Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Edwin St, Mortlake, NSW

The last onsite painting in my series on the ANZOL paint factory.  I drove by and saw the fence posts going up to block off the abandoned houses in Edwin St beside it. The whole lot is being demolished to allow for the building of 400 units.
Especially sad to see the weatherboard house on the right going under the bulldozer... the guy who lives across the road from it told me it’s the oldest house in the area. I love the peeling paint and the carving on the front under the roof. It would have been lovely in its day! By the next morning it was all boarded up, so lucky I had the time to draw it then!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Handmade House in Bush, "Kangaroos, Wombats are Next Door"

Hi, Friends, did you enjoy your Easter Holiday? We had a great time in the "BUSH" (= "wild or uncultivated country," in Australian English). We had to drive down to Town to buy food, see people, sheep or cows. The trees are alive and the creatures that share it all with us are very generous!
One more, yes, Friends, please get surprised that we stayed at an all-handmade house. Thirty years ago, like pioneers, my dear friend's sibling built up the house brick by brick with friends' help on a hill. Tada~~, see this wonderful and super-solid brick house with a chimney and water tanks! What I loved most was that the house has all 19th century setting in it -- no electricity! As if we were time slipping back to a frontier time!
Can you imagine? Oh, everything antique in the house, around the house amused visitors such as a kitchen, an attic room, a loo, furniture, coal irons, oil lamps, a white tin pail bucket etc, etc, Hail the builders' frontier spirit!

I'll take you into the house.
Here, a kitchen has a very old fashioned atmosphere. What would you like to cook for dinner? I've also learned how much important water is in bush. We tried to save it as much as possible. 
Now, let me take you to upstairs. Watch your steps (no handle!). I've loved this attic bedroom so much. You cannot imagine how much I got excited to sketch this room and its light! Hope you can feel the mood.
BTW, an out side of the house, I picked up a small animal's skull, old and broken. I googled a rabbit, a possum, a kangaroo, a wombat, a flying fox, a sheep, a dingo, a cat, but none of them seems to match that skull (*or simply because my lack of knowledge of animal anatomy...) Mystery?! Does anyone have an idea?  
In the bush, kangaroos and wombats are next doors. I've found that kangaroos' grey is camouflaging them in the bush, because gum trees and eucalyptus tree trunks are grey! It was very hard to tell kangaroos in trees. Some brave kangaroos came to the house, just under our window or even at a door! Wow!! They quickly skipped away from us, when we looked at them. So, all my sketched kangaroos are back figures.
In bush walking, the friends said, "Wombats put (their pulled down) trees over their holes and cover it." Oh, I see. But trees were too big and too clear. I said, "Well, in my eyes, it's more like showing off their house number plates, not cover-up!" We giggled!
When a night came, so many stars came up. Those dark starry skies were incredible. Interestingly, when the bright moon rose, the stars lost shining and the dark sky got brighter.  
Then, a chimney was so pleasant in eye and for heart. Come closer and make yourself at home. Relax! (*Under a lamp, in the nearly darkness, I made this image! But an enhanced value worked well. Hurray!) 
Each of us said, "I want to stay here more and don't want to go back to Sydney!" at the end of holidays.
It was wonderful to stay in a countryside. My picture book mentor Ann James is so glad to know this experience has enriched my images. Great inspirations for illustration!! Friends, go to the "bush" and sketch anything that interests you!
Friends, Happy Painting!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A personal worldwide sketchcrawl (Part 2)

I had already completed half of my personal worldwide sketchcrawl by the time I arrived in Paris from the US (see Part 1:  It was early on a Sunday morning and, despite the jet lag, I had an afternoon meeting with some Parisian urban sketchers to look forward to (thanks again Liz Steel for the intro).

It had been the Paris Drawing Week (la semaine du dessin) and amongst the activities a drawing exhibition of classical “masters” was being held in the Palais Brongniart (former stock exchange). So a group of sketchers decided to meet at a cafe beside the exhibition building and avoid the entrance fee by sketching the building instead, and/or the environs.

