I’m notoriously bad at using annual passes, so when I bought a National Park Yearly Pass (back in August) I created a schedule to keep track of my visits to Lane Cove Park and other National Parks. Therefore I was super aware that last week I would hit the 100 mark! And just for the record, so far I’ve gotten over $900 worth of visits out of my $65 annual pass – now that’s good value for money!
Most of my sketches have been done from the comfort of a picnic table (as long as it is free from water dragons!) so I’m coming back to the same spots to sketch from over and over again. There are numerous covered tables which are great when it’s raining – but that means there are fewer options on rainy days and we have had a lot of those this summer! I’ve realised over the last few months that it’s much more enjoyable to be sketching outside than it is to stay in my car. So my preference is to be outside (even in wild weather) rather than sitting in comfort inside my car. (And yes I know that we don’t get extreme weather here in Sydney so I can sketch outside all year round.)
There are still many aspects of the park that I haven’t sketched (eg. the river and the animals) but the main purpose of every visit is simply to get fresh air, a little exercise and/or sun and to be surrounded by nature. So I don’t care that my sketches are repetitive… it’s very therapeutic for me to sit and sketch trees! Some days (particularly those that I’m distracted by my workload) I just go through the motions and other days I have more time and have the headspace to be more intentional.
Lane Cove National Park is such an amazing place to visit regularly as the bush (Australian for forest) is complex and constantly changing! Two big themes for me have been:
1. Observing the ever-changing colours of the trees. Our native trees are evergreen but in summer the bark falls off and the new bark is a completely different colour. I’ve been enjoying noticing how the Sydney Blue Gum trees have yellow trunks at the moment and right now I’m watching them change back to blue-grey.
2. Thinking about composition. As I return to the same locations often I’m always thinking about how I can create a different composition from a view I’ve sketched before. I often work instinctively (without thinking too much about composition) but afterward I typically analyse my sketch and ask myself a number of questions such as:
– What is the focus of the sketch? (Do I have a focus?)
– Are the trees spaced in an interesting and varied rhythm?
– What are the pathways – the movement of the eye across the page?
For the last few weeks, the walking aspect of my visits has fallen away (due to a number of factors: my workload, a few hot summer’s days and a lot of rain) so I haven’t been using my Greenwood Journal as much. This will start up again soon… and putting this article together has been a good reminder that the quick sketches I do during my walks are an important way of exploring new compositions.
As always, I have more thoughts circulating in my mind… but I think it’s time to start sharing some recent Lane Cove work. The following collection includes some sketches that were done over the last two months in three different books – an 8×10 Softcover Alpha, my Greenwood Journal (Vol 3) and a 7×10 Spiral Alpha. Enjoy!
Sketches from December when I was focusing on finishing a big Group Run-through of my Buildings course. Some days I just sketched a single tree.
It is hard to identify trees so I’m always looking on the ground for branches that have fallen to the ground and hoping some of them have some gum nuts and fresh leaves.
A rare direct watercolour sketch!
Final December sketch on a busy day.
BTW Rob is a local photographer who gives me tips on finding animals (or in this case avoiding a snake!)
Can you see the two outlines of the water dragon in this sketch. This was the occasion of the photo of the dragon on the table.
A really quick sketch just thinking about the colour of the trees and the spacing between them.
Thinking about shapes (Foundations Lesson 2)
Australia Day sketch – thinking about pathways in this one (a concept discussed in my Watercolour On Location course)
Focusing on constructing volumes (Foundations Lesson 4)
It would be fun to put all the sketches from my 100 visits together – this would mean 100 sketches in my Alpha sketchbooks and about 80 in my Greenwood Journals – but that would be a lot of work!!! So instead, if you are interested – please check out my Lane Cove Park tag to see how my work has changed since August.