The deliciousness of blind drawing

While I sat listening to a talk at the Drill Hall Gallery on Friday, it struck me that I have been moving further away from making ‘blind drawings’, which is something I really enjoy. So out came the pen and I got stuck into it. I had forgotten how I love making the lines.

Person at the Drill Hall Gallery, pen and ink 3 October 2014

Person at the Drill Hall Gallery, pen and ink 3 October 2014

Then I made some further lines.


Second person at the Drill Hall Gallery, pen and ink, 3 October 2014

After the talk was over I had a chance to take in the exhibitions. In one of the galleries Helen Fuller was showing her ceramics. When asked, at the talk,  about their ‘functionality’ she noted that at her place they were excellent receptacles for dead spiders and dust! The pots were engaging and their textured surfaces and simple colouration which worked quite strongly to enhance the thin walls – she only works the clay by pinching and coiling. The arrangement of groups of pots on plinths was also fertile material for drawing.

Helen Fuller pots, numbers 1-3, pen and ink, Drill Hall Gallery, 3 October 2014

Helen Fuller pots, numbers 1-3, pen and ink, Drill Hall Gallery, 3 October 2014

In her artist’s statement Helen quoted John Cage,

It is not futile to do what we do. We wake up with energy and we do something. And we make, of course, failures and we make mistakes, but we sometimes get glimpses of what we might do next.

‘Trigger Happy’ inspiration

The latest show at the Drill Hall Gallery is Ben Quilty’s ‘Trigger Happy’. While I have seen quite a bit of Quilty’s work on the TV, following his stint as an Official War Artist in Afghanistan, this is the first time I’ve seen a whole show of his work in the flesh.

The 'Baby' room. A number of paintings of Quilty's children and a painting by one young Joe Quilty at the Drill Hall Gallery.

The ‘Baby’ room. A number of paintings of Quilty’s children and also a painting by young Joe Quilty at the Drill Hall Gallery.

And ‘fleshy’ is definitely a good way to describe Quilty’s painting style. The oil paint is applied in such generous amounts that I had to wonder how any work painted this year managed to dry in time for the show. Not to worry they did and they are on the walls. The show includes a large number of portraits, a series of landscapes and a room of delicate works in watercolour pencil along with some prints. While I was there the room of family portraits was attracting the greatest number of visitors. The end wall is dominated by two large portraits of the artist’s son. On another side is a ‘Rorschach’ painting of his daughter (on the left hand side of the photo above) and other members of the artist’s family. While the two portraits of Joe dominate there are equally equally eloquent smaller images such as the head and shoulders portrait of Kylie and another portrait of Joe in watercolour (on the far right of the photo above. Clearly people were responding to these beautiful works – there was no 10 seconds and then move on in front of these paintings. The other room which really impressed me was the one containing the drawings. These small works demonstrated such a delicate touch and clearly showed Quilty’s fine drafting skills . I made sure I had plenty of time to see the show so I was able to do some blind drawings of some of the works I enjoyed. The outcomes of doing a blind drawing of a large gestural painting can be rather obscure, so once I got home I scanned my drawings and then did some additional work on them in Photoshop©. For the two drawings you can see the original and then the version I coloured, drawing on similar colours to those used in Quilty’s paintings. I was pleasantly surprised with the result for both images.

Blind drawing of 'Joe' by Ben Quilty, 2007.

Blind drawing of ‘Joe’ by Ben Quilty, 2007.

Blind drawing with colour of Joe, 2007, by Ben Quilty.

Blind drawing with colour of ‘Joe’, by Ben Quilty 2007.

Blind drawing of The Lot by Ben Quilty, 2010

Blind drawing of ‘The Lot’ by Ben Quilty, 2010

Blind drawing with colour of The Lot by Ben Quilty, 2010.

Blind drawing with colour of ‘The Lot’, by Ben Quilty, 2010.

Spirit in the Land, 2

I made it back to the ANU Drill Hall last week for another drawing session. This time I focussed on Rosalie Gascoigne’s 1986 installation Inland Sea.

My eye was captured by the rythmic interaction of the pieces of corrugated iron…


and then by the contrast of solid shadow and line.


Unfortunately I had to leave it there as my parking meter only allowed for an hours drawing!

Spirit in the Land

These drawings were made at the Spirit in the Land exhibition, which is currently on at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery until 1 April (opening hours, Wednesday to Sunday 12.00 to 5.00pm).

I really enjoyed this exhibition, which gives a succinct summary of some of Australia’s best landscape artists, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. I loved seeing Rosalie Gascoigne and Rover Thomas rubbing artistic shoulders. In the side room at the back right of the gallery is a great display of the work of Lorraine Connelly-Northey (Waradgerie and Irish background), whose re-interpretation of traditional Indigenous forms is continually innovative and exciting.

Along one wall hang a series of Narrbongs, (string bags or the Waradgerie word for the pouch of a marsupial) and in the middle of the room are ‘bark’ canoes.


Not only are the works themselves exciting to look at, but the shadows they cast are almost equally interesting.


This Narrbong is made of wire and a piece of pressed tin


and this one of rusted fencing wire.

I’m planning to go back and do more drawings soon.