Thursday, October 3, 2019

Kings Building

It's finally spring and I'm out in the afternooon sun. A few days later, I see this headline in the local news. It looks like I'm back to indoor sketching.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

September 2019: Farmers Car Park

This month we went to a carpark that used to be associated with the Farmers Trading Company. But Farmers moved many years ago, and Wilsons now own this carpark (and many of the other carparks) in Auckland CBD. 

What a brilliant choice for September’s Urban Sketchers MeetUp!

Don't overlook the ordinary, Sketchers. This carpark lifted us several stories off the pavement and gave us a wonderful afternoon of sketching.

Views from the top story of Farmers old carpark on Hobson Street, Auckland, New Zealand.

Not only could we drive right to where we were going to draw, but we were elevated with a view of the central business district of Auckland city. There are a few trees in the city if vegetation is your thing, but this is an exercise in perspective, architecture, and composition for most of us.

It’s Spring here in New Zealand. The weather is changeable, sometimes even over a matter of minutes. Another reason the carpark was a great idea because if it had started to rain or become too blustery, we could've moved from the top deck, go one level below, and carry on. It didn’t rain but it did get quite chilly in the wind. Urban sketchers are a hardy-breed so we stuck it out, having our show-and-tell in the carpark's stairwell. 

We had a good turn out - I counted about two dozen (24) people with a few newbies (4 or so). It’s so great to have such a steady group with regular as well as new faces each month. We have social media pages on Facebook and Instagram so people can generally find us.

The majority of us were attracted to the eastern view looking up at the tall buildings and St Patricks church. Such a lovely contrast between the classical architecture of the church, the mid-century and modern buildings, even a crane to show a hint of the massive road and general construction the city is currently undergoing; and of course, the every-changing cloudy sky.

Many of us were looking out and up, but some looked down and though and captured views we don’t always get to see of buildings when we're all puddling around on the pavement.

September 2019 Urban Sketchers, Auckland, New Zealand

Monday, September 16, 2019

Food Court Lunch

I had some extra time while shopping so I sketched the mall food court. I noticed three things:
1.  It's amazing how little time people take when eating in a food court. People aren't there to chat; it's all business so that makes for some fast sketching. I definitely feel sketching people in a proper cafe is easier.
2.  About 80% of females partaking in a food court lunch had longer hair tied back in a ponytail.
3.  The fast food franchise kiosks with huge advertising budgets get a return on their investment. There was a constant queue for burgers while some of the other places were super quiet. The Chinese food place had one guy just standing there behind a buffet, with no takers. I kept looking over at him and it never changed. (When this one was done though, I went over to Mr. Lonely and bought a plate of sweet and sour pork.)

Monday, September 9, 2019

Amsterdam - Urban Sketchers Sympoisum 2019

This was my third symposium, and first visit to Europe. I had a great time and it was so awesome!
Amsterdam is such a photogenic city, you can sit anywhere and get a great sketch.

Let the journey to Amsterdam begin. Auckland to Brisbane - and the requisite airport sketch!

Layover at Brisbane airport.

Flying 14 hours from Brisbane to Dubai with Emirates. Luckily the flight wasn't full, and we could spread out over four seats! Even then, there wasn't huge amounts of sleep, so after getting bored with endless movies, I sketched.

Zuiderkerk [South Church] was the hub of the symposium. I think EVERYONE sketched this building. Yes, the lamp post was crooked!
We hit the heat wave this week, and temperatures soared to 40 degrees! Some symposium participants struggled badly and fainted -daily reminders to stay in the shade and hydrate!
600+ registered sketchers from 48 different countries. Plus dozens of unregistered artists joined in to the free Sketch walks each day.

Workshop with Marion Rivolier. Tried to use my markers to approximate the water colour techniques she was teaching.

Workshop with Roisin Cure, goose quill and brown ink - very nice to work with.

Workshop with Eduardo Bajzek. A technique that gives a great moody effect.
Really enjoyed this one, as it bought me back to my roots of pencil work.

Before heading to the symposium workshops each day, I used three cool mornings to complete this sketch of the amazing buildings of Amsterdam. 

