Monday, August 24, 2015

Barangaroo Point Reserve Opening Day

I was very excited, after all the times I've drawn/painted this site over the last two years, to  be able to be there on the opening day of the reserve last Saturday. I got there early to get in some sketching before the crowds arrived and the ceremony began.  The site has been inaccessible for about 100 years as it was an old industrial / wharf area and closed to the public. It has been redeveloped into a park with amazing views across the water, which has changed the face of Sydney Harbour (and no doubt the tourist companies' schedules  too!!)

It felt quite special to realise I'm the first person to paint that harbour scene from that lovely spot on those sandstone blocks that now enclose the park, with the bridge in the background.

The foreshore was created using 7600 sandstone blocks reclaimed from the site, each numbered and placed in their exact position. The geometry of the way these  large  blocks have been laid is beautiful, as are the many colours to be found in them, some of which I tried to capture in my drawing. This view looks through to the Anzac Bridge in the background.

The old harbour control tower can be seen looming over the park from many viewpoints, asserting quite a presence. It was built after two ships collided near Millers Point in 1972. Some have called it "Sydney’s concrete mushroom", and sadly it has now been consigned to demolition, because they say it isn’t in keeping with the natural environment feel of the reserve. But I love it and the way it keeps its eye on the harbour and will be very sad to see it go!

This view was from the Burrawang Steps across the Stargazer Lawn, with the Harbour Bridge in the background. 

 Later in the morning a passerby told me there was someone else drawing around the corner, so sure enough, I found Lionel, another of our Sydney USK gang, drawing this tower from Wulugul Walk!
It was great to be part of the opening of this special place and I'm sure it will be enjoyed by Sydneysiders and visitors to our wonderful city alike!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Finding my "stretch" topics

I thought I'd do two quick posts together as I wanted to share with you a process that I went through recently that was enlightening for me.  

I initially started to group topics of the things I thought I sketched in my head. But I ended up physically going through my old sketchbooks and it was quite enlightening. I found that I had a preference for some topics (buildings and construction sites) over others (people). It was a good process to put a list together of the things I thought I wanted to sketch and compared that to my output. This process opened up other topics, my stretch topics, which I want to experiment more with in the future. 

The general things the I thought I gravitated towards are:
- things that are different
- things that are the same but with a different context
- things that are so normal that it captures that place
- the light - reflected shadow, the patterns of the shadow, cast light from stainless windows, night light
- things that are curious to me and I sketch it to figure out how it works
- things that I want to practice sketching
- gut feel i.e. I have no idea why!

In general, my output of the things that I gravitated towards are:
These could be archways or doors or the whole building; construction sites; unique building for that town or country. I especially like the sketch of the Sevilla's Giralda as it's a sketch looking up. I want to do more sketches with different perspectives such as looking up or down from high places. I also want to do more wrap around Panoramas.  

Sevilla - Giraldatokyo 08

People doing unique activities such as hand gliding, playing speed chess, or they may just be sitting still long enough for me to sketch them. 


Perth - airport

Jardin du Luxembourg - Speed Chess

History and Culture
I am attracted to historical and contemporary sculptures and the skill and time it takes to carve it.

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver 7

Route of journey ie. map
I am glad I captured the map below in my sketchbook as I had already forgotten a lot of the details.

Cradle Mountain walk, Tasmania

Wild card 
The wild card is the "what the hey, I am passing time" sketch. I like these sketches as it forces me to sketch perspectives and topics that I wouldn't pick and make it a little bit interesting. 

The packing and art tools list, I find, is a good way to fill a sketchbook at the end of a journey to fill up the pages.  

Flight Brisbane to PerthPacking list, 10 days, Tasmania in Summer

Melbourne Airport

Insight for me
The things I want to incorporate and experiment with after going through this process are:
- to incorporate more maps and routes of my journey;
- to focus on the people and their activities and sketch the buildings to provide  context if required; and,
- to experiment with different perspectives - especially looking up and down and panorama!

I hope by sharing this process, it might prompt others to see their stretch topics to sketch as it did for me!


Monday, June 29, 2015

Spain Sketchbook

On this post, I thought I'd share my tools and how I was testing various compositions in my new sketchbook.

On my recent trip I learnt a few things as I balanced my tools for sketching (here) as well as the tools for painting in A2 (here):
- I want to travel light and this is a key driver for me. I am happy to forgo some tools for mobility. - I will decide to go somewhere and on the journey, I will decide to sketch if a place grabs me enough to sketch or I take a photo if time doesn't permit. 
- I didn't like the Daniel Smith Burnt Sienna as it was closer to a Burnt Umber so I may revert back to the Winsor & Newton Burnt Sienna. 
- I liked using the watercolour pencil as my sketch rather than my 2B pencil. The Faber Castell pencil melted away a bit more after my initial wash, whilst the Caran d'Ache pencil repelled the water and left the line. I think I choose the pencil colour on whether I see the bright spots as a cool or warmish tone.

