The Creative Plan – Expressive drawing

Project_1_D4_Graphite_pencils

After spending so much time doing controlled exercises it was time to get messy. Expressive drawing still benefits from some control or discipline, but to me it’s drawing with feeling and energy, using your whole arm to draw and not worrying about mistakes. Even if it’s not your thing practicing this kind of drawing is great for dusting off cobwebs or warming up before your main project.

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Results

Technical pencil – 2B lead

I was hoping to be very controlled with this but whenever I sketch freehand it becomes very loose and proportionately inaccurate. Why did I want to control it? Possibly as it was a tech pencil and would have been hard to get line variation and the lead would have kept breaking if I drew too quickly.

Exercise_1_pinecone_1Exercise_1_pinecone_image_1It looks like it’s spewing forth pine cone scales, which I don’t mind, however it’s not how I planned to approach this initially. The process was equivalent to speaking out loud before thinking about what you’re going to say.

2B pencil

Exercise_1_pinecone_2Exercise_1_pinecone_image_2I quite like this one, though not entirely reminiscent of a pine cone. It was hard to get various levels of tone with a 2B. I’m pleased with myself for keeping the top left section clean and ‘under worked’ to give the whole picture light direction.

6B pencil

Exercise_1_pinecone_3Exercise_1_pinecone_image_3This grade allowed me to give the pine cone more volume. I had to keep sharpening my pencil because if I had let it dull down the linework would have created an overall flatness to the shape – having that slight contrast with the finer linework and the denser lines gives the subject more depth.

POI – Point of Interest

Something I will elaborate on another time. In a nutshell, the artwork I’m always attracted to will have one or more areas that I keep going back to and get lost in. They may not necessarily be the busiest areas or the most colourful, but they keep luring my eye back wanting to explore it more and find out why it engages me so much.

Exercise_1_pinecone_4Exercise_1_pinecone_image_4I try to keep that in mind (when I remember) and as this was a line exercise, my linework had to generate that interest or energy. It’s always about balances for me as that creates contrast. Here it’s not only line widths or tonal balance but quiet areas versus busier ones; longer, fluid lines against short jabs and dots (not continuous line obviously); controlled pencil work versus expressive.

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I chose portraits with lots of feeling and emotion as they are perfect for expressive drawing. I went online and found some amazing photos, which are more like artworks, to help me with this exercise. I used both 2B and 4B pencils.

Results

Anger by Mahesh Balasubramanian
Photo reproduced courtesy of  Mahesh Balasubramanian www.maheshb.com/portraitsmono

The first exercise was me being me, not really planning too much ahead, using my instincts and dive bombing into it. Though I decided to stop when I realised my face, compare to Mahesh’s incredible photograph, was verging more on being sinister than just angry. I couldn’t see how I could change it. The more I tried to fix it, particularly around the eyes, the muddier it became. I wasn’t too pleased with the outcome, but I guess that’s one of the pitfalls of gestural drawing –its impressionistic and spontaneous making it very hard to reverse.

Exercise_2_first_stage_A
First stages

 

Exercise_2_final_stage_A
Last stage, before I abandoned it

I do like the freeness of it but it needs to be balanced with more controlled areas like the mouth, nose and eyes. It’s really hard to switch from high gear to cruise control.

 

Exercise_2_first_stage_B
The original photo reference by Jonathon Rosser can be viewed on flickr

The next drawing I approached with more thought and the results are much better. The nose and possibly forehead could have been a bit better but I’m really happy with the variety of linework and texture, which took a lot of restraint not to overwork it.

 

Exercise_2_stages_B

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Results

Light

A much better result. I started off by using the continuous line method for my structural lines then towards the end added speckly and short lines for contrast.

Exercise_3_light
The original photo reference by Jonathon Rosser can be viewed on flickr

Another factor that does count, as I’ve had this happen before, is that if you are spending the whole day drawing it can take a while to warm up, so by this stage I was feeling more confident, therefore more instinctive too.

 

Exercise_3_stages_light

The other thing I did this time was before I began I spent a few minutes studying the subject – seeing where all the highlights were, the mood of the image, what areas were of interest to me. I saw it as a whole before I drew the first line so I could then see my drawing in its entirety as I was working on it.

Dark

This one was challenging because the top of his head was cropped off. It was difficult knowing where or how to end my drawing. As an overall observation I need to work more on my eyes and noses, despite today’s exercises not really focusing on drawing portraiture per se.

