I’ve had a wonderful first few days here in Newcastle. Despite a lot of rain forecasted, it’s been mainly dry and the rain hasn’t affected my sketching plans at all. (Super thankful for that!)
I’ve been to Newcastle many times in my life but nearly exclusively for day trips (including some workshops a few years ago) and so although I have lots of memories I have no idea of how the bits fit together. I have no sense of Newcastle as a whole so I was really looking forward to this trip. (BTW Newcastle is only two hours drive north of Sydney.)
So far I can report that Newcastle is even more interesting and sketchable than I expected!
I’ve been exploring different ways of combining coloured pencils with watercolour, and I’ve also started using watercolour pencils again. Note: WCPs have been part of my sketching kit since the early days and I’ve been using them quite a lot in the last 8 months or so.
I haven’t yet come up with a technique that I’m really happy with, but I’m loving the process of experimentation. I could have easily just gone back to my standard way of working but I’m in the mood to do something different. So I’m intentionally taking risks (ie. happy for a sketch not to work) which is something I didn’t really do last year on my big road trip.
I think that one of the most important aspects of being an artist is to listen to your inner voice and be true to it. So this means sometimes doing things that are not as popular with others. I’m most inspired by artists who are always evolving, trying new things and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. Even though I might sometimes miss seeing new examples of work in their early style I greatly respect their need to grow and develop. And personally, I’m happiest when I’m taking risks as my creative juices are flowing most freely.
I guess that some of you just want me to go back to watercolour and/or ink and wash! 🙂 But, as mentioned above, I simply have a desire to combine coloured pencils with paint at the moment. I’m loving the vibrant colours, creamy opaqueness and texture that pencils give me. And I’m excited to see how that combines with the transparency, granulation and pigment party of watercolour. At heart I think that I’m more of a mixed media artist than a traditional watercolorist but I can’t see myself ever giving up watercolour totally. 🙂
As you will see in this collection of sketches I’m still doing my usual line drawings, ink and wash and direct watercolour sketches but there is quite a bit of pencil thrown in too.
I have no idea where this is leading me, but I’m enjoying the journey.
So here is a summary of my first few days in Newcastle. (Warning: This is a long post!)
Saturday – The River and the Ocean
My first stop in Newcastle was the Visitor Information Centre to pick up a map and some brochures. I was impressed by the number of walking trail guides!
And then I walked along the foreshore in the Honeysuckle area. My first view was of a container ship arriving – an iconic Newcastle scene due to its industrial past and its present active port.
Despite having all my coloured pencils with me the first sketch was watercolour.
For the other sketch on this page I did use CPs but this was mainly due to the fact that I coloured it later in the day while waiting for my dinner to be cooked. Both of these small sketches were warmups.
I found myself walking towards the Customs House – it’s one of two James Barnet buildings in Newcastle. I had to abandon the sketch because it was too cold and windy. I feel a little out of practice… 1. One month since I’ve sketched on location with watercolour (and using a new palette with a slightly different layout of colours) 2. Two months since I last sketched a fancy building on location.
Here is the finished spread which also includes a map of the part of Newcastle that I’ll be exploring the most. You can see the river along the top (the Hunter River) and the ocean below. After checking into my AirBnB I headed for the beaches.
It was lovely to sit and do a sketch of Bar Beach at the end of the day. This Moleskine paper (the rougher side) has a little more texture than I like when using coloured pencil, so I ended up adding lots of layers and ink to this sketch.
Monday – Coastline Day
I did this sketch of Newcastle Beach while chatting to Jane Blundell on the phone – so I’m not sure exactly what steps I used. But I know that it contains watercolour, coloured pencils and watercolour pencils.
Here is a more classic view of Nobby’s Head from the beach. There are some covered tables here so I might come back later in the week.
I had a few chores to do and then late afternoon I went out again.
Walking along the ANZAC Memorial Walk/Bridge
The light was beautiful!
And the views stunning!
The sun was going down really quickly so I did a simple line drawing.
Here is the full spread – including a quick sketch of the Bogey Hole. Another spot I need to return to later in my stay.
Tuesday – Grand Buildings
A relaxed start to the day with a lovely breakfast at Three Monkeys Cafe.
Here is the finished spread. As always there is a little more that I could do to this sketch… but I’ll leave it as it is.
… and the beautiful colours!
Keen to explore the idea of using CP in shadow areas, I moved on to Civic Park and started a sketch of City Hall. Was getting a little tired at this point and so this was as far as I got at the time. I still had a good walk back to my AirBnB.
Back in the apartment I added a few more washes to complete the sketch. Later in the afternoon I sketched a cup of tea – yes, I am travelling with a teacup from home (two in fact!). And then I did some swatches to test further the idea of layering watercolour over CP. It seems that darker washes over vibrant CP are the most exciting. Stay tuned for more exploration of this.
And so there you have it – all my sketches from my first few days in Newcastle. It’s been a productive start! I’m enjoying exploring this wonderful city at a fairly relaxed pace (for me).