Depot Beach

When my watercolour set started filling with flying sand I realised that today was not going to be one for plein air painting. I got this far when commonsense overtook me.

First try, watercolour, full of sand particles

First try, watercolour, full of sand particles

It wasn’t a pleasant day. The nor’easterly was whipping up the waves as well as the sand. To give you an idea here are some of the waves that were breaking on shallow rocks off the beach.

Offshore waves breaking on rocks off Depot Beach

Offshore waves breaking on rocks off Depot Beach

We were staying at Depot Beach, part of Murramerang National Park, for a few days. Usually the wind doesn’t really get going until the afternoons onshore breeze, but not this trip. My partner retreated to the calm of our cabin while I made a quick graphite sketch of the trees so I could paint them later.

Determined not to leave the beach without taking a short walk, I made my way along the rock platform which was partially sheltered from the wind. Here I found a cluster of Zebra Top Shells (Austrocochlea porcata) clustered around the base of a rock, on the side away from the incoming sea.

A cluster of Zebra Top Shells, 17 March 2015, graphite

A cluster of Zebra Top Shells, 17 March 2015, graphite

The other unusual sight on the beach were myriad pebbles and larger pieces of pumice. These have been washing up on Australia and New Zealand beaches for over a year now.

Pumice pebbles on Depot Beach, March 2015

Pumice pebbles on Depot Beach, March 2015

The Pumice comes from an underwater volcano located on the ocean floor on the Kermadec arc some 1,000 kilometres north of NewZealand.

Later that evening I sat down to try and reconstruct the painting I tried earlier in the day. I was pretty pleased with the result.

Spotted gums at Depot Beach, 17 March 2015, watercolour and graphite

Spotted gums at Depot Beach, 17 March 2015, watercolour and graphite

My Spotted Gums (Eucalyptus maculata) retained some of their liveliness as a result of the initial drawing. Although the painting does have a touch of the ‘modernist’ watercolour about it, due no doubt in part to the subject matter, as coastal scenes were very popular in the mid 20th century. By way of comparison here is Kenneth Mcqueen’s Under the Casuarinas, Maroochydore, c. 1938

Kenneth Mcqueen, Under the Casuarinas, Marouchydore, c 1938, Queensland Art Gallery.

 

 

Dr Sketchy at the NGA

Last night we went to the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) for my first event with the Dr Sketchy group. We had only heard about this particular event earlier in the week, and were lucky to get tickets as it was quickly sold out. I had only read about these events before so if you haven’t been to one this is the risque version of a life drawing class and includes music, food, drink and entertainment as well as the opportunity to draw.

Last night’s theme was Impressions of Paris, inspired the current exhibition of the same name, featuring the works of the French artists Degas and Lautrec and Daumier. We had burlesque dancers and performers, ballet dancers and a body painting artist on hand.

Two versions of Ms Bandersnatch, either side of Ms Martini, pen and ink and Pitt pen on newspaper and Japanese paper, 12 March 2015

Two versions of Ms Bandersnatch, either side of Ms Martini, pen and ink and Pitt pen on newspaper and Japanese paper, 12 March 2015

We started off with a series of two minute poses, which then developed into five and ten minute poses. There was a break where all the participants were asked to decorate a ‘pastie’, before we were all asked to continue on with the drawing.

I had forgotten how fast the pace can be with life drawing and I quickly whipped through the pages in my sketch book. I remembered my life drawing instructor reminding me that if it all became too much I could just focus on one part of the model’s anatomy, so here are Ms Bandersnatch’s feet.

Ms Bandersnatch's feet, graphite, 12 March 2015

Ms Bandersnatch’s feet, graphite, 12 March 2015

The drawing continued with short breaks for the models and artists, the finale of the evening was a twenty minute pose.

The body painting models, graphite, 20 minute pose, 12 March 2015

The body painting models, graphite, 20 minute pose, 12 March 2015

I was absolutely thrilled when the voluptuous Ms Garnet Martini selected my sketch as her favourite of the evening!

Ms Garnet Martini, channeling fin de siecle Paris, graphite, 12 March 2015

Ms Garnet Martini, channeling fin de siecle Paris, graphite, 12 March 2015

My reward was a set of pasties made by the talented Ms Rusty Blaze – thankfully Ms Bandersnatch was on hand to demonstrate how best to use my new accoutrements.

We had a great time and enjoyed the company of the other artists at our table. We plan to attend future events, as long as we can get in fast enough to buy the tickets.

North to Newcastle

We’ve just had a quick visit to see my family in Newcastle (on the Hunter River in New South Wales, not the city in the UK). I managed a few sketches along the way.

On the drive north we stopped for a cup of coffee at the small town of Marulan, where I had a view of the beautifully restored Royal Hotel, which I think is now a private home.

