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.

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Drawn in – November

Its been quite a while since I went to one of the National Portrait Gallery’s Drawn In sessions. A friend suggested we go and so we joined lots of other people for an afternoon session of sketching and listening to some beautiful singing.

I managed 3 sketches in various styles and media. First a blind drawing in pencil of a floral arrangement in the area we were drawing.

Blind drawing, floral arrangement, National Portrait Gallery Canberra, 30 November 2014, pencil

Blind drawing, floral arrangement, National Portrait Gallery Canberra, 30 November 2014, pencil

A view to the display of portraits by Rick Amor in the gallery entrance.

Rick Amor, Gallery 1, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 30 November 2014, pencil, ink and watercolour.

Rick Amor, Gallery 1, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 30 November 2014, pencil, ink and watercolour.

The last was a still life and partial figure of the woman sitting in front of me.

Bags and partial figure, National Portrait Gallery, pen and ink, 30 November 2014

Bags and partial figure, National Portrait Gallery, pen and ink, 30 November 2014

After I’d finished drawing I went over to look more closely at the Rick Amor portraits which vaguely appear in my sketch. I was particularly interested in the preparatory drawings for Amor’s 1994 portrait of Gary Catalano.

Gary Catalano

Gary Catalano , 1994 by Rick Amor Gary Catalano, 1994 by Rick Amor pencil and watercolour on yellow paper (56.5 x 76.0 cm) Collection of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia

I was impressed by the economy of the drawings with no need for extensive explanatory detail.

Gary Catalano, 1994 by Rick Amor

Gary Catalano, 1994 by Rick Amor, oil on canvas (57.0 x 57.0 cm) , private collection.

 

Their adaptation to the final painting doesn’t lose the spareness conveyed by the drawings. There’s quite a lesson in that approach.

 

 

‘Drawn In’ 26 May

I finally made it back to one of the National Portrait Gallery’s drawing days. This time rather than have a set piece to draw from there was a musician, Rose Maher, playing songs for Reconciliation Week.

My first drawing was of Rose and her father (whose name I didn’t catch), backing her up on guitar.

Rose Maher and her father at the National Portrait Gallery

Rose Maher and her father at the National Portrait Gallery

Next I tried  the jug and glasses on a small stool, with dramatic shadows provided by the bright sunlight streaming in the window. The watercolour was added later.

Pencil sketch with watercolour

Pencil sketch with watercolour

My final drawing was of some of the other people participating in the event. The watercolour was added later.

'Drawn In' 26 may 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery

‘Drawn In’ 26 May 2013 at the National Portrait Gallery

The next sessions , if you are in Canberra, will be held on Sunday 9 June and Sunday 7 July from 1pm to 3pm. On Sunday 26 June there will be a special life drawing class with Braidwood artist John R Walker (fees apply).