Christmas Flowers

Each year I indulge my childhood memories by buying myself a bunch of New South Wales Christmas Bush (Cerapetalum gummiferum), to display on my festive table. This plant was grown around my family home in Sydney, but is too frost sensitive to last in Canberra’s icy winters – I know I’ve killed two plants already. This year I fleshed out the display with some other Australian daisies, the drumstick-like Billy Button (Crasspedia sp.) and another with chalky whitish green flowers, which I don’t recognise, but I assume is from Western Australia. At the last moment my partner added in a large branch of his Holly Oak (Quercus ilex) which lent quite a dramatic diagonal to the ‘arrangement’.

Once again I was practising my sight measurement and angle checking. I made a light pencil outline then worked, fairly freely over this with my Copic Multiliner.

Initial ink sketch with Copic Multiliner, 29 December 2014

Initial ink sketch with Copic Multiliner, 29 December 2014

I knew I wanted to add watercolour to the drawing so I set out to do this as simply as possible.

A Christmas arrangement, pen and watercolour, 29 December 2014

A Christmas arrangement, pen and watercolour, 29 December 2014

I am pleased with a finished result but again would like to re-visit the subject matter without using a sketch outline. Unfortunately I’ll have to rely, in part, on photos as the Christmas Bush is now way past it’s best.

Still catching up!

It's spring and the umbrellas are out again!, pen and ink and acrylic paint maker, 16 September 2014

It’s spring and the umbrellas are out again!, pen and ink and acrylic paint maker, 16 September 2014

In the final weeks before my show I’ve been drawing, but haven’t had time to post. In the main I’ve been taking my cafe breaks (and even fitting in the gym!) so I don’t injure myself with all the repetitive stitching that goes into my exhibition work. So here they are, several more weeks of cafe drawings.

The curbside at Biginelli's Cafe, pen and ink, 17 September 2014

The curbside at Biginelli’s Cafe, pen and ink, 17 September 2014

Back at Biginelli’s and drawing faster, just like Jo suggested!

At Biginelli's again, a week later, pen and ink, 24 September 2014

At Biginelli’s again, a week later, pen and ink, 24 September 2014

A not so quick drawing, mixing blind drawing and a more ‘observational’ approach.

The Italian Bakery, pen and ink, 20 September 2014

The Italian Bakery, pen and ink, 20 September 2014

I’m still working on drawing people. Strangely, to me at least, getting a rough idea of the hairstyle seems to help with the drawing.

Group sitting at the Italian Bakery, pen and ink and acrylic marker, 27 September 2014

Group sitting at the Italian Bakery, pen and ink and acrylic marker, 27 September 2014

Finished at last, a celebratory coffee with a passionfruit and polenta cake!

My Cafe at Manuka with umbrella and a man on the phone, pen and ink and acrylic marker, 1 October 2014

My Cafe at Manuka with umbrella and a man on the phone, pen and ink and acrylic marker, 1 October 2014

3 Cafes in 3 Days

Three cafes in three days, a bit more than my usual quota of coffee for the week. I started off with drawing a grandmother and granddaughter, having a break together. The girl developed a somewhat ‘cubist’ head as she kept moving quite quickly. A few of my strokes ended up in unintended places (well that’s my excuse).

Grandmother and granddaughter at the coffee shop, ball point pen, 3 June 2014.

Grandmother and granddaughter at the coffee shop, 3 June 2014.

The next day found us having lunch at the National Museum of Australia, after having seen the Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists (more of that in a future post).

Umbrella and a view back towards the city from the National Museum of Australia, pen and ink, ball point pen4 June 2014.

Umbrella and a view back towards the city from the National Museum of Australia, 4 June 2014.

Lastly back to our regular place for a coffee today. The sun encouraged us to go for a walk before more clouds blew in. I particularly liked the way the fluting on the glass reminded me of colonnades and arches.

A glass architecture, pen and ink, 5 June 2014.

A glass architecture, pen and ink, 5 June 2014.

More play

Recently I was given a Moleskine Sketchbook, nice gift. I have used their watercolour books before, I lashed out and bought some when I did an overseas trip, but the sketchbook was new to me. Time to put it through it’s paces. I decided to use my fountain pen with black ink and then try some watercolour washes.

OK, I was rather surprised to see my black ink get sucked into the page so that there was only a medium grey colour left behind. Not promising. Then the watercolour wash ‘beaded’, very finely, on the paper with as much paper exposed as covered. My ink isn’t permanent so there was quite a bit of ‘running’. I wasn’t too happy. But then I looked at the page as it dried and decided it wasn’t so bad after all – I’m referring to the top half of the image below. I quite like the way the watercolour and ink has worked on the red backpack.

Ink and watercolour on Moleskine sketchbook.

Ink and watercolour on Moleskine sketchbook.

