a rainy visit to the library – urban sketching

This month’s meeting of the Canberra Urban Sketchers was supposed to be held at the Botanic Gardens, but with a weather forecast that featured 90% chance of lots of wet stuff, the venue changed to the National Library. At least there we would find shelter if the heavens did decide to open.

As I venture out to do more urban sketching I find myself changing and refining the kit that I take out with me, depending on what I think I’ll be sketching, and what blogs and tutorial videos I’ve been watching for ideas of techniques and tips to try. This time I crammed two sketchbooks (one landscape and one portrait) and a piece of corrugated plastic board in the bag with my usual bits and pieces. I also chose to go with paintbrushes and water container over my usual water brushes this time for the sake of control and not winding up with too many huge puddles of water, as I am wont to do lately with the water brushes.

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My experiment this time round was with the corrugated plastic board acting as a hand-held easel of sorts to clip my paint, water and sketchbook to, so that I could hold all of that with my left hand and be free to draw or paint with my right. The size of the board was constrained by what would fit in my little Rickshaw bag since I wanted to keep my kit self-contained and somewhat compact. It worked for the most part, though I think I would have preferred something a little larger…I’ll play with that next time. Here’s what it looked like; my left hand held the board under the cover of the sketchbook and the paper towels for wiping off my brushes was held in the fingers of the left hand under the board.

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My goals for today were to have a go at improving my perspective for sketching buildings and to attempt a landscape that didn’t end up looking like a mud puddle as they have been of late. The rain hadn’t arrived when we started out, so I grabbed a prime position on the forecourt of the Library and set about putting into practice what I had been learning in this Craftsy course that I watched last week. I measured and checked angles as best I could while the stormy clouds rolled and boiled above me. I felt the first drops of rain as I put the last details in. Overall I’m happy with the result.

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I made it up to the verandah of the Library just as the spots of rain started to come a little faster. Unfortunately I couldn’t see a scene I wanted to paint from back there, so I ventured out a little way to get a view of what lay over the lake from me, and as it turns out I could see Mount Ainslie under the stormy clouds. I snapped out a couple of quick value sketches in pencil before I settled on a portrait composition that had lots of the purply clouds at the top and a little of the same reflected in the almost still lake below. I stood in the rain and captured the basics of the sketch before retreating to what i thought was a safe dry spot to add the watercolour…as you can see in the sky below I failed to take into account the wind factor and wound up with some unexpected “special effects” in my sky 🙂 I’m pleased I managed some decent contrast in this one…was a quickie that took about 20 minutes or so.

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The board worked equally well standing up and sitting down.

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Not really what I was going for with the clouds, but the little raindrop blooms are kind of pretty anyway. 🙂 And as a side note…when I went to scan the pics I discovered that I had stared my new Windsor and Newton landscape book bak to front and upside down…Numpty!

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urban sketching at the AWM

I discovered, quite by accident, a few weeks ago that there is a group of sketchers that get together regularly in Canberra (one of them saw my Goulburn post and contacted me) and today I decided to stop being such a hermit and join them. Time for me to meet some new people!

Quite aside from my normal social anxiety, I hadn’t picked up a pencil or paint brush since the end of June and so I was feeling more than a little apprehensive. I figured I had best practice a little and started preparing yesterday by sketching of some blossoms in my back yard just to get the feel of it again. I had forgotten how relaxing it can be (smacks self in the head).

Here’s what I ended up with today…Nothing quite like going from flowers to artillery! I have drawn the War Memorial building itself a couple of times in the past and wanted to try my hand at something a little more detailed, and since the weather wasn’t too unpleasant outside, I settled myself down next to a 9.2-inch howitzer from World War I. I started out by mapping the proportions of the gun in pencil before going in with my rollerball ink pen and then the Pentel brush pen for the darkest shadows, and then finally with the watercolours.  All up it took probably an hour and a half or so from setup to dry paint.

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The group met back at the cafe after a couple of hours of dispersed sketching (we all went and found our own “things” that we wanted to capture) to compare sketches and enjoy a coffee. I found it fabulous how we were each in the same geographical location, but came back with such a wonderful and diverse set of sketches.

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I’ll definitely be meeting up again next month at Floriade! If nothing else it will push me to be a little more regular with my sketching and perhaps prime the pump for some more ‘proper’ art pieces for the shop. Here’s the warm up piece I did yesterday…  

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out of practice!

The past couple of months have been more than a little hectic one way or the other due to the fact that I bought a house, moved in and furnished it… and I haven’t posted the last commission that I did for my sister-in-law who runs an organic farm in Victoria with my brother. These little piggies wound up being salami … or some of them did anyway. I completed this one and mailed it off a couple of weeks before I moved and the next day packed up my desk.

