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.
This is the first watercolour painting I ever did, so many years ago, and I have just had it framed. It was painted on a full sheet of watercolour paper.
At that time, a friend and I went to Art in Action, a weekend of workshops held annually by the Combined Art Societies of New South Wales. In visiting other classes at the venue, we came across Lyn Butchart, and decided we would like to do some classes with her. Lyn had a studio in Manly at the time, so it was quite a trek across the bridge in peak hour traffic, but worth it.
Lyn teaches ‘creative watercolour techniques’. This was my first introduction to watercolour painting (I was an acrylic painter at the time) so consequentlyI have never learnt traditional watercolour. In Lyn’s classes, you decided what you would paint, and everyone painted something different. I wanted to try her underwater techniques, so she directed me to a big stash of source books. I found the big fish in one photo, the weed in another and the small fish in a third photo.
First, I masked everything. Then added some watercolour texture mediums at the bottom and allowed to dry. Next, the background was put on, very wet indeed. Time for a walk to the art shop and probably lunch as well, while this dried. It had to be very dry before the masking fluid was taken off.
So then there was a layer on the leaves, and more masking. It went on and on. It look me a lot of time to finish this painting at home, layering, and under each water drop on a leaf, I had to paint a shadow. Finally it was finished and has been sitting in one of my art bags for at least fifteen years, maybe more. Big paintings like this are expensive to frame, but now it is done and on the wall. My new teal wing chair comes today and will sit below it.
So I started the Gordon Cullen inspired walk through Volterra last week. I wasn’t happy with how it went. I had taken my own images from Google Street View, and they were mostly of doors and windows. Those, along with rooflines are what I like to sketch when I’m out in the field.
The second image (the yellow one) was the one I did first, then I realised my ‘mistake’ in not including more streetscapes, and pulled out some more images to work from. I had painted the basics in watercolour first, then used Noodlers brown ink which does not smudge. Then final watercolour and a little white pen.
But the second image I drew – the one with the red awning, I used a different process. Ink first with Super5 fountain pen with Noodlers Bulletproof black ink. But it smudged under my hand, even though I had gone away for a while to let it dry. My second step was to paint in the shadows with a mixed black, then some minimal colour. Even hours later, the ink bled into the pale yellow ochre wash on the buildings.
Well….on the third day, Cosmo the cat didn’t want me to draw. He wanted attention. He sat on the sketchbook and bit right through the page…through the yellow drawing and one on the reverse side that I was just starting. Which is why it is smaller. Eventually he had to be shut in another room because when I started the third sketch with very wet watercolour, reserving the whites – he rolled on it.
At this point in the project, there was some discussion with others who are doing the project and I decided my sketches didn’t look enough like ‘a series’. So I have started again with a new strategy to ensure that it will be more like a series.
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.
Finally I am going to post this sketch i did a few weeks ago. What has been holding me up is the COLD. My desktop computer is in the spare room, and it’s like ice in there. So here I am at last. I scanned the sketch in there and got it onto WordPress, and now I can write the post in another room where it’s warmer.
We went to Redfern with Sydney Sketch Club. Several of us were late, as there was track work on the railway lines. Buses replaced trains, but the problem was, they were skipping Redfern and going straight into the city. However, once we arrived we got right into sketching. Again, I am sketching right across the spread of two pages and using the width of the pages as the height. So, a big sketch.
Monte de Piete was a Catholic pawnbroker and moneylender, dating back to the Middle Ages. Mr A. Margoschis was a local pawnbroker who in 1877 was involved in a murder at his nearby residence. You can read the story here. The things you learn from going out sketching!
Redfern is only two train stops from where I live. At one time I spent a bit of time there, because I had a friend who worked there and I used to go often and have lunch with her. Because it is so close to the city there are some more interesting shops springing up there now.
Just back a few days and the weather turned icy cold. Such a shock to the system. Nevertheless I braved the cold and went to the Urban Sketchers monthly get together in Chinatown.
On this occasion we had an unusual task. Each person was given a slip of paper with a building on it, and they were to sketch that building. Several people had the same building as there were quite a lot of us. The aim was to get a complete streetscape of Dixon Street, the main street of Chinatown in Sydney.
Apart from the cold, it was just a little rainy. However, cold as I was, I persevered and the rain did not. After finishing sketching we went to one of the food halls for a hot Chinese soup.
In the garden at Cendana Hotel are many wonders. Among them is the turtle fountain. Not far from our room, we walked past it a number of times before realising that it was inhabited by quite a number of turtles. Three or four big ones and two babies. This one with the colourful shell is one of the babies.
Having turned over two pages at a time in my sketchbook, I needed to rectify this by doing extra sketches to fill the empty space, so one hot afternoon I sat in a pavilion and sketched the turtle fountain.
So much wildlife at Cendana! Turtles, cats, Bird and two other caged birds, plus wild swallows flying over the pool at the back of the hotel. In the ricefields right next door ducks and herons, and dragonflies, both orange and green. No monkeys. Although it is in the Monkey Forest Road, we are well up the road from the forest itself.
The umbrella was sketched on a different day at Rambutan hotel, to fill the other empty page. Ceremonial umbrellas are such a feature of Bali. It’s good to get one or two in the sketchbook to capture the flavour of the place.