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 baby 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
Not the best sketch I have ever done. I was exhausted for some reason. But I told myself “do it anyway!”
The ink is a new one I bought in Florence at the pen shop and hadn’t used yet. I’ve been home since 19th May, but so many days with cold and rain. The colour of the ink is called Salamander. I was using it with a dip pen. As you see, it’s not waterproof. But the lines read as black, and when you add a little water you can pull out a wash in a sort of Perylene Green. I love the colour. I will fill up one of my fountain pens with it in a while. I added a bit of watercolour pencil to brighten it up a bit. I need the colour.
While sketching, I had Cossie Foo in a harness, attached to a chair. Immediately he goes round the hibiscus bush and shortens the length of the leash by about 90%. But he played happily there and wriggled a lot, chasing an insect as far as the leash would allow (maybe 12 inches) then wriggling on his back. Suddenly he jumped up, and ran inside, obviously scoffing at me. The harness lay there on the ground still with the clasps fastened. How did that happen? I had one eye on him the whole time.
His real name is Cosmo. But I sometimes call him Cosimo Foo the Fighter. It’s me he fights. Not so much now, as he will be two years old at Christmas. And I’ve worked out that when I get teeth and claws buried in my ankle, it’s always when I’m walking away from the kitchen. Food.
He’s a ragdoll, and they aren’t fully grown until they are three years old. He has settled down a lot, but we have still got a way to go.
He’s an inside cat. Unlike my previous cats he can’t be trusted in the courtyard. He’s up over the fence and across the back lane chasing another cat, with no thought of looking out for traffic. And then there was the day he got out the front, went down the street and into a neighbours house through her security door. One big dog ignored him, but when the German Shepherd came, he came running out.
So what has taken me so long to start sketching him, when I sketched my other cats regularly? He hasn’t sat still. Here is what he was like when I first got him early in 2013.
Now you see he is a lot woollier, a lot bigger, and better still he has grown into his nose. He likes to get involved with the sketching. He knows if he can sit on the sketchbook AND the iPad he’s more likely to have my full attention.
Last Friday was a filthy day and I was stuck in a small room for several hours with only a view of these rooftops to amuse myself. It was so dark and rainy that often I couldn’t see the edges of the buildings at all. I had only my Lamy pen, and a blue-grey watercolour pencil. The little extra colour was put on later.
I also had only one hand free, so had to keep my sketchbook steady with the hand I was sketching with. At one point the sun came through the clouds and I was able to see where the shadows would fall. A crowd of people were walking along in bright sunlight, and suddenly umbrellas were up, coats were pulled over their heads and any free object held above their heads. Pelting down, while the sun was shining.
St John’s College is a residential Catholic college attached to the University of Sydney. It has a number of well-known alumni including the prime minister and treasurer (enough said) and is a beautiful building. However I am in two minds about it, because this college was relatively recently involved in a scandal about bullying. You can read about it here. Privileged young people with an over-developed sense of entitlement. Beautiful building or not, I turn my nose up at it as I go by.
I have the John Lovett DVD and the way he does reflections is just amazing. I watched the video, but mine is nothing like the way he does it. His are so simple and direct. Mine are played about in. But then again he has done it a million times. I was working from a photo. (No turning your nose up here. It has been raining for three weeks and I also have some health issues.) My water does look like the photo, so that’s something.
It is a photo I took in Siracusa, in Sicily. We were staying on the island of Ortigia, which is part of the city of Siracusa. It is joined on to Sicily by three short bridges and I took this photo when we were on our way to the flea market one morning. Although it was supposed to be an art tour, there was no waiting for anyone who stopped to take a photo, so it was just ‘grab a snap’ and move on.
And yes, I bought some interesting little things at the flea market.
Filed under boats, Charcoal pencil, Copic Multiliner, dip pen, inks, Italy, Ortigia, pen, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils
A valued friend of many sketchers, Jorge Royan, died unexpectedly just over a week ago as the result of a medical procedure. He is being missed by many people all over the world. Though I never met him face to face, I always thought I would. There is nothing I would have liked better than to sit and have a chat with Jorge.
Jorge’s sketching friends are doing a book of portraits, or they are sketching floral tributes, that will be put together as a book for his family. This is my contribution. I didn’t know how to approach it. A hard thing to do. I decided to use the mixed media techniques I have been using recently. Watercolour, watercolour pencils, gesso, charcoal pencils, both black and white. I am not a portrait artist, so I am happy enough with it.
Jorge started the Sketching Workshop a couple of years ago and I was lucky enough to be asked to join right away. The group is deliberately kept to 150 members, so that we all have the opportunity to get to know one another. We are all peers – relatively competent in sketching – so that we can critique one another’s work from an equal footing. And critique we do. The words ‘wow’ and ‘amazing’ are forbidden. It is a truly international group – not dominated by any one nationality. We have great projects and great fun with them. Jorge never asked for anything in return. He wasn’t selling anything. His motto was “all that is not given is lost,” and that philosophy has influenced the group. To me, he was the non-commercial face of sketching.
Stuck in the kitchen while electricians roamed the house, I decided to sketch another of the three doors from Siracusa. Again I used mixed media techniques I picked up from the John Lovett book. Watercolour, watercolour pencil, ink, charcoal pencil, both black and white, and gesso.
I didn’t look at the one I had already sketched, because I didn’t want the way I had handled it to influence this sketch. I have decided to leave it a while before I do the third one, and see if that makes any difference. I love to look at the photos of these doors, because we walked past them several times a day and it takes me right back to Sicily. It would be so nice to be there now when it is warm there and so cold here.
Filed under Charcoal pencil, gesso, inks, Italy, Ortigia, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils