North to Newcastle

We’ve just had a quick visit to see my family in Newcastle (on the Hunter River in New South Wales, not the city in the UK). I managed a few sketches along the way.

On the drive north we stopped for a cup of coffee at the small town of Marulan, where I had a view of the beautifully restored Royal Hotel, which I think is now a private home.

The Royal Hotel, Marulan, NSW, pen and ink, 4 March 2015

The Royal Hotel, Marulan, NSW, pen and ink, 4 March 2015

In Newcastle we went into the city where we had dinner at a pub on the harbour. This place has been built inside, what I recall, as originally being one of the ‘sheds’ on the No. 4 Lee Wharf. This part of the harbour foreshore has been undergoing a major re-development in recent years. The view on the harbour-side of the building was over to the working side of the port, including the grain loader and the docks for the harbour’s tugs.

Tugs in Newcastle Harbour, NSW, ballpoint pen, 5 March 2015

Tugs in Newcastle Harbour, NSW, ballpoint pen, 5 March 2015

The beaches that line the coast are always a magnet when we visit. Unfortunately the seas were high and rough and the beaches were closed for swimming. That didn’t stop us and all the other beach-goers, walkers and coffee drinkers taking a seat and watching the local surfers riding the waves.

Surfers at Merewether Beach, NSW, pen and ink, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

Surfers at Merewether Beach, NSW, pen and ink, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

It was difficult to catch the moves the surfers were making as each position of their bodies was only held for seconds. I settled for making very quick sketches with my  pen. I was interested to note how often the surfers’ arms appeared to just ‘hang’ in the air, ready to follow the body as the surfers shifted their weight on the board to move across the face of the waves.

Catching the surfers, catching the waves, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

Catching the surfers, catching the waves, ball point pen, 6 March 2015

After a fun few days on the coast we headed up the Hunter Valley into the country for the weekend. It was great to be able to put my feet up and look out across the paddocks to the nearby mountains.

The view to the mountain, near Branxton, NSW, ball point pen, 7 March 2015point pen

The view to the mountain, near Branxton, NSW, ball point pen, 7 March 2015

It was also fun to try and capture the poses of the Welcome Swallows as they sat and preened on the pool fence in the early morning.

Welcome Swallows preening, pen and ink and watercolour, 8 March 2015

Welcome Swallows preening, pen and ink and watercolour, 8 March 2015

And last but not least I found a source of inspiration for a watercolour. Forget the rural idyll, stacked up near the stables were a pile of pre-cast concrete panels, with plenty of interesting passages to test my skills with depicting depth and placement. I was so busy focusing on the details of the panels that I didn’t really stop to look at the overall painting until it was finished.  I was really pleased with the way it came together.

Concrete panels, watercolour 8 March 2015

Concrete panels, watercolour 8 March 2015

 

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From arts to ants

It was an unusual combination of activities that we went to this Sunday afternoon. Firstly there was ‘Drawn In’, the monthly drawing activity held at the National Portrait Gallery. Today Leila and Michael from The Night Cafe performed a range of latin, gypsy and jazz music on guitar, flute and voice.

Michael and Leila at Drawn In, pen and ink, ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Michael and Leila at Drawn In, pen and ink, ball point pen, 22 February 2015

It’s great to be able to draw people in action. Michael’s guitar playing provided an interesting pose.

Michael on guitar, pen and ink and ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Michael on guitar, pen and ink and ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Leila proved to be more of a challenge to draw as she moved between her flute and vocals. I found her hand positions on the flute fun to try and capture.

Leila on flute, pen and ink and ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Leila on flute, pen and ink and ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Thanks to both musicians for allowing themselves to be scrutinised by so many interested pairs of eyes.