Exercise_3_light_start
Early stages

I do like his beard and mouth. As the subject had darker skin I found myself wanting to shade in the more subtle areas where again I was falling into my habit of focussing on sections rather than seeing it as a whole. Which was also counter-productive with regard to the areas I kept working on, as they were losing a lot of tonal value and volume. I was also really conscious of not slowing down and becoming too controlled.

Exercise_3_light_finished
Final stage. The original photo reference by Jonathon Rosser can be viewed on flickr

I managed to pull back but the cropped head kept throwing me off and I was subconsciously trying to compensate for it. Apart from the anatomical ‘bumps’ I’m quite happy with this exercise.

 

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I bypassed this exercise as I felt I had covered it with the last one.

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Results

I attempted this before but it failed. The idea was a smudgy, textural feel where all the light areas are erased out. My original test was admittedly half concocted but the paper I was using had a rough tooth which I don’t feel allowed the eraser to slide and smudge the pencil work enough. This time round I used a smoother paper and built up more pencil layers for the base.

Exercise_4_eraser_1
The original photo reference by Jonathon Rosser can be viewed on flickr

 

This exercise turned out better than I expected. I used a mix of 3B and 4B. The animated gif shows how I layered the base tones in a very broad hatching style, this was to build up the darker areas as well as the surface planes.

Exercise_4_eraser_stages_1Once it started to take shape I introduced the use of the eraser as a pencil to create the lighter tones and highlights. I also started to use the graphite pencils to draw in the detail and more controlled shading.

Exercise_4_eraser_1_detail
Detail

I enjoyed it so much I did another one. It wasn’t just the final result I was happy with but I enjoyed the process of creating it and seeing it develop. Exercise_4_eraser_2

Mikus Lasmanis by Errikos Andreou
Photo of  Mikus Lasmanis reproduced courtesy of Errikos Andreou. www.errikosandreou.com
Exercise_4_eraser_early_stage_2
Early stage
Exercise_4_eraser__detail_2
Detail

This is a technique I definitely will practice more, and it will be interesting to see if it translates well across various subject matter or if its only suited to energetic or gritty/textured themes. One of the keys was also using two different graded pencils – one as a base, the other for detail and volume.

 

utensils
Tools used today – graphite pencils and cut off pieces off an eraser

Your_thoughts_post_itA lot of people comment on how loose and expressive my style is and that it’s very confident too. This is largely due to having spent my childhood drawing with pens rather than pencils – I couldn’t rub out my mistakes so had to train myself to be more sure with every line I drew. Then in highschool I was introduced to life drawing where I spent several years practicing quick gestural drawing, the completely opposite approach!

I never thought these techniques would have such a long lasting effect not only on my work but the way I approach new ideas. Do you have a similar beginning where what you learnt earlier in your life carries through to what you do now?

 

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The Creative Plan – Patterns

Project_1_D3_Graphite_pencils

I’ve never really been into pattern/shape making. It’s something I would only subconsciously do when I’m in a meeting or on hold wth customer service purely to stop me from falling asleep.

Don’t get me wrong, patterns are cool. I love patterned fabric and am envoius of designers who can balance multiple shapes as well as colours. So I was very keen to start today’s exercises. They were still just black & white tasks in pencil but for someone like me who can’t work with more tha n3 colours it was a good baby step.

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Results

Exercise_1_D3_prep_grid
Prepared grid

I started off small and randomly coloured in triangles of 3 different tonal values, so a set of four boxes would contain two lots of white, ligh, mid and dark triangles. I didn’t worry about the order or alignment of the tones, just let it happen instinctively. I don’t evem know why I chose triangles either.

I did fall into a few traps where I was building up too many dark triangles in one area because I wasnt thinking ahead, but as a whole it doesn’t look too bad. Keeping it to only four shades gave it some consistency and flow when it was lacking in other factors.

Exercise_1_D3_geometric_grid_AThe second one was a repeated tonal pattern built over a sequence of eight squares. I was a lot more thoughtful in the balancing of the different tones and no surprise the result has more fluidity.

For instance, comparing the two, when reading them from top to bottom, your eyes flow more smoothly over Example B. But I do like the scatter gun energy of Example A. B is graceful and harmonious, A is spontaneous and unconvential.

