Trip, stumble and fall

“If you can’t be a good example, you’ll have to be a horrible warning”

So says crime writer Catherine Aird and last week’s sketch outing was a fine vindication of this thought. It started out well enough, we went to the newly completed Beijing Garden, a gift from Canberra’s sister city, in honour of Canberra’s centenary.  The garden is located on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin, behind the Hyatt Hotel. The garden packs in quite a bit of cultural and gardening history in a relatively small area. There are buildings, numerous sculptures and rocks, so there’s lots to draw.

I was intrigued by a view which I could see from the road, where the tea house is partly obscured by the sloping ground. I found a similar position closer to the tea house and started to put in my pencil guides. The fact that I took a while and several attempts to get this much should have indicated that I needed to re-consider what I included in the composition. But who am I to listen to common sense.

I ploughed on into the watercolours and started to make some headway into what I soon realised was a deceptively complex set of columns. By this stage my inner me was frantically signalling that I should perhaps quit while I was ahead, after all I’d done an OK job of getting those columns more or less in place. Why not consolidate what I’d already captured or move on to a new composition all together?

Where I probably should have stopped!, watercolour, 13 January 2015

Where I probably should have stopped!, watercolour, 13 January 2015

Maybe next time I’ll listen to myself. But I couldn’t leave it alone and started in on the roof instead. Oh no, it soon dawned on me that I had all sorts of problems here, not the least of which was getting the angles and placement right. There was also the issue of colour. The very strong gold and emerald colours of the glazed tiles actually do sit very strangely with the exceptionally light grey colour of the stone columns. This is something I could have artistically bodged up, but by this stage I just couldn’t manage it.

Oh dear, if at first you don't succeed! watercolour 13 January 2015.

Oh dear, if at first you don’t succeed! watercolour 13 January 2015.

At least the others had the sense to draw something else and were way more successful in their outcomes. The Beijing Garden is now definitely on the re-visit list and hopefully I will have learned something from this experience. If nothing else I did get a laugh from this sign.

Sign at the Beijing Garden

Sign at the Beijing Garden

Next time I can manage some consolidation of my own.

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