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Tricky insects

dip pen and ink

dip pen and ink

One afternoon I felt like doing some drawing. I do a bit on a regular basis but they are always project-based and at different stages requiring thought and patience. So after some “serious” art I wanted to splash out and have some expressive fun. A few months ago I came across a link to the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab flickr site, which displays amazing photos mostly taken by Sam Droege. Apart from being phenomenal images, I immediately thought they would be great reference material to draw from – so much wonderful linework, texture, shapes, detail, etc.

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Watercolours, dip pen and ink

Watercolours, dip pen and ink

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4b pencil and eraser

4b pencil and eraser

So I highly recommend a visit to this site and even if you aren’t interested in drawing them they are well worth viewing.

Cheers,
Meegan

Toko and Band of Skulls

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The Lounge Bar at Toko

A rare night out these days, a friend and I headed out to see UK act Band of Skulls. Beforehand we went to dinner at Toko in Surry Hills. Only at the last minute I decided to take a sketchbook and pens. I have drawn quite a few bands lately and felt not much more could be discovered in that kind of environment. And I am always self-conscious of delaying my friends to eat the food we order because they allow me time to draw it.

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Thankfully I did as we sat at the bar. Toko is an izakaya style of restaurant, which I think is a casual seating environment where diners share dishes and the food is usually prepared in view. We were given seats right in front of the “sushi” chefs (I’m sure there is a better word for them as they do more than just prepare sushi) so it was with immediate glee when I realised I could draw them in action.

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We got there early and the three chefs in front of us were just hanging round wiping their knives and boards. I was thinking I would get very little opportunity to draw their skilled hands at work, but about ten minutes later they were flying. In fact the entire kitchen was like a busy intersection at peak hour.

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I only drew a couple of sketches at the gig. I could see very little, as you can tell in my drawings, and it can get a little dull not only not being able to see the main attraction in view, but that you are drawing so little of it and in darknesstoo. Not a great combination to advance your drawing skills.

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Anyway, hope you enjoy. Oh, and all the drawings were done using disposable brush pens.
Thanks for stopping by,
Meegan

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A Day at the Museum

Echidna - drawn with a blue biro

Echidna – drawn with a blue biro

I spent the day at the Australian Museum, firstly to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. A yearly event that I always check out. But it was also an opportune time to do a bit of sketching as well. With only an afternoon left up our sleeves, my friend and I headed to the Search and Discover room. I’ve always thought it was an area just for school groups, but it is open to all visitors.

Tasmanian Devil - drawn with a micron pigma pen and painted with watercolours

Tasmanian Devil – drawn with a micron pigma pen and painted with watercolours

What’s great about this room is that they have live and um… less live (?) animals you can get a bit closer too. Well, all natural history museums are essentially a collection of dead stuffed animals I suppose. I dont know how old some of these specimens were but when you can sit less than a foot from one and they dont move at all!!! it’s perfect sketching matter.

Ring tail possum - drawn with micron pigma pen

Ring tail possum – drawn with micron pigma pen

I’ve been here before to sketch (click here), and every time I leave it fills me with the urge to draw more animals. It might be because sketching short-haired animals totally compliments cross-hatching techniques so perfectly making it easier to come up with good drawings.

Cheers,
Meegan

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Easter treats

Prize winning goats

Prize winning goats

I’m not sure if this happens around the world, but in Australia, for those of us that live in the city, every Easter the Royal Agricultural Show comes to town. It was originally established in the late 1800s as a way to bring attention and promote the state’s agricultural produce and industry. And it still does to some extent but they have thrown in fun fair rides, foods, amusements and so on too. But its usual tag is when the country comes to the city.

Dog judging competition

Dog judging competition

As a child it was all about the sample bags, or as they are now called, showbags – overpriced bags of small packs of confectionery or cheap ‘made in China’ toys that for some reason are irresistibly a good bargain. But now as an adult, and part-time artist, it provides a refreshing variety of things to draw.

One great thing about going to the Easter Show, what it is commonly called, is that it is all about interaction and getting up close with the animals. Although many are in pens you can still stand close enough to get some good details unlike the zoo. I wish I had more time to get to all the animal pavilions but I was pooped by the afternoon. All the sketches were drawn with a blue biro pen.

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The Farmyard Nursery was great. Some of the animals were penned but they had a lot of baby goats and sheep walking around. A lot better since I was a kid. Speaking of kids, I had one little kid who I think found sanctity underneath me from some excited children.

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Another highlight was drawing the woodchopping. Not the easiest to do but very compelling and addictive. Partly because each woodchopping heat would last only minutes and their movements aren’t as repetitive as I hoped, so it took some time to observe the movements and body stances.

But they have such wonderful and dynamic movement when they swing and aim their axes, not just with the arms but the legs and back. I  made two visits to the woodchopping arena that day. I think if I go to the show next year I either buy a 2-day pass and spend one entire day just drawing them.

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Cheers and happy easter!
Meegan

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Chinese New Year, Part II

A week after the first lot of drawings, the lion dancing performances intensified but I still fitted in some sketches in between all the rushing around. If you would like a larger view of the sketch, just click on the image

This is a shop entrance that sells Chinese ornaments and decorative hangings. If you think the doorway is jam packed you should see the inside.

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Usually around 3pm we get to have something to eat, usually…

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This is a pole jumping performance, where the lion jumps, runs, swings, bounds, cavorts ;P across a series of 4-10ft poles with very little cushioning below. As you can see in the tree it was a bit windy that day, not great conditions for jumping.