Exercise_1_D3_geometric_grid_B

I tried to just do square patterns but it wasn’t giving me enough complexity. I did find myself trying to balance it out symmetrically, despite not having a game  plan other than not to overwork it…which probably should have happened a tad earlier.

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I left out shading and focussed on solid squares. The intention was for it to be symmetrical but perhaps my creative subconscious isn’t inclined that way as I lost it in the middle.

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A-brunnipennis-dorsal_australian_museum
Image sourced from the Australian Museum

When I first came across zentangle artwork online my immediate reaction was that this is just doodle drawing, the way a kid decorates their school books with, something with no thought process behind it. However, in the hands of the right creative thinking it can become something really exquisite and beautiful. I’m in awe with the amount of detail, thought and effort that goes into building one.Exercise_2_D3_zentangle

Exercise_2_D3_zentangle_quick_sketch
option for another

Results

However, I don’t think its my cup of tea. Although I’m happy with my first attempt at a zentangle I struggled trying to come up with pattern after pattern after pattern, while also being conscious that my choices must work within the shape and size of the area. I really didnt enjoy this at all.Exercise_3_D3_header

Results

I started late today and only had time to create three, so I kind of merged some of the options into one. Tiled pattern design is also something I’ve never attempted before. I learnt how to sew last year so it has made me more aware of fabric patterns and it’s rules of design.

This exercise wasn’t really about that though as it would require more than just an afternoon to dissect what makes a good pattern design. It was merely a framework for me to structure an exercise that featured repeated patterns.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_geometric_1Example 1: In keeping with today’s theme I stayed with the geometric pattern approach. I didn’t use rulers or elipses, etc. (except for the base grid) so none of the shapes or spacing are accurate. Again, I applied a similar tactic to my very first exercise where all the tones are randomly chosen. For me it lacks spark and character.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_geometric_pattern_1

After I scanned everything in, I quickly tiled my pattern to see what it would look like repeated. This might work better if it was balanced out with say, one larger flower device or a reversed block. But again, it’s not the point of this exercise.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_line_1Example 2: When I created these exercises it was some time ago so I can’t quite remember what my intention was. I dont believe I was to take the line pattern example so figuratively but after a day of drawing and colouring in squares and triangles, I needed to draw something more substantial! It’s a mix of No. 3 and 5.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_line_pattern_1I kept with the floral theme primarily because as the day wears on, it’s so easy to get hit with creative block. Time can be wasted having to come up with ideas just to carry out these tasks ‘What should I draw? No, that’s too hard. No, that’s too easy.’  By having prepared themes, images, templates or even props there’s less disruption with my creative process.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_figure_1

Example 3: This was a combination of the last three. I return to patterned shapes, but as you can see in the centre I lost count and got quite confused with all my overlapping petals. However, I do like the feel to this one. It’s very sensous and delicate.

Exercise_3_D3_tile_line_figure_1

Conclusion

Although it’s my first attempt at creating with patterns and geometric shapes I’m feeling it’s not my thing. It doesn’t seem to engage my mind enough. A lot of it felt more about keeping between the lines.

Your_thoughts_post_itThe constant need to create new shapes or patterns along with making sure my ‘colouring-in’ never clashed with other sections was sapping all my creative energy. At no point did it feel instinctive. However, I will endeavour to try again, there is definitely the possiblity that I didnt push myself further enough with it. I do love the works of Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee, both of whom did inspire this whole day initially.Quite possibly when I start using different mediums it may reveal more.

The Creative Plan – Cross-hatching

Project_1_Graphite_pencils_Day2Exercise_1_D2_header

ex1_crosshatch_mug

I chose a mug because of its cylindrical shape, its always harder than something with a straighter edge. Also, I think I’m not alone when I say the the mouth of any cup, glass or bowl can be really tricky not only in getting the shape and angle right, but where the highlights and shadows begin and end.

The reflective surface was another challenge – I had to place some black card underneath it to stop everything sitting on my table reflecting off it. I also noticed that whenever I raised my head up from my drawing to refer to the real mug, the slightest angle variation gave me different reflective shapes.

ex1_crosshatch_mug_art

Results

I didn’t look like I was getting anywhere but by the end I was fairly happy with it. I’m happier more with the exterior than the interior of my mug.

ex1_crosshatch_stages_mug
The first couple of stages

Exercise_2_D2_header

I grabbed a padlock to draw because it had a nice simple, solid shape that included curves and straight edges.

