Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Square, Melbourne

Christmas Square is a temporary set-up in the city. I think it’s for kids although there were many adults there. My morning started off beautifully but the city got too busy and I couldn’t wait to get home.


I had a nice quiet time sitting at a cafe drawing this scene (above), having a coffee and pastry. It was a good view of the square (actually more like a rectangle where the tall Christmas tree is) with the Melbourne Town Hall in the background.


Then I went into the square and it was very busy (Christmas Eve). I managed a quick sketch, then decided that the city was too busy for me and went home.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Melbourne USK Sketchcrawl at the BIG DRAW

Are you in Melbourne on Jan 4, 2014? Come and join us - we are drawing at the BIG DRAW at Federation Square:

More details:

> When: Jan 4, 2014 (Saturday)
> Time: Meet at 12:30 pm. We will draw and meet up again at 2:30pm (the event ends then) for our usual photos, coffee and catch-up.
> Where: Meet at the BIG SCREEN (stage) at Federation Square.

I am really looking forward to it. See you there.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Xmas Carol & "Fair Go" Sketching

Hi, Friends, how have you been?

Now, a Christmas season! I love listening to Christmas carols, especially, organised by school kids! Oh, their voices are so cute and beautiful. (*I personally believe their chant is an angels' hymn!) Audience appreciate their singing and dancing. Certainly, children have practiced for so many hours. We should say special thanks for teachers, too. 
When school children realise my sketching, they have a great interest in me. Some pupils nudge each other and wave at me. (Hey, kids, look at your teacher, not me!) After the choir, they dash to me. 
"Can I have a look?" Sure, why not!
They try to guess my models and tell each other, "That's you." I was sure that modeled children would be happy and not focused kids could get disappointed. That bummer was easily gussed before sketching. So, I did a "trick"!

BTW, Friends, have you ever heard of a "fair go"? In Australian English, "fair go" implies equal rights and egalitarianism.
According to a Macqrie dictionary, 
In Australian and New Zealand English, (Colloquial) 
Noun 1. a fair or reasonable course of action :
Eg) Do you think that's a fair go?
2. a chance to get on with something without interference or distraction :
Eg) The chairperson pleaded for silence and a fair go for the speaker.
Interjection 3. an apeal for fairness and or reason. 
Eg) Fair go, mate!

Friends, do you notice something in the sample sentences above, particularly, in conversations? Yes, a speaker asks/demands a information reciever to do a right thing in a speaker's disadvantaged contex and unfairness. 

Now, you get a phrase, "fair go" user actually wants for justice, equality and accesibility of resources. So, a "fair go" comes up in a welfare, a social system, politics, sports and almost in any Ausrtalian social phases. It is an interesting expression and a controversial topic from time to time in Australian society. 

Back to the topic, sketching the carol! I do fair go sketching for kids. How do I do it? I secretly mixed up some children's appearances and made one picture. I do not choose a specific child for a model! Yes, it means my singing child is no one in the choir. I keep it private  for children and just let them guess as they like. (they are having a fun to guess who's who.)
A brave boy asked (commanded?!) me to "Draw me!" Sorry, dear, I cannot pick up one person. "Fair go."
Regarding fair go, may that phrase will be fully achieved in society. Christmas is really a lovely time in a year. A city is full of love, joy and fun. We enjoy parties, catching up, family reunion, exchanging cards, charities and events. I hope we can keep this sweet feeling whole through the year, every day. May love, peace and fair go will pour out on the earth. 
**In addition, a "Macquarie dictionary" is our nation pride! That's the best dictionary on Australian English and edited by Macquarie uni in Sydney. If anyone wants to study Australian English, look up a Macquarie dictionary! And my hidden hobby is reading dictionaries. 
And thank you so much for warm cheers and a great patience for a new post. I've submitted picture book illlustration colours done so far. A short break! Yey! 
Friends, Happy Painting!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

USK AUS in Newcastle Saturday 11 Jan

We are very excited to announce our first Urban Sketchers Australia regional event to be held in Newcastle on Saturday 11 January 2014

Meet at Customs House 1 Bond St Newcastle (just across the road from the station)
between 9.30 - 11.30 before heading off to explore the surrounding area for the rest of the day.

