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Friday, May 22, 2015

Swords and Daggers

I got an exciting parcel in the mail the other day… a brown paper package (sadly not tied up with string) BUT with a Rosemary & Co Brushes stamp on it. Inside was a new exciting brush - a sable blend dagger.

Many of you have noticed the black handled dagger brush that often appears in my IG photos. This is the brush I use 95% of the time when I am out sketching, but I have been  reluctant to openly share what it was.- mainly because it is hard to buy online and there is no point tempting you all with something that is not readily available! It is a Holbein Series 350D Para Resable size 12. (I bought mine in Straits Commercial while in Singapore but can only find it on a Japanese site here.)

Anyway… to cut a long story short, (or to cut a long swordliner short so it becomes a dagger),  I contacted Rosemary about making a shorter version of thier lovely 1/2 "swordliner  brush(image coming later in this post) to match the one I was using… and guess what is now on their website?
Series 772. Sable Blend Daggers
I am loving this new brush, it is softer than the Holbein but with a nice point and is holding more water.

Why do I use a dagger?
Mainly to get more expressive strokes - thin strokes like a rigger, big wider strokes like a flat and lots of other expressive calligraphic marks. A lot of artists use a dagger with precision, however I have not tried to master it in this way as my natural flow is to work fast and loose. I allow my dagger to twist and do crazy things on me and as a result sometimes get a few strange marks.  There is no doubt that using a dagger has taught me a lot about being deliberate with my brushstrokes and this has paid off when I use a round brush.

Note: I still use a #8 round sable brush a lot and this is still my recommendation for beginners.
I was finding that due to my heavy usage and way I was painting with the tip a lot, I was going through round brushes quickly, ruining the points. This is less of an issue these days since I have changed my paint techniques and the way I pick up paint (less drilling down into the pans) but I have found the dagger more robust in terms of maintaining a nice point.

Other dagger brushes I have used:

I started off using a smaller size dagger -  Art Basics Taklon Daggers  (available fromThe Art Scene). They have three sizes and all very good.  With a dagger, you want to keep the edge sharp so synthetic is good for that, but I do prefer the softness and how much water a sable can hold. So a sable blend is the best of both worlds.

Here is the swordliner brush I mentioned earlier: Series 770. Sable Blend Sword Liner - Size 1/2". I love this brush but find it hard to use. The long hairs require a control I haven't achieved yet, but I still use this often at home and have a LOT of fun with it.

Rosemary also makes a travel dagger brush: R12 Pocket Sable/Nylon Blend Dagger - Size 1/4". This is a great little brush and was developed thanks to Jane Blundell (no guesses as to who was the one who suggested I contact Rosemary about making the shorter version of the sword liner?)

But the best size for me is this new 1/2" Series 772.
Thanks Rosemary & Co - I am a very happy painter!


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Thursday, May 21, 2015

A grand building - The International College of Management, Sydney in Manly

I met up with some friends this morning at the The International College of Management, Sydney up on the hill in Manly. A grand building (once St Patricks Seminary) and we sat in the sun sketching and drawing. It is a daunting building to sketch!

My first sketch was a big one in my A4 moleskine which I have neglected a bit lately. My hand wasn't feeling in the mood for a detailed version so I started with paint. We had a painter/ photographer come up to see what we were doing and while chatting I somehow managed to close my book! I don't use my hands when I talk do I???? Rather than thinking this was a disaster (hmm, it was NOT what I was planning) I decided to put more paint on and then close the book again. Then I had to live with these paint marks. The result a very loose version of the building.
One of the limitations of posting to a blog is that you can't get a sense of the size of this sketch so I have saved it at a larger size.  And ironically the next sketch though half the size is posted huge!

A second attempt at a detail (while talking) was done with my new Winsor and Newton Watercolour Markers (well, there was a little bit in the first sketch as well as some fog grey lines)and then watercolour over the top, more markers and then more paint… whatever!?!
Colours: Yellow Ochre, Paynes Grey and Burnt Umber.

Some of us then went for lunch at Bella Vista North Head. Great view and great Minestrone Soup. I then rushed off to a meeting in Alexandria but sadly no time for a sketch.  Lots of outings, meetings and appointments this week! And not a thought at all to what I was supposed to sketch for EDiM... what was it for today?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Every Day In May: Draw a cupcake (or six!)

I was disappointed that I didn't find a cupcake to draw for yesterday's EDiM challenge but as I driving through Neutral Bay today I couldn't resist buying a box from ‪My Little Cupcakes‬. It was too hard to decide which one to buy (in order to draw) so a bought a box - meaning I have more to share with others!
It was a lot of fun to sketch although the sugar smell was hard to bear... so after this much was done,  I made a cup of tea and sampled one. You all know I am more of a scone girl, but for cupcakes these were special - although I couldn't get through all icing on top!

