This year I have twice taught introductory classes on urban sketching for our local Community Arts Centre. We have been sketching at a local shopping centre focusing on sketching the underpass and the toilet block.
I have actually become quite fond of sketching this underpass.
Strange subjects for sketches I know, however they are simple enough shapes to practice proportional measuring and drawing for people with limited sketching experience. I want to help people experience the satisfaction of making a ‘good’ drawing; good enough to encourage them to keep on trying.
I won’t go into the details of what this all means, suffice to say that getting the relative proportions relatively correct means a much more satisfactory outcome to the drawing.
Above is a quick sketch where I’ve demonstrated how to use a pencil to measure the proportions of the underpass.
Demonstrating the results of making light and dark shades with watercolour pencils. The challenge is encouraging people to use a wider tonal range, particularly strong darks, which if nothing else save the sketch from death by mid-tone values.
Secondly some suggestions on how to use watercolor pencils. Then a small drawing demonstrating how you can emphasize the background, rather than focus on a tree in the foreground of your main subject.
A small sketch using ‘negative space, to make a tree trunk pop out from the over pass railings behind it.
And finally my piece de resistance a sketch completed upside down. This sketch shows the relative values of the underpass and how to include the two trees in front of it, without them detracting from the main subject.
All my best ideas are nicked from other sketchers. This one is no exception. Alvin Wong, an urban sketcher from Hong Kong, once explained that one of the most useful skills he learned in his early days as an architect was how to draw and write upside down, while delivering presentations to clients. Not only does it impress the socks off people, but in this case I could demonstrate the ideas I was trying to share so the sketcher could easily follow my drawing.
Not bad for my first upside down drawing.
On a recent sortie I found a number of sketches done on the back of parking tickets from my car. You can tell by the dates on some of these sketches that I don’t clear out the glove box of my car often enough.
When I checked back through my posts I found that I had last shared similar sketches in 2014, here and here.
Some sketches done from my car in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Also a ring-in from 2019 as I couldn’t fit them all on the next page.
I must say that with the passing of time I did struggle to work out which way was up for some of them. I think I have it pretty right. Once I thought back to the places where I was likely to be waiting in the car most of them made sense.
Mainly practice drawing buildings and architectural details. I quite like the abstraction of some of them.
DESIGN Canberra Festival is currently on and our local chapter of Urban Sketchers has been actively partcipating for the first time.
We ran a Drop in and Draw session in Civic Square on Thursday and a Sunday sketching event at Callam Offices on the weekend.
Our first event was marred by strong winds. I found this out the hard way when I got slapped with a big spray of water from the fountain I was sitting next to.
Some of the brave few that turned out to sketch.
The University of Canberra’s temporary architectural installation in Civic Square.
The statue of Ethos, by Tom Bass, at the entrance to the ACT Assembly building, with fountain (notice the water splotch in the dark grey section of the paint).
Sunday was marginally better weather wise. Callam Offices looks like a futuristic space module dropped into the Woden Town centre.
It was designed, amongst other things to demonstrate construction to survive potential floods. Hence it is set above the ground suspended around a series of concrete cores.
Designed by architect John Andrews and built in the late 1970’s these buildings are currently used as local government offices. It was originally intended that 26 modules be built, but only 3 were completed. Sadly one of Andrew’s other major Brutalist buildings in our city, the Cameron Offices has largely been demolished, which is pretty awful, but par for the course as far as our local lack of interest in heritage buildings goes.
My watercolour of one of the building cores.
Along with my main sketch I painted a detail of this ventilation outlet.
Tonight we are off to hear a conversation between the architect John Andrews and Tim Ross (a great promoter and documentor of Australia’s modernist heritage). I am really looking forward to hearing more about Andrews ‘ work.
I realised that I have a stack of sketches from my travels that I haven’t shared on my blog. My street sketches in Madrid came to a grand total of two. Mainly we spent most of our time in the museums, I will be sharing some sketching from of those visits in other posts.
Early evening, Calle de Zurita, Madrid, watercolour and pencil.
We painted in the Calle de Zurita the night of the first World Cup game between Spain and Portugal. Needless to say there were loud cheers and groans coming from the nearby bars. After sketching we went and joined the locals to watch the rest of the match.
My second sketch was of a building that I thought had an interesting roofline and I also liked the way the date palm appeared out of the courtyard. I was sketching, perched on a security block next to a bus-stop. An older couple stopped to explain that I was drawing the back end of the Cardinal’s Palace. They also mentioned that a famous painter was born there. When I walked up to look at the historic marker I could see that the artist was Claudio Coello, appointed to the court of Carlos II. Coello was born at the in 1642. I have no idea why he was born in the Cardinal’s Palace, but his dad was a sculptor so maybe he was working there at the time – this is purely speculation on my part.
The Cardinal’s Palace Madrid, from the Place Puerto de Cerrada, pencil and watercolour.
The Cardinal’s Palace, the plain end, watercolour and pencil.
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.
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.