Escape to the country!

Last week we finally left our Canberra for the first time in months to drive an hour away to the country town of Braidwood.

The village of Braidwood started to form around the 1840s and has retained many of it’s older 19th century buildings along the main street. As such, it’s a great place to sketch.

I was sketching across the road from the CWA (Country Women’s Association) building and the post office and then later further down the main street into town.

My first sketch was made on a page that I had prepared with white gesso and ink a few weeks back. I also collaged some paper onto my page, which I had made by printing from a gelli (gel) plate. That saved me from having to paint the mountain.

Along the street my eye was caught by an interesting combination of rooflines and light poles.

Steep roofs and tall chimneys. Watercolour and pencil.

I was just getting stuck into my blind contour drawing when I had to go for lunch which we had booked at the Albion Cafe.

Blind contour drawing of the same scene of rooftops and light poles.

I liked this last one best of all. It’s probably a good thing that we had to go to lunch before I ruined it.

Loving your local tree

Artist Rebecca Mayo has launched a collaborative art program examining “the role of trees during uncertain times”. Participants are being invited to take a rubbing of their favourite local tree. She asks “Has this slower paced, looped walking (where we set off to get out of the house, rather than to reach a physical destination) allowed us to pay a new kind of attention to our neighbourhoods and what grows there?”

I received my kit last week and took advantage of the relatively windless conditions to take a rubbing of my favourite tree. In this case one of the remnant Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box), that started life on Ngunnawal land (before European colonisation), survived pastoralism and having a suburb and an oval built around it. We guesstimate that the trunk is more than 3 metres in circumference (I forgot to measure the rubbing before I sent it off).

I had some help with friends to hold the paper as I  circumnavigated the tree’s large circumference. 

We also had some discussions with passers by who were happy to share their thoughts on this tree with us.

The rubbings will form the basis of an exhibition by Rebecca to be held at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre in 2021.

Up close to Van Gogh

While in the Netherlands in 2018 we had the opportunity to binge, in person, on the works of Vincent Van Gogh at both the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo.  The latter is the largest private collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world and the second largest collection after the Van Gogh Museum. Unlike the Van Gogh Museum, the Kröller-Müller does allow photography so I was able to take photos and details of some of the works I saw during my visit.

The reason I am posting these photos now is that a fellow blogger, Rose Davies, has been spending some of her recent time attempting to copy Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. As she commented in her recent post, “it’s so interesting to analyse a famous artwork and see what has gone into it”. So I thought I’d share a few of my detail shots and two drawings I made in the Kröller-Müller Museum.

Please note that these photos were taken standing back and using a close up lens, rather than with my face on the painting. Although I did see a man literally lean over a barricade, place his hand on the wall next to a Van Gogh self portrait in the Rijks Museum and literally stick his face only a few centimetres off the glass!

Enclosed Wheat Field with Rising Sun, late May 1889,

Detail from the left side of the painting (as we are looking at it).

My notes on the painting, Enclosed Wheatfield with Rising Sun.

Wheatfields in a Mountain Landscape, early December, 1889,

Details of the tree from the left side of the painting (as we are looking at it).

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Detail of the tree in the centre right of the painting, (as we are looking at it).

My notes on the colours of the tree on the centre right of the painting

Terrace of a Café at Night (Place Du Forum), circa September 1888

Detail of the street and figures to the far right of the painting, (as we are looking at it).

You can see those black arcs of ‘dry brush’ skipping over the other layers of paint.

Portrait of a Young Woman, late June-early July 1890

Detail of the left shoulder, (as we are seeing the painting).

I love how we are so simply led over the contour of her torso by those blue brush strokes, something that I noticed Van Gogh often does in his self-portraits as well.

Let’s hope that in the near future we will be able to see such art in person again.

 

 

Cursive ‘a’

Thank you, thank you, thank you Rachel Hazel (aka thetravellingbookbinder) for your latest inspiration.  It is just what I needed today. I had hit a slump and didn’t know what to do with myself, until I recalled Rachel’s blog post from a few days ago on making an alphabet sketchbook.

This is such an uncomplicated project that it almost seems too easy … and yet it is just the thing to jog you out of a malaise. The idea is to take your book and some ink and just start writing the same letter across the page. Rachel suggests using a stick and some ink, which I duly did. I used two products: Ecoline Liquid Watercolour by Royal Talens, in Deep Grey; and Noodlers Ink in Squeteague. The stick I picked up in our garden.

Two liquid media that I used for my alphabet book.

I am working into a Japanese accordion book which has just been waiting for such a project. I think that I bought it nearly 10 years ago.

The process of writing is quite absorbing. After a while it is hard to recognise the letter, the shape instead comes to the fore. It feels a bit like that thing you do when you repeat a common word over and over until it ceases to mean anything and dissolves into a jumble of sounds.

This is my favourite page so far. I made a whole lot of random marks on the page and only let it partially dry before working back into it.

As you can see from my photos I didn’t stop at one page. At my current rate expect that this will probably end up as the book of ‘cursive a’.

Only part way through and I can’t see it stopping anytime soon.

I suggest that you take a look at the fantastic images on Rachel’s blog. She at least has managed to get past the letter ‘a’ and shares some very beautiful pages and a short flip through of her book as well.