I then tried reversing my approach, laying down some washes and a bit of watercolour sketching. The teapot on the left was far more subtle than I expected. I discovered that I could draw back into the wash, after it had dried a bit and the ink remained a lot darker. As you can see the ink didn’t bleed even though the paper remained somewhat damp.

I’ve also done more drawings on the back of this page using washes and I’m really pleased to see that there is no bleeding from one side to the other. I did leave the page to dry out a bit between drawings. The washes dried reasonably quickly, enough for me to be convinced I could get a rapid sketch with washes done and still have it dry enough to close the book up after only a few minutes drying time.

The main drawback for me to effectively use this journal remains the ink. Given that I like to make notes to go with my sketches using this fountain pen with the current type of ink clearly isn’t going to be too successful. Particularly if I want my notes to remain visible. I did see that Moleskine has a rollerball pen that can be clipped for easy carriage onto the sketchbook, but at just under $20 for the pen and $5 each for the refills I think I’ll pass on the “innovative rectangular design” that is “fashioned to specifically compliment the shape and personality of a Moleskine journal”, for a more rudimentary ball point pen!

Fashioned specifically to compliment the shape and personality of a Moleskine journal, the innovative rectangular design feels nice in the hand and lies flat. – See more at: http://www.eckersleys.com.au/products/moleskine-roller-pen#sthash.syJInMZE.dpuf
Fashioned specifically to compliment the shape and personality of a Moleskine journal, the innovative rectangular design feels nice in the hand and lies flat. – See more at: http://www.eckersleys.com.au/products/moleskine-roller-pen#sthash.syJInMZE.dpuf

Music at the Markets

I’ve done very little drawing this week. I’ve had to focus on finalising exhibition proposals. Trading drawing for writing and trying to bash some plain English, as opposed to art speak, into my words. I’ll let you know how I go.

Relief came on Friday as we took an hour at lunch to drop by the Fyshwick Markets where there was an ‘apple and pear week’ promotion, which included a tasting of some interesting ciders. Oooh arghh, oooh arghh, I hear you say! To add to the atmosphere two guitarists were playing some very easy sounding jazz – not that we needed encouragement to sample the ciders on offer.

Jazz guitar at the Fyshwick markets, 7 March 2014.

Jazz guitar at the Fyshwick markets, 7 March 2014.

I clearly didn’t realise the effect the cider was having on me until I scanned the image below and noticed that I’d managed to get both the wrong day and month on the drawing!

7Mar2014b

Jazz guitar and some listings of what was on offer on the day. (For the record I recommend Willie Smiths Organic Cider and the Hillbilly Crushed Pear).

The weekly cafe drawings

In which the artist realises she spends way too much time drinking coffee as an excuse to draw.

Tuesday saw us at the Curtin Shops where we had a fine view of Matthew Harding‘s bird sculptures. This is my second attempt, at drawing this sculpture. The first magically disappeared when I pressed the ‘don’t save’ icon on my phablett by mistake!

Bird Sculpture, Matthew Harding 2001, Curtin Shops, ACT, 25 February 2014.

Bird Sculpture, Matthew Harding 2001, Curtin Shops, ACT, 25 February 2014.

In despair I returned to using the type of media that don’t just disappear vis, my pen and paper. I made this second drawing with an interesting array of traffic lights.

Reading  with traffic lights, Curtin Shops ACT, 25 February 2014.

Reading with traffic lights, Curtin Shops ACT, 25 February 2014.

The next day we were in the centre of Canberra, known around here as Civic, where I was joining friends for lunch. Post lunch we found yet another cafe, Garema Cafe, not surprisingly adjoining Garema Place. This is one of four cafes crowded into a tight alley between buildings.

Down the alley towards the Taxation office building, 26 February 2014.

Down the alley towards the Taxation office building, 26 February 2014.

Thursday we were buying fruit at the Belconnen Markets when, yes, you’ve got it, we stopped for a cup of coffee. I didn’t quite finish this drawing, there’s only so much time that I can spend on a cup of coffee.

Inside the central plaza at Belconnen Markets, 27 February 2014

Inside the central plaza at Belconnen Markets, 27 February 2014

Road Trip

Kay Greenlees writes (Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists, Batsford 2005)  that sketching

“becomes a unique way of exploring and storing information, including whatever arouses curiosity and interest.”

Driving back from Newcastle I decided to try some sketching from the passenger seat of the car. Over a series of three pages I captured some of the vehicles, scenery and text, that I saw passing along the road.

Page 1, road sketches, 10 February 2014.

Page 1, road sketches, 10 February 2014.

As I drew I included observations about atmospheric and other environmental conditions …

Page 2, road sketches, 10 February 2014.

Page 2, road sketches, 10 February 2014.

… not to mention signs and other writing that caught my interest.

Page 3, road sketches, 10 February 2014.

Page 3, road sketches, 10 February 2014.