Out and About

If there is one piece of advice that I think we can all benefit from it is to take up our sketchbooks and draw! While I carry a very small Moleskine drawing book in my bag I’m also trying to take my larger format book with me whenever I go out.

This week I went to a floortalk at the Australia Wide 4 exhibition from the OzQuilt Network. I decided to draw the speaker, using blind drawing technique. I had two goes at it and thought the second was more successful than the first.

Blind drawing at the exhibition floortalk, 12 February 2015, pen and ink

Blind drawing at the exhibition floortalk, 12 February 2015, pen and ink

Today I was able to spend some more time working on this street scape and figures on the restaurant strip in Tuggeranong. And yes, in case you were wondering I used all my three fountain pens in this sketch, just because I can.

Anketell St Tuggeranong, 13 February 2015, pen and ink

Anketell St Tuggeranong, 13 February 2015, pen and ink

Fountain pen fever, it’s contagious!

I think I’m succumbing to the early stages of a sadly common sketching phenomenon, the urge to collect fountain pens. It started innocently enough. I saw some drawings I liked made using a fountain pen and before I thought about it there was my first black Lamy Safari. It was lovely to draw with and soon became indispensable. Then I lost it! A desperate trip to the local pen shop and I was able to secure a bright yellow replacement – all the harder to lose – so I hope.

Then came the inks, you know what happened. Not content with what came with the pen I started researching what inks other people were using. Noodlers Bulletproof was the ink I kept hearing about, particularly the Bulletproof black which is considered to be the one waterproof pigment ink that can be used in my fountain pen, without clogging it up irreparably. One problem, apparently the Australian supplier isn’t supplying anymore, so I had to check out online suppliers from overseas. So now here I am with three bottles of Noodlers inks.

Noodler's inks testing, Black, the just about unpronounceable Squeteague and La Reine Mauve

Noodler’s inks testing, Black, the just about unpronounceable Squeteague and La Reine Mauve

Now I was a bit surprised and not a bit disappointed that the Black and the Squeteague did show some bleeding when I washed some water over them. La Reine Mauve, which was the ‘freshest’ at the time of testing, did no such thing (good breeding will out!).

Hooray! my Black Lamy Safari pen has been found hiding in a dark crevice under some books. Now I have two fountain pens going at the same time. I filled the second pen with La Reine Mauve, as I thought it would be a more ‘useable’ colour than the jade-green Squeteague. You’d think that would be enough, but then I began reading blogs about pens with ‘fude’ or bent nibs. Before I knew it I had purchased a Duke 209 stainless steel pen with the ‘fude’ nib. It’s OK I say, it’s not at all expensive on E-bay.

Now the Duke pen comes with its own blue ink which shades towards a deep violet.  A bit odd but not too bad, if I was going to write with it. So next time I’m at the art supply shop I just have a cruise past the ink display and the next thing I know I’m heading out the door with two more bottles of ink. This time it’s Windsor and Newton Calligraphy ink in Indian Red and Sepia. Both of these colours have the advantage of being ones that I use in my watercolour palette, so I’m sure I’ll be more comfortable drawing with them.

Windsor and Newton calligraphy inks, Indian Red and Sepia and the Duke 209 fude nib using the blue ink cartridge it comes with

Windsor and Newton calligraphy inks, Indian Red and Sepia and the Duke 209 fude nib using the blue ink cartridge it comes with

So now I have three fountain pens to play with. I plan to stop there for a while and spend some time getting to know and use what I have already. Fingers crossed!

 

 

 

Cafe Wednesday – going postal

It’s that time of the week again, back to the cafe, this time with watersoluble pencils. I’ve been really happy using my watersoluble graphite, but that relies on using brushes which doesn’t allow for the quick lines I’m trying to use. So after checking out some of the gear being used by the other sketchers in our first sketchcrawl it was off to the art supply shop and away with some Derwent Watersoluble Sketching pencils.

Testing the Derwent watersoluble sketching pencils

Testing the Derwent watersoluble sketching pencils

We bought a 6 tin which has 2 of each HB, 4B and 8B, which are designated light, medium and dark wash. This suited us well as my partner and I could split the tin and get one set of pencils each. An added bonus was the tin itself which my partner has snaffled to use to carry his pencils and other bits around in.

So here is my first sketch using the pencils. There is also some other colour from my Duke fountain pen, but that’s another story for another post.

Post box and advertising signs, watersoluble pencil and ink, 11 February 2015

Post box and advertising signs, watersoluble pencil and ink, 11 February 2015

Back to the beach

Well it wasn’t quite like our last trip to the beach. There was virtually no one on the beach for a start. School has been back for a week and the weather was less than perfect. But the East Coast current has finally pushed the warm water down to the south coast so despite lashings of misty rain we did get into the water and have a good swim. Most importantly we also took our sketchbooks with us.

The southern point past Surf and Wimbie beaches, watersoluble graphite, pen and ink and pencil, 9 February 2015

The southern point past Surf and Wimbie beaches, watersoluble graphite, pen and ink and pencil, 9 February 2015

I had fun playing with my water soluble graphite, using my fountain pen to draw into it while it was still wet. Those fuzzy lines will, I think, prove very useful to depict all sorts of indeterminate tree-strewn backgrounds.

