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 34°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 AñA 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! 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.

Urban Sketchers Canberra – March into Manuka

We had a solid roll-up of 12 people at our March sketchwalk, held in the shopping area of Manuka (Canberra’s most up-market retail centre). The cafes were alive with people eating, sipping coffees and catching up with the Sunday papers.
I only had to move a few metres to a convenient bench from where I could draw this couple sitting and reading. They were there for quite a while so I had plenty of time to sketch them.


Couple reading, Koh-i-nor Magic pencil, white chalk and graphite, 6 March 2016

I walked down  a nearby laneway where I found some amusing quotations on the walls (tongues firmly in their cheeks).


Shopping, coloured pencil, white chalk and graphite, 6 March 2016

With only 20 minutes to sketch before our meet up time, I did a blind drawing of one of the sculptures on the footpath.


Gather by Matthew Tobin, 2007, ink, brush pen and coloured pencil, 6 Mrach 2016

Our ‘in house’ photographer spent the morning walking around capturing the crew in action. If you would like to see some of the photos or other drawings the Urban Sketchers Canberra Facebook page.

A Little Pomp and Ceremony


Sculpture of Kin George V, Rex , Imperator 1927 by Sir Bertram Mackennal , pen and ink sketch, Old Parliament House Canberra

Today was the first sketch outing of 2016  of our Urban Sketchers Canberra group. We met in the foyer of Old Parliament House (now the Museum of Australian Democracy). There were sixteen of us, including two new members and a visitor. I was thrilled that we had such a good turn out while so many people are still on holidays.

I’d already decided to sketch the sculpture of King George V, which is located in Kings Hall. This sculpture portrays the King in the robes of the Order of the Garter and is the second casting of this statue, originally commissioned for New Delhi. I couldn’t capture the full regalia from the angle I was drawing (another day perhaps), but the King shows a very fine leg in his hose and garter.

Inspired by his decorative garments I decided to try another location to sketch parliamentary regalia, in the House of Representatives chamber. It turns out five others of our group were already in there, with some fine sketches being made (see more here).


Replicas of the Mace, foreground, and the Dispatch box, rear right, in the House of Representatives chamber, Old Parliament House. Pen and ink, 3 January 2015

Resting on one end of the main table is a replica of the Mace, the original of which is now in the new parliament building, in the House of Representatives chamber. At the far end of the table you can see one of the Dispatch boxes. I was amused to learn from one of the guides that these replicas of the Dispatch boxes were made when the movie ‘The Dish‘was filmed in the chamber. The film company kindly left them with the museum after they finished filming.

After all this pomp and ceremony I decided to make my final sketch in the Senate Opposition Meeting Room, where I could sink into the comfortable large lounges, much as many a Senator has no doubt done before me.


The Opposition Senate Meeting Room. Pencil sketch, koh-i-noor coloured pencils, 3 January

The upholstery is in the maroon coloured leather, that is used in the Senatorial wing of the building. Original furniture and fittings were designed by John Smith Murdoch, the architect of the building. I’m currently testing out my new Koh-i-nor Magic pencils (more in another post). I think that the paper I used was not perhaps very well-suited to these pencils. I will try paper with a bit more surface bite to it next time.

And finally here is our group, along with His Royal Highness.


Urban Sketchers Canberra at Old Parliament House, 3 January 2016