Monday, June 10, 2019

Sketchfest Brisbane

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Make sure you don't miss out on your favourite tutor's workshop at Sketchfest, some are getting close to full!!! 
Ticket sales at
Brochure with full details at…/USK%20BrochureA5.pdf…

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sunny autumn day in Christchurch

Some interesting and exciting new things are happening in the central Christchurch rebuild these days.  The old and oppressive brick buildings on Manchester Street suffered badly in the earthquake and their removal has opened up the once dark and crowded avenue into a wonderful view of the city in flux.  Thankfully this openness appears set to continue as low rise apartment buildings pop up with large grassy public areas and parks.

I sat on a small grassy rise in one such public space eating a picnic lunch to sketch this mixed media view of a snippet of the city - collage, pen and ink, watercolour, coloured pencils and gouache.  All the goodies in my art bag.

I love clear frosty days in Canterbury.

Shelley (June 2019)

Friday, May 31, 2019

Zen and the art of motorcycles 2

My partner is restoring a 90's dirt bike and I am finding the process very inspiring.  There are some challenges to capturing the fast moving processes in the garage, but also opportunities to study muddy, intricate mechanical parts.  

Some of my previous explorations in mixed media have come in very handy, allowing me to layer, collage and use opaque media (gouache) to build the image.

Spray painting the bike frame, the fumes were all encompassing.  Waiting for the action to start gave me opportunity to explore the clutter that accumulates around the restoration process in the garage.

I "borrowed" the carburettor and sketched it like I would a building.

Back to the action.  Here I was drawing the motor as it was being cleaned, which meant it had to change positions fairly often.  I decided to carry on with my lines through the movement.  So rather than an exact sketch of the motor, it is an amalgamation of the things I saw as I drew.
Then I experimented with gouache marks to represent the different parts on the smaller sketch.

And this is where the project has led me so far - utilising lots of my mixed media tricks!
The collage elements were drawn from life on scraps of scrapbook paper on one of my many trips to the music store with my partner - another of his hobbies that I find inspiring.  I already had them stuck to the sketchbook page, so I drew the brake parts straight over top.  Selected areas of gouache to pick out details and splattered watercolour for the years of mud and grime!

Shelley (May 2019)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Ngamotu Engine

It's been a while since I'd been to the Taranaki Aviation Technology and Transport Museum. While I was there, they fired up an engine from a ship used to dredge sand from the seaport. The sign said that it ran at about 100rpm on the ship but when I was there, in the museum, it was much slower than that. (Maybe 10-20%?) At that speed, it was making this sound that was like it was breathing. It was so hypnotic that I ended up sitting down and sketching it.

I made a 60-second video, if you want to hear the breathing sound:

I'm looking for a winter sketching venue so maybe I'll be back periodically.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

May 2019: Lumsden Green, Newmarket

The weather is changing. Autumn days are clear and bright, but with the bite of cold that forecasts Winter is coming.

Lumsden Green is a small patch of green and sculpture in the heart of Newmarket. The small space gives tons of scope for urban sketching. A number of modern, metallic sculptures; some retails spaces and cafes with bright umbrellas; vehicles, greenery and medium-sized office buildings from a variety of years gone by giving a great backdrop. Truly, something for everyone with a sketchbook.

The smarter Auckland Urban Sketchers choose sunny spots to perch. Those of us who found places in the shade found our bones cold to the core by the time our drawing was done. Man, the temperature seemed to drop quickly as the afternoon wore on. I'm mostly speaking about how cold I felt after coming back to my senses when my drawing was done. I felt frozen!

I had decided to try to paint Lumsden Green as a wide landscape rather than focussing in on a detailed subject as I normally would. I had borrowed a small drawing board from Dianne so my sketchbook was on an angle and laid blocks of watercolour across the paper first. Holding my brush more loosely than usual, I really liked the way the colour flowed down the page and puddled along the bottom edges. Instead of using a black micro pen I also changed that for a dip pen to get some variety into my lines using India Ink.  

