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.
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.
Back 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.
We 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.
Out 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. 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.
This 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.
This 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.
But 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.