Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sktchy Crowd

In a bid to further develop sketching people I've been trialling a combination of portraits together from my favourite inspiration App 'Sktchy'.

The first try was a page of women. I'm happy with the result but still spend more time than I had hoped on each person. My aim is to be faster and more responsive to shapes and profiles.

 For the Sktchy men, drawing more people smaller worked better. It helped me to simplify the line work and study variations in angles and features between the people.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Urban Sketchers Sydney - Surry Hills

Continued Sydney wet weather made Surry Hills cafes the perfect spot for our latest Urban Sketchers meet. There was the option of some great streetscapes and the more hardy sketchers braved the soggy conditions to sketch them. But the Book Kitchen in Devonshire Street proved too tempting for me.

The choice to stay indoors was rewarded with a nice clear view of fellow sketcher Chris. Followed by another angle of a couple on bar stools with their back to me. Great for a sketcher a little too timid to sketch strangers face to face. This time there was 10 minutes or so to study body language and profiles, and with the benefit of practicing contours lately, the shapes and proportions seemed to draw on my page much quicker and more accurately. There must be a tipping point on this sketching journey that's getting closer. When I will recall faces from photo references I've drawn in the past and have them start to seep into drawing from life. It's still a great challenge to sketch accurately when people are constantly shifting position and turning their heads in conversation. Maybe another thousand or so? I'm fairly sure though that contour drawing is helping me lots.
After my small triumph in the café the sun came out and I joined other sketchers across the road to record the Bourke Street Bakery. Another good spot for people sketching due to the queues! Very popular! This sketch was rushed as time was short and I think I spent as much time adding in the brick texture later  as I did doing the rest of the sketch on site. The day was made the merrier by a little girl Alice who came to chat and watch us sketch whilst her Mum queued. She had a real keenness for what we were up to. She signed my picture quite happily. Hope she went home to sketch!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sketchbook Skool - Seeing

A second semester of Sketchbook Skool themed "Seeing" was introduced in July this year to follow on from "Beginnings". Urban Sketcher Liz Steel was part of the teaching staff and I was keen to see how her online class would go after the success of her workshops here in Sydney. Danny Gregory, Koosje Koene both returned to teach with the addition of Brenda Swenson, Cathy Johnson and Andrea Joseph.
Self portrait challenge - day 7
One of the biggest challenges for me came with Koosje's week which focussed on self portraits. This was time and energy consuming and confronting. We needed to complete several and I had barely attempted any self portraits prior to the course. But by my final piece I was pleased with what I'd achieved. The motivation and inspiration that comes from sharing that journey with other students online has a very positive impact.
Nature studies with the guidance of Cathy Johnson
Cathy Johnson is renown for sharing  valuable tuition and demonstrations online and through her books. Her week was great for revisiting some key watercolour fundamentals as well as looking at nature studies. From this I made studies of the local cranky Common Myna. They are annoying birds but with plenty of character.
Ball point pen and watercolour as a result of Andrea Joseph's week.
Andrea Joseph shared insights into her unique and distinctive style of illustrating with pens/biros. The result she achieves with the cheapest, or even better, free ball point pens is astonishing. I did enjoy taking a shot at this method, but I know I don't have the sufficient patience required to pursue it much further. The aspect of trying such a diverse range of ideas each week throughout the course is a good way to learn what does (or doesn't) suit your own capabilities and character.
Sketching in The Rocks, Sydney.

