A short visit to Cockatoo Island

January 17, 2022 | 4 Comments

This January I’m making more of an effort to go on regular sketching outings so on Thursday I had a short visit to Cockatoo Island.  It’s one of my favourite places to sketch in Sydney – so many sketchable subjects in a short area and also lots of great memories from outings over the years.

We’re having a lot of rain lately here in Sydney (and Thursday’s forecast wasn’t great) so Cockatoo Island was a perfect place to visit as there are a lot of great undercover sketching locations. Even though it rained twice during the two hours I was on the island I’m really thankful that I wasn’t really impacted by rain.

I found a bench and table under a roof for my first sketch. There are lots of industrial remnants on the island – fun shapes and texture.

As I was sketching this I was remembering a Urban Sketchers Australia sketch meet we had here in 2016 and some of my earliest visits to the island with Wendy Shortland. I was thinking about Wendy a lot on Thursday and miss all the great art chats we used to have!

This end of the main industrial shed is one of my favourite parts of Cockatoo Island. I couldn’t help remembering a version that I did of this at the end of a two-day workshop I taught here with Paul Wang in 2014.

I used my fude (55 degree nib inside a brown pen) with De Atramentis Sepia ink, my dagger brush and a mechanical pencil with 2H lead (for something a bit different).

The rain started so I went inside the shed looking for options… but the shower didn’t last long.

I ended up going back outside and found a sheltered spot to do a sketch of one of the big cranes on the island.

Ah! it’s nice to have a large sketchbook (11×14 Alpha) for this tall subject.

In addition to my dagger brush I also used an eradicator (medium size) for some texture and an R18 Triangular Brush for the fine lines. This brush just happened to be the smallest/finest brush in my bag on the day.

Here is a scan of the finished sketch.

Note: I’d been on the island for just over an hour at this point.

Next I headed to the deserted outdoor cafe, got a coffee, and then sketched another crane. I was in a really relaxed mood!

Ah! it was so good to be here again.

I decided to catch the next ferry back (making it only 2 hours on the island) and considered doing another sketch of this view – the Cockatoo Island guardians as I refer to them. But there was rain around and no shelter in this area.

And well, I was more interested in the banksia trees that have grown so much since I was last here.

I ended up taking lots of photos and then sketched  (back home) two of the seed pods that I found on the ground.

I finished my visit to the island by sketching from the wharf (where I would have had shelter if it started to rain again). This view includes all the places I had sketched that morning.

Here are the completed spreads from the morning.

This book has been so much fun to use! (BTW this large spiral book is old stock and no longer available.)

So there you have it – a very productive 2 hours on Cockatoo Island!

This outing was a good reminder to me that it’s really easy to pop over to the island for a quick visit… and once again, how great it feels to be out sketching on location!


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