Drawing waves

I saw some drawings on Instagram made by a friend @richardbriggs_artist , of the movement of a car over a bumpy road in Bolivia. It prompted me to pull out my own drawings made just over a year ago recording waves lapping my feet on a rising and a falling tide on the south coast of New South Wales.

I steadily drew a line back and forth across the page and if a wave washed over my feet I drew it as a peak, for the duration of it’s ebb and flow.

Falling tide, 10.30 am to 11.05 am, 13 March 2018, ink on recycled ledger

Rising tide, 3.49pm to 4.19 pm, 15 March 2018, ink on recycled ledger

This is a continuous line drawing at the same location.

Glacial erratics on the rock platform between Depot and Pebbly Beach, 13 March 2018

PS lest you think that I am even more of a tide nerd than I am, the details on the page were copied from a tide guide at the Ranger station at our campground.

Brett Whiteley – Drawing is Everything

This week we had a two hour window to see one exhibition in Sydney, before we had to catch our bus back to Canberra. So Brett Whiteley ‘Drawing is Everything’ was the unanimous choice.

Arriving early, before the gallery opened, I took the opportunity to sketch Gilbert Bayes PBRS sculpture ‘The Offerings of Peace’ (1923), from across the road. In honour, no doubt of my artistic endeavours, I was duly shat upon by Pied Currawong sitting in the tree overhead.

AGNSW

The Offerings of Peace, Gilbert Bays, PBRS, 1923

On entering the gallery we were immediately caught up in the vitality of Whiteley’s works, predominantly made with pen and ink and brush an ink. It was fascinating to see how Whiteley intensely studied the works of Van Gogh, Lloyd Rees and other artists as he developed his own style.

The gallery was encouraging visitors to draw while visiting the show, providing pencils and a small A4 folded piece of paper.

Whiteley2

Her‘, carvings in Mangrove wood, 1975 to c. 1980 (LHS); a quote by Whiteley “A good drawing (should be) loose, casual, abandoned, odd, wonky, immediate,swift, detached, +soaked in feeling, it should be brief, not just spare or simple, not just quick, It should be brief, beautifully brief, like the best Japanese art, like the soul’s shorthand.”

Luckily I also had my own paper as there were several other sketches I wanted to make.

whitely 1

After Brett Whiteley, Wendy Drunk, 1983, original, brush and black and brown ink. My version, pencil on paper.

It was intriguing to see how Whitely playfully amalgamated and created images, such as the following sketch of Matisse, putatively sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens, reading a newspaper.

After Brett Whiteley, Henri Matisse reading a newspaper in the Luxembourg Gardens, 1989 ink and brush. My version pencil on paper with watercolour added later.

Much as I enjoyed sketching in the gallery, the relative stiffness of the pencil sketches, compared to the brush works in particular, was underlined by a quote by Whiteley “Have you ever seen a pencil drawing that isn’t safe?” (p9, Brett Whiteley Drawings, Lou Klepac, The Beagle Press, Sydney, 2014)

Brett Whiteley: Drawing is Everything
Art Gallery of New South Wales, on until 31 March 2019

From the antique

It depends where you come from, but there isn’t much in the way of Greek or Roman sculpture in my neck of the woods. So it has been an absolute blast to visit the Louvre and have a go at sketching some of their collection. Here are some of the sketches I have made in the last few weeks.

First stop was the ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’ I liked her so much I drew her from both sides.

This is her ‘best’ side, apparently the carving is more detailed than the right hand side.

Not her ‘best’ side, or so the museum guide says.

We were thrilled to see another man sketching the Winged Victory as well, so we had a mini ‘show and tell’ of our combined works

‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’, 3rd-1st Century BC, marble

Well the next goddess on the list had to be the ‘Venus de Milo’, that is once we could see her through the crowds. One of our friends told us about the late evening openings (Wednesdays and Fridays) and while there are still people around, most of the large tour groups are well away. I was pleased with my rough sketch, the torso in particular, so I decided to leave the sketch ‘unfinished’.

The Venus de Milo, not much more to add.

After braving the hordes staring at Venus I decided to move to a quieter part of the galleries. There I found the Athena Parthenos who, was sent back to Paris from Rome by the artist Ingres, who was head of the Académie de France, in Rome at the time. She sometimes goes under the name of the Ingres’ Minerva for that reason. For a while she hung out with the students at the Ecoles des Beaux Arts, but she moved over the river to the Louvre in 1913. Unluckily for Ingres she wasn’t an original Greek statue, but rather one of several copies of a sculpture by Phidias.

Roman copy of the Athena Parthenos, 100-200 AD, also known as the Ingres’ Minerva

Last but not least there was a delightful torso of the goddess Artemis (Diana). I couldn’t get over how finely carved the pleats around the neck of her dress are. The sheer skill of the sculptors never ceases to amaze me. The drapery covering these bodies flies or flutters in the wind and is ‘transparent’ enough to reveal the shape of underlying limbs.

