So it’s not quite Wednesday, but I took my book to the coffee shop this morning. It was a bit quiet, but two people sitting in the outside area caught my eye. Both were buffered against the arrival of winter temperatures.
This man was rugged up in a large jacket which exaggerated the width of his shoulders, particularly as he was sitting a bit low in his chair.
A few tables away sat a man in an interesting knitted cap.
Once again I am using my Koh-i-noor Magic pencils and a white Prismacolour pencil on my toned brown Strathmore sketchbook.
It only took one look to decide what the subject of this week’s drawing would be. Strong light was delineating the rather dashing hat being worn by a man at a nearby table.
Magic pencils and white pencil on toned tan Strathmore paper
The light also cast a dramatic diagonal across his face.
It’s often a struggle to get the drawing you see out of your head and onto the page. Several weeks ago I had one of those days. We drove out to the country looking for a sketching spot and found a promising site down by the river.
As I looked up from the river bank I could see one of my favourite local shearing sheds higher up the hill. This is built in corrugated iron which has developed a lovely patina over the years. Behind it was a hill and the whole scene was enclosed below that skyline.
Shearing shed, watercolour
I did make some quick pencil sketches before I started, but even so I struggled to get the proportions of the shed to the skyline accurately represented. I had taken along my watercolours to use for the first time in ages. I tried, but I had forgotten ‘in my hands’ how to use the paint. So I was unhappy with my result.
Then I had another thought, to work back over one of my original thumbnails with the pencils I also took along. There was no pressure to get it ‘right’ I allowed myself to play with non-realistic colour and the drawing flowed!
Colour pencil over the top of one of my original sketches
I’ve just finished working my way through my Strathmore Toned-Grey sketchbook, some 50 pages, most of which both back and front have been drawn on with coloured pencils. I’ve used coloured pencils since childhood, but as an adult I’m discovering these materials anew.
Unlike watercolours it’s hard to satisfactorily mix new colours using pencils. I wished I had a range of more subtle colours on many occasions. So my recent pencil buys have been of greys and neutrals, colours which are not strongly represented in the pencil box.
From left to right are: Green Ochre, Sandbar Brown, Slate Grey, 50% Cool Grey, 30% Cool Grey and 20% Cool Grey. On the right hand side of the pictures are the Sky Blue Light and White which I’ve been using for some time, but which fit also into this colour range.
New pencils, ohh goody!
I’ve drawn them onto Strathmore Toned Tan paper below. I had started using them in my previous sketchbook but I don’t have any spare pages to show them on the Toned Grey paper.
I already find these colours incredibly useful additions to my palette. Having now swapped to the Toned Tan sketchbook I’ll be interested to see how they go on the warmer background.
test colours on toned-tan paper, greys and neutrals
And just because I can , I’ve forced myself to buy even more watercolours that I’ve seen written about by several artists whose work inspires me. All the colours are from the Daniel Smith company.
These paints have been tried out on watercolour paper with a medium tooth. I love the granulation of the Lunar Black and I think the Buff Titanium is the sort of colour I’ve been after for some time. The Perylene green is for my partner who was after something dark for shadows in vegetation and the Mayan Blue is just because I like it.
Testing new watercolours
Same name but different location. Our local cafe has contracts for coffee shops at the university. Today, as we were in the area, we decided to try one of these venues.
It was a completely different atmosphere and demographic from our nearby place, which is a ‘hole in the wall’ with a few outdoor tables. This other version was crammed full of students, with obligatory laptops, in the still under construction, College of Business and Economics. It is a lively scene that I plan to go back to again.
Biginelli’s @ the College of Business and Economics, the Australian National University, 11 My 2016, Koh-i-Noor magic pencil white chalk and gel pen
Some recent sketches using coloured pencil and my new toned tan Strathmore sketchbook.
In the coffee shop Saturday morning, coloured pencil on toned tan paper
Today’s effort from the window of the National Gallery of Australia’ cafe window. This section of the garden has recently been cleaned out and re-planted with grass trees.
Garden at the National Gallery of Australia, coloured pencil on toned tan paper, 9 May 2016
I’m trying not to resort to ‘colouring in’, hence the vigorous strokes, which I’m enjoying making.
One more from the archive, a sketch in my toned-grey book, a spool of twine at a building site.
A spool of builders twine, coloured pencil on toned grey paper, 11 April 2016.
On Sunday our local Urban Sketcher’s chapter met for our May get together. It was great to welcome two new participants and catch up with some others who I haven’t seen in a while. We met in the centre of the city which is referred to as Civic. We were in part of the system of pedestrian plazas and near the Canberra Centre Mall.
While the weather didn’t deliver the hail that was forecast, the wind was quite blustery. Some brave souls sketched outside, but others took advantage of a seating area that overlooked the City Walk. I stayed outside as I had become fascinated with one of the more recent sculptures that have been added to the pedestrian areas. Anne Ross‘ work The Other Side of Midnight, 2012, is in three parts the centrepiece of which is a running girl flanked by two running hounds.
The Other side of Midnight, central figure, coloured pencil on cold pressed paper
I had some more time before meeting up with the others so I pulled out my new Strathmore sketchbook which is the toned tan. It will be interesting to compare the sketches I’m making in this book compared to those in the grey-toned book I’ve just completed. This second sketch was a more traditional view of the plane trees that are planted in City Walk.
Plane trees, City Walk, coloured pencil on Strathmore toned-tan paper, 1 May 2016
In my haste to capture the scene I botched the perspective and scale up – something I didn’t realise until I looked at the sketch after I got home. Oh well, there’s a lesson there! After having the obligatory group shot we went down to the food court for lunch and a catch-up.
If you are in the neighbourhood and would like to join us our next Urban Sketchers Canberra outing will be to the National Portrait Gallery, on Sunday 5 June at 10.15 am.