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.
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.
I went to one of my favourite sketching spots with a friend on the weekend, Camperdown Cemetery. It was established in the mid 1800s and I would say the last time it was used was a century later. The main kind of activity it sees now are dog walkers, people on lunch breaks, history buffs and anyone that wants to take a short cut to the other side of Newtown. The trees are the constant companions of those who rest here and have free reign to grow as they please. It is almost too perfect a scene the way they entwine with each other, and it makes it a setting so desperate in need to be drawn.
Whenever I get out my inks I try to attempt something a little different. This time I decided to use a colour (green) for the shadows and another (yellow) for the highlights.
The weather was very changeable that day. It was mostly bright and sunny warm, but the clouds rolled over and it started to shower. It seemed like it was sticking around for a while, so we took refuge at Berkelouw bookstore. There was a cafe upstairs and we found a sofa and sat and sketched for a bit. Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we got our drinks the sun came out.
We agreed to give the cemetery another shot. It was breezy but the sun was out, although going down for the afternoon. I bought some Japanese brushes (for the first time) and found them really good to use. They were a lot more fluid in movement, especially when making “sharp turns” with it. So I will give them a spin more often.
I went and saw one of my all-time favourite bands in the whole wide world last night. And it was awesome freakin fun. They’re an Aussie band and have been around for a few decades now, and every time I have seen them they put on the best damn rock n roll show ever. Seeing You Am I are like re-visiting your favourite restaurant that you haven’t been to in awhile. It’ s not a frilly froo froo fancy restaurant, they probably only wipe down the table once, but the food is good, and when you go back and order your favourite dish, like, say, a masaman curry, it’s exactly like how you remembered it and wonder why you dont go more often.
I started off standing midway on the ground floor. The Enmore has since removed all its permanent seats which is great, coz there’s nothing like seating that kills a rock concert.
I felt like I wasn’t getting it right, so at half-time I went to the front.
But I’m not sure if the portraits were any more successful.
I think I was trying too hard…? Anyway, I put my sketchbook in my bag, then after a bit of jumping around I gave it another shot. I stopped using my pen, which although I love, for action gestural drawing it is to stiff, and just worked with my brush pen and mini palette. How I did NOT get paint on the guy’s white shirt in front of me I’ll never know.
So although I didn’t capture individual personality as much as I wanted, I think the feel of the show is there in the end. Apologies to the band for the lack of facial accuracy.
In February I was given the exciting opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to play with TaikOz. A huge honour, considering I’m not one of their more dedicated students. It was a unique advenutre and a bit of an insight into the life of a professional touring musician, and it was to a part of the world I’m not sure I would have visited in my own time.
So I hope you enjoy my sketchbook slideshow of my time in Abu Dhabi. Please click on any image for a larger view.
There was plenty of time waiting in our portable dressing room, so I’m thankful I brought along my sketchbook. Most of these sketches were done during this period – waiting to do a rehearsal or sound check, waiting to go on, waiting to go to lunch, waiting for the bus to take us back to the hotel. There weren’t any windows looking out onto anything either, so all my inspiration came from within the room.
We had afternoons and evenings free so we managed to do some sightseeing and shopping whenever we could.
I found the Mosque to be one of the more visually appealing and challenging sights for me. Because of its clean white exteriors the light reflections, especially as the sun set, was quite interesting. So I stayed to try and capture the sunset, and made a second visit to capture it at night. These were done with watercolour/brush and ink/dip pen.
We had most of one day to ourselves so we headed off to do a 4WD Safari.
An international security and defence expo was on at the Exhibition Centre.
The last day before we hit the malls, I did some sketching around Emirates Palace.
And back home… sorting out the souvenirs from the shopping.
I’ve created a couple of new pages showcasing all the materials I use as well as my own personal tips on how to handle them or how I use them. I dont have any professional background when I offer this advice, it’s garnered from regular use and a lot of jumping in the deep end but I hope it helps. I would also love other people’s feedback on anything listed below.
