and drew the aircraft cabin. Everyone draws the aircraft cabin, so I have resisted this far. This time I needed something to do. Breakfast was over, it was far too early for a drink, so here it is.


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