Urban Sketchers Canberra at the National Library of Australia

On Sunday we had our first official outing as Urban Sketchers Canberra, a goal we have been working towards since our sketching group started meeting in February this year. We had 15 people come along, including two people joining us for the first time.

With a bad weather forecast we had to do a last minute change from our planned outside venue to one that offered indoor drawing opportunities. So it was off to the National Library of Australia (NLA). As luck would have it the rain held off for a bit so many of us took the opportunity to draw outside the building.

Spot the non-sketcher, USk Canberra takes to the National Library of Australia

Spot the non-sketcher, USk Canberra takes to the National Library of Australia

I decided to tackle a part of the building that I must say I haven’t paid much attention to before, the large sculpture above the entrance to the library. The work is called Knowledge and was designed by Tom Bass, who is probably better known to most Canberrans as the designer of the sculpture of Ethos in Civic Square. Commissioned in 1966 the work was installed on the building in 1968. At just over 21 metres in length, 2 metres in height and projecting nearly 2 metres from the wall this is a complex piece of work. Indeed I didn’t really consider how complex until I tried to sketch the projecting elements of the work.

Part of the sculpture, Knowledge, at the National Library of Australia, watercolour and brush pen, 1 November 2015

Part of the sculpture, Knowledge, at the National Library of Australia, watercolour and brush pen, 1 November 2015

I managed to get through to the start of the watercolour when it began to rain. I retreated to the portico along with most of the other sketchers to complete adding the colour to my sketch.

As is traditional we met up at the end of our two hours of sketching to compare our efforts. As always the  subjects and approaches were quite varied.

Some of our final works on the day

Some of our final works on the day

Discussions of the day’s work continued over coffee and lunch in the Library’s cafe. Some of us also looked at the exhibition of work of William Strutt currently on display in the Library. Strutt’s ability as a draftsman really stood out and we were in awe of his fine pencil sketches.

Studies of two male figures and a woman's head, William Strutt, c. 1860, pencil (PIC R3339 LOC1132/F), collection of the National Library of Australia

Studies of two male figures and a woman’s head, William Strutt, c. 1860, pencil (PIC R3339 LOC1132/F), collection of the National Library of Australia

The next meeting of Urban Sketchers Canberra will be on 5 December, at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. You can find details of events and more pictures on the group’s Facebook page, or contact us directly at urbansketcherscanberra@gmail.com

Seen in Mawson

It’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been busy with lots of other ‘stuff’ which will continue to take up my time over the coming weeks in the run up to my next exhibition at the Gosford Regional Gallery in December.

Here are two sketches from outside our favourite coffee shop in Mawson. This first sketch was done over two sessions. The first day I managed the thumbnail sketch and brushpen shadows. The second day I added the watercolour layer.

Shuttered facade on a real estate office, brushpen and watercolour, 17 & 20 October 2015

Shuttered facade on a real estate office, brushpen and watercolour, 17 & 20 October 2015

On the second visit I decided to try and quickly capture this motorcycle, which I was sure would only be there for a short time. Good practice – of course we left before the rider even came back.

Motorcycle, brushpen and watercolour, 20 October 2015

Motorcycle, brushpen and watercolour, 20 October 2015

Facing up to it

I’ve said it before that drawing faces is one of the biggest challenges I have in drawing. I’m not even talking ‘likenesses’ – I don’t expect to become a portraitist – I just want to draw someone who looks like an individual. This is currently the bread and butter of my sketchbook routine, go to the coffee shop and draw people’s faces.

Faces at a coffee shop, pen and ink and brush pen, 14 August 2015

Faces at a coffee shop, pen and ink and brush pen , 14 August 2015

I opted to do the Marc Taro Holmes workshop at the Singapore Symposium to try and get a handle on how I could approach this task and I found it quite helpful.

Double spread, typical of my cafe drawings, pen and ink and brush pen , 15 August 2015

Double spread, typical of my cafe drawings, pen and ink and brush pen , 15 August 2015

Marc has very kindly posted the link to his notes for this class on his blog.

Here’s last night’s effort. A double-page of faces and gestures from our pub trivia night at the Hellenic Club in Canberra. They may not recognise themselves, (possibly better if they don’t), but I’m happy that at least these people look like individuals.

Faces at the trivia night, pen and ink and brush pen , 8 September 2015

Faces at the trivia night, pen and ink and brush pen, 8 September 2015

Sketching at the War Memorial

It might have been overcast today but we had a good turn out to the monthly get together of the Canberra Sketchers Group at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) – including 5 people who came along for the first time. Having briefly met for a quick chat and orientation everyone dispersed to draw.

Group photo time, the AWM behind us.

Group photo time, the AWM behind us.

