Beach sketches

Sketches from our visit to the coast this week. Watercolour and pencil.

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Urban Sketchers at the Shine Dome

Our urban sketching group met today to sketch at the Shine Dome, home of the Australian Academy of Science and one of the modernist masterpieces of this country. Designed by Roy Grounds and completed in 1958, the building is often referred to by it’s nickname as the ‘Martian Embassy ‘.

Behind the Shine Dome is a more recent edition to the Canberra skyline. The Nishi Building, 2015, with it’s green wall, includes offices and commercial space and incorporates, on the right, Hotel Hotel. This complex was designed by Fender Katsiladis Architects and March Studio, and landscape architects Oculus.

Watercolour, pencil

Coloured pencil time

Last year I bought a 7 colour pencil while I was travelling in Japan. I didn’t really use it until earlier this year. Of course it soon became such a favourite that I quickly used it up.

Unable to find this un-branded pencil locally I went back to using the other multi-coloured pencils in my stash. (I have previously discussed the Koh-i-Noor multicolour pencils). Here is a comparison.

Left to right are the 3 colour Koh-i-Noor Magic Pencil; the 4 colour Lyra ‘Super Ferby’ and last the remains of my 7 colour pencil next to it’s replacement. Yes! I found the ‘rainbow’ pencil online. Apart from the shape of the barrel, the original is round and the new one is a rounded triangle, there seems to be no difference between the two.

I also did a colour comparison so you can see the differences between the three.

I really enjoy using these colour pencils in my regular cafe sketches.

Here is a sketch with the 7 colour pencil. I find the intensity of these colours quite satisfying.

By comparison here is the 3 colour Koh-in-Noor in action.

The 4 and 7 colour pencils can be readily manipulated to select a preferred colour, while the 3 colour pencil is more difficult to control in terms of colour selection. Any of these pencils is worth trying in your sketches. They can also turn a simple line drawing into an interesting sketch.

Three things I sketched today

Today I drew three things at the National Gallery of Australia.

The cancellation proof of David Hockney’s Portrait of Rolf Nelson, 1968, lithograph with hand colouring. The cancellation proof has red eyes and bow lips with a peace sign on the sitters shirt.

You can see the original version of the print here.

People sitting in the Members lounge.

A Gandaran Bodisattva, carved from grey schist.

What I did on my Holidays – Part 1

(Warning this is a long post with lots of photos)

Flying in to Kuching (Malaysia) the sinuous Sarawak River looked the perfect picture of a tropical waterway. I was here with my partner and six other sketchers from Canberra to meet up with another 290 odd sketchers from all across Asia for the second Asia-link Sketchwalk.

Rockin’ the Asia-link Sketchwalk Kuching 2017 mascots with some friends

Organised by Peggy and the crew from Urban Sketchers Kuching, (USk Kuching) we were treated to three days of sketching, sweating, workshops, eating, making new friends and renewing old friendships. By way of explanation, a sketchwalk is where everyone goes out and sketches together in a specific location.

Our home base was The Granary, a large restaurant and bar complex abutting the older Chinese section of the city and a stone’s throw from the Sarawak River.

The Granary

The Granary, where all meals are accompanied by a sketchbook!

As most of the Aussies made it to the city a day before the official start we had some time to settle in and get our bearings. We started off with a boat trip on the Sarawak River.

Sketching our way down the Sarawak River

Luckily one of our friends speaks Malay so we able to get the boatman to let us drift downriver, so we could sketch as we went.

Trawlers on the Sarawak River, watercolour

He also took us to one of the shops specialising in those amazing Malay sponge cakes, Kek Lapis = layer cake.

keklapis

Kek lapis, the brighter the better!

It was also the final day of the Autumn Moon Festival so we enjoyed the moon cakes and the evening parade with obligatory dragon and lion dancers.

'Leonie and Steve sketching at the Tua Peh Kong Temple.#alswkch2017'

Sketching at the Tua Peh Kong Temple. (photograph courtesy of Edric Hsu)

Dragon.jpg

How to maintain your dragon

The organisers of the Sketchwalk arranged for a stamp, (beloved of all USk get-togethers), for every place where we sketched.

When you stopped to sketch you would soon be joined by other sketchers. Along the streets we would spread out keeping the locals amused and the official photographer very busy as he tried to capture all the sketching action.

Of course there were workshops. I did a workshop with Paul Wang (from USk Singapore), exploring the use of a credit card (or similar) as a painting tool.

Paul Wang giving us a demonstration at the start of his workshop

My sketch from the Paul Wang workshop

My second workshop was with Sanjeev Joshi (from USk Pune, India), exploring the use of collage in sketching. What I really liked about the schedule was that we had a chance to apply what we learned in the workshops in the daily sketchwalks.

My collage from the Sanjeev Joshi workshop, watercolour and brochure

The weather was kind for most of our stay, well apart from being hot and humid every day. Sadly we got rained out on the last day of the event. The planned group photograph outside the Sarawak Museum , was cancelled when the grass literally went underwater with the torrential rain.

Of course what I enjoyed most was meeting all those people

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Sketchers on the final night in Kuching (photo courtesy of Jee Foong)

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With a young sketching buddy

The entry gate to Carpenter Street with its many old Chinese shop houses

Our accomodation, The Marion Boutique Lodging House, a former boarding school

The colourful shopfronts in India Street

 

Budget travel – brush test

I have heard some sad stories of favourite pens and brushes rolling down foreign drains and off jetties and into the water. So I understand why a lot of people seriously think about what brushes they will take when they are travelling. Discussions generally end by deciding to cut off the end of regular brushes so they can fit into their bags or investing in special travel brushes. But is there a third option?

If you live near a certain Swedish store, then this might be an option.

In the children’s section you can find a set of six small brushes which might suit your needs. They are synthetic brushes, with lightweight wooden handles. All 6 together weigh 41 grams so they would be good for those travelling light. I got these for just under $6, so you certainly won’t break the bank buying a set.

Here are some test sheets made using the three round brushes. To give you and idea of brush size, the middle size brush is similar in size to a round No. 10 brush. However I don’t think these pages tell you much except that all the brushes maintain a fine point and hold a reasonable amount of paint.

To give them a ‘proper’ test I decided that I should use them to sketch a building on my regular paper. I pulled out an old photo from a trip to Germany to sketch.

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For this sketch I used the middle and small round brushes and the medium size square brush. I wasn’t overwhelmed with the results, but I was painting quite fast so that probably effected the outcome. It shouldn’t be a surprise when I say that these brushes don’t really compare to good quality watercolour brushes.

What I did find was that the brushes made paint harder to control. I think this was due mainly to the shape of the brush. You could do a fine line, but the fast angle change to the wide section of the brush often resulted in too much paint coming onto the page.

The most useful brush was the square brush, which easily gave an even coverage for painting the sky. I also discovered that this brush could give a lovely fine feathered edge if it was used fairly dry. Here is a detail showing that effect.

In summary these brushes are good for:

  • People who just want to add some simple colour to sketches
  • Those people who don’t want to worry at all about taking good brushes on holiday, and
  • People who are packing for extremely light travel.

BEST OPTION: consider packing the medium or large square brushes if you need a brush for adding your skies.

DON’T BOTHER: if you plan to focus on painting serious watercolours. My advice would be lash out and buy a travel version of your favourite brush.