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.

Art practice, not Art perfect

I was reminded earlier today that the phrase is ‘meditation practice’ not ‘meditation perfect’*, so I’m nicking that idea to apply to my art. I don’t know many artists who think their work is ‘perfect’, but sometimes I seem to operate as if that should be the default. So in the spirit of it being Friday I’m cutting myself some slack and having fun with my art ‘practice’.

Returning from interstate last week I was making this rather stiff drawing of 4 people who appeared to be related …

2Aug2016a

Waiting at the airport, 3 related women and one girl, coloured pencil

… when this bloke stuck himself right in front of my subjects.

2Aug2016

What gets in the way of art, becomes the art!

The pen I was using wasn’t running smoothly as the cap is a bit loose and the ink dries and causes blockages. I sort-of revived it a bit by putting water from my brush pen onto it, so while the sketch is a bit pale, I think it’s way more interesting than my first effort.

The next day the pen wasn’t much better, but I couldn’t resist sketching this cheeky magpie, hanging around the cafe for a feed. The first parts of the sketch were pale and then with help from my partner we managed to get the ink flowing a bit better . Once that was done I realised that I had made a much more interesting range of marks than if the ink had been flowing properly.

3Aug2016

Necessity becomes virtue as the paler initial marks allow for more interest in the feathers and offer a contrast to the background

I picked up that pen again today, but not before actually checking and re-filling it. This morning I didn’t find my fellow cafe-goers very exciting subjects, so I decided to include some of the graphics from the nearby reptile shop to make things more interesting. I decided the whole could be improved if I added some paint when I got home.

12Aug2016a

Cafe habitues with green paint

I then decided, in short order, that the result wasn’t quite what I was after. So I resorted to even more paint.

12Aug2016b

My fix

I’m feeling much happier about this version.

Sadly I have to report that since the big make-over of the small precinct where we go for coffee, that our dinosaur has ‘left the building’. It has been replaced by two trees some ground-cover plants and a lot of wood-chips. Making my sketches ‘interesting’ will become more of a challenge with the dinosaur.

*Phrase thanks to Headspace