It soon felt uncomfortable and I quickly hated my first few washes. But I persisted because that's how paintings happen, right? More on; more on! the dip pen was interesting, scratchy, and the ink wasn't as black on the paper as it was in the pot. Again I held the nib loosely and the lines were sort of interesting and I kept going.

The sculpture in my painting was lost against the dark background. I rummaged around in my stash and found a metallic fibre-tipped pen (Kikki-k Metallics) and drew the sculpture with it, which helped it show better against the dark trees behind it. 

By the time I was done, I felt tired, cold and disappointed - fully understandable seeing as I was trying something new - but still not a great feeling.

Now looking at it after I got home I am less hard on myself. There are some nice swashes of colour, and I am feeling like it was a good thing to try something new - but I really do need to look at trees and think a bit harder about the values I choose for them. Next time should be a bit easier, and over time I will loosen up even more.

Taking a break and a walk around the other sketchers, including some of the smart ones sitting in the sun, I was again amazed at all the different views we can find in the same space. We're a really diverse group and nothing beats seeing how other people work and the results they achieve.

You can see more photos from the day on the Urban Sketchers Auckland Facebook page. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Downtown New Plymouth

It's starting to feel like the beginning of winter sketching in New Zealand.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Japan adventures

Its been a long time since I did my last post but I got fresh sketches from our recent Japan adventure.  Our time spent there was split between the two major busy cities Tokyo and Osaka with a break on the calmness of the islands on the inland sea. During our stay we our lucky enough to attend a urban sketcher meeting with our friends from Tokyo in Ginza neighbourhood, so we meet the "locals" they were very friendly and we all had something in common to share. Tokyo is huge, there is all types of neighbourhoods, building scales and streets, but even the most anonymous street corner is interesting enough for a sketch, full of signs, restaurants and urban paraphernalia. Our major goals for visiting Tokyo according to our daughter was to visit Pokemon centre, studio Ghibli, all the 300 game centres and spin all the gachapon machines that we could find on street. Most of them became reality...

Tokyo street view
Tsukiji market
Tokyo street view

The main reason to flight down south to the port of Takamatsu, where we stayed for 5 days, was the  Setouchi Art Triennal that is happening during the springtime. Takamatsu is a special port city with interesting covered streets and a lot of bicycles. To complement the beauty of the landscape, this year there were art pieces and installations spread over some islands. Firstly Naoshima, which is already very art focused because of the famous Benesse house and Chichu museum designed by Tadao Ando which can be visited any time of the year. The following day we went to Teshima that has a museum designed by the japanese architect Sejima, a bubble of white concrete. The last day was Ogijima, a small fisherman's village that has a timeless sense of place. Some of the art installations were done inside old houses which gave us opportunity to see traditional architecture from the inside. In these small places time slows down compared to big cities so it end up being our favourite moment of the whole travel. 

Takamatsu restaurant while waiting for the ramen
Ferry boat and daily tickets
Ogijima view to the inland sea
Naoshima fishermen's boats
Teshima art installation with scaffoldings

Osaka seemed to be a bit more laid back compared to the busy and working focused Tokyo city but, our stay was during the golden week when japanese go on holidays, this year they had an additional 3 leave days due to the new emperor transition.  The food in general is delicious, I think its difficult to find a bad restaurant, a good ramen its almost a guarantee for a decent meal. Interesting how the electric cables are part of the streetscapes of all japan cities, but when you find very narrow streets like some in Kyoto, the complexity of the cabling becomes the main focal point and maybe the sketching subject.

Electric cables and the crows are a constant presence in Kyoto

Shichirin restaurant in Tokyo

Osaka street view close to a nice art store.

The Kishi train station is the end of the line of a rural monorail in the Wakayama prefecture. The station was near closure in 2004 because of financial problems on the rail line, in 2007 was decide to adopt Tama as a station master, her primary duty is to greet passengers, so she spend most of the day being photographed and sleeping, its a pretty hard life. The publicity from Tama's appointment led to an increase in passengers, the trains keep running and Tama became the motif for the station, the cafe, the decoration and even the roof. Tama is a cat. In Japan everything is made to look cute.
Train station, the electric strawberry train and the stamps from the temples