Results

Ex2_crosshatch_padlock

I’m sure there are more cross-hatching styles but the three listed are the ones in common practice, and the most distinctive.

Line hatching – (Top drawing) where all lines are drawn in the same direction or angle.

On a contoured surface it was really had to resist shading around the edges – it was going against my natural instincts. It does look nice, though it was hard to layer the darkest areas because this technique builds up colour over the same area or grain of the paper, which can only handle so much.

Cross-hatching – (Middle drawing) building up tone by varing the angle of linework with each sucessive layer.

I quite like the multi-prism pattern its created. The shiny surface of the body isn’t as convincing as the hinge (or whatever it’s called). It does feel a lot more weighted compared to the line hatch version.

Ex2_crosshatch_padlocks_art

Contoured hatching – (Bottom drawing) the layering of linework follows the object’s surface contours.

It looks a little weird. The whole thing looks as though it’s been wrapped in cotton. However, the reflective surface is good and it feels weighted well.

Overall, I prefer the second version, primarily because the texture created also gives the drawing some personality. It’s not just a drawing attempting to replicate a real object – it embraces the technique and almost flaunts it, making you want to look closer at the detailing and lose yourself in the linework.

Exercise_3_D2_header

My model for today was this little fella I bought at a Salavtion Army (thrift) store, he caught my eye as I walked passed. When I went in, I literally said (and unintentionally) “How much is that dog in the window?” The store manager was waiting for someone to say that. I’m glad I fell for it!

Ex3_crosshatch_toy

Results

For this exercise I used 2B, 4B and 6B pencils. I completed the 2B version first and it was only after finishing the 4B that the differences were more obvious. I’ve always preferred darker pencils to 2Bs but I’ve never done a comparison test.

Ex3_crosshatch_toy_2B_art
2B pencil

The 2B, on reflection, was a lot more labour intensive. In this case you can see that in order to create the fluffiness of the dog, the linework ends up being harsher, as well as more energetic.

Ex3_crosshatch_toy_4B_art
4B pencil

With the 4B being a softer grade it was easier to graduate the tones without necessarily layering my linework, meaning in one stroke of the pencil I could change the tone from light to dark quite easily, in a tapering movement. So much easier to create darker tones. The shapes feel more defined because I could get more depth tonally and therefore, I think, more personality.

The drawing has more volume and it involved less effort. It only took me half an hour to finish compared to the 2B which was about forty-five minutes.

Ex3_crosshatch_toy_6B_art
6B Pencil

The 6B was so soft, it’s probably suited to larger-sized drawings (these were set on A5). It was so sensitive I had to really control the pressure, making it harder to create variation in the darker tones. The pencil also went blunt more regularly so required regular sharpening which tends to interrupt the flow of rendering.

Ex3_crosshatch_toy_comparison_art
Comparison from left to right  – 2B, 4B, 6B

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Results

Under: My first attempt was a crumpled piece of paper – but the size of it and the amount of creases in it would have taken me the whole afternoon. So I opted for a tissue.

Ex4_paper_attempt_treratment
The crumpled piece of paper was scrapped
Ex4_light_first_attempt
First attempt – but subject was too complicated for the exercise at hand

I’m not sure if cross-hatching suits drawing something so light and soft. I think I succeeded in the whiteness of the subject, but maybe the cross-hatching made the end result feel a bit heavy and clunky..?

Ex4_tissue_treratmentEx4_light_treratment_artPossibly instead of shading in every tone I saw, despite how subtle, I shouldn’t have put it in. I think I should have been more selective about what to put in so that my drawing retained all the qualities of the tissue.

Over: Like the other cross-hatching exercises it never looks like much in the beginning, so much so that I think I’ve totally ballsed it up, only seeing it come together towards the end.

Ex4_choc_treratment

However, this was looking more like an iceberg than a chunk of chocolate and as per usual I started to fill in the lighter areas with tone too much. Thankfully I was more aware of it while in progess so I removed most of it.

Ex4_dark_treratment

Before I finished I decided to add some contoured line-hatching purely to define the subject matter rather than for tonal values.