As it happened we never quite left the cafe. We chatted, drew what was in view, including each other, and enjoyed the afternoon. It was a perfect unwind and introduction to a new time zone for me. And great to meet such talented and interesting people.

Here is my drawing of “not the Palais Brongniart” (it was behind me from where I sat – although the statue is just behind the building in question). :-)

(Confession: I mis-spelt the name of the cafe, it is Le préaumur).

And here is proof that I was there: Marion Rivolier's lovely sketch of some of the group in the cafe:

Then a week of work, including quite a few trips on the suburban rail line (RER) where I could practice sketching my fellow passengers (especially helpful when they were asleep). 

And I still had another Saturday in Paris before heading off to Germany. It was a perfect Saturday afternoon (that had been predicted to be rainy) when we met in Le Musee de la chasse et de la nature (museum of the hunt and of nature). This former private home and collection of guns, hunting trophies, taxidermy, art and kinda weird stuff provides a fascinating range of opportunities to sketch. I started with the large stuffed polar bear (in ink, because the attendant was insistent that no paint was allowed in the museum - and any pencil shavings must not be dropped on the ground!):

Then I settled into a comfy chair alongside the grizzly bear. As it happened there was an “artist in residence” (literally: inside the grizzly, and the kids were having conversations with him. This is the view from the other side. I had no idea the artist was actually inside!

When the museum closed we all got together for a drink at a nearby cafe. This time a) Marion was travelling so was not available to sketch the group and b) I remembered my camera, so here we all are:

And then a bonus activity, sketching a live model at the classic art school, La Grande Chaumiere. It was an "open night" before start of the next semester so a few of us travelled to the left bank for the free class. The model moved constantly in response to poetry and music that was being simultaneously performed. Very tricky to sketch fast enough, and well beyond my skill – for the record here is a selection of what I captured:

And that was the end of my Paris sketching. I took a train to Germany the next day, and worked through until my flight home - and a familiar view of the back of an airplane seat.

No chances to sketch in Germany this time - but I will be back in Munich in May, and I see they have an active USk group...


Sketching in ANZAC Square Brisbane

It was a challenge today, with the Brisbane Urban Sketchers Group.  There were workmen everywhere, setting things up for the ANZAC Day Celebrations.

The Eternal Flame


Workmen were chopping branches off the tree I was sketching..

Boab Tree

Eternal Flame and Central Station Clock Tower

Monday, April 21, 2014

A personal worldwide sketchcrawl (Part 1)

I have a job that involves managing a global team - in the US, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. As a consequence I travel a lot, typically 3 months of the year. And while the travel no longer excites me (quite the opposite!), the opportunity to meet and work with my colleagues around the planet always does. On my most recent trip, thanks to Liz, I added to this the excitement of meeting and sketching with Urban Sketchers around the planet.

This was a month long business trip in late March and early April - long even by my standards, with lots of time in airports and on aeroplanes. The view below was en route from Sydney to Washington DC, and is as typical as any other I see on these trips. :-)

My major stops this time were Washington DC, San Diego, LA, Paris, Freudenstadt, and Munich. Although my work did get a little in the way of sketching, I had free weekends with time to sketch in Washington DC, San Diego and Paris...

I landed in DC on a Saturday night. This was the only location that Liz didn't have any contacts for me with, so I set out to sketch on my own on the Sunday morning. They have this wonderfully enormous of post office in Washington, which I find strangely appealing. As I sketched the temperature plummeted and I managed to complete this just before the snow started (I had been wondering why my hands were shaking):

In San Diego, however, the sketching was far from a solo activity. I was hosted wonderfully by Lydia Velarde and the group from the San Diego Urban Sketchers. We had a lovely weekend sketching, first of all in the quirky City Farmers Nursery near the centre of town. Here is my sketch of an abandoned horse float surrounded by pot plants:

And here is the video that Lydia produced, showing all the sketchers and their work:

We then spent the Sunday in Balboa Park, which is a wonderful cultural centre with museums, botanical gardens and the zoo (oh, and an outdoor organ!). We sat by the statue of El Cid and chatted as we sketched. 

