Friday, May 15, 2015

Old Service Stations in Sydney

Guest Post by Nancy MacAlpine, Sydney Urban Sketcher.

Over the last few months, Nancy has been doing a wonderful series of sketches of old Service Stations in Sydney. Here she shares with us four of her favourites. Please check out her blog for more of her work.

I had been think about sketching this Spanish Mission style service station in Newtown, an inner Sydney suburb, for some time.  Finally got around to it over the Christmas break and having time to spare, started a project of sketching these fast disappearing buildings.
This particular service station is a beauty, built in 1928 and  designed to attract  the wealthy as they were the ones who owned cars.
Service stations were purpose built between the wars when cars became more widely owned  Of course pre-existing buildings were converted for this use too.  The purpose built stations  in Sydney often are deco style, P &O style or Spanish Mission.

This is the second service station that I sketched and you can see the similarities between this one and the first.  This happens to be the place I take my own car to be serviced.  It serves petrol too and the bowsers are right on the footpath.  This was built between the wars. It was closed this day, when open it is a very busy place.

This is an unusual service station on Cleveland St, Sydney, and it had some nice old luxury cars out the front.  I had thought it might be from the 50's but the owner says it is from the 1930's.  I realised after that I had seen some Clarice Cliff ceramics that had similar shapes, also created in the 30's.
A man stopped and talked about this building when I sat sketching it.  He said his father used to take his car there and it always had an excellent reputation for good work.

I sketched this Arabic style service station on a very sunny summer day.  This one is located on the Princes Hwy at St Peters, Sydney. It was far too hot on that day so I sat in the shade of a doorway across the highway.

It has been so much fun sketching these buildings and trying to find a bit of their history.  Unfortunately, so many are disappearing, we need to capture them before they are gone.
There are more of these service station sketches on

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The end of the Rio milk bar, Summer Hill, Sydney

RIP George Poulos, Summer Hill
I heard yesterday that George, owner of The Rio milkbar, died last week. He was an icon in Summer Hill. He had worked in his shop for 63 years, and always wore a shirt and tie. I drew his shop for the last time recently, to capture the Christmas swag hanging above the front door. In the olden days the shop was open until 11pm to capture the theatre crowd coming out, and George was famous for his milkshakes. Apparently, people like Johnny O'Keefe used to visit the shop. Despite ill health and even at the age of 92 George  still opened his shop until late. I will miss looking at this little bit of history when I drive through Summer Hill. Someone will come along and buy it,  paint it and spruce it up,
and it will lose all its character!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Urban Sketchers Sydney - Sydney Hospital Sketches

Following is a collection of sketches created at Sydney Hospital on 2 May 2015.

Mike Botton

Rooi Lim

Clover Goa (left)  Tricia Kress (right)

Liz Steel

As organiser for the day, finding quiet time to sketch is always a challenge. I did three sketches, none of them were completed. The first (on the left), in brown ink, was my warmup while waiting for everyone to arrive. 
The second (on the right) was of the round corner turret that I have only noticed recently - I have been in this courtyard many times but never saw this part of the hospital. I really liked the green stairs at the base but it started raining when I was only halfway through - umbrella was put up and I continued, but my flow was disrupted. I keep working rapidly to reach the bottom of the page and then abandoned the sketch. Ironically the rain stopped so I would have have plenty of time to finish this according to plan- oh well, that is one of the joys of Urban Sketching.

Liz Steel

My third sketch was going well until the ink ran out… I was hoping to sketch an overall scene of the courtyard …It wasn't to be!

Chantal Vincent

There are many interesting features of the Sydney Hospital to sketch but I could not go past the fairy tale like turret set on the side that looks out to the gardens of the Domain. Secondly, the bronze statue of the wild boar 'Il Porcellino' - great to sketch and entertaining to watch so many passers by stop to rub his snout. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Urban Sketchers Sydney at Sydney Hospital

The Urban Sketchers Sydney events just seem to get better and better. Despite Saturday's 'rain- heavy at times' forecast we had a fantastic turn up of 34 people  to the Sydney Hospital courtyard.It is always great when we are all sitting together in the one area, so this courtyard was ideal. And a nice roomy cafe was a good base!

Everywhere you looked, there were sketchers!

Once again the work done by the group was amazing- so much variety even though we were all sketching the same thing.

And here is the group photo... there were 34 people in total (some had already left before this photo)

It was very special to have Cecily and Khim from the Penang USK group join us for the day. I love the way Urban Sketchers makes meetings like this possible!

A collection of some of the sketches will follow later in the week

Friday, May 1, 2015

Video of Melbourne Urban Sketchers at North Melbourne

Further to Evelyn's report of a great event in Melbourne last month, I am excited to share with you this video put together by Kevin - thanks!
You might also want to read Paul's report on the main Urban Sketchers Blog
and the summary I wrote on my own blog at the end of the day.

