Melbourne Trip 2016 Part 5: Workshop Prep Days

March 23, 2016 | 4 Comments

After my commitments for the Watercolour Society of Victoria (see here for details) I had two days to prepare for my 2 day Sketching Architecture workshop in North Melbourne (see here for the report).

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I had a lot of stuff that I should be working on so I didn’t want to get sucked into a obsessive sketching mode – I simply needed to work out where I would take the group for the workshop, sort out details with local cafe/s and maybe do a sketch or to so that I was familiar with the subject matter. Note: this last item was not critical as I like doing some unplanned demos in my workshops so that I can explain my thinking process in an authentic way.

I knew that I needed to be on the streets till around 2pm so that I could check the movement of the sun both on the pavement (sidewalk) and on the chosen buildings for the mornings and also to work out what it would do in the afternoon sessions. It was a hot day, and with a 33C forecast for the second workshop day I was carefully watching the shadow on the pavement and to work out whether it would be long enough for my group of 12 at 1.45pm when I would start my afternoon demo.

But first, before all that planning, I needed a coffee from the very popular local cafe, The Auction Rooms. I wasn’t going to sketch my latte, but somehow couldn’t resist!

There is a lot of lovely architecture in North Melbourne but finding a shady area suitable for a group of 12 and without parked cars blocking the way was a bit of a challenge. I walked the streets for a while until I decided on the best spots.

A few rough working sketches testing to see if these buildings as seen from a great comfortable shady location would be too hard for the perspective morning…

And then just for me, I had to do a quick sketch of the North Melbourne Town Hall tower.

And then another building on the main street.

And after some lunch… a few more buildings. Oh! it was getting hot – nearly 35C! Time to get back inside and working on my laptop.

The next morning I had to go back to the cafe to confirm details… and guess who was given a coffee while I waited for the manager? And guess who sketched it?

I wasn’t supposed to be sketching this morning, but couldn’t resist a quick sketch on the way back to my laptop where I worked flat out till 2pm. And I then headed into the city.

You have seen these before, but I just HAD to start my mad sketching session with a Flinders Street Station. This sketch was done in my A4 Watercolour Moleskine and is a more ‘serious’ sketch as opposed to the other ones which were very quick sketches.

And then of the cathedral one from Fed Square. I had a few chores to perform and a few more sketches on my ‘sketches for my book’ list to try and fit in during the afternoon – so I was pretty flat out but sometimes I do my best work when I don’t have time to think about it. I am not going to tell you what was on the list or show you all my sketches (I’ve got one or two up my sleeve!)… but ok, I will admit that this sketch was one of the ones done for my book and also that I am trying to find a way to include that FSS sketch in the book as well!

It was a bit of a crazy afternoon so before meeting up with my great sketching friend Alissa Duke (who used to live in Sydney) I had a quick sit down and cuppa opposite her workplace – the Supreme Court Library.

I arrived at the library 15 minutes before closing time – just enough time to madly attempt a very complex interior! It was so nice to see the inspiration behind all the gorgeous sketches she has been doing recently. Alissa sketches the books and the bookcases, I go straight for the space and the dome! Ah! you can tell the librarian from the architect hey?

And a quick final sketch while Alissa packed up – watercolour pencil added at the time and paint applied over the top later. We had a great catch up but no sketching as there was too much talking!

Oh! I miss our regular catchups a lot but I am SO SO excited at what is happening in Alissa’s world since she moved to Melbourne – such as this exciting news which occurred while I was there. Please go over to her blog or Flickr and check it out!

And just because I like to get a feel for how my sketches read as a narrative here is an image for each day of the full spreads in my daily sketchbook.

And the next day. You will notice a half page at the end… just acknowledging the fact that I didn’t touch my sketchbook for the two days that I was teaching as 1. I have a separate teaching sketchbook for work I do during workshops 2. I was conserving energy.

A few takeaway thoughts (for myself mainly but I hope might be helpful for some of you too):

  1. On location (Urban Sketching) workshops take quite a bit of preparation, and although you might know an area well (I had sketched in North Melbourne twice before, once with a large group of USKers) finding suitable locations that are comfortable (shade or sun or shelter if it is raining) for a group of sketchers watching a demo is much more limiting than just finding a spot to sketch for yourself. If you want the group to sketch the same subject matter (for my architecture workshops it is often important to find a subject matter that is appropriate for the specific exercise) then the options are even more limited.
  2. I am exploring realistic and sustainable options for working and travelling so I can more easily take my workshops abroad and this recent Melbourne trip was a great way of finding out what the challenges are. Teaching on location workshops is one of the most demanding projects I do in terms of energy,  but one that I love a lot. So I am certainly exploring ways that I can do it more… but that will involve saying ‘No’ to some other projects. Isn’t all about balance isn’t it?


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