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While waiting for our next orders,  I sat on the footpath opposite Market City (a shopping centre) and started to sketch the old features of the building. I didnt get far as I bumped into an old family friend I hadn’t seen in a while.
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Our next performance I tried to capture the firecrackers going off behind the lion, but it just looks like a christmas tree. Ha, ha!cny2014_14LRThe school also does dragon dances, which I dont have the muscle for (you have to hold it up with a pole, run and move it from side to side). This was drawn at our gym where everything was stored for the new year.
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Again waiting for the lion dance to start. This was out at Flemington in front of the local bbq shop. A queue started to form which wasn’t there when I first started.cny2014_10LR

Back in Chinatown for another peformance. The Sydney mayor and other politicians were doing the rounds with us, but I think the crowds were more excited by seeing about five lions together. It looks like a paparazzi moment.cny2014_11LR

Getting one of the vehicles ready to head out for a performance.There is an art (or science) to packing a vehicle full of lion dance equipment.

cny2014_12LR One of the last venues on my schedule was the Randwick racecourse for a corporate function. Unfortunately we couldn’t wait around outside where the horses were, but hidden away from the approaching guests until we had to perform. I would have much rather drawn them than a boring race track.cny2014_13LR

Cheers,
Meegan

Chinese New Year

All sketches drawn with a black Artline pen and coloured with a waterbrush

All sketches drawn with a black Artline pen and coloured with a waterbrush

I’m a member of a kung fu school in Sydney (although to be more accurate, a lapsed student for a few years now) but when I can I help out at Chinese New Year with lion dancing duties. For those unaware of what lion dancing is please check out this link to my school, Jin Wu Koon‘s website. Admittedly I haven’t been to this in a couple of years too and limited myself to just playing cymbals.

The three lion heads waiting patiently for the festivities to begin.

As there is always a lot of waiting time to start I took my sketch book along. And Chinatown in Sydney is always quite interesting to draw any ordinary day of the week.

Another patient onlooker waiting for the "show" to start

Another patient onlooker waiting for the “show” to start

…okay, he wasn’t that patient. He moved around every ten seconds.

Enjoy!
Meegan

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Cockatoo Island revisited

Big outing out with the Sydney Sketch Club on Saturday and the venue was Cockatoo Island which has become a bit of a happy hunting ground for me in terms of successful art exploration (see my first visit here). I think it’s primarily due to it being this huge industrial site where you can use any materials, spread out and not worry about making a mess. Plus… there are all the rockin’ cranes and machinery left behind. I also had a few new art supplies (thanks to some friends)so I was hoping to test them out as well.

The first one was drawn with a permanent white Sharpie, and I drew on the back of a breakfast cereal pack. I’m not use to drawing on tonal backgrounds so kept forgetting to NOT colour in the dark areas but instead to use the tone of the card to represent that.

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White sharpie on a cereal pack

The sketch below I wetted the paper before applying the watercolour background so the colours would blend in more and not have so many hard edges. Then once it dried I got out my trusty dip pen and drew in the crane with indian ink. I’ve drawn in this “jaggedy” free-flowing style before but for some reason it was really different this time. I think I applied more restraint to my linework – trying not to make it too busy and overwork it. For instance, normally I would finish the rest of that wheel you see in the bottom left hand corner, but instinctively I stopped myself from doing it. I was so happy with this, which doesn’t happen all the time. In my brain what makes a good piece of art is when you can keep looking at it and get lost in it, always finding something interesting or aesthetically pleasing to study.

Watercolours and dip pen  with ink

Watercolours and dip pen with ink

How do I choose what to use and in what style? A lot of the times it’s inspired by the subject matter. It can still be quite fuzzy in my head but you just have to go with your gut feeling. But… sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And that can be a gut feeling too. It’s not that the below drawing would have been bad or wrong if I continued to finish it, but as I started to ink in the line it didn’t feel like it was gelling together with the background. It felt like I was trying to merge two completely pictures together, so I decided to scrap it.

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Unfinished – watercolour and dip pen with ink

This one was drawn again on a cereal pack but with one of those kids multi-coloured pencils. I love this medium, it’s so exciting, but probably not best on a coloured background. Only some of the colours are showing through.

Multi-coloured pencil

Multi-coloured pencil

This next one was using those Japanese disposable felt pens where the nibs are shaped like brushes. This drawing was just a filler till we had to meet up at lunchtime. It didn’t take me as long as I thought. They look like prototypes for Daleks.

Coloured brush pens

Coloured brush pens

After lunch I explored another part of the island and I took a break from drawing cranes. These towers had a large brick pattern across it so I thought I’d play around with that.

Watercolours and coloured ink with dip pen

Watercolours and coloured ink with dip pen

This next one I absolutely love. I know its in my style, but I can’t believe I did this. Again I wetted the paper first then threw on watercolour and I love those areas where it has bled and gone fuzzy. But the greatest achievement in my opinion is that I have made a very complicated subject matter look like a complete unit. As if all my lines are connected and complement each other. There’s balance, interest, movement and unity. So it was worth sitting through this despite all the freakin’ ants biting me as I sat on the ground, and the gale force wind that was brewing up towards the end.

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Watercolour with dip pen and indian ink

Hopefully this breakthrough will transfer into my other drawings and at other locations, and it’s not something that only seems to happen in what I feel is like a spiritual ground for me.

Till next time, thanks for stopping by.
Meegan

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