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.

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.