For instance, the rounded surface on top of the main piece – although that heavy shading along that left edge doesn’t exist, what little shading I originally had there wasn’t expressing the moulded shape enough. By adding contoured hatching it helps you make that mental connection with the typical shape of a block of chocolate.

I also had to use some creative license on the base of the chocolate too. The piece I broke off was a corner section so it had clean cut sides, and didn’t have the yummy chocolate chunkiness I wanted, so added diagonal lines to give it character and much needed contrast.

Your_thoughts_post_itCross-hatching is not something exclusive to pencil but it is associated by tradition. Although if you do a google search on “drawing, sketching, pencil” there aren’t many finished examples where cross-hatching is employed. Maybe some people find it too intrusive. Admittedly it is very labour intensive before you see any results. Personally, I find it adds a lot of energy and character to the drawing. Hell, if it was good enough for Rembrandt it’s good enough for me. Your thoughts?

 

The Creative Plan

A personal journey exploring art making to find out who I am as an artist. See post.

Project_1_Graphite_pencils_Day1

Exercise_1_header

I ruled up a few squares (10x10cm) and using a 2B pencil drew an egg pre-dawn, morning, noon, afternoon and dusk. I chose an egg because it had a clean, simple surface and shape, but with some level of complexity as it had no hard edges, and I had a few left in my fridge too!

Results

6.30am
6.30am

Unfortunately it was a very overcast day, all…day…long. Any changes in the light were really subtle, so I gave up after the 4.00pm drawing.

Ex1_930am_egg
9.00am

The only one that was different was the 6.30am drawing. But that was partially due to me drawing in very low light conditions where I could barely see the paper, and had only woken up five minutes before I started, so was still a bit bleary-eyed.

 

Ex1_100pm_egg
1.00pm

The toughest part was locating the darkest area on the egg, every time I would look at it, it seemed to shift. If I darkened too great an area, the egg would have looked flat. It may well have been the diffused sunlight I was dealing with.

 

Ex1_400pm_egg
4.00pm

I tried to omit linework work too, but they crept in a few times. Despite the ordinary results, it’s probably worth attempting again on a brighter, sunnier day.

Exercise_2_header

This exercise consisted of five separate drawings, starting simple and rising to more complex in regard to tonal values. I used a 3B pencil.

Results

Ex2_PebbleI kept the subjects simple in shape and as plain as I could. I didn’t want to get bogged down in capturing patterns or surface graphics. I drew these under natural light, again on an overcast day, so I don’t know if that effected what I saw.

I tried really hard to keep the images clean but I kept overworking them. Initially I wasn’t happy with my pebble but upon reviewing it, it has that smooth slightly dappled texture that I liked.

Ex2_pebble_art

The flashdrive and silk ribbon I feel weren’t as successful. The angle I was drawing the flashdrive at wasn’t reflecting anything so it looked quite flat. In this instance, I probably should have changed view or used creative licence and added it, as it doesn’t come off as being made out of plastic at all. I also overworked the slithers of white highlights too.

Ex2_FlashdriveEx2_flashdrive_art

The ribbon isn’t as bad (I forgot to take a photo at the time), it does have the silky feel of the material and the twists seem believable. However, I don’t think it has the lightness of the ribbon due to me going a bit hardcore with the shading.

Ex2_ribbon

Ex2_ribbon_art

The shot glass was a better result. I managed to retain the weighted feel of the thick glass. There were a lot more refractive shapes in the real object, but the softness of my 3B pencil kept filling in the finer detailed areas so I left it.

Ex2_shotglassEx2_shotglass_art

The sock… does it “look” like a black sock? I picked a dark coloured sock because I thought it would be more challenging to seek out the shadows.

Ex2_sock

Ex2_sock_art

Exercise_3_headerResults

It was tricky not to draw in lines. It does look like I have drawn quite a few in, but some are the shadows sitting beneath the matchsticks or the grain of wood that runs along the length of them. I do feel I captured the lightness of the matchsticks.

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This was a fun exercise as they were quick to execute, so many compositions to be made and they have a nice, clean shape. It would be nice to return to this again.

Ex3_matchsticks_ex3_matchsticks_art_2

 

Exercise_4_header

I had to prep this exercise well in advance as I knew if I would waste time trying to think of a layout to “colour in”. So I developed the character and scene during my lunch breaks at work, including all the seasonal nuances. Later I transferred them to cartridge paper ready for the day.

