Back to the beach

Well it wasn’t quite like our last trip to the beach. There was virtually no one on the beach for a start. School has been back for a week and the weather was less than perfect. But the East Coast current has finally pushed the warm water down to the south coast so despite lashings of misty rain we did get into the water and have a good swim. Most importantly we also took our sketchbooks with us.

The southern point past Surf and Wimbie beaches, watersoluble graphite, pen and ink and pencil, 9 February 2015

The southern point past Surf and Wimbie beaches, watersoluble graphite, pen and ink and pencil, 9 February 2015

I had fun playing with my water soluble graphite, using my fountain pen to draw into it while it was still wet. Those fuzzy lines will, I think, prove very useful to depict all sorts of indeterminate tree-strewn backgrounds.

We did move back off the beach to have our obligatory fish and chip lunch sitting at one of the picnic tables. We had a great view of this sign which came with its own ornamental seagull mascot, no doubt hoping for a bit of our lunch to come it’s way. I was struck by the ‘Dogs Bite’ sign, particularly as all the other signs had the more usual ‘Dogs Prohibited’ on them.

9Feb2015a

Beach signs, Surf Beach, 9 February 2015, watersoluble graphite, pen and ink, watercolour pencil

We’ll be looking to make some more beach excursions before the Autumn weather sets in.

 

This could be the start of something big *

You just never know how things will start. You see several sketchers ‘found’ each other through the Urban Sketchers Australia group and we decided we’d see if there was enough interest to get a Canberra group off the ground. When the call went out just over a week ago for sketchers to meet at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) this Sunday morning we weren’t sure just how many people would turn up. We were really pleased that there were 9 people who answered the call. The NGA offers all sorts of drawing opportunities so after brief introductions everyone went off to find their particular place to draw.

Some of the group comparing their sketches, 8 February 2015

Some of the group comparing their sketches, 8 February 2015

Several of us went to the Fern Garden, one of the rather hard to find gems of the Gallery, as access is only via the back end of the building sort of stuck behind a carpark and service areas. I love the shape of the tree ferns so that was where I started.

The Fern Garden, designed by Fiona Hall, pen and ink, pencil and watercolour pencil, 8 February 2015

The Fern Garden, designed by Fiona Hall, pen and ink, pencil and watercolour pencil, 8 February 2015

Other people had quite a different view of exactly the same area. Forget the ferns, this sketch by one of the other participants, was focused solely on Hall’s underlying structure of pathways for the garden.

The pathways in the Fern Garden, Copic Multiliner, 8 February 2015

The pathways in the Fern Garden, Copic Multiliner, 8 February 2015

Later I moved around into the Sculpture Garden, which was proving to be a popular place to be. I completed a second drawing, this time of Bert Flugelman’s iconic Cones. It was also a popular choice to draw, you can see Sharon B’s version here.

Cones by Bert Flugelman, pen and ink, Copic Multiliner, liquid graphite, 8 February 2015

Cones by Bert Flugelman, pen and ink, Copic Multiliner, liquid graphite, 8 February 2015

The two hours we allocated to drawing went by so quickly. We reconvened at the cafe to share our morning’s work. There were sculptures, architecture, gardens and chairs. Lots of watercolours, ink, pen and pencil as well.

Canberra sketchers, our first get together, 8 February 2015

Canberra sketchers, our first get together, 8 February 2015

An another shot of our collected works.

Another view of the finished sketches, 8 February 2015

Another view of the finished sketches, 8 February 2015

It was so much fun that we are doing it again next month. If you’re interested in coming along just meet us on Sunday 1 March, at the coffee shop outside the entrance to the National Gallery of Australia at 10.30 am.

PS we will be exploring other areas of Canberra, but the group decided that there was still plenty of material to be explored at the NGA so we’ll have another session there before moving to other venues.

PPS if you can’t wait until then you might like to go along to the National Portrait Gallery’s monthly ‘Drawn In’ event, on Sunday 22 February from 1-3 pm, where you can draw with the accompaniment of the Night Cafe Jazz Trio.