More details will be posted in early January but please keep the date free!

Two train options from Sydney 
Departing Central 07:15am Arriving Newcastle 09:58am
Departing Central 08:15am Arriving Newcastle 11:03am

For more details contact:
Phil Bamford (Newcastle)     phil.bamford [at] gmail [dot] com
Liz Steel (Sydney)         lizsteel [at] gmail [dot] com

Everyone welcome!!!! Really looking forward to it!

Monday, December 9, 2013

USK Sydney Cockatoo Island

 Yesterday, about 15 sketchers met at Sydney's Cockatoo island (a quick ferry ride in the harbour)for the final Urban Sketchers Sydney event for the year. The weather was all blue skies and sunshine, as summer has finally decided to arrive in Sydney. We have visited Cockatoo Island regularly as is so full of inspiration and potential sketching opportunities
I always like to arrive  a little early to start sketching before everyone arrives and I start talking. I sat the café with Phil & Chris and looked back to Sydney, sketching the panorama in watercolour pencil. Is was so peaceful.

Often when I visit Cockatoo Island I feel the need to draw BIG-  the buildings are big, the cranes are big . I draw everyday on a 20 x 13 cm moleskine watercolour sketchbook. So this time I came prepared with some larger sheets of paper, Unfortunately, I was in the mood for drawing the papers were left untouched this time. But I will return in the New Year to experiment with size and equipment


The Drawing Office is one of my favourite buildings on the island. And that was even before I knew that it was called the Drawing Office and then that just made if more special. The Drawing Office was established in 1914 as part of the dockyards of the Royal Australian Navy, which were based there.I love the colour and textures, the greens and the rust .I have sketched it a few times previously. We only had about half and hour for this one before meeting everyone for lunch.

some of the sketchbooks from the morning
We chatted, compared notes on what and where we sketched and the experience of the morning.

Liz Steel reminded me that Cockatoo Island was the first place we met and sketched together way back in 2008. It was an International Sketchcrawl and we were the only two that turned up. How much has changed in our sketching lives since then! So many wonderful art adventures, meeting some interesting and inspirational people. There have been opportunities in the art world that I never would have dreamed of.

Certainly my sketching has changed. I think that I am more confident in my line and colour. I feel like I am capturing a lot more character of the object I am drawing. Below are my sketches from 2008.

I can see that my subject matter has not altered at all, and I could have chosen the same objects this weekend.  That would have been interesting!
I am still using watercolour pencils, as I had only just discovered them then and am now a complete aficionado.
I was using Pitt pens and Micron pens then, whereas now I love my Lamy Safarfi Joy ink pen. The flow of ink off the nib is so smooth and suits my drawing style.
I also drew on castoff sheets of A4 card stock then, and now I am up to Moleskine watercolour sketchbook number 37 since December 2008. I will be starting on sketchbook number 38 as I fly home for Christmas in a short time. I sketched at the airport for my Christmas flight in 2008 in the first pages of my first Moleskine. I am getting nostalgic thinking about it!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Onikenbai Workshops

In November I attended a 3 day workshop where I was taught Onikenbai - a traditional dance that comes from Iwate Prefecture in Japan. It is a dance not practiced all over Japan, and this particular group that came out to Sydney are the oldest practitioners of it.

While the weekend was about learning from them, I managed to fit in a bit of sketching on the last day when they put on a small performance for us in full costume. To see more sketches and artwork I gave to them as a gift please visit my blog here.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

USK SYD at Cockatoo Island

We finished off the year back at Cockatoo Island on a glorious day. Here are 2 of my sketches from this morning.