My new love. Using colour inks is like moving into a new house. It’s all very exciting in the beginning – new scenery, new thoughts but mostly unexplored and you’re not quite settled in. Some things are still in boxes and only the necessities have been unpacked.
My drawing style is a bit out there, but as far as exploring what these inks and other kinds of colour inks can do I still haven’t breached the surface. I have no idea what the difference is between my Winsor & Newton drawing inks and Acrylic inks, so if anyone has any info to share that would be great. Click here to read my review on colour inks.
Not a medium I use a lot, but when I see objects sitting in natural light, my first thought is “That would look great in pencil”. I recently did a small drawing using a rubber or eraser as part of the drawing process. I quite liked it and will explore that technique more one day. Click here to read my review on graphite pencils.
Another new medium that has great colour intensity. I love its saturation. It reminds me of those picture books where all you had to do was add water with a brush and the colours would appear. Of course the paper was terrible and by the time you finished “painting” a page it looked more like a swimming pool. But it was always exciting to see colours appear from nothing just by adding water. And Inktense pencils are the same – I cant wait to add the water to see how it all comes together. Click here to read my review on Inktense pencils.
Watercolours have become my salt and pepper, I add it to almost everything. Especially my half pan palette. As much as I love using watercolours, I think it’s more the format which makes it so handy. You can add colour quickly to a sketch, or paint up a last minute birthday card. If you have a travel palette small enough you can even sneak into a museum or gallery. Click here to read my review on watercolours.
Not sure if that’s what you call them these days. But I always make sure I have a handful of fresh pens around to use. When I use to work in a design studio I hated it when the “suits” wanted to use these pens to write with. They were under the false impression that it made their writing neater – WRONG! They were so heavy handed with them that they would push the nib into the metal bit and ruin a perfectly good pen. Bloody suits! Click here to read my review on pens.
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.
I went to our country’s capital, Canberra (NOT Sydney, for all my international followers) for a few days. It was mainly to visit the touring Renaissance Exhibition at the National Gallery but I managed to fit in a few more museums and markets. Anyway, for those who do not know, Canberra was a planned city from its beginnings, ie not a small colonised area that grew and grew. So it does feel like you are walking around a large scale architectural model, except the trees aren’t fake and stuck down with blue-tac.
Because of this it doesn’t have the architectural heritage of the past centuries, eg Colonial, Gothic, Edwardian etc. but a lot of modern architecture, which probably in its time was quite impressive now looks more like the setting for a 1970s sci fi flick. Which is why I had to capture the bus stops in Canberra. They’re a bone coloured capsule-like structure with a bright retro orange window. They’re at most bus stops and surprisingly no one uses them anymore. I was too scared to enter one in case it transported me to another world. If you would like to see more of my Urban Sketches bus stop series click here.
I also visited the Australian War Memorial, which is one of the best museums in the country, and that’s a statement I make without having even seen the entirety of it. If you would like to see the colour sketches of my Canberra trip please visit my flickr site.
If you would like to see more from my travel sketch book, please click here.
As I was starting a brand new sketchbook for my Urban Sketches entries I decided on a theme based around Scenes From A Bus Stop. Most will still be around my local area, but as I take public transport quite regularly I will include other locations around Sydney (and possibly further? who knows…)
Anyway, I’m sticking with the artline pen and waterbrush as I like the style of it. I would have liked to use my Ackerman pump pen, but I’m afraid that wont cut it (hoping to write a second review in the coming weeks). I have also decided to square off the scenes – which I’m really liking more and more in general. It helps to create more focus on the scene by containing it, it’s also a lot neater, and hopefully it will help me with my composition and proportioning. But with the latter reason, I think it will take me a long time to get there.
Not being an architect, I find myself not being able to instinctively use sightlines effectively. Partly because I dont want a lot of long lines visible in my drawings, and I’m also scared I will get bogged down in them too much. But it is worth pursuing with more intent, and I’m always up for a challenge.
If you would like to see these sketches in more detail, please click here. And if you would like to visit the Urban Sketches Australia site, please click here. Cheers!