Posts by Leonie Andrews

I am an artist of the landscape of common objects. Discarded items and suburban life fuel my art practice.

Pink

On our walk this evening we spotted this Australian native ground orchid Dipodium punctatum (Hyacinth Orchid).

Hot pink spotted petals in the evening sun.

We are bang smack in the middle of suburbia. Talk about surviving against the odds.

I love the soft pink of the tree trunk (Eucalyptus mannifera or White Brittle Gum) with the bright pink of the orchid.

Just in case there isn’t enough pink already, some of the other E. mannifera planted nearby have even a stronger colour, enhanced here by the low light of the setting sun.

Loungeroom Residency Inspirations

This post was rather delayed. It was meant to go with the previous posts on my Loungeroom Residency, which you can find here, here, here and here.

In this last post on my recent Loungeroom Residency I thought I would share some of the inspirations that I’m drawing on in relation to this work.

I have been to several master classes with Dr Ruth Hadlow, where a big inspiration is the impromptu library created by the participants. Everyone is asked to bring along a few books that they are interested in to create a small reference library that everyone can share for the duration of the masterclass. In this way so many different sources of ideas and images are brought together (although the downside is that I always leave with a massive list of new books to buy).

I love this book of photos of sculptures by Aglaia Konrad, which consists of a series of black and white photos of sculptures in museum collections. The only text is the list of museums where the photos were taken.

Inspired by this approach I decided to go back and take a look at the many books I have that sit unread on my bookshelves. I found several that were relevant and even just took my fancy. It doesn’t matter what gets the creative juices flowing.

A spread of pages from Aglaia Konrad’s book.

A seredipitous reinforcement for this approach came from this post by Rob Walker The Art of Noticing on Crate Digging, where DJ’s and hip-hop artists literally go through crates of old records looking for the one sound that will inspire them and throw up new ideas. Now this is not a culture that I am very familiar with but that isn’t the point.

This is vividly illustrated in a bit with DJ Shadow, talking about poring over over the surreal selection of sounds, many of them rejected or forgotten, in a record store’s basement. The important thing to remember is that this basement isn’t packed with treasure. It’s packed with junk. You have to spend the time to sort through the junk to find the treasure. There is no shortcut. There is no algorithm. There is only time, attention, noticing digging. Shadow says:

There’s the promise in these stacks of finding something that you’re gonna use. And in fact most of my first album was built off of records pulled from here.

He talks about the “karmic” element, finding this or that by chance. (He also observes that there is something humbling about this hoard. “It’s a big pile of broken dreams, in a way,” he observes. I could write a whole separate essay on that riff, and maybe some day I will.)

One of my favourite sources of inspiration come from regular weekly posts like that from Austin Kleon. Kleon roams across different areas of art, music and stuff than I do, so it’s good to have a shortcut to see what else is going on that I might find interesting.

During my residency I also received recommendations from friends who, having seen my posts, passed on links to reading materials such as this article on Vija Cilmens and her intricate drawings. Cilmens is an artist that I wasn’t familiar with, but now I find her work popping up quite often.

Like DJ Shadow says “There is no shortcut. There is no algorithm. There is only time, attention, noticing digging.”

Teaching at the underpass

This year I have twice taught introductory classes on urban sketching for our local Community Arts Centre. We have been sketching at a local shopping centre focusing on sketching the underpass and the toilet block.

I have actually become quite fond of sketching this underpass.

Strange subjects for sketches I know, however they are simple enough shapes to practice proportional measuring and drawing for people with limited sketching experience. I want to help people experience the satisfaction of making a ‘good’ drawing; good enough to encourage them to keep on trying.

I won’t go into the details of what this all means, suffice to say that getting the relative proportions relatively correct means a much more satisfactory outcome to the drawing.

Above is a quick sketch where I’ve demonstrated how to use a pencil to measure the proportions of the underpass.

Demonstrating the results of making light and dark shades with watercolour pencils. The challenge is encouraging people to use a wider tonal range, particularly strong darks, which if nothing else save the sketch from death by mid-tone values.

Secondly some suggestions on how to use watercolor pencils. Then a small drawing demonstrating how you can emphasize the background, rather than focus on a tree in the foreground of your main subject.

A small sketch using ‘negative space, to make a tree trunk pop out from the over pass railings behind it.

And finally my piece de resistance a sketch completed upside down. This sketch shows the relative values of the underpass and how to include the two trees in front of it, without them detracting from the main subject.

All my best ideas are nicked from other sketchers. This one is no exception. Alvin Wong, an urban sketcher from Hong Kong, once explained that one of the most useful skills he learned in his early days as an architect was how to draw and write upside down, while delivering presentations to clients. Not only does it impress the socks off people, but in this case I could demonstrate the ideas I was trying to share so the sketcher could easily follow my drawing.

Not bad for my first upside down drawing.

Return of the rear view mirror

On a recent sortie I found a number of sketches done on the back of parking tickets from my car. You can tell by the dates on some of these sketches that I don’t clear out the glove box of my car often enough.

When I checked back through my posts I found that I had last shared similar sketches in 2014, here and here.

Some sketches done from my car in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Also a ring-in from 2019 as I couldn’t fit them all on the next page.

I must say that with the passing of time I did struggle to work out which way was up for some of them. I think I have it pretty right. Once I thought back to the places where I was likely to be waiting in the car most of them made sense.

Mainly practice drawing buildings and architectural details. I quite like the abstraction of some of them.

DESIGN Canberra sketches

DESIGN Canberra Festival is currently on and our local chapter of Urban Sketchers has been actively partcipating for the first time.

We ran a Drop in and Draw session in Civic Square on Thursday and a Sunday sketching event at Callam Offices on the weekend.

Our first event was marred by strong winds. I found this out the hard way when I got slapped with a big spray of water from the fountain I was sitting next to.

Some of the brave few that turned out to sketch.

The University of Canberra’s temporary architectural installation in Civic Square.

The statue of Ethos, by Tom Bass, at the entrance to the ACT Assembly building, with fountain (notice the water splotch in the dark grey section of the paint).

Sunday was marginally better weather wise. Callam Offices looks like a futuristic space module dropped into the Woden Town centre.

It was designed, amongst other things to demonstrate construction to survive potential floods. Hence it is set above the ground suspended around a series of concrete cores.

Designed by architect John Andrews and built in the late 1970’s these buildings are currently used as local government offices. It was originally intended that 26 modules be built, but only 3 were completed. Sadly one of Andrew’s other major Brutalist buildings in our city, the Cameron Offices has largely been demolished, which is pretty awful, but par for the course as far as our local lack of interest in heritage buildings goes.

My watercolour of one of the building cores.

Along with my main sketch I painted a detail of this ventilation outlet.

Tonight we are off to hear a conversation between the architect John Andrews and Tim Ross (a great promoter and documentor of Australia’s modernist heritage). I am really looking forward to hearing more about Andrews ‘ work.

Look first then sketch.

It is always so easy to slip into the habit of drawing what you think you see, rather than drawing what you actually see.

This could be a correct perspective if I was sitting a good metre or so below this woman.

A perfectly reasonable sketch except when I came to add other people in I realised that they would, if drawn in correct perspective, be scraping the roof of this alley way of shops. The rule of thumb is all heads of people, near and far in a sketch, should be on the same level unless you are sitting way above or below you subject.

This is the second version of my sketch this morning after I realised the woman’s head was below the jars of honey, not above them.

Sitting at the same level as this woman this is the correct perspective as she is sitting at the same eye line as me.

Side by side.