You will notice that I made the colours stronger than they were in real life... I am not a pastel person so decided to convert the colours to suit me. And then I finished the sketch off with the logo and pink stripes from the bag. What a pretty sketch... although I do a lot of pretty teacups, this feels very girly to me!

Now... what was I suppose to draw for today's EDiM challenge???


This is part of a daily sketching challenge during the month of May… it is not too late to join (just start with the challenge for today and then catch up if you can)
Join the facebook group
or the flickr group
A summary of previous years that I have been part of is here (plus this year's list)
A few thoughts about the ups and downs in taking part in daily challenges is here

3 Day Travel Sketching Workshop in Launceston, October 2015 -  more details here


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and news of my next SketchingNow online course coming in a few months time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A day in town - a new tool and a surprise meeting

Do you remember someone stating that even though my Foundations Course was finishing up (in Feb) that I would still continue my weekly SketchingNow Adventures. Ha! That hasn't happened has it? I am trying to work out a way to schedule these sketching outings into my weeks and although today's adventure was in response to an appointment I had, it has  reminded me how important it is to get out sketching more regularly. So here is the collection from today.

To start with I visited Parkers Art Store to pick up a Paynes Grey Winsor and Newton Watercolour Marker. I have had my eye on these for a while, and last month bought a single one (Yellow Ochre) and didn't quite warm to it. A few weeks ago when they came up on Facebook, I started thinking about them… and well the short story is that yesterday I bought a few (at The Artscene) to test. But I forgot to get a Payne's Grey - hence the 'need' to visit Parkers today. So of course I needed to test it out straight away! I was walking to Macquarie St and have been thinking that I am not sketching many modern buildings… so when Museum of Sydney presented itself… and I saw a nice step to sit on, it was time to test out that new marker! Full details about these markers on another occasion, but I added Fog Grey lines over the top and liking the result! (Please don't rush out and buy the full set based on this blog post... give me a chance to test them properly - ok?)

After my appointment, I was standing at the traffic lights waiting to cross and noticed complete stranger  smiling at me on the other side of the road ('must be someone standing behind me… I do not know her!') When I crossed the road she came up to me "Are you Liz Steel? I am Tanya!. WOW!

Tanya is one of our most active Sydney Urban Sketchers but as she is busy on Saturdays and I don't do Sunday sketching, we have never met. I have been hoping that one day I will walk past her sitting on the ground sketching, so you can imagine how excited I was… and even better than we both had the time to have lunch together, swap sketchbooks and talk about sketching and paint etc etc. Tanya carries a LOT of stuff with her - I don't think I saw it all! What a treat! - she is such a lovely enthusiastic sketcher... you can just imagine how much fun we had! Thanks Tanya - you really made my day today.

I got back to Circular Quay 1 minute too late for my ferry… so time for a cafe visit/ sketch (1 hour wait in fact). The EDiM challenge for the day was 'draw a cupcake' and I was hoping that I would walk past somewhere to buy one on my travels (cupcakes are not at all on my radar… I prefer scones… but I think you know that). Instead of a cupcake I drew a coffee! I also started sketching the view of the bar with Customs House in the background with my fog grey pen but it ran out of ink… so out came the watercolour marker again. Another fun sketch which is giving me more ideas as to how to use these markers…

…and then once on the ferry, I did two more quick sketches.... yes the usual suspects again.
The Sydney Opera House (BTW it was now getting dark!)

The Sydney Harbour Bridge. I found the watercolour marker very effective and super QUICK!

And as I had carried my camera around all day, I will finish this post with a photo of the ferry leaving Woolwich dock.  I was home 3 hours later than I had planned, but totally enjoyed my day… and am enjoying the fact that I am actually writing up a blog post on the day that I created the sketches. This spontaneous blogging is something that I don't do as much these days.

Ok time to get some work done for the day!


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Monday, May 18, 2015

Other recent adventures in my sketchbook

If you have been wondering... despite sometimes struggling to do the Every Day in May challenge each day,  I have still doing my regular sketching. And that includes the usual suspects....

A cup of tea sketch... to get me going on a Friday morning.

A Saturday afternoon visit to The Vogue Cafe at Macquarie Centre...

And a quick sketch of their bench.

A sketch of my brunch  after a meeting at Balmain (about a new and very exciting project!)

And before the same meeting, I  did sketch of the Balmain Post Office. This was will be included in a magazine article being published soon. I won't say anymore yet, but this is what I managed to get done in the 20 minutes that I had. The important part of this sketch was the first step which I am keeping for the publication.

And this is the final version - a few more details and darks added - plus the sky.

And a few less standard stuff which were also for projects.

A 3d plan view of my studio…

And a House Portrait commission for neighbours who have sold their house and are downsizing. Will be sad not having them around!


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