Online Sketching Class

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SketchingNow Adventure: Parramatta and Harris Park

This week for the last of my SketchingNow Adventure this year, I headed to Parramatta. It marks a half way point in the metropolitan area and is located at the point where the Parramatta River becomes freshwater. It also the location of the oldest inland European settlement in Australia; within a year of the British landing, it was established as a town for farming. There are many historic colonial buildings scattered throughout the central business district and I explored a few.

It was a wild and windy day and I only lasted till lunchtime but this is what I managed in the few hours I was there.

First sketch was St John church on the way to somewhere special. I was playing with my yellow and green De Atramentis ink that I put into a waterbrush. Very quick sketch.

My first destination was  Circa - a serious coffee shop!

I had a great time interacting with the great staff and owner... and enjoying my orders.

A lovely coffee to start and amazing French toast

and then a great Teacraft Oolong tea.

 Didn't really have the time to sketch the interior but I do intend to go back soon!

I had to rush back to my car as my parking was about to expire, but on the way I did a super quick sketch of Brislington 1821 - the oldest example of a privately built colonial townhouse in mainland Australia (that is what my guide says...hmm,  sounds like it is trying too hard to make it the oldest something). I was playing with my DeA green ink with this sketch. Bottle green is a common colour for architectural details in Australia and I have often wanted a good solution for doing them. I am thinking that mixing a darker green might be a very useful colour to have in my kit.

 This is located in the Justice Precinct just near the Tudor Gatehouse entrance to Parramatta Park - sadly didn't get a chance to sketch it this visit.

I also didn't get to sketch the lovely Old Government House designed by James Bloodsworth in 1799 (the oldest public building in Australia) but I did get to say hello to a few Corella birds on the way - I don't often see them where I live. They have a much nicer call than the sulfur crested cockatoos!

I drove a little further into the park and sketched the Boer War memorial - the weather changed from sun to overcast to little rain three times during the sketch. This memorial was built in 1904 and the four Doric columns, entablature blocks and cornice are from the Parramatta Courthouse built by Mortimer Lewis in 1837. The broken pillar in the centre of the memorial signifies "life broken short" to remember the lives lost in the war.
 I was sitting next to the spot of the first building in Parramatta (the oldest building site?)

Next I headed to the suburb next door of Harris Park - which is a 'little India' but right in the middle is a striking 1970s church - A Lebanese Maronite church. I did a quick loose sketch of this before tracking down a few more colonial structures.

There are three farm cottages in this area, the best known is Elizabeth Farm 1793 (the oldest surviving building in Australia). But you can also visit Experiment Farm 1834 and Hambledon Cottage which was the residence of the Macarthurs' governess. I sat on the grass outside the latter and did one final sketch for the outing.

I then popped in and had a cup of tea with my brother and his family before heading home.

 I don't often share family details here on my blog but sometimes I just have to indulge. Warning: proud Auntie moment coming up... These two sweet children are a big part of my life. I think they were pleased to see Auntie Liz!?!

There is still SO much more I want to sketch and explore in this part of Sydney but this adventure was a start.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Red ink lines

As a follow up to my recent post where I shared the story of my red lines, and because I have recently received a box of all the new De Atramentis Document Inks I thought I would try using red ink for guidelines.

Hmmm, an interesting experiment and it has got me thinking 'is it the medium or the colour that makes it suitable for setup lines?' This is particularly the case when I use raw sienna coloured ink. I am just posing the question at the moment as I don't have the answer. I am also asking myself 'if I am alternating between line and colour are the first marks setup or just part of the process?'

I am in the middle of cleaning out some of my unused pens and loading them up with ink… I can't wait to start drawing with them. Somehow, having an unlimited range of BEAUTIFUL permanent ink colours has opened up the door to many new possibilities. Hopefully during the Xmas/ New Year week when I hope to sneak a few days break I can start exploring these.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Regents St Mortuary Station

Last Saturday was the last USK SYD event for the year and despite my current workload decided to get out and enjoy some sketching just for me. We were meeting on Regents St outside the Mortuary Station...and it was great just to get my paints out and play a little!

The Mortuary Station (1869) was built to help transport the dead and their families to Rookwood Cemetery and was designed by the first Australian female architect. I have seen it frequently on my train trips into town and in passing as I drive along Regents St, but never been up close. I was quite surprised that my mental image of the building was based on my normally oblique view - I thought the octagon component was to one side of the railway platform but in fact the design is very symmetrical.

It was nice to spend a little time recording the design. Rod mentioned that it was Venetian Gothic... I can't find my Apperly at the moment to look up (something for a rainy day and BTW I really wish I had a copy of Freeland...hmm, something for my to do list )

On the opposite side of the road was an amazing juxtaposition of two buildings that I wanted to sketch. This was a case of starting a sketch without a clear focus and then working out what it should be halfway through. Fun to sketch but I do wish I had had the time to do another version. However it was time to head to the meeting spot so that I could have some refreshments before everyone else turned up.

I have been wanting to visit the White Rabbit Gallery Cafe for a long time as they have GREAT tea.

There are a lot of bird cages hanging from the ceiling to draw as well - but I refrained on this occasion so that I make sure I schedule a return visit.

Oh, I had dumplings too, but the sketch was super quick and 'rough' as I wanted to eat them hot.

And finally a few photos of the sketches donefrom a great morning...


