To divert my nervous energy from the exhibition opening last Friday my partner suggested we get on our bikes and ride to the nearby Lake Tuggeranong to do some drawing. The most difficult thing was to decide what to draw. The lake is wide and the view of the mountains and the town centre on the far side was far too broad a panorama to make a particularly good composition. So I plumped instead for the storm water diversion system at the northern end of the lake.
Alright not everyone’s first choice for subject matter but the complex system of drains, catchment basins and structures to slow the flow of water made it quite interesting from an artistic perspective. Not to mention the variety of waterbirds that were using the different depths of water to catch their food. Here is the initial section where the storm water flows into the first collection basin. I was looking towards the sun so there were lots of dramatic contrasts and back-lighting of the vegetation. I did some additional work on the grasses at home.
Storm water diversion system
While I was letting the paint dry on my first painting I was able to turn my attention to do some quick sketches of a Great Egret (Ardea alba) which was fishing in the small creek running off the bottom of the system. As the egret’s plumage is pretty much all white it was an easy choice to paint it by using negative space. Here are two views.
I’m also pleased to report that while we were watching the egret actually caught a fish! We enjoyed watching it manouvre the fish around before swallowing it.
My final sketch, using watercolour pencils, is of the lowest level of the structure where large natural boulders have been placed to break up the flow of fast water in order to limit erosion to the banks of the lake.
Boulders at the bottom of the storm water diversion system
There are still more sections of this structure to paint so I’m sure I’ll be back.
Spirit of Giving, Leonie Andrews, 2013, cotton stitching on canvas
Tomorrow, 10 May, sees the opening of Off the Square an exhibition that I am in along with 8 other artists – Paul Dumetz, Myles Gostelow, Trenna Langdon, Moraig McKenna, Peter Minson, Vicki Passlow, Rozalie Sherwood and Kate Ward – at the Belconnen Arts Centre. I’m really excited because my work, above, has been used to publicise the show, woo hoo! This piece took me a month to stitch, that is after I had developed the design from photographs taken by my partner, just after Christmas of the charity bins at our local shopping centre.
All the work for the show was dropped off earlier this week so I’m feeling somewhat aimless after several months of hard work. Now I’m starting to develop new designs for some future unspecified show. This time I’m keeping a time sheet to try and keep track of how long each piece takes me.
When I opened my sketchbook this morning I found another blind drawing that I had made almost a month ago, while I was visiting Adelaide.
This drawing also took place while I was having coffee, at that time in the courtyard of the Art Gallery of South Australia. The drawing is of the Virgin of the Offering by Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, 1921.
The Virgin of the Offering, Emile Bourdelle, 1921, bronze
I was also interested to see that an almost identical sculpture by Bourdelle, The Virgin of Alsace, is located at the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh. In the Edinburgh sculpture the Virgin is looking out at the viewer, the sculpture in Adelaide has her with her gaze lowered. Quite clearly clever Bourdelle has made two versions of the same work with only minimal reworking.
I usually take my tablet to draw on at the cafe but I’m not always thrilled by the results. So today I went old-fashioned and took a pen (also useful for the crossword) and small sketchbook.
I also used my preferred blind-drawing technique. Here is the result:
I also decided that it might be improved by a bit of light colouring:
cafe table with a light watercolour wash
Thanks to my friends I have received a lovely pumpkin – which is grown for its seeds – and a jar of green tomato pickles.
Styrian pumpkin and green tomato pickles