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.

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.

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. 

Art and the Beach

It’s rather embarrassing but I have just found this post from early February 2016 which I forgot to post, so somewhat belatedly, here it is.

I love visiting the city of Adelaide and a trip to the Art Gallery of South Australia is always on the ‘to do’ list. On this visit I wanted to see The Power of Pattern: the Ayako Mitsui Collection, which highlights kimonos and the stencils and techniques used to decorate fabric. While there I also took the time to do some drawings of some of the sculpture in the main gallery.

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Statue of Eros, 1892-93, by Alfred Gilbert, new casting in aluminium, 1986-88; and Torso by Jean Broome-Norton, 1935, painted plaster. Pencil on grey-toned paper 5 February, 2016

After a bit of culture it’s also good to catch a bit of nature, in the form of one of Adelaides beaches. Saturday was near perfect beach-going weather with a clear sky and very little breeze. The water was crystal clear over a white sand bottom so visibility was excellent. After quite a bit of decadently floating around, my nephew and I started looking at the various things we could spot underwater. Apart from ‘the usual suspects’, seaweed and razor clam shells, we found a big chunk of smoothed bottle glass and somewhat unexpectedly a large piece of an old LP record. The latter had also clearly been in the water for quite some time so I couldn’t say exactly what music had been entertaining old Neptune.

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Sea ‘treasures’, pecil on grey-toned paper, 6 February 2016

Cafe Wednesday 12 February 2013

It’s always a challenge to come up with a new ‘take’ for Cafe Wednesday drawing. Among the many drawing blogs that are now available online I’ve read an interesting post from UK illustrator Lynne Chapman, on Sketches that Sing. Lynne suggests several ways to free up your sketching. I’ve used her approach that ignores ‘local’ colour and instead draws the focus of the sketch in warm colours and the remainder of the work in cool colours. The idea is that if you get your tones right then you can pretty much do what you like with colour.

Cafe Wednesday, tonal study, 12 February 2014.

Cafe Wednesday, tonal study, 12 February 2014.

While I still need to work on my composition aspect, I’m liking the colour approach.