As a member of the USK Social media team, I seek out and repost every night to the Instagram account. At the symposium I also did quick interviews of sketchers, which was fun. But in the lead up, we noted that we were approaching 200,000 followers, so we wanted to commemorate this. We sent out a call for involvement #USK200k, then we selected the finalist, and I edited them into a power point to be played at the symposium. It was a fun project, and we got close, but it wasn't until after we got home that we actually hit the 200k mark. Nevermind. I reformatted the presentation into two Instagram videos, and we celebrated from afar.

The silent auction at the final night function -great art donated to fund raise for the USK committee

The final big photo of all 600+ sketchers.
I met up with some awesome old friends, and made some new awesome friends.
So very satisfying on so many levels.

The 2020 symposium was announced for Hong Kong at Easter.. will you be there?!

Following the symposium, I stayed in Amsterdam for another week.
Enjoyed some great food, sight seeing, and more sketching.
And the weather had cooled down to a fabulous 30 degrees!

The unique canal bridges

A visit to the Rijks Museum and the library

A view of Zuiderkerk on  canal bridge

Another canal bridge. I was met by an interested local, who invited me into his 4 story canal house nearby.
It was a great experience to venture into a 400 year old house! He then mentioned I should visit a certain area of Amsterdam for some more sketching...

As recommended - this area of Buiksloterdijk had an amazing array of unique cottages.

While sketching the previous houses,a local resident invited me to sketch his house "The most beautiful in the whole street" He wasn't wrong. And he also invited me inside to see his house. A special day!
A day trip to Haarlem was another sketcher's heaven, but the huge Grote Kerk [Great Church] St Bavo had me sitting for three hours [and a few beers]

No visit to the Netherlands is complete without visiting wind mills. As you can also tell, it was a gloomy and showery day. A big difference from last week's heat wave!

A final sketch from my accommodation's first floor
On the way back to Aotearoa, we stopped for a few days in Singapore - for some sketching and eating!

Lau Pa Sat food court, housed inside an historic building

I joined the Singapore sketchers for a morning session.

AND there you have it. Lots of fun. Amazing experience, Great memories.

Sunday, September 1, 2019


In Puke Ariki museum again; this time drawing a Kākāpō. It's a New Zealand flightless parrot and as of today, there's only 142 left. Click here to find out more or to donate to their recovery!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

August 2019: Onehunga Mall

Onehunga Mall

Spring might be just around the corner, but August Urban Sketchers shivered their way through a chilly afternoon in Onehunga's vibrant mall on Saturday 31 August 2019. Even if you dress for the weather (which I clearly did not) you're sitting or standing still and you can get quite cold quite quickly as you draw. We were all very pleased to gather and share our work in the warm Onehunga Library after we were done.
Corner of Church Street and Onehunga Mall

Personally, I find these are my favourite of all the places we draw. I like busy shopping areas with older buildings; they are often areas we drive and walk through without really seeing them as picturesque compared to a view across the harbour or a mountain or a monument for instance. I really enjoy the intricacies of 'everyday' shops and buildings, their signage and repurposed old buildings.

I spotted a large pestle and mortar on top of the Unichem (chemist) corner shop. It wasn't easy to see with a tree growing up in front of the building. I drew the corner of the street but didn't manage to get that interesting detail into my page. But I am currently in love with street signs - arrows, parking info, street names - and love using them as the focus of my sketches.
Line drawing and acrylic paint-pens for colour (no pink tho, unfortunately)
Goodhome Gastro Pub, Onehunga

There are lots of lovely architecture (and people) in Onehunga. The Goodhome gastro pub, for example, is in an old building with columns, architectural details and a cafe our the front - what more could you ask for, really. There is also a graveyard smack dab in the middle of the mall, as well as some really funky modern sculptures - so yes; lots for everyone in Onehunga.

Show-and-tell in the Onehunga Library
August 2019 Family Photo

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

FYI: Onehunga is pronounced or-nay-hong-ah. It may mean "burial place" because of the burial caves that are purported to be there.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Firetruck Graveyard

Quite by accident I stumbled upon a paddock full of rusted, derelict and decomissioned firetrucks just a few km from my home.  Like some sort of firetruck graveyard.
The space was well fenced off but luckily there were a few spots by the fence that afforded good views of these two wrecks.

I will be back there again hunting for good angles of the older vintage trucks next.....

Shelley Boyd (August 2019)