Once again a wonderful group of sketchers turned up and it was great to see everyones work at lunch. I had to rush off but I hope that others stayed on in the afternoon.
Here are a few photos from the day....

Reminder- Jan 11 we are planning to go to Newcastle for the day. More details will be posted next week. Hope everyone has a wonderful Xmas and summer break!

Monday, December 2, 2013

USK Melbourne Sketchcrawl

A sketch completed during the Melbourne USK Sketchcrawl in Hawthorn on Saturday. It was a lovely sunny day – just perfect to be drawing outdoors.


The Hawthorn Town Hall is such a beautiful building (I think I might be addicted to drawing town halls).

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Melbourne crew at the Grampians

A group of us from Melbourne (Evelyn, Angela, Ilze, Muzo, Umut, Anne and myself) packed up our bags and jumped in a car to have a long 4-day weekend sketching in the Grampians. It was an excellent weekend for cooking up feasts, drinking wine, toasting marshmallows, animal spotting and sketching from sunrise to sunset (and usually late-ish into the night as well). We sketched everywhere we went including on the journey in the car. 

The Balconies are a nice lookout and we took up most of one end sketching. A few curious kids were watching us, and one of them said ''I wish I had my notebook'' to which Angela offered her some paper and pencil. Before we knew it we had a bunch of kids and we shared our tools around. We joked that it was essentially was a makeshift Day Care, but they were all lovely and focused on sketching and painting. The parents thought it was great, as they spend a good 20 - 30 mins with us.

The Balconies, Grampians

The hike down to the McKenzie Waterfalls is well worth the view. Angela, Evelyn and I perched ourselves on a tall rock to sketch the waterfalls. 

Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday for Victorians. It also happened to be my birthday. We stopped at the Sisters Rocks, followed with a wine tasting at the Seppelt Winery and sketched the Lodge. 

We stopped for a late lunch and to see the race. We also had one last stop to sketch the Beaufort Fire Station. First I drew it and painted only the sky, then as a bit of an experiment I drew it again and painted just the building and trees. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

USK SYD event - Saturday 7 Dec

Finishing the year back at Cockatoo Island again….
Hope you can join us - everyone welcome!

Suggested options for ferries – check for more details (please note there have been changes to the timetable recently!)
Dep: 9:45am  Circular Quay, No. 5 Wharf, Sydney  Arr: 10:14am  Cockatoo Island Ferry Wharf, Sydney         
Dep: 9:37am  Circular Quay, No. 5 Wharf, Sydney  Arr: 9:58am  Cockatoo Island Ferry Wharf, Sydney
Dep: 9:07am  Circular Quay, No. 5 Wharf, Sydney  Arr: 9:28am  Cockatoo Island Ferry Wharf, Sydney

And to give you advance notice:
We are planning our first Regional Urban Sketchers Australia event in Newcastle on Saturday 11 Jan. More details in a week or so - but please put the date in your diary now!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sydney boats and ships

The day started with fine weather in Sydney. I did not plan to sketch boats (tea cosies were my focus today) but ended up sketching big and small ones.
It is cruise ship season and there always seems to be a large ship at Circular Quay.  It will most probably be a different ship everyday. They usually only stay 24 hours in Sydney, before sailing out. That is the time that the passengers get to leave the ship and explore our city. Circular Quay is a wonderful place to be as you can see so much of iconic Sydney by looking around you - Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, Botanic Gardens.......
The amount of foreshortening and the perspective involved in drawing the ship is amazing and great fun. Today, however my view was continually blocked by tourists taking photos. So, I included them as well. I am not sure why they stopped in front of me

Later in the day I walked past the ship again and the sense of excitement was building as passengers dropped their baggage off and were saying final farewells to family and friends. I started the sketch with the photographer and the family group . They moved on quickly and I added the background. You can't actually  tell that there is a ship there as it is SO BIG. This sketch lost its focus as I added more and more, so I tried to bring in the focus by adding most of the colour in the group of people

I actually started the day "small" by sketching on the ferry on the way into the city. and ended the day BIG with the ships.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Melbourne - Post 90th Birthday Party


I was down in Western Victoria again for a Surprise 90th Birthday Party! It was such a fun lively gathering for wise L in Horsham.  