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Friday, December 12, 2014

The story of my red lines: pencils, setup lines and early work

This week and next we are looking at setup in my Foundations online class. Setup seems to be a very contentious issue as there are lots of advocates for an ink-only approach! While I have a great respect for the arguments in favour of ink only, I have generally used some form of setup.

I use setup because I WANT to, for me it is a tactile response to my subject - I love feeling the edges and respond to what I see with a pencil in my hand...and love having a record of this initial line on my page.

A number of people have asked about my red lines - it was a fad I went through for many years - using a 0.5mm mechanical red pencil lead that was very visible in my sketches. I thought it would be good to share here on my blog... and a few other thoughts on using pencils.

So time to go back into the archives...

 My background as an architect is grounded in loose design sketches in ink with lots of restated lines - but when I started sketching I tried to clean my lines up and to do I that used pencil setup lines.

Here are two examples of two approaches from my first big sketching trip in 2007. Super quick restated lines when I was in a rush and pencil setup when I wanted to be accurate and had time

For  years I have made many statements that 'I am an ink girl '- I love my ink lines and I don't really like pencil and really dislike smudgy media... but it is amazing to discover that in that initial sketching trip I did a number of pencil sketches - sometimes with a big chunky pencil (like this one of Ullapool in the rain)...

and these ones with a B pencil from a few Rome dinners from the same trip...when I started sketching my meals! (Hmm, my work has changed a lot over the years hasn't it?)

In 2010 I purchased some 0.5 red mechanical pencil lead as a souvenir of an art store visit with Lapin. We were both in Portland for the USK symposium and I wanted a small item to remind me of the historic occasion. I had never come across these leads before...and I really didn't know how I would use them.

At the time I was using a very hard 3H graphite pencil for basic setup but when I lost this pencil a few weeks later  in NYC, I only had the red leads with me...  so started using them. I decided that I liked them! As sketching for me is all about the process,  I do not care that my setup is visible.
 It then stuck - I loved the way it recorded my initial lines and it helped me gain more confidence with my ink lines and to tackle more complex architectural subjects. (Sigh, I love St Stephens Wallbrook in London!)

Sometimes the lines were hardly visible. (Sigh, love St Mary's Woolnoth in London too!)

On other occasions they were a big part.

And then at the beginning of 2013 something strange happened. I left my full time architectural job and stopped using my pen at almost the same time. When at the beach for a long holiday I discovered I enjoyed working with pencil more - particularly for seascapes.

But it also extended to tearoom sketches as well.

And I found that I could work faster and more confidently with water soluble pencil lines when in Barcelona that year.

And well, these days...anything goes. Sometimes I use watercolour pencil for setup, sometimes I start with paint, sometimes I work just in ink.

And who knows how working with coloured ink will change the game as well! I had lots of interesting thoughts today while out sketching such as "what really is setup anyway?" I have REALLY enjoyed looking at setup for these two weeks in my online course and next week's lesson on some looser approaches to setup has been a lot of fun to put together.

The important thing is not whether you are using the 'right' approach or not (what is it anyway?) but the fact that you have started and are sketching. Keep going and have fun.

Don't pressure yourself into doing this or that because you feel you have to! I am a firm believer that if you enjoy the creative journey, things will come naturally. I tried many times of the last 8 years to give up my ink lines and work just with watercolour... but when the time was right it just happened.

Keep going and have fun!
(oops, I am repeating myself!)

And just a final final reminder... I am closing registration on my SketchingNow course in 24 hours (approx midnight Friday 12 Dec Pacific Standard Time... which means Sat night for us here in Sydney!)
More details here
(ok - that's it, more more mention of registration I promise!)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Coloured Ink - mixing a Raw Sienna with De Atramentis Yellow and Brown

Last night I decided to have a little play with my new De Atramentis Inks  (If you missed it the full set is here). BTW Wednesday night is now my 'play night' ... the next week Foundations class goes live so it is time just to catch up with myself or play a little before getting started on the next week's lesson.

I have been thinking all week about what colour to mix - too many options available - but then I thought about my beloved brown ochre watercolour pencil and that got me thinking. What would it be like to have a raw sienna coloured ink? There is only one way to find out!

So I mixed myself a little quantity from the Document Yellow and Brown ink, filled up an empty cartridge and then tested in on the two subject I know and love best!

First a tea cup... of course! The colour wasn't quite raw sienna - more a greeny gold, but it was fine for the teacup. It was a completely wierd experience to be working with a light coloured ink; I am used to ink being black and decisive but with this colour my lines had minimal impact - it was so contrary to what I am used to. As much as I love working with watercolour pencil there is something special about the crisp clean lines of ink and the flow of the fluid ink on the paper.

Time for a second test - A Baroque facade! The colour wasn't right - way too yellow but it was fun to work with. Here is a scan of the first pass with my mixed yellow ink.

I then added paint and a few De Atramentis Document Brown and Document Green over the top. The ink rapidly disperses if you put it over damp paint so you can get some interesting effects and I started playing with that property. I had put the green in a water brush (thanks Mandy for that idea!) so it was quite thick and wet on the page. While wet I had the chance to play with it, but other parts dried quckly and were permanent. I think there are a lot of fun ideas to be explored from this.

And finally, just a text page. I added a little more brown to my mixed yellow and it is close now to the colour I was after. I can't tell you how much I LOVE the variation in the colour when using ink!

SketchingNow Foundations online class registration is still open but will be closing 12 December. It is not too late to sign up!
Foundations - 12 week course. Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching

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