We did move back off the beach to have our obligatory fish and chip lunch sitting at one of the picnic tables. We had a great view of this sign which came with its own ornamental seagull mascot, no doubt hoping for a bit of our lunch to come it’s way. I was struck by the ‘Dogs Bite’ sign, particularly as all the other signs had the more usual ‘Dogs Prohibited’ on them.

9Feb2015a

Beach signs, Surf Beach, 9 February 2015, watersoluble graphite, pen and ink, watercolour pencil

We’ll be looking to make some more beach excursions before the Autumn weather sets in.

 

This could be the start of something big *

You just never know how things will start. You see several sketchers ‘found’ each other through the Urban Sketchers Australia group and we decided we’d see if there was enough interest to get a Canberra group off the ground. When the call went out just over a week ago for sketchers to meet at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) this Sunday morning we weren’t sure just how many people would turn up. We were really pleased that there were 9 people who answered the call. The NGA offers all sorts of drawing opportunities so after brief introductions everyone went off to find their particular place to draw.

Some of the group comparing their sketches, 8 February 2015

Some of the group comparing their sketches, 8 February 2015

Several of us went to the Fern Garden, one of the rather hard to find gems of the Gallery, as access is only via the back end of the building sort of stuck behind a carpark and service areas. I love the shape of the tree ferns so that was where I started.

The Fern Garden, designed by Fiona Hall, pen and ink, pencil and watercolour pencil, 8 February 2015

The Fern Garden, designed by Fiona Hall, pen and ink, pencil and watercolour pencil, 8 February 2015

Other people had quite a different view of exactly the same area. Forget the ferns, this sketch by one of the other participants, was focused solely on Hall’s underlying structure of pathways for the garden.

The pathways in the Fern Garden, Copic Multiliner, 8 February 2015

The pathways in the Fern Garden, Copic Multiliner, 8 February 2015

Later I moved around into the Sculpture Garden, which was proving to be a popular place to be. I completed a second drawing, this time of Bert Flugelman’s iconic Cones. It was also a popular choice to draw, you can see Sharon B’s version here.

Cones by Bert Flugelman, pen and ink, Copic Multiliner, liquid graphite, 8 February 2015

Cones by Bert Flugelman, pen and ink, Copic Multiliner, liquid graphite, 8 February 2015

The two hours we allocated to drawing went by so quickly. We reconvened at the cafe to share our morning’s work. There were sculptures, architecture, gardens and chairs. Lots of watercolours, ink, pen and pencil as well.

Canberra sketchers, our first get together, 8 February 2015

Canberra sketchers, our first get together, 8 February 2015

An another shot of our collected works.

Another view of the finished sketches, 8 February 2015

Another view of the finished sketches, 8 February 2015

It was so much fun that we are doing it again next month. If you’re interested in coming along just meet us on Sunday 1 March, at the coffee shop outside the entrance to the National Gallery of Australia at 10.30 am.

PS we will be exploring other areas of Canberra, but the group decided that there was still plenty of material to be explored at the NGA so we’ll have another session there before moving to other venues.

PPS if you can’t wait until then you might like to go along to the National Portrait Gallery’s monthly ‘Drawn In’ event, on Sunday 22 February from 1-3 pm, where you can draw with the accompaniment of the Night Cafe Jazz Trio.

*I hope you enjoy this ‘vintage’ clip of Steve Allen, (the composer of this song and TV host), with his guests, including a surprising cameo towards the end of the clip. This Could be the Start of Something Big

Cafe Wednesday and cafes with people

I’m trying really hard to get more people into my drawings, really I am. So since last weekend I’ve been focusing on the people in the cafes a bit more. Given the usual problems of trying to capture lots of people at any one time I’m using the standard approach of making composite drawings of people, in the one setting, as they come and go.

At Guru Coffee shop in Tuggeranong, 1 February 2015, pen and ink

At Guru Coffee shop in Tuggeranong, 1 February 2015, pen and ink

My next attempt, trying to get some individuality into the people turned out to be not as effective as I’d hoped. Well that is unless you were expecting a Wolverine look-alike to be at the next table.

The Italian Bakery Mawson, 3 February 2015, pen and ink

The Italian Bakery Mawson, 3 February 2015, pen and ink

A few minutes later I noticed that the loading dock across the road from the cafe was open so the walls could be painted. I only just got to the drawing as the man painting the wall, pretty much obscured by the telegraph pole, put down his paint roller. Some late arrivals at one of the outside tables provided a bit of foreground action.

Painting the loading dock, 3February 2015, pen and ink

Painting the loading dock, 3February 2015, pen and ink

And on Wednesday I went back to my old ways, although I am trying to mix things up by drawing on newspaper pasted onto a Japanese calligraphy paper. I really just like the texture using the newsprint. Not at all archival, as my partner pointed out, but I think that’s unlikely ever to be an issue.

Glasses and other tableware, 4 February 2015, pen and ink with Copic Multiliner

Glasses and other tableware, 4 February 2015, pen and ink with Copic Multiliner

And if you are looking for a good laugh about drawing strangers I can highly recommend Hallie Bateman’s comic on ‘How to draw people on the subway’.