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… 😉
On the weekend was National Tree Day. Lots of local councils organised tree planting events and a friend of mine is a member of the Wolli Creek Preservation Society (WCPS). They are a group of volunteers dedicated to protecting a rarity – native bushland in inner Sydney. It would be like finding a natural woodland in Notting Hill or the Bronx. Sadly it is threatened into having a freeway extended right through the middle of it, and that is the WCPS’s fight.
They held an event called “Inspired by Wolli” and my friend asked me if I would like to participate. They had musicians, photographers, poets, etc joining in. Initially I was asked to run drawing workshops but I felt that was out of my comfort zone. Plus the event was only a few hours long so it would have been too formal a structure.
I ended up sketching in 2 different locations and we had extra material if people wanted to join me. And I was there to assist if necessary. It’s amazing how adults were very reluctant to participate but kids needed no encouragement at all. Where did we go wrong growing up? When did we become so intimidated by a blank piece of paper?
So my skills weren’t needed except to hand out paper and crayons. That gave me some time to sketch for myself and join my fellow Sydney Sketch Club (SSC) members who came out for the day. I did the below as a warm up before everyone arrived.
Then one of the organisers brought some scrap cardboard and I used it with a charcoal pencil. I was very impressed by the results. Honestly, this drawing was dictated by the coarseness of the fluted card, and by its length and the qualities of the pencil. It was very easy going and now I aim to do a bit more cardboard sketches.
I did my usual colour inks one and I tried to bring in other colours than just typical “tree” colours.
I caught up with the SSC. It’s been awhile since I last joined them. Apart from our inspired organiser, Jenn, I didnt know a single soul. I drew this clump of trees near me (see left – that’s not me by the way) as they reminded me of a bunch of celery. I love the texture and how they are huddled together. I wanted to created some depth even amongst all that woody thickness, so decided to draw the foreground trees in a different colour. I didnt particularly like the Winsor & Newton greens. They were too dark or “rich” in intensity. Not very in sync with Australian natural colours. So I mixed my sunny green* with some cadmium yellow* and created a more Aussie sap green.
Initially I didnt think there was any depth but looking at it now it does. I think its also become one of my favourite drawings, the best I’ve done in awhile.
Below are a mix of sketches I did on previous visits or from photos I took. I couldn’t be bothered sorting through them.
Anyway, enjoy and go hug a tree!
*These are the names I have given to the W&N inks as their real names were totally misleading as to what colour they really were.
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 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.
This is going to be a crazy period for me – I have Chinese New Year commitments coming up for a few weeks so will find it difficult to do much sketching. But I hope to at least get some decent research material for it.
I also just returned from a 4 day Intensive with Taikoz, so lots of drumming and feeble attempts at learning Onikenbai. Anyway, at least I got some drawing in. Lots of pencils and a few watercolours, which can be viewed on my flickr site and a handful of inks which are located on my scratchy sketches page. All those wonderful trees were courtesy of Eling Forest Winery Estate in NSW, where the Intensive was held.