From arts to ants

It was an unusual combination of activities that we went to this Sunday afternoon. Firstly there was ‘Drawn In’, the monthly drawing activity held at the National Portrait Gallery. Today Leila and Michael from The Night Cafe performed a range of latin, gypsy and jazz music on guitar, flute and voice.

Michael and Leila at Drawn In, pen and ink, ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Michael and Leila at Drawn In, pen and ink, ball point pen, 22 February 2015

It’s great to be able to draw people in action. Michael’s guitar playing provided an interesting pose.

Michael on guitar, pen and ink and ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Michael on guitar, pen and ink and ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Leila proved to be more of a challenge to draw as she moved between her flute and vocals. I found her hand positions on the flute fun to try and capture.

Leila on flute, pen and ink and ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Leila on flute, pen and ink and ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Thanks to both musicians for allowing themselves to be scrutinised by so many interested pairs of eyes.

If an afternoon of drawing wasn’t enough we had a second outing to attend. Over on the slopes of Black Mountain we joined the Friends of Black Mountain and Ajay Narendra to look at the local ant fauna. There are over 120 species of ants on the mountain so before long we were examining ants, subterranean and arboreal, biting and non-biting. Ajay shared all sorts of interesting information about ant behaviour and identification. I was most impressed by his ability to gently hold an ant by its legs, between his fingers, before releasing her gently back to where she was picked up (most ants you see are sterile females).

Ajay and interested onlookers at the Black Mountain ant walk, ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Ajay and interested onlookers at the Black Mountain ant walk, ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Of course it was slow progress as there were so many different types of ants just in the short part of the path we walked along, so I had time for a sketch in between ant species.

Go figure

Drawing people continues to be the steepest learning curve for me. I like Hallie Batemen‘s comment that people on mobile phones are good subjects to draw as they are generally oblivious to you when they are talking on the phone. Last week I discovered another good category of people to sketch – smokers! I know this sounds odd but since the introduction of smoke free environment laws in the ACT smokers are exiled to congregate in small clusters, outside, away from offices and shops. I discovered such a sad cluster across the road from where I was having a cup of coffee early this week. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Two Smokers, Tuggeranong, pen and ink, ball point pen, 16 February 2015

Two Smokers, Tuggeranong, pen and ink, ball point pen, 16 February 2015

And it doesn’t stop at smokers either. I know its not exactly life drawing, but I’m also happy to take advantage when passing by suitable figurative sculptures. I spotted this small sculpture by Degas in the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) a few days ago and made a drawing of her as well.

Grand Arabesque 3rd Position, Edgar Degas, bronze with patina, 1880's, pencil, 20 February 2015

Grand Arabesque 3rd Position, Edgar Degas, bronze with patina, 1880’s, pencil, 20 February 2015

I must say that Degas gave her arms a more albatross-like extension than they would have had in real life, (I want you to know it isn’t my wonky drawing). I also managed to capture a page of cafe-goers in the NGA cafe on the same day.

At the National Gallery of Australia cafe, 20 February 2015, ball point pen

At the National Gallery of Australia cafe, 20 February 2015, ball point pen

Practice, practice, practice!