Once again, Lydia made a video of the occasion:

And that was the end of my US sketching.

...except for this view en route to Paris (where I met up with more USkers - which I will cover in my next blog).


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Bunnies


Happy Easter. I was at the Bendigo Easter Festival (Victoria) and this is my favourite sketch of the day. These huge Easter Bunnies were there to pose for photos. There tops were actually psychedelic. They were cutest when they walked – quite a sight with their big bums swaying excessively.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tennyson Rd, Breakfast Point, NSW

The cranes seem to be permanent fixtures around here these days. I've been watching them going up after the old places I've been drawing are pulled down. But I  found the series of verticals on this corner  a fascinating study.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

USKSYD:Saturday 3 May 2014: The Kokoda Track to Rivendell

Special thanks to Chris H for organising this one…... at a favourite spot of mine - hope to see you there. Everyone welcome!

Let's meet at 9:45am for a 10 am start in the carpark beside the Kokoda Café at the end of Killoola Street. We will begin drawing  along the Kokoda Track Walkway in a rainforest area, which is a memorial to the veterans of WW2. It includes striking granite walls with images that have been sand blasted onto them and audio stations that explain the better known New Guinea battles. After 45 minutes, we will step back in time and walk the few minutes to Rivendell, a beautiful old 19th century estate on the Parramatta River which  has a wonderful gatehouse, lovely courtyards, a three-storey clock tower, and at the river's edge the original boathouse which was once the first building entered by convalescents who arrived at Rivendell by ferry from Sydney. I know you will find the building really interesting and there are lots of aspects to keep us drawing until 12:30, when we will have show and tell.

Transport: It’s only about a 5 minute walk from Rhodes railway station. If driving, you can use the carpark beside the Kokoda café to start with but there is only parking there for 2 hours, so if you want to leave your car all morning/ day,  the Hospital car park on Hospital Road has a flat fee of $5. Be warned, it’s worth paying  the fee as the traffic officers are lethal around the hospital area!

Lunch: There is food at the Kokoda Café, the Hospital café, or down in Concord itself, but if you think you’d like to stay on to draw in the afternoon, you might like to bring some lunch with you. The grounds are lovely and it’s right beside the river so it has pleasant surroundings.

Sketching at the Cathedral of Saint Stephens Brisbane

Friday, April 11, 2014

Art Town 2014

Melbourne Urban Sketchers participated in Art Town on 29 March 2014. It was a fun experience to draw and capture the precinct. Besides Melbourne USKers, there were artists working in various media, including photography, oils, installation and sculpture. We had various sketching sessions – along the footpath, at coffee/lunch and at a railway station.


We had an awesome collection of work at the end of the day, which the artists could submit to an exhibition.


Melbourne USkers are modest - only 10 works were submitted, and they all looked amazing on the walls of Chapel Off Chapel Gallery.


A few of us went to the opening of the exhibition. It was an enjoyable evening – a celebration of our efforts and times spent drawing. Congratulations on work well done.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sketchwalk in St Peters

The Sydney gang headed back to St Peters on Saturday - this time for our first sketchwalk. The aim was to move along a specified route with about 40 minutes at each spot. It was a lot of fun!

It was great to be able to sketch together as a group (often we seem to scatter) and the 40 minute period went fast - oh so fast! Everyone managed to get at least 3 sketches done - so it was great to share all the work at the end of the session.

We were very pleased to have a visitor from the USK group in Portland Oregon with us. Whilst I don't think I met Heather at the 1st USK symposium in Portland in 2010, we had a number of friends in common... and it is always lovely to feel part of the global community.

Created with flickr slideshow.