Most of last year has been an absolute blur and I can’t believe its already 2017. I think the reason time flies for many people is that we try and cram so much into each day (well I do anyway!) it makes the days, weeks, year go so much faster. I had more than enough on last year – some fun and pleasure, family commitments, but a large chunk of it work and that all-consuming ever lasting gob stopper list of home repair and improvements.
But I got through a major hurdle in September re: getting my house in order and since I ticked that off, it had also mentally freed me as well. So my advice to anyone who has been putting off getting something done because it seems painful or tedious to do – get it done asap! Its amazing how much of a mental hurdle it can create for every other aspect of your life.
Anyway, so as that was done and dusted, and Christmas not being as whirlwind as it used to be, I could allow myself time to get back into drawing. Although I haven’t stopped working on my personal projects, having the spare time just to draw or sketch purely for the exercise of it was very rare. The easiest way for me to get back into it was to head out with my sketch groups again.
I met up with Urban Sketches Sydney on the north side of Sydney. A very pleasant picturesque view overlooking Sydney Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. It ended up not being a great day for me sketch-wise. I don’t know whether it was because it had been a long time since I had sketched outdoors, that I was rusty and didn’t know what to bring, or because I slept in and then found out all the trains I needed weren’t running so it took me over an hour to get there arriving flustered and hot! I think it was around 30˚ that day…. Or as my friend pointed out – it was too pretty a scene for me. I thought it was a combination of all the above.
But on further consideration I think it was more the latter. I’m used to not having a full arsenal and drawing on the fly with very little art supplies – once I didn’t have anything so I used a gallery flyer and borrowed a pen. Another time I only had a dried up brush pen at a concert. So I’ve always managed in those situations. And as Everyday Matters shows us you don’t need a lot of time to get something down.
I think it was just too damn pretty there. Even the stormy sky which looked to threaten all day never really announced itself to us. The Harbour Bridge and Luna Park were also at such a particular distance that could be considered as a harmonious viewing distance, engaging but not confronting.
The only thing that intrigued me was a Moreton Bay tree trunk and a local resident exercising his dog in the water. But no decay, no distortion, nothing awkward or unkept. Even all the boats were shiny and new. There was no discord to be found!
Undeterred by my less than useful results at sketching the week before I met up with the Sydney Sketch Club in Leichhardt. One of the more older suburbs in Sydney’s inner west. Its an area visited more for its Italian food and culture but it seems to have diversified a bit more lately, though you can always find a decent cannoli here. We centred around an intersection with the town hall and a church on opposite corners. Sometimes these locations are chosen because they also afford the most street space for us to set up without creating congestion for the locals.
Everyone was already underway when I got there…and I wasn’t late either! It was another very sunny day. And in Australia when I mean “sunny” it means whatever you do DON’T sit in the sun, particularly in summer, find whatever shade you can otherwise you’ll be crisper than pan-fried bacon. Everyone was dotted along the same wall in a slither of shade. It reminded me of a flock of swallows all sitting on the same telegraph line. I wasn’t particularly captivated by the town hall nor the church, but when I looked at everyone from the other side of the road I noticed they were sitting in front of the local public school.
Partially hidden behind the trees was a turret and below a feline-like grotesque. I thought it was a bit unusual for a primary school and all the levels seemed to be stacked and compressed too, so I thought that was a interesting. The challenge was was it’s hulky shape which was partly obscured by trees and that because of its positioning I couldn’t sit far enough back to view the entirety as a whole. The problem this causes is your proportioning can be distorted, for example, the ground floor I was looking at it straight ahead or at eye level, but for the turret I had to tilt my head up to draw it, which changes the angle. It sounds minute but it can create so many problems including making your picture look or feel wrong. There was also this wedge shape in the wall that was hard to show the angle, especially because I couldn’t see where it started and ended.
Still intrigued by this building I went closer and found to my luck the school gates were open. Again I was confronted with the situation of not being able to pick and choose my angle and distance because of a very narrow walkway at the base of the building and a garden area next to it. Even when I could sit further back the trees obscured my view. I had no choice but an ultra tight close up where i was looking up at a 90˚ angle.
With about 20 minutes to go before the group review, I did a quick one of this strange little boutique shop on the opposite corner. It was strange because the roof and walls looked as though at one time in its life it was a much larger house. But they just sliced it in half and patched up the walls. It had all these wonderfully odd angles and geometric shapes like a house of cards.