*I hope you enjoy this ‘vintage’ clip of Steve Allen, (the composer of this song and TV host), with his guests, including a surprising cameo towards the end of the clip. This Could be the Start of Something Big

Taking two lines for a walk

When I was at the library yesterday I found two drawing books that looked interesting. The one I want to touch on today is Drawing Projects: an exploration of the language of drawing, by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern (Black Dog Publishing 2011).

Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern

Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern

A quick first look through the book had me very excited. The book covers a wide range of drawing styles and suggests a variety of approaches to developing your own drawing techniques. Between reading the introductory sections, looking at the artist profiles and trying out the suggested projects I know that I won’t be able to take it all in within the loan period, so I’ve ordered a copy of my own.

I was immediately inspired to try the first project, drawing with two pens. The idea is to bind two pencils (of different hardness) together and with them draw a single object/person/self-portrait.  I admit that I went pretty much to my own version of the project rather than following the method precisely. This meant that I missed out on one of the prime aims of this project which is to get you making marks on the inside of the form and break the habit of “using line to draw the outer contour line first.”  I did at least manage the other purpose of the exercise, to wit, making interesting and varied marks. My first drawing was made with my Lamy Safari pen and a ballpoint pen that was just lying around, bound together.

My Cat, pen and ink and ball point pen, 18cm x 14 cm, 19 January 2014

My Cat, pen and ink and ball point pen, bound together, 18cm x 14 cm, 19 January 2014

I’m mentioning the size of the drawings because the book suggests that you limit this project to something no bigger than 30 cm. My initial reaction is that I would like to use this technique on a much larger scale where I think that the lines would be very beautiful, while the technique would be less obvious from a distance away. At this smaller scale it seems to easy to lose sight of your subject.

I had so much fun with the first drawing that I decided to use the same approach when I was at the cafe this morning. This time I used my Copic Multiliner and a Pitt Artist pen (Sanguine 188), held together in my hand as I had nothing to bind them with.

Van,  Copic Multiliner and Pitt artist pen, held together, 21 cm x 28 cm, 20 January 2015

Van, Copic Multiliner and Pitt artist pen, held together, 21 cm x 28 cm, 20 January 2015

What stands out for me in this drawing are the lovely loose lines in the body of the van. While I’ve achieved a good contrast between the van and the background, the background marks are all a bit same-y. It may have been a more interesting drawing if I varied those marks a bit more.

I couldn’t resist yet another drawing when, on my way home, I saw nearby Mt Tennant, with a cap of low cloud over it’s peak and the scar from the landslide in 2012, still visible. I chose to use two watercolour pencils held together. I varied the colours, between Faber-Castell Cold Grey V-234 and Cool Grey VI-235 with Derwent Watercolour Prussian Blue 35, Blue Grey 68 and Rexel Cumberland Derwent watercolour 17.

Mt Tennant under low cloud, watercolour pencils, held together, 24 cm x 32 cm on Canson Montval, 200gsm, watercolour block, 20 January 2015

Mt Tennant under low cloud, watercolour pencils, held together, 24 cm x 32 cm on Canson Montval, 200gsm, watercolour block, 20 January 2015

I think this last drawing is the least successful of the three, perhaps because the marks I made were too similar in style and lacked the contrast of the previous drawings, where I used two different types of pens. See I’m learning already.

 

Guerilla Bay

We spent Sunday down the coast (a two hour drive from our place), snorkelling at Guerilla Bay on the New South Wales South coast. This sheltered bay is divided into two scalloped coves by the most amazingly distorted rock formations. It is thought that the original layers of sedimentary rock, laid down on the ocean floor, were subsequently subsumed into a subduction zone turning them into the warped shapes they are today.

All drawings were made with watercolour pencils on 200gsm paper.

Portion of the central rocks dividing Guerilla Bay, 23 February 2014.

