A Breakthrough at Cockatoo

Back in December 2010 I started this blog with the whole premise of finding a style that I was happy with, or to see if I had a style at all. I was testing myself on all levels – landscape drawing, still life, different mediums, participating in online projects like Urban Sketches, Sketchbook Project, Everyday in May etc.

Although my work was getting better and better and I was able to break out of that commercial mode of thinking I still was never completely satisfied at the end of a drawing session. And that feeling of satisfaction is like a… well, I guess it would be equivalent to that rush a skydiver feels after completing a jump. It lifts you higher than the last and you want to keep going and going. It’s a real buzz. I’ve had it before, like when I first discovered life drawing and that’s what I’ve been searching for.

Well, I’m glad to say less than a year and a half of plugging away at it, I think I’ve found it! I went to the International sketchcrawl with my Sydney Sketch Club and the location was Cockatoo Island. It’s a wonderful location in Sydney Harbour that used to be a former convict prison and shipyard. Many of the old buildings, cranes and heavy industrial machinery is still there creating this wonderful ghost-town feel. It’s a sketcher’s paradise. I have been there a few times and because of its gritty nature I wanted to experiment with coloured inks. It’s also a really dusty dirty place so if I made a mess no one would have noticed too.

It didn’t start off well. I had an idea of using a household sponge to apply the colour washes and then draw in the scene with dip pen and indian ink. But for me it was overworked and too busy. That has been the thing that has nagged me for awhile – because of my loose, bold style I can be quite heavy handed, and have always found that my work has no point of interest or any character in it. It’s nicely executed and they’re all pretty pictures but very  one dimensional.

So I gave the old Indian ink a rest and just used colour inks (Winsor & Newton, btw). I laid down a very quick wash with a paint brush and sometimes used the same colour for the linework. I used a semi-continuous line drawing technique and found this kept my work cleaner. The results were really interesting and dynamic.

The good thing is its not a far cry from how I paint and draw now, meaning it wasn’t completely contrived just to create a style. I guess what has happened is that it is cleaner and I’ve refined my techniques to give the pictures more depth. The other tell tale sign that I’ve made a breakthrough is that I look at what I’ve done and get lost in it. I keep seeing lines or splashes or textures that intrigue me and think “Holy cow! I did this!”

Now I’m in a bind – this blog was only created to help me complete this journey, so really I don’t need to continue it. But I have made so many wonderful online acquaintances along the way, and seen so many blogs that are inspring. It’s also only supposed to be a black & white art blog too. I may need to rethink the next phase of this blog and give it a new purpose. Any thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have been along for the ride and I hope you enjoy the new work in technicolour!!! Well, at least 5 or 6 colours.

Talk soon!


Already April

I cannot believe we are four months into the new year – it’s ridiculous. It’s been awhile since I did some Urban Sketching, admittedly I never felt motivated too, but once I did one I wanted to keep going. I also drew my first “ghost” stop – which is a bus stop that is no more. The shelter is still there but buses just zoom on by. I was wondering why that car was parked illegally in a bus zone. Doh!

To see all my Urban bus stop sketches at your leisure please click here for this link.

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