If an afternoon of drawing wasn’t enough we had a second outing to attend. Over on the slopes of Black Mountain we joined the Friends of Black Mountain and Ajay Narendra to look at the local ant fauna. There are over 120 species of ants on the mountain so before long we were examining ants, subterranean and arboreal, biting and non-biting. Ajay shared all sorts of interesting information about ant behaviour and identification. I was most impressed by his ability to gently hold an ant by its legs, between his fingers, before releasing her gently back to where she was picked up (most ants you see are sterile females).

Ajay and interested onlookers at the Black Mountain ant walk, ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Ajay and interested onlookers at the Black Mountain ant walk, ball point pen, 22 February 2015

Of course it was slow progress as there were so many different types of ants just in the short part of the path we walked along, so I had time for a sketch in between ant species.

Seeing Double

I’m spending more time with my double pencil drawings, I’ve even done some further cafe sketches because the lines seem fresh once more.

glass and cup, pencil and ballpoint pen, held together, 22 January 2015

glass and cup, pencil and ballpoint pen, held together, 22 January 2015

With these drawing I drew focusing on working from the centre out, as the project method asks.

Plate and spoon, ball point pen and pencil, held together, 22 January 2015

Plate and spoon, ball point pen and pencil, held together, 22 January 2015

 

Taking two lines for a walk

When I was at the library yesterday I found two drawing books that looked interesting. The one I want to touch on today is Drawing Projects: an exploration of the language of drawing, by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern (Black Dog Publishing 2011).

Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern

Drawing Projects by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern

A quick first look through the book had me very excited. The book covers a wide range of drawing styles and suggests a variety of approaches to developing your own drawing techniques. Between reading the introductory sections, looking at the artist profiles and trying out the suggested projects I know that I won’t be able to take it all in within the loan period, so I’ve ordered a copy of my own.

I was immediately inspired to try the first project, drawing with two pens. The idea is to bind two pencils (of different hardness) together and with them draw a single object/person/self-portrait.  I admit that I went pretty much to my own version of the project rather than following the method precisely. This meant that I missed out on one of the prime aims of this project which is to get you making marks on the inside of the form and break the habit of “using line to draw the outer contour line first.”  I did at least manage the other purpose of the exercise, to wit, making interesting and varied marks. My first drawing was made with my Lamy Safari pen and a ballpoint pen that was just lying around, bound together.

My Cat, pen and ink and ball point pen, 18cm x 14 cm, 19 January 2014

My Cat, pen and ink and ball point pen, bound together, 18cm x 14 cm, 19 January 2014

I’m mentioning the size of the drawings because the book suggests that you limit this project to something no bigger than 30 cm. My initial reaction is that I would like to use this technique on a much larger scale where I think that the lines would be very beautiful, while the technique would be less obvious from a distance away. At this smaller scale it seems to easy to lose sight of your subject.

I had so much fun with the first drawing that I decided to use the same approach when I was at the cafe this morning. This time I used my Copic Multiliner and a Pitt Artist pen (Sanguine 188), held together in my hand as I had nothing to bind them with.

Van,  Copic Multiliner and Pitt artist pen, held together, 21 cm x 28 cm, 20 January 2015

Van, Copic Multiliner and Pitt artist pen, held together, 21 cm x 28 cm, 20 January 2015

What stands out for me in this drawing are the lovely loose lines in the body of the van. While I’ve achieved a good contrast between the van and the background, the background marks are all a bit same-y. It may have been a more interesting drawing if I varied those marks a bit more.

I couldn’t resist yet another drawing when, on my way home, I saw nearby Mt Tennant, with a cap of low cloud over it’s peak and the scar from the landslide in 2012, still visible. I chose to use two watercolour pencils held together. I varied the colours, between Faber-Castell Cold Grey V-234 and Cool Grey VI-235 with Derwent Watercolour Prussian Blue 35, Blue Grey 68 and Rexel Cumberland Derwent watercolour 17.