From an afternoon at the Tea Cosy in The Rocks, Sydney.
Finally, it was Liz's week and time to return to more familiar methods. Liz organised a sketching day in the Rocks and it was a great day to catch up with sketchers I already knew as well as meet a few new ones who I had conversed with online in the groups. We spent the morning sketching buildings and then headed to the Tea Cosy to sketch tea cups and high tea. Fabulous way to round off another semester!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sketchbook Skool - Beginnings

In April this year I joined the 6 week online sketching course "Sketchbook Skool" (co-founded by Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene). I was familiar with a few of Danny Gregory's books and his blog, and the course featured Prashant Miranda, Roz Stendahl and Tommy Kane as teachers - all sketchbook artists I have admired for some time from an urban sketching perspective.
For the last 2 years I have learned sketching skills and concepts mostly from Liz Steel's classes in person, having the great fortune of living in the same city as her. So the idea of learning more from other sketchbook artists seemed like a good one and by the end of the 6 weeks I was very glad I'd signed up.  Following are a few of my homework pieces from the course. We don't get assessed as such but the motivation to make the most of anything these teachers are offering is enough to push me along.
Pre-dinner sketching - working on composition with Jane LaFazio

Sketching taxidermy - Understanding sketching animals better from Roz Stendahl's class. Thanks to my friend Olga for taking me to her bar "Honeyrider" in Neutral Bay for my subject!

'Shirley' (Olga's beautiful greyhound). I made this from a photo after sketching Shirley in a variety of poses. This seemed to capture her character. A further developed piece from Roz Stendahl's class.

My kitchen - after week 6 with Tommy Kane.
 I have recently completed Sketchbook Skool - Seeing, and will write more about that class in my next post.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Urban Sketchers Sydney meet at QVB.

It's been a busy few months and I'm a little behind with my posts!

The June sketch day for Urban Sketchers was at Queen Victoria Building. I chose to sit at a café outside the beautiful shopping arcade and make a study of 149 York Street which was once the Gresham Hotel, built in 1890.

Then in July we headed down to The Rocks - one of my favourite historical areas of Sydney. We had been offered to participate in the Aroma Festival by sketching on disposable coffee cups. They were surprisingly good to sketch on (once you get used to the curved surface) and took both ink and watercolour quite well. (The image looks a bit weird as we used the panoramic feature on our phones to try and capture the rotated surface of the cup).

Before and after the cup sketch I took the opportunity to sketch The Russell Hotel in George Street. This is one of my favourite hotels in The Rocks area due to that fairy tale like Scots-Baronial Tower. Many of the architectural features have been retained since the hotel was built in 1887.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Historic Sydney - Tempe House and Strickland House

There has been two opportunities to sketch beautiful old Sydney buildings in recent weeks.

Firstly Tempe House in April, where Ethna and I visited on an open day for the local art society. It is set on beautiful grounds and next to a picturesque garden. Once absorbed in sketching it was easier to block out the constant hum of the Princess Hwy not too far away, and the construction of the apartment blocks behind, and imagine a quieter time when there would have been nothing but the flow of the river and swaying trees for company. 
The front portico's were a good challenge to sketch and reminded me a little of sketching the rotunda at Balmoral Beach. By the time the line work on the building was finished time was short so the trees of the garden were captured best I could with just paint brush and trying to remember to vary tone, colour and markings so it didn't appear too flat.  

The second historic Sydney property was Strickland House which welcomed visitors last Sunday. No denying that my Tempe House sketch influenced composition here and the similar shape of the portico was less confronting this time. In very strong winds, but brilliant blue sky, I got down the building lines in pen (all but for that fiddly iron work on the verandahs) and mapped out the washes of colour from the distinct shadows. The green foliage was added once home, and here I tried for a looser and less distinct garden than the previous sketch. The shadows also got a boost of colour and darkening.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Beach Sketching

 Lately I've been sketching down by the water.

There are still many buildings I prefer sketched with closer observation and precision, but sitting on the sand or hillside, overlooking crashing waves and enjoying a sea breeze tends to push the need for accuracy aside and respond more in colour and play.
Here's the Freshwater Beach Ocean Bath with a view to Manly Beach in the distance. A Pied Cormorant, one of my favourite birds of the area, sits high atop the light pole. Observing all and preparing to dive for its next fish.

An IRB (inflatable rescue boat) ready to go out in last week's heavy swell.