Cafe Wednesday – the hat

It only took one look to decide what the subject of this week’s drawing would be. Strong light was delineating the rather dashing hat being worn by a man at a nearby table.

25May2016

Magic pencils and white pencil on toned tan Strathmore paper

The light also cast a dramatic diagonal across his face.

Penciled in

Some 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.

Sketching in Civic

On Sunday our local Urban Sketcher’s chapter met for our May get together. It was great to welcome two new participants and catch up with some others who I haven’t seen in a while. We met in the centre of the city which is referred to as Civic. We were in part of the system of pedestrian plazas and near the Canberra Centre Mall.

While the weather didn’t deliver the hail that was forecast, the wind was quite blustery. Some brave souls sketched outside, but others took advantage of a seating area that overlooked the City Walk. I stayed outside as I had become fascinated with one of the more recent sculptures that have been added to the pedestrian areas. Anne Ross‘ work The Other Side of Midnight, 2012, is in three parts the centrepiece of which is a running girl flanked by two running hounds.

The Other side of Midnight, central figure, coloured pencil on cold pressed paper

The Other side of Midnight, central figure, coloured pencil on cold pressed paper

I had some more time before meeting up with the others so I pulled out my new Strathmore sketchbook which is the toned tan. It will be interesting to compare the sketches I’m making in this book compared to those in the grey-toned book I’ve just completed. This second sketch was a more traditional view of the plane trees that are planted in City Walk.

Plane trees, City Walk, coloured pencil on Strathmore toned-tan paper, 1 May 2016

Plane trees, City Walk, coloured pencil on Strathmore toned-tan paper, 1 May 2016

In my haste to capture the scene I botched the perspective and scale up – something I didn’t realise until I looked at the sketch after I got home. Oh well, there’s a lesson there! After having the obligatory group shot we went down to the food court for lunch and a catch-up.

If you are in the neighbourhood and would like to join us our next Urban Sketchers Canberra outing will be to the National Portrait Gallery, on Sunday 5 June at 10.15 am.

Smoke

Autumn in the national capital brings with it the odour of burning eucalypt leaves. The smell has complex connotations of summer and bushfires, but now it is the smell of low-intensity burn-offs, designed to reduce the level of flammable plant material. The local hills have been systematically burned over the past few weeks.

smoke

I took the opportunity to try and capture some of the ‘atmosphere’ of the burn-off. Sitting on the other side of the road I worked on those strange colour changes that occur within the smoke, white, cream, dirty red.

26Apr201a

Burning off on Mt Taylor, ACT, 26 April 2016, colour pencil on gray-toned paper

I also had a go at sketching the moment the first flames were lit.26Apr2016b

Architectural details

My sketching has taken a sudden swerve into architecture this past weekend. I visited two historic buildings in Canberra from different periods built in very different styles.

On Saturday we were in Kingston near the Fitter’s Workshop. Built in 1916-17, the Fitter’s Workshop is part of a complex of early Canberra industrial buildings that is being converted into an arts precinct. The Fitters Workshop was designed by John Smith Murdoch, better known as the architect of the original Parliament House (commonly referred to now as Old Parliament House). On close inspection it’s apparently simple lines reveal a refinement of detail not normally seen on utilitarian buildings.

Detail of a window, the Fitter's Workshop. Graphite and white chalk on gray-toned paper.

Detail of a window, the Fitter’s Workshop, 1916-17. Graphite and white chalk on gray-toned paper.

On the southern outskirts of Canberra is the Lanyon Homestead.  First settled by European squatters in the early 1830’s the land was granted to James Wright and John Lanyon in 1834. The Urban Sketchers Canberra group had visited here last year, but we weren’t able to make it then so we were finally making up for that outing.

We walked around the buildings and gardens trying to decide what to sketch. My eye kept coming back to the bell on the kitchen building’s roof. The kitchen complex, which also includes a cook’s room and cold store was built in the 1830’s. The bell and it’s supporting structure reminds me of an old south-western US mission bell, although Wright was supposedly influenced by the vernacular styles of his native Derbyshire.

The bell on the kitchen block, Lanyon Homestead, circa 1830s. Coloured pencil and graphite

The bell on the kitchen block, Lanyon Homestead, circa 1830s. Coloured pencil and graphite

I tried several versions of this sketch before I decided to focus solely on the bell and leave the steeply pitched roof and nearby buildings for another time.

After, I moved to sketch the farm buildings on the other side of the homestead. One of these buildings was the housing for the convict labourers who were first grated to Wright in 1835. I found the simple block style a contrast to the farm and bushland that formed the background. I also decided to simplify that landscape to emphasise the contrast with man-made structures.

Convict accomodation at Lanyon Homestead. Coloured pencil and graphite

Convict accomodation at Lanyon Homestead. Coloured pencil and graphite