The Royal Hotel, Marulan, NSW, pen and ink, 4 March 2015

The Royal Hotel, Marulan, NSW, pen and ink, 4 March 2015

In Newcastle we went into the city where we had dinner at a pub on the harbour. This place has been built inside, what I recall, as originally being one of the ‘sheds’ on the No. 4 Lee Wharf. This part of the harbour foreshore has been undergoing a major re-development in recent years. The view on the harbour-side of the building was over to the working side of the port, including the grain loader and the docks for the harbour’s tugs.

Tugs in Newcastle Harbour, NSW, ballpoint pen, 5 March 2015

Tugs in Newcastle Harbour, NSW, ballpoint pen, 5 March 2015

The beaches that line the coast are always a magnet when we visit. Unfortunately the seas were high and rough and the beaches were closed for swimming. That didn’t stop us and all the other beach-goers, walkers and coffee drinkers taking a seat and watching the local surfers riding the waves.

Surfers at Merewether Beach, NSW, pen and ink, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

Surfers at Merewether Beach, NSW, pen and ink, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

It was difficult to catch the moves the surfers were making as each position of their bodies was only held for seconds. I settled for making very quick sketches with my  pen. I was interested to note how often the surfers’ arms appeared to just ‘hang’ in the air, ready to follow the body as the surfers shifted their weight on the board to move across the face of the waves.

Catching the surfers, catching the waves, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

Catching the surfers, catching the waves, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

After a fun few days on the coast we headed up the Hunter Valley into the country for the weekend. It was great to be able to put my feet up and look out across the paddocks to the nearby mountains.

The view to the mountain, near Branxton, NSW, ball point pen, 7 March 2015point pen

The view to the mountain, near Branxton, NSW, ball point pen, 7 March 2015

It was also fun to try and capture the poses of the Welcome Swallows as they sat and preened on the pool fence in the early morning.

Welcome Swallows preening, pen and ink and watercolour, 8 March 2015

Welcome Swallows preening, pen and ink and watercolour, 8 March 2015

And last but not least I found a source of inspiration for a watercolour. Forget the rural idyll, stacked up near the stables were a pile of pre-cast concrete panels, with plenty of interesting passages to test my skills with depicting depth and placement. I was so busy focusing on the details of the panels that I didn’t really stop to look at the overall painting until it was finished.  I was really pleased with the way it came together.

Concrete panels, watercolour 8 March 2015

Concrete panels, watercolour 8 March 2015

 

Night Noodle Markets

We braved the Night Noodle Markets last night, the main food event held as part of Canberra’s Enlighten Festival. Having arrived early and fortified ourselves with ‘meat on sticks’ we found a good spot next to the lantern display for drawing. The only drawback was the wind blowing off Lake Burley-Griffin, which was so strong that it blew my watercolour box off the table several times! It took me over an hour but I persisted with trying to capture those lanterns dancing on their wires. It was light when I started and dark by the time I’d finished. A great time was had by all.

The lantern display at the Night Noodle Markets, 2 March 2015, watercolour

The lantern display at the Night Noodle Markets, 2 March 2015, watercolour

Canberra Sketchers Group

The Canberra Sketchers Group met for the second time, last Sunday, for several hours of drawing at the National Gallery of Australia. Our visit coincided with Sculpture Garden Sunday so there was plenty of activity and people to capture as well as the art work itself. We were pleased to welcome some new people to the group. As always we managed to find a variety of things to draw around the gallery. Some braved the crowds in the Sculpture Garden, some used the pop-up restaurant as their base and others drew in the Asian galleries.

Collective efforts, some of the sketches from the Sunday sketch crawl at the NGA

Collective efforts, some of the sketches from the Sunday sketch crawl at the NGA

I started in the Sculpture Garden where I painted three of the slit drums from Vanuatu.

Slit drums for Vanuatu, in the Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Australia

Slit drums for Vanuatu, in the Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Australia, watercolour and graphite, 1 March 2015

I only had to turn my head to see the furious activity of the straw modelling activity nearby.

The straw figure making activity, National Gallery of Australia, watercolour, 1 March 2015

The straw figure making activity, National Gallery of Australia, watercolour, 1 March 2015

For my last sketch I tried to capture the people in the central lawn area of the Sculpture Garden. This proved to be quite a challenge as there must have been several hundred people in front of me. I decided to keep it fast and loose with pen and ink.

Families in the central lawn area on Sculpture Garden Sunday, National Gallery of Australia, 1 March 2015 pen and ink.

Families in the central lawn area on Sculpture Garden Sunday, National Gallery of Australia, 1 March 2015 pen and ink.

The Canberra Sketchers Group will meet again on 12 April at 10.30 am at the Lanyon Historic Homestead, Tharwa Drive, Tharwa (on the Canberra side of the Tharwa Bridge). Everyone is welcome.

Here is the link to our previous outing and you can also find another perspective on the days activities by heading over to Tones and Tints.