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Initial template design
ex4_seasons_template_art
Customising the template with a scanned printout for the summer and autumn scenes

Results

By the time I got to it I only had time to finish one, summer. However, I enjoyed doing it so much that I decided to fit in the rest at other times during the week. Luckily it was the Christmas break so had opportunity to get them done.

ex4_seasons_summer_art_LRex4_seasons_autumn_art_LRex4_seasons_winter_art_LRex4_seasons_spring_art_LR

Your_thoughts_post_itEveryone starts out learning how to draw with the trusty graphite pencil, but many of us move on, sometimes never to return. Why is that? Is it because it’s so simple that it exposes our flaws to easily or that it requires far more discipline than we care to commit to. I know there are lovers of pencil out there, and I would love to hear your thoughts on what this medium gives you that others can’t. Or if its just endless frustration of smudge marks all over your paper that somehow transfer up your elbows.

Thanks for your time,
Meegan

 

 

Catching up

I have been completely undisciplined with posting blogs this last couple of years. Sometimes I think I have posted only to find out nothing’s there. I have been drawing a decent amount (somethings I’m not particularly ready to share with the online public yet) but I have been out sketching with my friends since January! And here’s the proof… 😉

Sydney Observatory Park

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Conté pencils
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Winsor & Newton watercolour stick, Conté white
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Winsor & Newton watercolour markers
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Conté Carbone pencil
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Derwent Inktense pencil
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Winsor & Newton watercolours and Artline pen
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Winsor & Newton watercolours and Artline pen

The Coal Loader, Waverton, Sydney

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Winsor & Newton Dip pen and ink
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Winsor & Newton Watercolours, dip pen & ink
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Winsor & Newton Watercolours, dip pen & ink

BACK IN THE SADDLE

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Sydney Uni – sketched last year

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.

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Sydney Uni – inktense pencils

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.

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Sydney Uni – inktense pencils

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.

LAVENDER BAY

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Attempt with a blue biro

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.

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Ink and dip pen

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.

 

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Lavender Bay. Photo courtesy of Getty Images, Warwick Kent.

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.

lavender_bay003

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!

LEICHHARDT

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3B Pencil

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.

ssc_leichhardt001_lr
3B Pencil

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.

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3B Pencil

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.

Hidden in Rookwood

Sydney Sketch Club organised a meet up for the annual Hidden Walk art exhibition at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. Thankfully it was only in a small section of the grounds as it is one large mother of a cemetery. This is my third or fourth sketching venture to a cemetery so won’t bore you with the reasons why I enjoy them so much. But if you would like to see and read some of my past trips to them please click on this link.

melbourne2014_bushido4 LR
Katana, Bushido Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria

One thing I did aim to do this time was to work solely with graphite pencils and a rubber/eraser. I liked the results of my Bushido series (shown above)  drawn when I went to Melbourne a few months ago (click here for link) and wanted to revisit that technique. So I took the below equipment with me. I’m not sure how I ended up with so many of the same pencil and pencil grade but it proved quite useful.SSC Rookwood Hidden equip LR

They were mostly 3B and 4B pencils which meant that only after a few seconds of sketching the sharpness of the soft lead point would disappear, and you can lose your momentum having to re-sharpen the same pencil over and over again. What I do is sharpen them all before I start and lay them out next to me. As soon as one goes blunt I pick up a sharp one and continue.

SSC Rookwood Hidden1LR

Mind you my first drawing of the day is always the least successful (image above). It’s like what they say about making pancakes – the first one is always the “throw away” and the rest get better after that. The next three drawings show artwork installation from the exhibition.

SSC Rookwood Hidden2 LR SSC Rookwood Hidden3 LR SSC Rookwood Hidden5 LR

The rest are just wandering around the older parts of Rookwood. Its early spring in Australia so all the overgrowth is in full bloom.
SSC Rookwood Hidden4 LRSSC Rookwood Hidden6 LR

 

This next one I attempted to use some of my inktense pencils. I’m not sure if I like it or not. I don’t know if it adds anything extra being there. I will have to make a few more attempts next time.SSC Rookwood Hidden7 LR

This last one is my favourite of the day because I treated it more as a completed composition rather than just sketching what I see and then “finishing” it off. So I was very conscious of it working as a whole from start to finish.SSC Rookwood Hidden8LR

Thanks for stopping by.
Meegan

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