Cafe Wednesday – the hat

It only took one look to decide what the subject of this week’s drawing would be. Strong light was delineating the rather dashing hat being worn by a man at a nearby table.

25May2016

Magic pencils and white pencil on toned tan Strathmore paper

The light also cast a dramatic diagonal across his face.

Concrete Cafe

In my first post knee-surgery outing (as opposed to doctor’s visits) we went to our local cafe. Changes, by way of a major upgrade of the pavement and landscaping of the shops, are well underway and the dinosaur is on a leave of absence. Instead there was a concreting crew waiting to pour several large slabs which will form the new, level area for seating.

Don't forget to check your pens!

Don’t forget to check your pens!

You can tell I’m a bit rusty because I made a real beginner mistake – I forgot to check my pens before I left. One was completely out of ink and the other has a dodgy nib that really needs changing.

It took a while to get going with the sketches as I fiddled around finding a pencil and approach that I was happy with. In the end I began by focusing in some of the boots that were sitting ready to be used.

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Gumboots and smoothing the edge, graphite, white chalk and coloured pencil

Then the concrete truck arrived and before I knew it I had sketched a group of labourers that Kazimir Malevich would have been proud of.

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Quick movement as the man spread the concrete.

By way of comparison here is one of Kazimir’s.

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Kazimir Malevich, The woodcutter, 1912, Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

There were several slabs to be poured so I managed to capture the action by loking for the repetitive movements.

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Edge detailing and more work boots, graphite and magic pencil

I really enjoyed trying to capture the way the men moved, although clearly bad backs are an outcome of such work.

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Spreading the concrete, graphite, magic pencil and white chalk

More faces

A quick trip to the National Gallery yesterday to see the small exhibition Black – more of that another time perhaps. En route passed this unidentified Indian goddess in the Asian gallery.

Unknown goddess (possibly Lakshmi or Gangaur), Patan, 17th cent. wood and pigment

Unknown goddess (possibly Lakshmi or Gangaur), Patan, 17th cent. wood and pigment

Today I was back to play at the cafe again with my magic pencils  and the odd bit of white chalk.

Two faces at the cafe, magic pencils Fire and America (left); Fire, America, Tropical and white chalk (right)

Two faces at the cafe, magic pencils Fire and America (left); Fire, America, Tropical and white chalk (right)

And some more.

Face, white chalk and magic pencils, America and Tropical

Face, white chalk and magic pencils, America and Tropical

Obscured face, magic pencils Fire and America and white chalk

Obscured face, magic pencils Fire and America and white chalk

Getting the ‘lead’ out

I’ve been using my Koh-i-noor Magic Pencils as my main sketching material for a few weeks now. Apart from being caught up in the sheer fun of multicoloured pencils that would be the envy of any pencil case, I find that they are ‘magic’ in other ways as well.

Koh-i-noor Magic coloured pencils

Koh-i-noor Magic coloured pencils

 

Koh-i-noor Magic Pencils

Koh-i-noor Magic Pencils

They are ‘magic’ because you can’t quite control where the colour will turn up.

Cafe drawings, Magic Pencils (America), with white chalk on the right hand side, on grey-toned Strathmore paper, 30 January 2016

Cafe drawings, Magic Pencils (America), with white chalk on the right hand side, on grey-toned Strathmore paper, 30 January 2016

They are ‘magic’ because they encourage me to play.

Two men, with multiple arms, Magic Pencils (Original, Fire and America), on grey-toned Strathmore paper, 13 February 2016

Two men, with multiple arms, Magic Pencils (Original and Fire, left; Original and America, right), on grey-toned Strathmore paper, 13 February 2016

They are ‘magic’ because they remind me to focus on the structure of my drawing – where is the light coming from? – not what colour is her t-shirt?

Woman and unfinished man, Magic Pencils (Fire and America, left; and Original, right), 13 February 2016

Woman and unfinished man, Magic Pencils (Fire and America, left; and Original, right), 13 February 2016

They are ‘magic’ because paying attention to the key elements of a subject is more important than ‘completing’ the picture.

Tatooed man, Magic Pencils (America, Fire and Tropical, 13 February 2016

Tatooed man, Magic Pencils (America, Fire and Tropical, 13 February 2016

They are ‘magic’ because they show me that drawing can be much so much more interesting than straightforward representation.

 

Material concerns

Sketching materials often cause me a dilemma. Like many sketchers I run the risk of paralysis from too much choice. When I made my trip to Brisbane last week I decided on one sketchbook – a grey-tone Strathmore and a limited selection of pens/pencils. My main pencils were Koh-i-noor Magic pencils, so I couldn’t ‘control’ to any extent  the colours that came out. I didn’t know whether I could do it! Indeed I did resort to one digital drawing.

Brisbane River Bridges, digital drawing on PS Touch app (for Android)

Brisbane River Bridges, digital drawing on PS Touch app (for Android)

Despite this small detour I did get back on track.This sketch uses only coloured pencil and white chalk. I used several types of the Magic pencils: Original, Fire and America.

Late afternoon sun on the Storey Bridge Brisbane, coloured pencil, white chalk, 20 January 2016

Late afternoon sun on the Storey Bridge Brisbane, coloured pencil, white chalk, 20 January 2016

The next day we took our sketch books up to the Roma St Parklands where the twisting shapes of the Moreton Bay figs captured my attention.

Fig tree, Roma Street Parklands, white chalk, graphite and coloured pencil, 21 January 2016

Fig tree, Roma Street Parklands, white chalk, graphite and coloured pencil, 21 January 2016

Back home I realised that I hadn’t picked up a pencil in days so I grabbed what was to hand, a green Artline fibre pen and my black ink pen and got down to it.

Backyard, green fineline pen and ink, 29 January 2016

Backyard, green fine line pen and ink, 29 January 2016

It can be a challenge just getting past that ‘perfection’ monkey, but it’s always worth getting out and just drawing.