Pigs' butts

At the same time as my house move, our office had a big move as well…to the other side of the city. My commute has gone from being less than 10 minutes to being about half an hour. Whilst still not onerous, it’s different and I’m adjusting. My sketchbook has been languishing in my handbag for months as I’ve taken short lunch breaks to get work done in anticipation of moving offices or to buy me time to leave the office early to do house stuff. So my normal midday sketch breaks of late have been crunched. 🙁

Here are a couple of pages that were scribbled and splotched in haste:

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These were some lovely roses I was given for mothers day. Sweet subtle fragrance and big luscious blooms that lasted for ages. I would loved to have been able to sit and draw longer to try and capture some more depth in the blooms.

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I was determined to draw “something” one day the other week, so I sketched the counter at the cafe while I waited for my lunch to come…took me 5-10 minutes and it shows … I am feeling so out of practice!

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Life seems to be settling down now, for the most part, and I found myself dreaming about painting the other night, so perhaps it’s time to sit myself down at my new setup and get painting…..either that or I am losing my mind….dreams about pigment running into wet puddles on the page has to be some kind of sign… or not 🙂 Perhaps I’ll just opt to wonder….

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st patricks, michelago

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It’s time to decorate in readiness for the Christmas season, and because I was in need of a tree-topper, I took an afternoon trip out to the Bredbo Christmas Barn  which is about an hour or so down the highway. I was lucky enough to get the last white star for the top of my tree… and a couple of other little things that made me smile.

On the way back I passed this little church and stopped briefly  to capture it in my sketchbook. This is a very quick sketch and much looser than I normally do, I really enjoyed splashing paint around with abandon! Who said you have to colour in the lines?? 🙂

 

Remember there’s 50% off in my Etsy shop until 16/12/2014 (use the coupon: CLEARANCE50 when you check out). Click here to see what’s available…. art makes fabulous Christmas gifts!

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Buvelot St – home sweet home

Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest.
– Henry Van Dyke 

Buvelot St

 

A dear friend of mine is about to lose her family home due to a government mess up.

There is something deeply sad about losing your home. So many memories. So much love. So much time spent with loved ones and friends. And yet while the building will be soon gone, the memories of beautiful experiences and relationships will remain. The connection to loved ones will always live on.

We created this portrait to help her remember her home and to provide a visual reminder of the beautiful things that were shared within its walls.

Hugs my friend, I trust you will find a new place for your heart to rest soon.

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having a go…more urban sketching

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I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and books lately about urban sketching and slowly easing myself into drawing in public. I had fun with food and architecture last week…but I’ve been putting off drawing people I see on the street… they MOVE!!! And more often than not they’re long gone before I get the picture anywhere near done! Achieving any resemblance of correct proportion is nigh on impossible for me at the moment too… so it’s practise, practise, practise…and I hope to see improvement over time. I also hope to get far less self conscious about examining people too 🙂 Looks a bit suspicious really.

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daytrip to the coast

It’s the Spring school holidays on Antipodean shores so I took my sons to the beach for the day. It was a little windy, but totally blissy feeling the sun on my skin and listening to the waves crash as I practised some en plain air painting. Just what the doctor ordered! 20141002 - Tomakin beach

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i have succumbed

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I’m sick … I spent the day at home moaning and coughing and sneezing. Mercifully it was warm enough to sit outside for a little while with a coffee and my sketchbook to take in some vitamin D. This urn is the centrepiece of my courtyard and has deep purple pansies that are thriving and bright red cyclamen that are a little the worse for wear. Tucked in one side of the bowl is a little porcelain angel… I like to think she’s there watching over me.

 

By the way … I’ve just dropped the price on my eBook… check it out by clicking the Shop button on the right of your screen.

 

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dark rain

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It has been a sad week with the passing of one of my favourite funny men… Robin Williams. This is a sketchbook page I did during one of my lowest periods. The black dog is a persistent little bugger. Remember there’s always someone to talk to if you feel like there’s no way out.

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an unfurling

fern

Artist’s Block….it seems to be the bane of my existence at the moment. I keep showing up at the page. I keep writing and scribbling, hoping to unlock the flood of ideas that are mounting inside my head… but there’s just too much else going on. I have jobs to do, but I can’t seem to get motivated.

Perhaps I just need to sit down and work. Stop waiting to be inspired.

I sit and look at blank pages. I look at half done drawings. I pick up pens and pencils. I play with dip pens and ink and scrawl unintelligible words on scratch pads to distract myself from the real work I need to do.

Sometimes my brain is just too full or too pained to be able to allow the pictures to make it to the page. Sometimes I wonder what it might look like if I just let those thoughts and feelings out onto the page. Perhaps I should try to be less stilted and contrived in my sketchbook…stop trying to make final art and just let it all hang out… just keep showing up to the page and hope that eventually the rubbish gets exhausted and the good stuff starts to flow again. Or perhaps my rubbish is someone else’s inspiration… or perhaps it’s ok to just be rubbish for a while.

I haven’t drawn in my sketchbook in weeks. This fern drawing is from last year’s New Zealand sketchbook. I’m hoping as I keep trying, something will come out eventually. Baby steps.

Perhaps.

Perhaps it will all unfurl and flood the page in its own good time.

 

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