If you want to join the group click here

Sunday, April 19, 2015

ANZAC Centenary, Peace Forver

Friends, thank you very much for the strong support. This whole post was included in "ANZAC Illustrated" exhibition at Clunes International Booktown Festival. All works were created by Australian picture book illustrators. I was included into them. A great honour. It is the Australia's largest book trading event and the only booktown in a southern hemisphere. 
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I sketched a veteran's monochrome photos, watches and a uniform that are dedicated for ANZAC and displayed in a public library like a museum. ANZAC day, 25th April is the remembrance day of soldiers and served people in Australia. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Originally it was to honour the ANZAC members who fought in Gallipoli against Turkey in WWI. 100 years have passed. 
Casuality : Over 80,000 Arab and Turkish soldiers were killed. Their wounded number was doubled Australian soldiers. Nearly 9,000 Australian soldiers lost their lives. About 140,000 allied troops were killed or wounded. Totall : Estimated casuality was nearly 400,000 on both sides. 
What's the meaning of ANZAC, our respect and mourning today? In my view, the message of died soldiers is simple, "Never repeat war. Remember our sacrifices for peace. Pass on a better world to a next generation." I'm certain that none of killed or served people wants us to make war. How much died people wanted to come home safely to see us, family, loves and friends!  What do you think, Friends? In your own country, you have a similar remembrance day.Today, sadly, there are still wars on the earth. (*NOTE : A soldier's ID is changed below.) 
I enjoyed the sketching in the library. All exhibited things belong to a librarian's father, who already passed away. (She happily permitted my sketch and always encourages my art activities.) The monochrome photo was framed in a cracked glass. 
"Did your father talk of war?" I asked the librarian.  
"No. I think it was from post war trauma."
As far as I know few veterans speak of war experiences and keep a heavy silence. The two librarans' sons are serving right now. They are worried about precious sons' lives and safety. All of us agreed, "Against any war." My sketches made the librarians very happy. She added in a cheerful tone, "Great honour. My father should be very happy with your sketches. Blog it!" Thank you for your cooperation and warm cheers. 
While sketching, my sketching interested people and they talked to me in the library. 
If I dare to explain my drawing theoretically, "value" is the key. In narrative, small settings are crucial, too. Did you realise that I changed the soldier's eye contact in colour from the black and white drawing? I made him more facing us straightly. Really a slight change though, it has made a mood. I always weigh on eyes in portraits. Or Friends, can you explain my painting features for me?? That'll be great and fun. I really appreciate your kind help! 
A blog friend says,  "How interesting you can take something as static as a watch and still give it life in some way - how do you do that? It doesn't look dull and static when you paint it but has a vibrancy and life to it - you do that with everything, not just people so it must just be your personal style :)."
Thank you. I actually do not know well how I did it. Yes, it's my style much like from my instinct. "Colour" is my most favorite area and tool. None of theories explains it. Can you ask a bird why sings? 
Technically, I chose a "realistic" and "calm/quiet" approach for the images. The sketches gave me confidence how to colour the images created from monochrome photos. I added colours on figures from my own imagination. Imagination and creativity are humans wings to fly across a sky freely, is my belief. 
Parramatta library calls for post cards for women and men currently serving for Australian army (Wednesday 8 April to Friday 24 April 2015). I wrote 2 and added the sketches of Parramatta landscapes in them. Wow, what an honour, the library displays my submitted post cards on a board as samples. "Your sketches are so beautiful!" says a librarian about why they put my postcards (thank u!). Collected ones will be sent to Department of Defence to forward to our military personnel all around the world. I hope our little bit compassion will comfort people in army. 
In addition, I also wrote what we had discussed about ANZAC, a national identity and human rights in a uni sociology tut and included the sketch of a soldier's belt and eating set in my own blog. If you'd like to think of ANZAC and related stuff above, come over my blog, "Sadami's Graffiti" that has a bibliography. 
Back to the topic. I hope we will bequeath a better world to a next generation from the precious experience of ANZAC. I also hope, we, illustrators and artists will work on sending the important message, the want for peace in art. 
Friends, Happy Painting! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Presentation by Paul Wang and Liz Steel, and Sketchcrawl in North Melbourne

What a treat to have Paul Wang and Liz Steel present to the Melbourne Urban Sketchers last Saturday (11/4). It was very informative for us - via slideshow and video, we saw some urban sketching events in other cities, Paul’s work over the years as well as a glimpse of his approach. We also heard about the upcoming symposium from Liz that got many of us excited.
The morning presentation was followed by sketching around Errol Street in North Melbourne.
This is the sketch I completed during the session, just outside the Town Hall and looking towards a row of shops.
Paul Wang facilitated the show and tell after sketching.
There was more sketching afterwards at the Auction Room cafe over drinks and food, and later at Joe Taylor Bar over drinks. It was a fun day that started at 10am and for some of us ended after dinner.