Global Art Hand Book Watercolor Journal Square 8" x 8" with 200 gsm cold-press paper (here or here)

I like the format of this sketchbook as it lays flat when fully open. You can do an A4 size sketch whilst still leaving room for comments. It's also small enough that it can fit into a small handbag. I love the Stillman & Birn Beta paper more but I find the 5.5" x 8.5" a bit small and the 8.5 x 11" a bit large. 

I can do the sketches whilst I am standing up with this sketchbook, whilst with an A4 size sketchbook, I would need to carry a little stool or sit at a cafe.   

Tools for sketching
Daniel Smith watercolour box (here) filled with tube paint
2 travel brushes from Escoda (size 10 Optimo and size 8 Perla)
2 Watercolour pencils (light blue and purple)
Spray bottle (from Muji but Daiso stocks good ones as well)

Landscape - full use across the two pages
This converted bull-fighting arena looked like it had a UFO plonked on it.

Landscape - partial use with a map placed in the unfilled space
The part I like the most about this page was the dry brush texture on the right hand side for the old wall. I used the transparent sheet that came with the sample paint dots that we were gifted to trace a map so that it wouldn't hide it. This was painted from Can Nau (restaurant) as we waited for lunch to appear. 


I prefer the composition on the left but I like the story behind the one on the right more. I sketched the bridge over Career del Bisbe after seeing the procession of the Giants Dolls (here). There was a stage set-up in front of the Cathedral and after a few minutes a group wandered along and formed a circle and started to dance. The stage was filled by a group of musicians.   


I sat on a little rail that fenced off a tree in the Placa as I loved the shadows from the church and the Pine Tree. The seats at the cafe would have been more comfortable but I like the perspective captured from where I sat. If ever I am in Barcelona the next time, I would like to take a trip up to the bell tower to see the Barri Gotic from a different perspective.   


Two sketches
I did the sketch on the right (Casa Lleo Morera) first and filled the left hand side (the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria) with a similar theme - an entrance way. I sketched the Boqueria on a Sunday when it was closed. 


Unsuccessful sketches
The sketch below is an attempt to fill an unsuccessful page with some other sketches and a map. 

I often found that I preferred to walk the back streets and one such example is a route that I took to get to the Picasso Museum. I dotted it with some cafes that I liked. Once I find a shop that I like, I tend to go back there multiple times. Viena cafe on the Rambla, was quiet, offered good coffee as well as a small pastry to go with your coffee. I went to Pinotxo to be served by Juanito if it was early when they weren't busy.


I hope that was of some use to people. 


Friday, June 19, 2015

Barangaroo Development, Sydney

Since the beginning of 2014, I’ve been really interested in documenting the huge 22ha Barangaroo development which is changing the face of Sydney's CBD. It is named after an important indigenous woman in the early days of colonial NSW who was also the wife of Bennelong, after whom the site of the Sydney Opera House is named.
In my first sketch of International Towers Sydney in February 2014, I tried to capture the noise and energy of the site with its Lend Lease cranes.

In August  last year,  Barangaroo South was a hive of activity, yet these massive pieces of machinery seemed so graceful and birdlike, I called my sketches “The Dance of the Cranes”.

In November 2014,  I sat  in the park in Millers Point which is now closed to the public, which gave me a good view of Central Barangaroo and all the construction paraphernalia. Tower 2 was up to the  42nd floor.

On Australia Day 2015 I drew from Darling Harbour with the Harbour Ballroom boat in the foreground.  I just love the logos  stenciled on the towers, which began as a way to track progress but have become a public calendar of significant events. Because Australia Day falls on 26 January, the corresponding floor of Tower 3 was plastered with a giant Australian and Aboriginal flag to celebrate our national day.

Feb 2015 - Drawing Tower 1 from Napoleon St while the cranes and machinery hammered out their music around me. The triangular forms of the cranes really appealed to me. Note the Australia Day flags and two stencils painted on the tower to commemorate the 100th centenary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli . Another one reading “63 not out” marks the 13th floor being constructed when cricketer Phil Hughes died when he was struck on the head by a cricket ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Drawn recently from the Maritime Museum.  There are so many changes since i first started to draw this site in early 2014, but the cranes continue to intrigue me. It’s interesting to see how the glass reflects the surrounding building colours now that it's in place. As the sun was beginning to set, the red floating lighthouse at the Maritime Museum provided such a lovely contrast in colour.

Last weekend I went back to where I drew from last November, to see the changes to Central Barangaroo. The gardens on Barangaroo Point are well established now and in the foreground there is row on row of individually crafted sandstone blocks, 10 000 in all, and all quarried onsite.!  Nawi Cove has also been created between Barangaroo Point Reserve and Central Barangaroo. The waterfront promenade has just been named  Wulugul Walk. Wulugul is  Aboriginal for kingfish, which have a golden band along their blue-green skin, similar to the foreshore walk’s golden sandstone lining the blue of the harbour.

It’s exciting watching the energy and scope of this development and it will certainly be high on the list of places to see for visitors to Sydney in the future! I look forward to documenting more of the site as various sections are opened to the public.