Drawing the exhibition – Bodies of Art

Bodies of Art: Human form from the national collection, is currently on display in the downstairs sculpture rooms of the National Gallery of Australia. I spent the morning there quietly sketching away. The exhibition is a stimulating mix of sculpture, paintings, photography and video works which provided me with lots of interesting compositions to work on.

My first sketch was a grouping of stone sculptures, Torso, 1948 by Rosemary Madigan and Number 24, Harry Boyd by Robert Klippel and a third piece, an Anthropomorphic monument [gowe nio niha], (19th century or earlier) from the island of Nias in Indonesia. I was instantly drawn to the sandstone used in the two Australian works. The deep gougemarks on the Klippel sculpture acted like lines drawn across the surface. In contrast the smoother texture of Madigan’s work supported the subtlety of her torso’s carved planes.

Left to Right, Torso; Anthropomorphic Figure; Number 24, Harry Boyd, graphite with added watercolour

Behind me was an interesting juxtaposition of a hanging work by Giulio Paolini, Aria (Air), 1983 and beyond that, Triptych, 1970, by Francis Bacon.

Paolini’s work consists of two photographs of a renaissance sculpture sandwiched between perspex and hang from a steel cable. The work slowly gyrates beneath the high gallery ceiling, while underneath lies a piece of shattered glass. Behind it hangs Bacon’s equally fractured figures, curiously feeling much more grounded and solid than Paolini’s figure does.

Giulio Paolini, Aria (Air), 1983 and Francis Bacon, Triptych, 1970, pencil with added watercolour

While I drawing the partial elements of the Bacon triptych into this sketch, I became quite intrigued by the figures in the work’s central panel. After a restorative cup of coffee and some biscuits in the Member’s Lounge I returned to my final sketch of the day, the detail of the central panel.

There is certainly scope for more drawing here, so I will plan to make it back there soon.

All the sketching was done in the gallery and the watercolour was added afterwards.

Three things I sketched today

Today I drew three things at the National Gallery of Australia.

The cancellation proof of David Hockney’s Portrait of Rolf Nelson, 1968, lithograph with hand colouring. The cancellation proof has red eyes and bow lips with a peace sign on the sitters shirt.

You can see the original version of the print here.

People sitting in the Members lounge.

A Gandaran Bodisattva, carved from grey schist.

Drawing the exhibition, Rodel Tapaya

Earlier this year we went to a talk at the National Gallery of Australia by Philippine artist Rodel Tapaya.  His work is an exuberant mix of the contemporary, political and the mythic. 

Modern Manananggals, 2013, wood, brass, silver, fibreglass, epoxy and oil paint

The sculptural work I sketched, above, of suspended figures holding suitcases comments on the impact on the children of parents forced to work overseas. He uses the image of the manananggal, the Philippines equivalent of the vampire. These creatures leave the lower half of their body behind, as they fly off nightly to drink the blood of pregnant women. The contention of this work is that Philippino parents earn an income by leaving their own children behind to work as carers for other people’s children.

Dr Sketchy and all that glitters

Last night my partner and I headed out to Dr Sketchy’s at the National Gallery of Australia. Like everyone at our table we were unsure whether there was a theme for the evening, until models in silver and gold paint appeared! Everything metallic and shiny was the story.

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A model in gold, Posca acrylic markers

I decided to use my Posca markers for some of the sketches, particularly as they already had the seal of approval for use at the event. I liked using them, but realised I should have done some testing before I went. My yellow ochre marker, used above, just wasn’t flowing very well, so I ended up with a rather scratchy effect.

It was also a pleasure to see a male burlesque performer/model in the line-up. Sir Regal Shivers (and his dragon George) certainly got the audience shouting for more.

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Knight, minus the shining armour, coloured pencil

We were also treated to performances from visiting interstate burlesque performers including the wild Zelia Rose, who was the 2014 Miss Burlesque Australia.

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Zelia Rose, coloured pencil

The evening finished with the finalĀ group pose. I managed to only get two of the modelsĀ into my sketch.

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Final group sketch, coloured pencil

As always it was a tremendous evening. The output of all the participating sketchers was amazing and the performances particularly good. I’m looking forward to next time!

Penciled in

SomeĀ recent sketches using coloured pencil and my new toned tan Strathmore sketchbook.

In the coffee shop Saturday morning, coloured pencil on toned tan paper

In the coffee shop Saturday morning, coloured pencil on toned tan paper

Today’s effort from the window of the National Gallery of Australia’ cafe window. This section of the garden has recently been cleaned out and re-planted with grass trees.

Garden at the National Gallery of Australia, coloured pencil on toned tan paper, 9 May 2016

Garden at the National Gallery of Australia, coloured pencil on toned tan paper, 9 May 2016

I’m trying not to resort to ‘colouring in’, hence the vigorous strokes, which I’m enjoying making.

One more from the archive, a sketch in my toned-grey book, a spool of twine at a building site.

A spool of builders twine, coloured pencil on toned grey paper, 11 April 2016.

A spool of builders twine, coloured pencil on toned grey paper, 11 April 2016.

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 Ā 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

The Big Draw at the NGA

Today was the annual Big Draw event held at the National Gallery of Australia. Several members of Urban Sketchers Canberra met up for the event and joined the crowds. Just inside the front door patrons were serenaded by the Ukelele Republic of Canberra band, singing and playing their way through a wide ranging repertoire.

The Ukulele Republic of Canberra at the National Gallery of Australia, pen and ink, 8 November 2015

The Ukulele Republic of Canberra (most of them), at the National Gallery of Australia, pen and ink, 8 November 2015

There were eight activities on offer and per usual it was impossible to get around them all in the three hour timeframe. First stop for me was Garden Country, in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art section. Here the work of Gertie Huddlestone was used as a starting point for a group work on the floor, or for some of us some individual inspiration.

Sketch after Gertie Huddlestone, We all share water, 2001, coloured pencil

Sketch after Gertie Huddlestone, We all share water, 2001, coloured pencil

I started to walk through to some other areas of the gallery, stopping to talk to the staff members overseeing other areas such as House and Garden, where some urban houses were being put together.

House and Garden, in the Australian Art section of the Gallery

House and Garden, in the Australian Art section of the Gallery

I only managed to get to one other activity before the agreed meet-up time. At Is your face a mask, people were given an I-pad to sketch themselves over a ‘selfie’. This proved to be popular with everyone as you could get a print-out of your efforts at the end.

Self-portrait with masks, I-pad

Self-portrait with masks, I-pad

Our group decided to get together for lunch over at the National Portrait Gallery where the crowds were not so busy. Here are our collective efforts from the morning.

USk Canberra sketches from the Big Draw

USk Canberra sketches from the Big Draw