Newtown Post Office - On location and back home

August 18, 2012 | Leave your thoughts

Today I had 20 mins spare before meeting friends for lunch and so I decided to do a quick sketch of the building that caught my eye a fortnight ago when I was there.

From all my extensive sketching, I know that this was an unrealistic time to do a ‘proper’ sketch…but of course, I still tried. So what resulted was a very loose sketch. I used my usual red pencil guidelines only for mapping the overall shape on the page and then went for it in ink without any real regard for perspective.

I also was so focused on my time limit that I just went for it without really thinking about whether I could have strengthened (and quicken) my sketch by focusing on one element/ part of the building.
A few other things – I painted the sky first, something I don’t always do. I also left the King St facade white as it was sunlit (in fact both facades were in the sun but I made the choice to add shade to the side street facade) I find red brick buildings hard to paint and often feel my sketches are too heavy.

Anyway, I decided to have another go back home- using my knowledge from the above sketch and also looking a little more carefully at the building (via a photo)

Now before I get into that, I want to highlight some amazing posts by Meegan (a fellow Sydney sketcher and friend) about sketching architecture. Her comments are extremely thought-provoking and her work inspiring. Please go over to her blog here and here

One of the comments has got me thinking (and it was also something that came up at lunch today) is all about sketching architecture without pencil lines. I personally do not have a problem with using pencil for the set-up – grid lines of a building (ie. not ever line in pencil first)   I find that if my pencil lines are limited, and when I go over with ink I make corrections as I go, my inklines still retain their spontaneous nature. BUT, tonight I thought that I would go ink only. In the past when I go ink only, I normally use a re-instated line approach (ie. loose and multiple lines) For more see here
So tonight I wanted to do ink only and neat (well neat-ish… I am never really neat in my sketchbook)… a bit of an experiment.

To do this I decided which were the important lines in the building (well, I do this always) but it was more important to try to nail this step when only inking. So here is a photo with the lines of the main parts of the building. I often use the top leading edge of cornices to define each storey. The cornice is the band of sandstone going around the building. It often tells me things about what the surfaces of the wall is doing as it often (mostly) steps when the walls step. I also start from the top and work down – this avoids the tower off the top of the page.

And just in case you want to see the building without my green lines…

So here is my outline, I didn’t use the back of my nib to create a lighter line- but perhaps I should have. Anyway… I was going to have to live with this – but you can see that it has mapped out the whole of the building and I can now sketch without stressing about whether I will warp and go off the page.

The only other thing of note is that I decided to do the eyeline – the horizontal line which is at the same height as my eye. This helps me get the perspective lines more correct (but still my perspective is not perfect…but hey, I am not going to lose any sleep over it!)

And here is the final sketch… a few points
– I decided to paint both facades but instead of just using burnt sienna (or my version of that colour) which isn’t actually the colour of the brick, I mixed it with pyrrole orange which has made the building brickwork more lively… I am liking this!
– added a little more shade to the side street facade
– my general line work was a little more ‘neat’ than those setup lines but you can’t really tell – even the eyeline line is not that obvious
– My tower wasn’t right proportion but rather than correct it, I decided to live with it
– I added the sky last when I had a better feel for the overall page
– I need to work on my cars (and of course people)

I must say that I have found this exercise of re-doing a sketch very helpful – more so than sketching a random Italian baroque facade from a photo!

And also finally…. I am not making any judgement as to which one is “BETTER”… it is all about enjoying the process, and learning and trying out new things all the time!!!

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