Portion of the central rocks dividing Guerilla Bay, 23 February 2014.

The view of the curving rocks at the northern end of the cove was equally dramatic.

23Feb2014b

Northern cliff face, Guerilla Bay, 23 February 2014.

To round out the drawings today I drew our snorkelling gear washed out and drying after a great day.

Snorkelling gear drying in the sun, 24 February 2014.

Snorkelling gear drying in the sun, 24 February 2014.

Water Diversions

To divert my nervous energy from the exhibition opening last Friday my partner suggested we get on our bikes and ride to the nearby Lake Tuggeranong to do some drawing. The most difficult thing was to decide what to draw. The lake is wide and the view of the mountains and the town centre on the far side was far too broad a panorama to make a particularly good composition. So I plumped instead for the storm water diversion system at the northern end of the lake.

Alright not everyone’s first choice for subject matter but the complex system of drains, catchment basins and structures to slow the flow of water made it quite interesting from an artistic perspective. Not to mention the variety of waterbirds that were using the different depths of water to catch their food. Here is the initial section where the storm water flows into the first collection basin. I was looking towards the sun so there were lots of dramatic contrasts and back-lighting of the vegetation. I did some additional work on the grasses at home.

Storm water diversion system

Storm water diversion system

While I was letting the paint dry on my first painting I was able to turn my attention to do some quick sketches of a Great Egret (Ardea alba) which was fishing in the small creek running off the bottom of the system. As the egret’s plumage is pretty much all white it was an easy choice to paint it by using negative space. Here are two views.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

I’m also pleased to report that while we were watching the egret actually caught a fish! We enjoyed watching it manouvre the fish around before swallowing it.

My final sketch, using watercolour pencils, is of the lowest level of the structure where large natural boulders have been placed to break up the flow of fast water in order to limit erosion to the banks of the lake.

Boulders at the bottom of the storm water diversion system

Boulders at the bottom of the storm water diversion system

There are still more sections of this structure to paint so I’m sure I’ll be back.

Watercolour 1 May 2013

I’ve been really encouraged reading other peoples blogs about drawing to keep up with my own work so thanks to DesignedbyDooge, CrenellatedArts and Kestrelart for the ‘virtual’ inspiration.

My latest effort is this tea cup and saucer which my partner bought for me at an op-shop a few weeks ago. The cup and saucer was made by the Westminster Fine China Australia ( see item 247) and is rather fetchingly described as a ‘tennis set’. I presume this is because ladies who were taking a break from playing tennis could easily fit their cake onto the saucer/plate (it’s rectangular in shape) while still balancing their cup. I think it is from the late 1950’s/early 1960’s.

Westminster Fine China Australia 'tennis set'

Westminster Fine China Australia ‘tennis set’

I was aiming to paint this without resorting to outlining –  which might have been more easily achieved if I hadn’t decided to use watercolour pencils. To add to the challenge the set is highlighted with a gold rim (which is “guaranteed 22 carat” by the manufacturers label). There are some passages, inside the cup which I think have worked well, but I’m most pleased with the result with the black and white gingham tablecloth.

Mountain Views

Early in March this year rangers arrived at the Namadgi National Park visitor information centre to see that a major rockslide had occurred during the night, gouging a pale stripe down three quarters of the mountains’ north-east face.

The landslip looks pretty dramatic close up, but driving around Tuggeranong it is clear that it is even more striking from a distance.

Mttennant12april

So this weeks exercise involved just that, climbing up Mt Taylor to get a good view of Mt Tennant. I made the following drawing using watercolour pencils.

12april2012mttennant

It turns out that you can also see a man-made gash in the side of the Bullen Range, I presume it is a fire trail, quite rusty-orange against the vegetation, compared to the decidedly pink colour of the rockslide on Mt Tennant. This picture takes a ‘slice’ from Mt Gingera, down through Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and into the forground of the Bullen Range.

12april2012bullenrange