Goulburn sketches

We took a quick trip up the road today to Goulburn, one of the oldest cities in New South Wales. As always we were attracted by the various period buildings throughout the city. This visit we allowed enough time to make a number of sketches.

While waiting for my lunch I quickly sketched one of the commercial premises on the main street. I found the combination of dark and light patterns a perfect subject for playing with my fountain pen.

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Auburn St shop, pen and ink

After lunch we shifted down to the railway lines to paint, not the attractively restored station, but rather one of the storage buildings further along the track.

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Railway shed, watercolour, 5 August 2016

Our final stop was back in Belmore Park, in the centre of the city where we decided to make a quick sketch of the Victorian era Court House. I swapped styles yet again to try out my black and white and a punch of colour technique. I was pretty pleased with the outcome except for one thing РI left out a whole section of the upper level of the building Рoops.

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Not quite the Goulburn Courthouse, watercolour, pen and ink, 5 August 2016

There was nothing for it but to have another go.

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The dome of the Goulburn Court House with the missing bits added in, watercolour, pen and ink, 5 August 2016

One of the things I realised when I looked even more closely is that the top¬†Image result for queen victoria canadaof the dome is quite literally crowned with a copy of Queen Victoria’s imperial and state crown that featured in the print of the Queen, a copy of which graced my grandparent’s home. Our day of sketching ended somewhat abruptly when a bus load of school boys arrived and quite literally parked out the view and raised the decibel level in the park quite dramatically.

For these sketches I got to try out my Stillman and Birn Gamma series Vellum Suface sketchbook, (150gsm).

 

Watercolour workshop

On Saturday I had the opportunity to do a one day water colour class with artist Cherry Hood, winner of the 2002 Archibald Prize for her portrait of pianist Simon Tedeschi. While Cherry primarily teaches portrait workshops, the focus of our class was drawing animals – this coincides with the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery’s current exhibition So Much More Than a Big Sheep. For non-locals, the city of Goulburn, in inland NSW has a history as a major centre of merino sheep / wool production. One of it’s most famous tourist ‘attractions’ is a very big concrete merino ram, known to all as Rambo.

I had been rather slack and hadn’t checked out much about Cherry’s work prior to the workshop so when Cherry started talking about her gridding technique for transferring images I wasn’t sure that this was what I was interested in learning. I was soon proven wrong as her shorthand technique for image transfer avoided rulers and an overly tight technical approach. Rather she demonstrated how to transfer from the source material, a photograph, using a simple ratio approach, up to a full sheet of water colour paper.

Drawing up an image into sections prior to transferring it to water colour paper.

Drawing up an image into sections prior to transferring it to water colour paper.

Once the features of the face to be drawn are located in the various sections they can be transferred to the larger sheet of paper, which has a corresponding number of sections located on it. A similar process is carried out for the width of the face. Cherry emphasised that it is important to measure the width of the face, animal or human, on the basis of the bone structure of the face, not the width of the fur or hair. It was interesting to see that the relative position of features such as eyes on animal faces is the same as for humans. So now I know that my in my dodgy dog drawing of the other week I had placed the poor animal’s eyes way too high on the head.

Source material and the full sized sheet with key features sketch-painted in.

Cherry Hood demonstrating working from her source material and the full sized sheet with key features sketch-painted in.

The key features of the subject are marked on the large sheet of paper with a mix of titanium white, tinted with some of the dominant colour of the animals fur. The idea is that these marks are covered by¬† subsequent painting and / or lifting out of any obvious remaining marks. Cherry adds the final colour by way of large washes with wide flat nylon brushes she buys at the ‘$2 shop’. She carefully manages her edges, keeping them wet with a spray bottle or brushing vigourously to avoid hard edges, which gives a more realistic impression of fur. She is happy for blooms of paint to occur and does final emphasis with fine brushes once the work starts to dry.

The final version of Cherry's painting.

The final version of Cherry’s painting, before it has fully dried.

I was painting an image of my cat, which you can see at the top of my sheet of paper. This was my second go at the painting as where I had originally placed my cat’s head on the paper was well off-centre. Thankfully I could just flip the sheet over and start again (the paper is a full sheet of Cotman cold-pressed 300 gsm water colour paper).

Early stages of painting with some of the underpainted location marks visible.

Early stages of painting with some of the underpainted location marks visible.

Here is the middle stage of the work. At this point I was pretty happy with the upper part of the painting, but I was struggling with the lower part of the face.

In the middle stages of my painting the basic colour washes have been added.

In the middle stages of my painting the basic colour washes have been added.

I subsequently realised that I had forgotten to locate how wide my cat’s lower face was, hence I washed in a chin that was way too narrow.

This is definitely my cat when I look at those eyes! Final emphasis is in place.

This is definitely my cat when I look at those eyes! Final emphasis is in place. (The odd colour on the chin is actually a reflection off the wet paint not accurate colour).

In the end I did manage to bring back a chin more in keeping with how my cat actually looks, but as my partner somewhat cuttlingly observed, “our cat doesn’t have a pantomime beard”. I’m really pleased with how the eyes have worked out and I can definitely see my cat looking out at me. Now I’m off for some more practice.

Gone to Goulburn

During the week I visited the nearby city of Goulburn, an hours drive away from Canberra. Goulburn has a lot of architectural heritage on view. If you look above the awnings along the main street you can see a real mix of historic periods. As we were ambling along my friend drew my attention to a number of old neon signs still in place above shops that are no longer exist.

Old neon sign Goulburn.

Old neon sign Goulburn.

I captured another sign in a quick sketch on my tablet.

Old neon sign Goulburn.

Old neon sign Goulburn.

There was also plenty to see under the awnings. I had never noticed that many of the awnings along Auburn Street were clad, on their undersides, in pressed metal. The ones I noticed all appeared to be in the Art Deco style.

Some of the pressed metal that can be seen on the awnings in Auburn St Goulburn.

Some of the pressed metal that can be seen on the awnings in Auburn St, Goulburn.

We stopped for lunch at The Roses Cafe where I did another quick sketch.

Inside the Roses Cafe, Goulburn.

Inside the Roses Cafe, Goulburn.

I can definitely recommend Goulburn as a destination for anyone interested in architecture.

We’ll be back in Goulburn next week for the opening of the ‘Efflorescence’ exhibition at the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, which includes one of my works. Hope you can drop in while the exhibition is on.