We drove back Sunday so I had the Monday for some last minute sketches ... 

Next time I'll have to be more organised and arrange a catch up with some Melbourne sketchers!  

On the corner of Swanston St and Flinders St, you have 4 distinctly Melbourne buildings. The two that I sketched are St Paul's Cathedral and the Flinders St Station. The third is Federation Square and the only thing I know about it is that I had a nice meal although dead tired at Taxi when I was in Melbourne for work. The last building is a pub, the Young and Jackson. The Young and Jackson houses the once scandalous nude Chloe. So next time, I think I'll have to sketch the other two buildings. 

I found a nice spot on the steps of the cathedral to paint the Station ... but I painted in full sun. It blinded me a bit and the colours turned out a little bit wild and bright. I don't think I have learnt to ease off on the Quin Gold or Azo Yellow ... as I am used to using Raw Sienna.  

The painting of the Cathedral was done on the steps of the Station - pretty much underneath the central hand rails. It was tough as I painted it at what seemed like peak hour for Australian standards and I had people walking passed really closely - palette to the right, bag under my knees, no room for a water bucket so I was spraying the water into the palette which means no clean brush. 

So I had two challenging sketch locations ... can other people share some tips on where they sit and how they get some space. Does having a  small seat help?

The last sketch was done in very pleasant surroundings at two cafes! Toby's Estate and Phillipa's. I am always a bit torn between relaxing and enjoying the cup of tea or coffee or getting out the sketchbook!

I found links to the Flinders Street Station design competition here and here. They announced the winner of the competition in August 2013 - the same people that designed? the Tate Modern and National Stadium, "the Bird's Nest", in Beijing. They are now going to see if it's viable ... 


Melbourne - Flinders Street Station


Paper: Moleskine Watercolour A4
Tools: Watercolour, pencil

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Drawing on Bridge Road, Richmond



Bridge Road in Richmond, Melbourne is such a nice place to sketch. It’s a busy street with power lines, trams, old buildings, and lots to cafes to sketch in. What more can one ask for!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Luna Park - The Carousel

We arrived at our USK Sydney meet last Saturday to a surprising sight.  Bushfire smoke had descended all around us, and at one stage the harbour looked to be covered by a white blanket. The contrast of environment, between sailing boats navigating their way through the haze outside, compared to the bright colours and loud sounds inside the fun park was like two different worlds.
Having missed sketching the carousel the first time I came to Luna Park, this time I made a beeline  to it. It's hard to ignore the response to all these colours when drawing Luna Park, so it seemed to be a good opportunity to once again go over the top with bright colours and wavy lines.
Commander Baldocks Galloping Horses and Racing Cockerels Carousel was originally built in the late 19th century in England and was installed at Luna Park in 2004.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Melbourne USK Sketchcrawl (30 Nov, Hawthorn)

Where: Outside Cafe Jacoblicious (open space between the cafe and the Town Hall Art Gallery) 378A Burwood Road, Hawthorn.
When: 10 am on Saturday, 30 Nov 2013.

There is a lot to draw at this location – churches, town hall, beautiful old shopfronts, streetscapes…. And the place we are meeting at is an open space for us all to sit if we want to – bring your sketching chairs, foam seats, mats etc.

If it’s your first time, look for me under a red hat.

Should be fun – see you there!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

USKSYD Smoked out at Milsons Point!

Today we met at Milsons Point on a day when the smoke from bushfires (and back burning) in the surrounding areas of Sydney) had a big impact on the air quality and also our ability to see the subject that we were sketching!

A group sketches meet - some sketched the harbour views and some sketched Luna Park- I did a bit of both.

