You might be wondering why everything is so quiet on the blog front. It’s simple really. I am currently walking the Camino di Santiago across Spain with my partner. I am posting to other social media channels and I have run out of steam for the blog. Sorry!
We are sketching as we are walking. We walk up to about lunchtime, find our accommodation and then go out sketching in the afternoon .
March turned out to be the month that we finally returned to cafe sketching – so far. I must say that I am a little bit rusty and am having to re-learn some of that flow I had previously. The fact that we have drawn every week for a month is quite a development in itself.
I am at the end of a very brief encounter with Ikara-Flinders Range National Park and I would desperately love to be giving it more attention.
We have just spent the second of two full days staying at Wilpena Pound. Tomorrow we leave. The weather has been vile. Cold, rainy and blowing a gale. But, but, but … it’s breathtaking.
We have sketched from our car, all of the first day and some of our second day. But my biggest frustration with this experience is finding my own voice because I seem to be painting other people’s paintings.
Australians will have some familiarity with the work of watercolourist Albert Namatjira and possibly with photographer Harold Casneaux, whose image ‘Spirit of Endurance‘, was made only a short distance from where we are staying.
So when I start painting I see Namatjira’s work floating in front of me. It’s a challenge to paint with that over your head. However, the more I thought about it I realised that I should learn from those artists, before I worry about my own style.
After a critical examination of my early attempts at calligraphy, my Japanese homestay ‘mother’ was able to say that the ‘tail’ of one my my kanji was ‘quite good’. I think at that point I decided that it was unlikely I would ever take up the formal discipline of calligraphy. And yet I still remain attracted to the calligraphic mark.
I hoped that I might somehow jump the gap to achieving wonderful marks, without the hard work underpinning formal training. So when artist and calligrapher Monica Dengo‘s current online course A Bridge between Drawing and Writing, floated past me on a social media platform I saw an opportunity to develop my skills in another way.
We started with some familiar drawing techniques, such as drawing without looking at the page.
Then we worked through a series of exercises to explore the possibilities of written forms.
We combined these two sets of marks in more finished works.
Adding colour boosted the energy of the work.
The final stage of the workshop was to display our finished pieces in a simple book structure, that allowed various combinations of work to be displayed.
Monica provided clear outlines and supporting material for the workshop. The 3 × 2 hour sessions flew by and participants were also offered a feedback session on their work after the class finished.
I really feel that this class has opened up new possibilities for my work. I can certainly recommend Monica’s classes to anyone interested in exploring text and mark making.
Monica has told me that she will be running another online class, with times suitable for people in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, from 4-7 June. Please see Monica’s website or contact her for full details. Monica also presents online classes with times suitable for people in Europe and America.
You can see Monica’s work on her Instagram account @monica_dengo
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.
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.
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.