Trees

In the middle of all the hubbub that was Christmas eve I managed to get myself to the Wittunga Botanic Garden in the Adelaide Hills for some lone sketching. I was so shocked at the sight of a koala sitting on the ground just next to the footpath that I almost didn’t sketch him.

Koala and garbage bin. The latter designed with a cover to keep possums and other inquisitive animals from getting into the bins.

Wonderful to see this chap. Probably a male, as it was very big, easily up to my knee in height. That’s a waterbowl next to him so I assume he came down for a drink. The garden is fully fenced and dogs are prohibited, which is why you see this individual being so relaxed.

After obliging me for sitting for his portrait I moved on to the shelter of a small covered picnic table to sketch my main subject of the day the trees.

Here they are in the order that I sketched them. I deliberately went as fast as I could from one study to the next.

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.

Back to the cafe

Back sketching at our favourite coffee shop this morning.

So good to get back to our favourite cafe.

I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to sketch, which was one of the key points in the workshop I did with Richard Briggs last week.

Trying to leave out unnecessary details.

I was interested in the relationship between the hedge across the road and the small hedge close to me. But then I realised that I really wanted the focus to be on the cluster of small stools in front of the hedge.

A small table and stools.

While completing this sketch it dawned on me that the shadows of the stools were also fascinating. One set was being cast by the sun and the ones you see in the painting were cast from the light reflected from the plate glass windows of the cafe. Sadly time and a lack of paper meant that I didn’t make a third sketch, but perhaps I can work on that next time.

Eindhoven sketches

The last main stop on our travels around the Netherlands was Eindhoven. It was rather different to other cities we visited. It seemed quite quiet, possibly because it was university holidays.

While I am probably the least car fanatical person around I was encouraged by positive comments from other non-car people to visit the DAF Museum. There certainly was lots to see and even I have to admit that there were lots of interesting older cars to sketch. The cutest car of the lot, a 3-wheeler nick-named ‘the portable raincoat’, was right in the entrance foyer, but there was no suitable place to sit and sketch. So I settled on sketching this 1963 sedan the Daffodil.

The 1963 Daffodil, DAF Museum Eindhoven.

One of the contemporary architectural highlights in the city is ‘The Blob’ designed by Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas. This building is a commercial space and is close to two other related buildings which provide access to bicycle paking. I must say it was a real b**ger to draw. I gave up on trying to draw the whole thing and focused on one end where the glazing makes it look like a partially deflated rugby ball.

One end of The Blob, a commercial space in the centre of Eindhoven.

On a more traditional note is Sint Catharina in the city centre. Despite its Gothic look it was designed by Petrus (Pierre) Cupyers and built between 1859-67. It replaced an earlier derelict medieval church on the same site. Cupyers was definitely going for the over-the-top neo-gothic style, influenced by 13th century French Gothic churches. The two towers are different from each other. The slender Ivory tower symbolising the purity of the Virgin Mary and the chunkier one representing the strength of King David. Whatever. It made for two interesting elements to paint.

The Virgin’s tower on the left and King David’s tower on the right. Sint Catharina Eindhoven

The last thing I sketched in Eindhoven was what I could see from where we were having dinner. Looking at a tower block which was catching the evening sun I tried to use some techniques I had learnt at Symposium. I focused on sketching what I was interested in, not using ‘local’ colour and working using warm and cool colours to highlight the buildings.

Final sketch of Eindhoven. A pleasant street view with a cyclist turning up at the right moment.