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Friday, November 21, 2014

Day in the Blue Mountains

Highlights of a great day in the Blue Mountains - full report next week.

Sketching the iconic rocks, a fancy high tea at the newly re-opened Hydro Majestic, the aftermath from last weeks bushfire and my favourite spot - Pulpit Rock -  having the valley all to myself.



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I hope you can join me SketchingNow from November 12 - the course has started but it is not to late to register
Foundations - 12 week course. Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Running off the page? Two approaches using Michelangelo and my niece's kitchen



The last two weeks have made me realise once again how much I love blogging and how important it has become to me as a crucial part of my creative journey. I have only missed a few days but the regular routine of blogging has stopped while I get the SketchingNow course into a manageable weekly pattern. Blogging regularly helps with my sketching - so much internal dialogue happens whenever I sketch, that now it seems incomplete if I don't sit down and write about. The act of writing down my thoughts is primarily for my own benefit - but it is a great privilege to be able to share these thoughts with others as well. We can read a little more about why blogging is so important to me here.

I am blown away that so many people have wanted to do my SketchingNow course and at this amazing opportunity to be able to share more with a larger group. It is also extremely satisfying to get back into a weekly class routine - I have taught a lot of the content before but converting into a online sharable format means that I have to re-cut it and refine it. I LOVE this process - my brain thrives on this search to find the clearest way to explain important visual concepts. It is a heavy weekly workload that I have committed to but manageable and I just hope that I can keep up my blogging as well, because in a strange way it has become 'me-time'.

Well, that turned out to be a long preamble, didn't it? To get on with business...


A few weeks ago I did this sketch of one of the Capitoline Palaces in Rome by Michelangelo as my Friday night wind-down sketch. I normally sketch architecture with a very structured approach - beginning with the overall arrangement and then defining the parts. However on this occasion I just started at the top and worked down. I realised very quickly that I would have trouble fitting the whole building in… so I paused and considered my options.  Panic!, or crop the building, or just squeeze the proportions and hope for the best. I did the last option and, if I hadn't 'fessed up, most of you would not have known. Of course Liz the architect feels awful about destroying Michelango's harmonic proportions - hmm… Mich liked distortion and bending the rules himself so maybe he would be ok with what I have done!


The day after I was at my niece's 3rd birthday party and wanted to sketch her big present - a kitchen (for her cubby house). It was always going to be a challenge with lots of little ones around but I took advantage of a quiet moment while it was sitting unused in the middle of the living room. The pressure was on - I was fully aware of potential interruptions from little children but I didn't realise that my dad was packing the kitchen up to relocate it to the cubby house. The kitchen was about to move!
Anyway, the long and short of it was that I made the same error in judgement as I had done the day before ie. I drew the top half too big. However this time I tried a fourth option - simply drawing a new line (or two) calming in a correct position. The original lines are still very noticeable but that doesn't bother me.
In the end I WAS interrupted by a little one checking what I was doing while I was painting so I left this sketch in its incomplete and decidedly loose state. Splashy paint everywhere - ah! it records the moment well!

So what do you think of my choices of how to get out of my sketching dramas?

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I hope you can join me SketchingNow from November 12 - the course has started but it is not to late to register
Foundations - 12 week course. Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

SketchingNow Adventure: Palm Beach

Last Friday I headed north to Palm Beach for my second SketchingNow Adventure. The week before I had gone south to Kurnell and Cronulla so I have now created the north and south boundaries of Sydney along the coast.


Palm Beach represents the top of the Northern Beaches region and the beach is a isthmus - a narrow strip of land with the ocean on one side and Broken Bay on the other. This is a favourite spot of mine to take overseas visitors but I haven't done that for years. The last time I was in the area was January 2012 and you can see my sketches here.


It was a glorious warm day perfect for a few hours at the beach, especially as it was a very hot 39C  back at my home!  However my first destination, after my hour long drive was The Greedy Goat cafe.


I had a late second breakfast (which turned out to be an early lunch) sketched my food and the cafe view.

This is a very restrained sketch for me and quite out of character in a number of ways. It was good to take my time and attempt a calm rambling sketch - to say that the last few days had been frantic would be an understatement and I had a lovely chat to Emma who works there as well.