I started with the entrance to Luna Park which has a special moustache as part of Movember.

I then tackled the Opera House... seems I can't come to Milsons Point without doing a sketch of the most iconic building in Sydney.

I am currently using the new zeta sketchbook from Stillman and Birn which is a beautiful smooth paper and is SO lovely to use with ink. So I thought it was a good excuse to get some of my non-lamy fountain pens out and test them. My hero and sailor pens aren't flowing so well for me so the smooth paper really helps. I love mixing it up and trying new stuff out!

Another enjoyable USKSYD event - next month Dec 7 at Cockatoo Island again! More details soon.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reflecting on USK Barcelona

Hi. My name is Chris.  I’ve loved drawing and painting all my life and began urban sketching two years ago. It’s given me so much fun and satisfaction. It’s always better sketching with likeminded people, isn’t it. One of the highlights would have to be attending the last USK symposium in Barcelona, where I not only saw some amazing sights but got to meet so many of the faces that go with those names that keep popping up online!
I’ve always loved drawing buildings, and of course there’s no shortage of choice in Barcelona!
Santa Anna church in the middle of the busy city is a haven of peace and quiet, and the cloisters were such a lovely place to spend an afternoon drawing.
Anything by Gaudi is a challenge, but I found even the small details like balconies and crumbling walls made my fingers itch to draw them.
The symposium workshops were a great way to explore the city and see it through new eyes. It was great to participate in Norberto’s ‘Dynamic Ink’ workshop, and interesting to be limited to only two colours  after the ink work. Lots of new things to try and practise back home!! So, more to come!


Monday, October 28, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Capture Waves Rough & Calm @ Narrabeen

Hi, Friends, which season are you enjoying? We enjoyed a long distant swimming at Narrabeen. I sketched a sea. So, these are the souvenirs for you.

Have you ever tried capturing waves with watercolour? In my eyes, a sea is not simple blue at all. Waves have several colours and dramatic movements that create value. So, an ocean's mood always fascinates me. A careful observation of waves helps to capture a pattern of movements and decides positions of varied colours.
The first sketch was done around four to five before a sunset(NOTE we're having a day time saving!). Nearly black-like, very dark blue interested me. In parallel, a sky gets dark.
The second sketch was created in a very day time. Greenish cerulean blue was most eye catchy. It reminded me of fresh mint. I had a deep breath and enjoyed the mood. The mood is very different between them. The day time ocean looks very cheerful, as if it were laughing below. In contrast, the evening sea looks serious.
Which one do you like more? My friends seem to prefer the first one. 

People often came to me and asked questions. Most questions were...
Q1) "How do you draw?"
No. I just draw some "lines." The lesser, the better or more comfortable for me. Once, get on colour, colours tell me which next and where to put strokes to build up a value.
Q2) "How long?"
30 minutes to 1 hour. Try not to do overwork. Within 30 minutes is preferable.

The third sketch was done around 2 o'clock. It was so windy. Hard winds blew away waves' heads with no mercy. Swish! Fume and foam! It was amazing and beautiful. Oh, yes, sea sounds were so amusing and stirring. Hopefully, I can send you "some."
Waves are never the same. Changing sun light alters a sea's colour from time to time. Winds and clouds work together on its changing.
Many adults silently look at the dancing waves for a long hours...

"The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea”. Isak Dinesen quotes (pseudonym of Baroness Karen Blixen.) 
Looking at dancing waves washes away negative feelings, etc, whatever from a heart. Yes, refreshing our hearts, really. Probably that's why a sea has an indescribably deep colour that accepts anyone's emotions and silent talks...
Friends, come to a sea, chest off and set yourself free. In addition, well, all the people at a beach are friendly. As you can see high and big waves are popular among surfers.  

Technically, I also feel watercolour has no limitations to depict any subject and expresses our inner world. 
Let's explore watercolour more and more. 
Friends, Happy Painting!!