Tag Archives: Cockatoo Island

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

Rusty old crane

rusty_craneIt was so very hot.. traffic in the city was abysmal….we met at Circular Quay. We decided Cockatoo Island was the best spot because we might get a bit of a breeze.  Not much breeze in fact, but perhaps more than elsewhere.

We went to the upper island, and I did a long drawing that I have now gessoed over. I haven’t done that for years. But I hated it, and I was annoyed with myself.

Back down in the lower island after lunch, I sketched this one quickly, and thank goodness I am OK with it.  I have sketched it before, in colour. It has deteriorated even more and it is just about falling apart. They are restoring all these old cranes and painting them a bland battleship grey. They lose so much character though. This cute one is now all-over battleship grey. If I had known they were going to do that I would have donated some green, red and silver paint.

A very generous person who came over to make a coptic book with me gave me this book…… The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture and Cityscapes: Tips and Techniques for Drawing on Location (Urban Sketching Handbooks)

I recommend it ! I don’t think I have actually sketched any architecture since I read it, except ‘as a monster’, but it is the GENERAL sketching advice I find so useful. I lent it to a friend. She has read it and ordered it right away. Now I have it back I am going to read it again. And a thing I like about  Gabi Campanario’s books is that he tells the time taken to do the sketches. Don’t you find that interesting?

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Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching

Cockatoo Island

cockatoo_headerAn Urban Sketchers outing at Cockatoo Island to sketch with a visiting Melbourne sketcher and another from England. I met the Melbourne one, but the English one, unfortunately no.

The last time I was at Cockatoo Island was for the Island Bar, not for sketching. Broni came from New Zealand for our birthdays which are a few days apart and we decided this was a good place to celebrate them.  It was during a week of dark skies, torrential rain and electrical storms, but we managed to dodge the showers for a while. We had a great time and the weather caused plenty of hilarity.

I started a new sketchbook a few days ago. This one. So now I’m working on Fabriano paper.  I waited to do the first page until I had something suitable to sketch to leave a gap for writing my contact details.  This Cockatoo Island landscape with the crane seemed just the thing, partly because it was one place to sit with plentiful shade.  I completed it all on the island, except for the sky. I wanted to really wet the paper and use a bigger brush. The sky was really much brighter blue. It was a hot hot day. However I didn’t want to lift the paint off the crane so I left well enough alone.

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Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, sketching, watercolour

Started a new sketchbook

I decided to make this sketch a separate post because it is in a new sketchbook (at last). This past year has been weird with sketchbooks. I started my Stillman and Birn at the beginning of the year and I have digressed into other books and been distracted by off-sketchbook art, that it has taken me so long to finish it. I have decided I really don’t like to use more than one sketchbook at a time.

I still have my Bali sketchbook unfinished (that means another trip to Bali).  As well, my ‘pipes book‘ is only a bit over half finished. And let’s not talk about the book of toned papers. And any time now I will be making books for my travels, so that means I will digress again.

So this sketch is a place at Cockatoo Island I sketched before also. It is the ‘header page’ of my sketchbook, so the grey box now has my contact details in it. The book is this blue one that I made when my nephew and I made books together. Hurray to be in a book that I can work right across the spread.


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

More monster machines

machine_10226Sydney Sketch Club met at Cockatoo Island on Saturday. It has been hot, hot, hot and I haven’t been sleeping. But I never miss an opportunity to go to Cockatoo Island so we decided to catch an early ferry and try to beat the heat. A few others had the same idea. We had a chat and a coffee first, then off to the shade of the Turbine Hall.

I have drawn a lot of the machines now, but you change the angle and the machine is totally different. The lime green machine is a detail of this one I did a lmachine_821ittle while ago when I first starting drawing machines as monsters. I used a green Copic Multiliner for this one.

The yellow one was previously drawn on toned paper here. This time I used a wine Copic Multiliner. Don’t they look different? There is a world of material to sketch  just right there in the Turbine Hall.

I used a half-inch flat brush, and only took a small round brush. A large round would have been more useful for the shapes of the shadows in this case. I will have to find a new way to carry extra brushes without wrecking them while not adding to the weight of my sketching kit.  This is becoming more important because of a major sketching trip coming up. I am going this time with a friend who is a sketcher and printmaker, and some of the time I will be travelling alone, so more sketching this time (touch wood).


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

Angelina Jolie has left the island

cockatoo_angelinaSaturday was an Urban Sketchers event. I nagged for Cockatoo Island (again) and they humoured me because it was my birthday. My nephew Geoff came down from Brisbane with a friend and we caught the ferry to the island on a perfect morning.

As the interstate visitors hadn’t been to the island before, we set off to walk around the lower island. All blocked off. We were directed in a different direction, but on the west side of the island you could only get to the cafe. Why? Angelina Jolie has been there filming. All celebrities had left the island, but the barriers had not yet been removed (and won’t be gone until 20th).

cockatoo_is_tapThat left us a little less choice of sketching spots out of the sun, and it was hot. I went to a place that has a conglomeration of pipes, where I have sketched before. You might be able to see that the previous one has this same metal box from a different angle.  This time there was a tiny piece of shade so I had very little choice for composition if I wanted to stay cool. I wasn’t so happy with my result. Our aborted walk around the island seemed to have put me off my stride.

So I went for a chat with a friend who was still sketching and decided to do a quick sketch of this little tap. I like it a lot better.

Delicious hamburger for lunch. A long time since I had a hamburger.


Filed under Cockatoo Island, Copic Multiliner, Urban Sketchers Event, watercolour, working harbour

Machines like monsters – Cockatoo Island

Back before I went to Europe I read this article on Lynne Chapman’s blog about Inma Serrano‘s workshop in Barcelona at the Urban Sketchers Symposium. I had meant to try this technique in Europe, but….well…. there was too much else to think about.

Last week we went again sketching to Cockatoo Island. On the ferry I remembered this technique (which I read about three months beforehand), and decided to give it a go. I had my usual sketching kit, n0 special materials, so I had to make do with what I had. Watercolour and some Copic Multiliners in various colours.

monster_2In a nutshell, the idea is that you draw the object as if it was a monster. In Barcelona, Lynne Chapman drew the Cathedral; I drew machines at Cockatoo Island. We had planned to sketch outside. It was a beautiful day, but the breeze was flipping the pages of our books so we went into the Turbine Hall.  The first one I sketched was the Scary Monster. It sends rays out of that white thing at the front to disable its enemies. You can see what a complicated piece of machinery it is. I NEVER would have chosen this particular machine if it hadn’t been a monster. This technique takes the technicality out of sketching and the fear not not ‘getting it right’.  And it is quick.

monster_3How I did it. Well, as I said, the memory of the technique was slightly dim, but I gave it my best shot. I used a biggish round brush and put the blue on, then I dropped Alizarin Crimson into the darker areas, a little bit of yellow on the highlighted areas and  tried to leave some white for the lightest lights. Straight onto the page – no pencil guidelines.  I allowed it to dry then worked into it with a wine coloured Copic Multiliner. Brought back two little highlights with white gouache and – finished.

I didn’t worry about realistic colour; it is far more fun to have colourful monsters. In real life though the top one was battleship grey, the next was grey with a greenish cast, and the last was a creamy sort of colour(ish).


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