The Memorial building itself is interesting and there are so many different perspectives that is can be hard to choose just one spot to draw from. On previous visits I had discovered, not that it is hard to spot, the bridge of the HMAS Brisbane – the whole top section of the battleship – which was removed and re-sited in the grounds of the memorial. Today’s cooler temperature meant that I could spend all the time I wanted to get the sketch done.

The bridge of the HMAS Brisbane with the Auatralian War Memorial in the background, watercolour and brush pen, 6 September 2015

The bridge of the HMAS Brisbane with the Auatralian War Memorial in the background, watercolour and brush pen, 6 September 2015

Afterwards we got together in Poppies cafe for coffee, chat and comparison of our sketches. As always it was fascinating to see the various styles and subjects of everyone’s drawings.

Our collective efforts!

Our collective efforts!

The next Canberra Sketchers Group sketchwalk will be on 4 October, 10.30 am, we will be meeting to sketch at Floriade, Canberra’s annual floral festival. If you will be in Canberra you would be welcome to come along. For more details please contact me through the link at the top of this page.

The bigger pictures

Some of the sketches I did on holidays proved to be too big for my scanner, so its taken some time, not to mention a bit of fiddling in photoshop to get them to a state where I can post them.

Here are three drawn in Thailand in date order.

The Reclining Budhha, Ayutthaya, Thailand, watercolour, 30 July 2015

The Reclining Budhha, Ayutthaya, Thailand, watercolour, 30 July 2015

Remains of the Palace Ayutthaya

Remains of the Palace Ayutthaya, watercolour and graphite, 30 July 2015

Inside the Grand Palace Bangkok, pen and ink 2 August 2015

Inside the Grand Palace Bangkok, pen and ink 2 August 2015

 

USk Singapore Symposium Day 3

OK there has been a bit of a gap in the Singapore saga, a result of problems uploading my posts while traveling, traveling in general and having other things to do, like traveling. So now the big catch up.

Day 3 in Singapore saw me in a workshop with Melanie Reim, titled ‘Found in Translation – The influence of Calligraphy on Gesture in the Figure‘, exploring how we can use the influence of calligraphic marks to make lively sketches. Melanie walked us through some of the calligraphic styles found around the world and then showed us the work of artists who have used this approach. You may like to check out the work of Ben Shahn or David Stone Martin.

We were encouraged to draw using shorter, more graphically interesting lines. This is in contrast to the way I usually draw with a continuous line. As Melanie said we should look at the joints of arms and legs and the shift of weight in the body as the point where you could use a calligraphic mark to indicate the body’s movement. The other instruction she gave us was to use the notes she had provided to find the marks that might suit what we were drawing. This proved to be good advice – I don’t know about you, but I am prone to believe I’ve taken the information in and don’t need the prompt of notes – wrong!

We started with faces and bodies, the challenge was to draw 20 faces and 20 bodies in 40 minutes. Ohhh Kayyy – using a brush pen (Pentel) I got underway.

Figures and faces in the Albert St Mall, 25 July 2015, brush pen

Figures and faces in the Albert St Mall, 25 July 2015, brush pen

More figures, Albert St Mall 25 July 2015

More figures, Albert St Mall 25 July 2015

The note to myself about holding the brush was a reminder that if I used the brush as I would normally hold a pen to write I got very uniform strokes. I recalled that on the odd occasion when I have taken a calligraphy lesson I have to hold the brush in a vertical position, using my thumb and forefinger. This way I can get both thick and thin lines and a much wider range of pressure in one stroke.

After this first exercise we collected for a quick review of what we had learned and some advice on how we might better apply the ideas and techniques.

Melanie, providing an on the ground crit session in the Albert Mall

Melanie, providing an on the ground crit session in the Albert Mall

Our second exercise was to draw a scene using calligraphic marks and incorporating figures in the scene. One tip that Melanie gave us was to place an interesting figure in the foreground to help draw the viewer into the image. Just when I was asking myself “will I see someone take an ‘interesting’ stance?”, that person materialised in front of me. In my case a young man walked by with a bag held up on his shoulder – perfect! I was positioned outside the Chinese temple so I had lots of colour and movement to include in the drawing. I also, usefully, had the view-finder that Virginia gave us the day before to help focus in on my subject.

Outside the temple, brush pen, pen and ink, 25 July 2015.

Outside the temple, brush pen, pen and ink, 25 July 2015.

I liked how Melanie’s calligraphic figurative style worked so well with Virginia’s teaching from the day before on using light and darks. I was really pleased with the resulting drawing.

The next day we found ourselves in a local food court where we could sit and sketch while eating our Bandung bean curd, (a rose-flavoured dessert rather like a junket). Again Marc Taro Holmes’ lessons and Melanie’s gestural lines proved to be a good fit.

At the food court, some of our fellow diners, brush pen, 26 July 2015

At the food court, some of our fellow diners, brush pen, 26 July 2015