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!

13 thoughts on “A Breakthrough at Cockatoo

  1. One of my favorite artforms: line and wash. Inks, all that. These industrial drawings are great. Fun to see and study and just receive. Did you mention what size they are? that’s always a point of interest for me. And definitely continue on your blog – why not just let it go as it will, organically, without looking back at the original intent. Your art has changed, your blog will, too!

    1. agree with Liz-blogs can evolve, art evolves. And it’s fun to experience change. I just found your blog and I’m going to follow so you need to keep drawing. Plus you’ve inspired me to play more with inks. Really like your free and bold style…but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with it…haha

      1. Hi Chris,
        Thanks for the feedback too. Yes, initially starting a blog seemed like such a responsibility, but having visited so many other blogs I feel like I can relax more with it. Especially after this breakthrough, it’s actually lightened my mood.
        Ha, ha, in some ways free and bold is what I end up doing. When I try to do something a little tighter it starts off that way but then it all goes all scribbly. But you’re right, I do have so many things I want to try out and will allow for that.
        I visited your blog, and at first I was impressed by your quiche, then your cute fluffy dog, then a saw your paintings!! You too have a bold style, will come back for more shortly.
        Thanks again,

    2. Hi Liz,
      Thanks for the feedback. Yes I think line and wash has worked for me a lot in the past – it doesn’t allow you to be too careful and precious so you just go for it. Most of them were A3 size (420x297mm) and 3 of the smaller drawings were on A4.
      Yes, I think I will keep my blog a bit more free flowing. When I first started it I was so intimidated by the whole idea, so I needed a “plot” so to speak. But having had this epiphany it’s really lightened my arty mood and over the years having visited so many blogs its not so confronting anymore. Love yours too, btw, great washes, and that concertina book is amazing!
      Thanks again, Meegan

  2. Hello Meegan,
    I love this new style – the old one was cool too though! There is a lot of life in these sketches/drawings/paintings.
    You have to keep going with the blog now Meegan…you can’t disappoint all your fans. What would we all do?

    1. Hey Stew,
      Yes you’ve hit it on the head – there’s a lot more life in them and I felt that was missing before.
      I will continue my blog, even if it’s just for you!! 😉
      Thanks for the ongoing support – how have things been with you?

  3. My great grandfather wrote a diary about his farm, from about 1900 till the fifties. In the thirties my grandfather took over the farm, and then my great grandfather wrote: now I can stop writing in my diary. But, luckily, he continued writing.
    I hope you will continue your blog, as long as you feel happy about it.

  4. These drawings are gorgeous! I think you and I have some similar aesthetics–I used to love going to the former grounds of Bethlehem Steel to draw the dinosaurs of US industrialization.

    Thanks for commenting on my site. Since I JUST found your blog, I hope you continue to update it 🙂

  5. Oh I hope you continue to blog, I really like your drawings and especially how you just have the hints of colours and or just use a few in each picture. Love all the mechanical things you drew, great lines. So keep posting!!! And thank you so much for your comment in my blog, this way I also found your work : )

    Will have to look at your other posts.


    Mari from Colourblob

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