Urban Sketchers at the Shine Dome

Our urban sketching group met today to sketch at the Shine Dome, home of the Australian Academy of Science and one of the modernist masterpieces of this country. Designed by Roy Grounds and completed in 1958, the building is often referred to by it’s nickname as the ‘Martian Embassy ‘.

Behind the Shine Dome is a more recent edition to the Canberra skyline. The Nishi Building, 2015, with it’s green wall, includes offices and commercial space and incorporates, on the right, Hotel Hotel. This complex was designed by Fender Katsiladis Architects and March Studio, and landscape architects Oculus.

Watercolour, pencil

National Arboretum Canberra

Today we had a large group of sketchers meet at the National Arboretum, which has some of the best views over the city of Canberra. The shape of the central building on the site is leaf-shaped from above, and the curve of the roofline echoes the nearby hills.

I worked on capturing the curve of the most prominent part of the building along with the view across to the telecommunications tower on the nearby Black Mountain.

I prepared my page with splashes of paint before sketching.

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.

Sunday with the sketchers

Today the Urban Sketchers Canberra group met for its first outing of 2017 at the Mt Stromlo Observatory. I wasn’t sure how many people would come along as the forecast was for 34Ā°C, thankfully it didn’t get that hot while we were there and we had a breeze for a fair part of the morning.

While we were gathering I spotted my first choice for sketching. This fire hydrant is a rather folorn reminder of the devastating firestorm that swept across Mt Stromlo and down into the suburbs of Canberra in 2003.

Fire hydrant remains at Mt Stromlo, watercolour, 8 January 2017

As the morning hotted up and the ants started biting I decided to retreat to another location. I joined one of our other sketchers in the cool shade of the remains of the Yale Columbia telescope (built in 1923).

The ruined mounts for the telescope now make for very dramatic sculptures inside the shell of the building. 

Inside the ruins of the Yale Columbia telescope, Mt Stromlo Observatory, watercolour and graphite pencil, 8 January 2017

The other mount reminded me somewhat of a Dalek, must be that squat shape.

Mount for the Yale Columbia telescope at Mt Stromlo Observatory, watercolour and graphite pencil, 8 January 2017

We were happy to retreat inside to the cafe for our sketchbook ‘throw down’ and compare notes after several hours of sketching.

You can see more sketches from this morning  on the USk Canberra  Facebook page and on this blog by fellow sketcher Michelle.

My previous visit to the observatory can be found here.

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

The weather was truly awful yesterday, but nineteen brave souls made it to the June sketchmeet of Urban Sketchers Canberra at the National Portrait Gallery. We also had four new people make it for first time, which was just fantastic on such a rainy day.

After brief introductions and such we split up to sketch the gallery. My first stop was to sketch the ceramic sculpture of Dr John Yu, by the artist Ah Xian. As is appropriate for a retired paediatrician, Dr Yu’s bust includes small children scrabling over it. The bust itself is made with a celedon glaze, which is apparently a favourite of the sitter.


Dr John Yu by Ah Xian, National Portrait Gallery, my sketch coloured pencil on paper

It was very pleasant to be inside the gallery looking out onto the rainy weather. My second sketch was of such a view down one of the cross corridors of the gallery.


I was walking back to join the group for our sketchbook throw down when I decided I had just enough time to draw one of the interesting double views that gallery architecture facilitates.


Two portraits, coloured pencil. On the left, partial image of Charles Teo by Adam Chang, 2011; and in the foreground, Acacias (stigmata), Tony Carden, by AƱA Wojak, 1995

As always our group welcomes new members and visitors to join us. Our next sketchmeet will be on Sunday 3 July, 10.15 am at (New) Parliament House.

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!Ā 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.