Mt Tennant under low cloud, watercolour pencils, held together, 24 cm x 32 cm on Canson Montval, 200gsm, watercolour block, 20 January 2015

Mt Tennant under low cloud, watercolour pencils, held together, 24 cm x 32 cm on Canson Montval, 200gsm, watercolour block, 20 January 2015

I think this last drawing is the least successful of the three, perhaps because the marks I made were too similar in style and lacked the contrast of the previous drawings, where I used two different types of pens. See I’m learning already.

 

Rear View mirror

Here are some more tiny and fast drawings from my rearview mirror series. (These are drawings made from images in the various mirrors of my car, often drawn on the back of parking vouchers).

Woden, ACT, behind the post office, ballpoint pen

Woden, ACT, behind the post office, ballpoint pen

More recently.

Multi-storey carpark, Canberra, 5 December 2015, ballpoint pen

Multi-storey carpark, Canberra, 5 December 2015, ballpoint pen

Latest.

Scary self-portrait, ballpoint pen, 9 December 2014

Scary self-portrait, ballpoint pen, 9 December 2014

Dogs, abstracted and otherwise

Back in the land of Oz and we had barely been home for two days before we had to hop on a plane again to celebrate a family wedding interstate. I was still in a drawing frame of mind and what caught my eye over those few days were dogs.
In the airport lounge in Canberra two plastic ‘Puppy’ dogs (designed by Eero Arnio for Magis Me Too), were placed looking out onto the tarmac, waiting for some children to play with them.

Green plastic 'Puppy', Canberra Airport 14 November 2014, ballpoint pen

Green plastic ‘Puppy’, Canberra Airport 14 November 2014, ballpoint pen

Two days later we were in the Art Gallery of South Australia and found a Haniwa dog. These terracotta sculptures were made in Japan in the Kofun period (3rd to 6th century AD) and were used as tomb markers. They are fairly abstract shapes and this one looks quite chunky. The face looks rather like that of a pig to me, but I think this is a result of the coil technique used to build the clay figures making more of a snout than a tapered dogs nose. What you can’t see from this sketch is the curled tail that of a Japanese akita dog.

Haniwa dog, circa 6th C AD, from the collection of Andrew and Hiroko Gwinnett, on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia, 16 November 2014, Copic multiliner

Haniwa dog, circa 6th C AD, from the collection of Andrew and Hiroko Gwinnett, on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia, 16 November 2014, Copic multiliner

Finally I couldn’t leave out Sam, the Old English Sheepdog, who’s house we were staying at.

Sam the Old English Sheepdog, asleep under the table, 17 November 2014, Copic multiliner

Sam the Old English Sheepdog, asleep under the table, 17 November 2014, Copic multiliner

Rear View

It is said that small things amuse small minds, but I’d like to change the saying to ‘small things engage inquiring minds’. I hope my latest drawing ‘tic’ falls into this latter category. Sitting, waiting in the car is something that most of us experience quite often, so I decided I should take advantage of this situation to indulge in a little drawing. I do want to emphasise that I only draw while the car is parked. I realised that there was often too much happening in all directions to quickly decide what to draw. So I decided I would draw what appeared in my car’s rear vision or wing mirror, or the mirrors themselves.

Rearview mirror and parking meters, ball point pen, 9 September 2014

Rearview mirror and parking meters, ball point pen, 9 September 2014

The more time I have, the more elaborate the drawings can get.

Wing mirror with open garage door, pen and ink and acrylic marker, 16 September 2014

Wing mirror with open garage door, pen and ink and acrylic marker, 16 September 2014

Of course I don’t always have my sketchbook to hand so when needs must, I grab one of the many car park tickets that seem to live in our car. This 5.5 x 8.5 cm (roughly 2 x3 “) format focuses the mind wonderfully!

'No parking' rear view mirror, ballpoint pen on car park ticket, 12 October 2014

‘No parking’ rear view mirror, ballpoint pen on car park ticket, 12 October 2014

One thing I noticed when I did this drawing was that if I use blind drawing technique to reproduce the writing I don’t make mistakes when I draw the reversed letters. Quite interesting.