Escape to the country!

Last week we finally left our Canberra for the first time in months to drive an hour away to the country town of Braidwood.

The village of Braidwood started to form around the 1840s and has retained many of it’s older 19th century buildings along the main street. As such, it’s a great place to sketch.

I was sketching across the road from the CWA (Country Women’s Association) building and the post office and then later further down the main street into town.

My first sketch was made on a page that I had prepared with white gesso and ink a few weeks back. I also collaged some paper onto my page, which I had made by printing from a gelli (gel) plate. That saved me from having to paint the mountain.

Along the street my eye was caught by an interesting combination of rooflines and light poles.

Steep roofs and tall chimneys. Watercolour and pencil.

I was just getting stuck into my blind contour drawing when I had to go for lunch which we had booked at the Albion Cafe.

Blind contour drawing of the same scene of rooftops and light poles.

I liked this last one best of all. It’s probably a good thing that we had to go to lunch before I ruined it.

Life Drawing .

Last week I went to my first life drawing class of the year. We had a stand-in model, one of the class, as the booked model cancelled just before the class started.

I took the big tip from last year’s classes and bought myself a roll of paper from the kids section of IKEA for the short poses. As you can see you just keep rolling it up and over the easel.

Short sketches in coloured pencils.

For my quick poses I used coloured pencils, part of my drive to start using all those stray art materials I have hanging around.

For the longer poses I swapped over to watercolour. Our group is quite eclectic in terms of media. We ranged from pencil to digital, acrylic and watercolour.

15 minute pose, watercolour and pencil, two versions.
15 minute pose, watercolour and pencil.
15 minute pose, watercolour and pencil.

Trees

In the middle of all the hubbub that was Christmas eve I managed to get myself to the Wittunga Botanic Garden in the Adelaide Hills for some lone sketching. I was so shocked at the sight of a koala sitting on the ground just next to the footpath that I almost didn’t sketch him.

Koala and garbage bin. The latter designed with a cover to keep possums and other inquisitive animals from getting into the bins.

Wonderful to see this chap. Probably a male, as it was very big, easily up to my knee in height. That’s a waterbowl next to him so I assume he came down for a drink. The garden is fully fenced and dogs are prohibited, which is why you see this individual being so relaxed.

After obliging me for sitting for his portrait I moved on to the shelter of a small covered picnic table to sketch my main subject of the day the trees.

Here they are in the order that I sketched them. I deliberately went as fast as I could from one study to the next.

Back to the cafe

Back sketching at our favourite coffee shop this morning.

So good to get back to our favourite cafe.

I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to sketch, which was one of the key points in the workshop I did with Richard Briggs last week.

Trying to leave out unnecessary details.

I was interested in the relationship between the hedge across the road and the small hedge close to me. But then I realised that I really wanted the focus to be on the cluster of small stools in front of the hedge.

A small table and stools.

While completing this sketch it dawned on me that the shadows of the stools were also fascinating. One set was being cast by the sun and the ones you see in the painting were cast from the light reflected from the plate glass windows of the cafe. Sadly time and a lack of paper meant that I didn’t make a third sketch, but perhaps I can work on that next time.

Eindhoven sketches

The last main stop on our travels around the Netherlands was Eindhoven. It was rather different to other cities we visited. It seemed quite quiet, possibly because it was university holidays.

While I am probably the least car fanatical person around I was encouraged by positive comments from other non-car people to visit the DAF Museum. There certainly was lots to see and even I have to admit that there were lots of interesting older cars to sketch. The cutest car of the lot, a 3-wheeler nick-named ‘the portable raincoat’, was right in the entrance foyer, but there was no suitable place to sit and sketch. So I settled on sketching this 1963 sedan the Daffodil.

The 1963 Daffodil, DAF Museum Eindhoven.

One of the contemporary architectural highlights in the city is ‘The Blob’ designed by Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas. This building is a commercial space and is close to two other related buildings which provide access to bicycle paking. I must say it was a real b**ger to draw. I gave up on trying to draw the whole thing and focused on one end where the glazing makes it look like a partially deflated rugby ball.

One end of The Blob, a commercial space in the centre of Eindhoven.

On a more traditional note is Sint Catharina in the city centre. Despite its Gothic look it was designed by Petrus (Pierre) Cupyers and built between 1859-67. It replaced an earlier derelict medieval church on the same site. Cupyers was definitely going for the over-the-top neo-gothic style, influenced by 13th century French Gothic churches. The two towers are different from each other. The slender Ivory tower symbolising the purity of the Virgin Mary and the chunkier one representing the strength of King David. Whatever. It made for two interesting elements to paint.

The Virgin’s tower on the left and King David’s tower on the right. Sint Catharina Eindhoven

The last thing I sketched in Eindhoven was what I could see from where we were having dinner. Looking at a tower block which was catching the evening sun I tried to use some techniques I had learnt at Symposium. I focused on sketching what I was interested in, not using ‘local’ colour and working using warm and cool colours to highlight the buildings.

Final sketch of Eindhoven. A pleasant street view with a cyclist turning up at the right moment.