Artemis, goddess of the hunt, 1st or 2nd century AD. One of several copies of an original Greek sculpture, now lost

Urban Sketchers Paris

I went out sketching with Urban Sketchers Paris last weekend. We started off at La Monnaie (The Paris Mint). By complete coincidence I had the great pleasure of catching up with friends from USk Singapore and USk Kuala Lumpur who were also visiting Paris. Urban sketching certainly brings the world together!

Inside the mint there were a plethora of things to draw. An exhibition by artist-in-residence Subhota Gupta inspired many. I was struck by the contrast between his glittering and complex sculpture ‘Family Tree’ that was set in the main courtyard of La Monnaie and the 18th century building facade behind it. It was an extremely challenging subject to tackle, but I was pretty pleased with the outcome, (although I subsequently noticed that my building was a bit lop sided).

Family Tree, in the main courtyard of La Monnaie, Paris

After a picnic lunch by the Seine we walked down to the Marais to visit the Foundation Lafayette. En route our host for the day, Xavier, showed us the workshop where architect Renzo Piano has his architectural models made.

Unfortunately a gallery changeover at the Foundation meant that we couldn’t draw where we had planned. Instead we opted for a coffee break and the challenge of sketching each other.

My sheet of sketches of fellow sketchers

Some of us then walked to the nearby National Archives, but our plans to draw in their lovely gardens were drenched by rain. My final sketch of the day was made while sitting under the colonades of the building, looking across to the blown-up (only in size), version of some classic posters, currently lining the inner walls of the building.

Thanks to Xavier for organising and the other sketchers who made it such a great day.

Sketching with Rodin

I had the pleasure of meeting up with members of Urban Sketchers Paris last weekend, both days actually (but that’s another post). On Sunday we went sketching at the Musée Rodin in Varenne.

There was so much to see and sketch at the Musée Rodin, that I stayed for the whole day.

Sketching in Room 14 at the Musee Rodin, that’s a partially made model, not just my wonky drawing.

I was particularly inspired by the various studies and preparatory works for Rodin’s sculptures. I also enjoyed seeing Rodin’s collection of classical sculpture fragments. The wall of toes and feet was my favourite.

Room 17 with the collection of classical toes

I then moved to the next room along to draw these two torsos. One a ‘Muse’ and the other a model for ‘Polyphemos’. The pose for Polyphemus was extraordinary, the right knee lifted almost up to the face. Although, having since looked at more finished versions of this sculpture online, I can see that the figure is kneeling and leaning over, so the pose is less strange than it appears with they way this model is mounted.

Muse, 1907, Room 18 of the Musee Rodin

Large torso and various studies for Polyphemus, Musee Rodin

Mid-afternoon there was a special performance by Cambodian dancers, in the museum gardens, which was designed to allow sketchers to draw the dancers in tradtional dance poses. Unfortunately for the dancers the beautiful weather of the previous week had been supplanted by a gloomy day of 14 ° C. Wearing only their stunning traditional costumes designed for hot and humid Cambodia, the dancers were literally turning blue from the cold. I can only say that we truly appreciated their efforts to perform under such trying circumstances.

A fistful of cafes

I have been refining my coffee sketching process this year, applying the KISS principle (‘keep it simple stupid’) to what I carry in my bag for impromptu sketching sessions. A test card of watercolours, a pencil, a pen and a waterbrush and a ‘book’ made from one sheet of A3 watercolour paper. Both the book and the colour card fit into a plastic sleeve from an old bank passbook (gosh, do you remember those?). Here’s a shot of the set up.

Each A3 sheet is folded in half horizontally to make two panorama style pages. These are folded in half then sewn together through the fold. Each side of the panorama is the folded in half again (as you can see in the photo above), which means the final size all folded up fits in the plastic sleeve.

The completed booklet

Here are sketches from my latest book. What I really like is that, depending on your layout you can sketch over part, or the full stretch of the page.

Cafe sketch, watercolour and graphite

Celebrating ‘National (read USA) Pencil Day’, the day the first pencil with attached eraser was patented in 1858

Inspired by the woman with the red hair, watercolour and graphite

Reading the papers with the rest of the retirees, pen and ink

Arborists clearing our trees from the powerlines. The left hand page of a full spread.

Shredding the prunings, the right hand page of the full spread

At the markets, pen and ink with watercolour

A final cafe sketch for the week. Watercolour and ink.

Ultimately I plan to bind these booklets together into a single book.

Canberra on a winter’s day

Our Urban Sketchers group met today four our first ‘official’ winter sketch of the year. The complete lack of sun didn’t deter our group, 24 hardy souls turned out.

As I am recovering from a really nasty cold I was happy to find a spot inside a coffee shop with a bench seat looking out the window to a collection of umbrellas. 

Eventually the sun broke through the fog so I made a second quick sketch of one of the shop windows.