Time to head for the beach? No, wait - lets do a quick sketch of the cafe from across the road first!


I hadn't really planned what I wanted to do but as soon as I made it to the sands of 'Palmie' I had a sudden recollection of a pencil sketch I had done years of the rocks at the northern end of the beach. So, naturally I headed off in that direction. I am not sure why, but I have a little obsession with revisiting and re-sketching the same scenes.
I can't remember exactly when I did the previous sketch but think it was during first year at university in 1989... so it was a few years ago. Isn't it amazing that I remembered that I had sketched this location before? No, not really there is a special connection with place when you draw it!


I normally find sketching at the beach very relaxing but this particular sketch turned out to be the reverse. I was a little anxious about being in the burning midday Australian sun for too long (I try to avoid it in the middle of the day even with sunscreen on) and just after I had started my sketch, I realised that the tide was coming in and I was too close to the water! So had to make a quick re-adjustment of my position and managed to get sand everywhere… that seemed to disrupt the nice calm state I wanted to be in for my sketch. I worked fast and looser than I was planning and then thought I better get out of the sun.


The long walk back involved buying 'my favourite' ice cream (big associations with my childhood and summer holidays) and taking a photo of 'that soap opera' sign - sorry I don't want to include its name on my blog!


I headed on immediately to Whale Beach for another sketch and a swim. It was one of those days when I continually felt as if I was running out of time, as I wanted to be on the road ahead of the peak hour traffic on the way home, but I was determined that I would have a quick swim.


I rarely get make it into the ocean and when I saw a row of blue bottles on the sand was a little disheartened - I want to keep my record intact of never being stung by one. But I headed for the rock pool and managed a swim and two sketches.


The Australian sun in the middle of the day is fierce and casts very strong shadows and I felt this sketch was a little heavy handed at the time -  but the shade/shadow areas were dark! Big drops of water from the overhanging rock above me was causing me some concern but thankfully the ones that did land on the page didn't do any damage.


It was lovely to have a quick swim and then an even quicker final sketch of the rockpool.

This entire sketch was done with a single continuous line - I have never done that done. (Those of you doing SketchingNow Foundations might find that amusing in light a statement I made in this week's lesson.)


And just a few more photos from Whale Beach: two signs,  more blue bottles and my green juice - no tea and cake for me today

South then north... where will I head this Friday?

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I hope you can join me SketchingNow from November 12 - the course has started but it is not to late to register
Foundations - 12 week course. Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Pocket Brushes and Expressive pens


You know that things must be really really busy when I miss a few days posting - hey? Well, that sums it up at the moment. It is important for me that I keep up my sketching and if possible my blogging- so here is a little Sketching Now homework.

Three pocket sable brushes that I have used: 

The Rosemary brush and a great review by Parkablogs on the Escoda vs Da Vinci
My favourite is the Da Vinci but the cost and the screw lid isn't so good. It is hard to beat the Rosemary brush!

And my two current 'expressive line' pens:

A Hero M86 and a short blue Sailor Pen.

My green sailor pen with the longer body is sadly missing (haven't had time to do a proper search and it hasn't just turned up so I am starting to worry). Both of these sailor pens have a 55degree nib. I would love to try the blue long body Sailor 45degree pen one day.
I find the variety of line is greater with the sailor and it is a lighter pen, though as my notes indicate the body of the M86 is quite nice to hold.

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I hope you can join me SketchingNow from November 12 - the course has started but it is not to late to register
Foundations - 12 week course. Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Sketching at the Beach


Sydney has the most beautiful beaches... and I never seem to get there.

Today for my second SketchingNow adventure I headed north to Palm Beach - I had a lovely late breakfast at Greedy Goat cafe, walked and walked along the beach and then had a quick swim at Whale Beach. And of course I sketched along the way. It has done me a lot of good to get out to the beach today.


Full report of my day will be posted mid next week.


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I hope you can join me SketchingNow from November 12 - the course has started but it is not to late to register
Foundations - 12 week course. Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching

Subscribe to my mailing list for my monthly newsletters 


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