I told you about my video exploits in a recent post so, when we had our first visit to the coast in over 18 months, I couldn’t resist taking my filming gear (my smartphone that is) as well as my sketchbooks.

Southern mahogany (Eucalyptus botryoides with and understorey of Burrawangs (cycads – Macrozamia communis). Drawn with aquarelles on hot press paper.

It is a lovely landscape to explore. We even did some kayaking on Lake Durras, which might also make it into a video yet.

From the kayak on Lake Durras.
An early morning sketch of the bridge over Durras Creek.

My latest film shows you some of the lovely scenery on the dunes and adjacent coastal forest at South Durras Beach, on the coast of South-Eastern Australia.


Looking for a life model

I’m in a watercolour sketching phase at the moment, sketching people in general and portraits in particular. Mostly I work in coffee shops trying to get a quick sketch done before the subject inevitably leaves at the critical artistic moment. However I am also really ‘over’ drawing people with cups or mobile phones in their hands. Given that I don’t attend regular life drawing classes I need a way to find some interesting models. 

So what to do? ‘Cheat’ I happily reply. I notice that I am not alone in drawing sculptures, by way of a substitute for a live model. Art galleries or even local parks can be good places to find interesting subjects.Here are some sculptures I drew while I was in Japan.

Two sculptures and an attendant in the Churyo Sato wing of the Miyagi Museum of Art in Sendai

Here’s another.

Shade, Churyo Sato, Miyagi Museum of Art, Sendai

When even the sculptures are lacking I turn to another source, photographs. The Boss, belting out a number (original photo Getty Images)

I find that newspaper photographers are particularly talented at capturing interesting positions of sportspeople or dancers. 

Aussie swimmers, Kyle Chalmers and James McEvoy (original photo AP)

The hard part, is to spend only the same amount of time sketching from the photo as you would if they were really in front of you. Just remember this is a way to practise making a quick sketch, not a photo-realist masterpiece. 

Lunar Eclipse

Last night we enjoyed the spectacle of a total lunar eclipse in the most excellent viewing conditions. The sky was clear, at least in Canberra, so there was no need to do anything other than look. My partners’ photo on his  digital SLR (on a tripod) even captured ‘nearby’ stars.

Lunar eclipse at 847 pm Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDST), 8 October 2014

Lunar eclipse at 9.47 pm Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDST), 8 October 2014

With my handheld ‘point and shoot’ camera

Moveable moon, or shaky hands, 8 October 2014

Moveable moon, or shaky hands, 8 October 2014

you could only describe the results as having a certain ‘something’ about them.

My handheld shot, the moon dragging a 'tail', 8 October2014

My handheld shot, the moon dragging a ‘tail’, 8 October 2014

The artist in me did regret the absence of at least a few clouds as I suspect the colouring on them might have been quite something. In the end I made do with a watercolour to commemorate the event.

the 'blood' moon, watercolour, 8 October 2014

the ‘blood’ moon, watercolour, 8 October 2014

Of course the local comentariat, who had clearly watch too many episodes of The Vikings, insisted on calling this a ‘blood’ moon. To add to the astronomical frenzy it was also pointed out that there were two other ‘red’ objects in the western sky, Mars setting apparently close to Antares, (Alpha Scorpii) in the constellation of Scorpius, that could be seen at the same time. And a nice juxtaposition they formed too.

My description of the colour reflected on the moon was definitely closer to Burnt Sienna, than any of the true reds, but then … when I was checking the photos prior to posting today I noticed one thing. On the right hand side of the last picture I took (even with the dodgy handheld camera) you can just see a much darker red disk starting to occlude the lunar surface. Dang! I think we probably missed the deepest part of the eclipse.

On the upper right hand side of the photo you can just make out a darker red shadow starting to move across the face of the moon. 8.53pm EDST, 8 October 2014

On the upper right hand side of the photo you can just make out a darker red shadow starting to move across the face of the moon. 9.53pm EDST, 8 October 2014

OK, don’t panic, don’t panic! According to Aunty ABC, This last photo of mine was taken just 2 minutes before the peak of the eclipse. You can see more photos from the ABC website here.