Category Archives: Moleskine

Easter weekend in Sydney

Last weekend I visited Sydney. It was my second visit since I moved to Melbourne two and a half years ago. I had lived in Sydney for ten years and made many good friends there, especially in the sketching world. 

I planned my visit to spend some quality time with friends, and I did, I had some lovely conversations and sketching time. It was definitely a sketching holiday and so relaxing. I filled twenty five pages of my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook (13 x 19) over the four day break.

I’ve included a few on this blog. If you would like to see them all they are on my flickr site from 13 to 17 April 2017.

I started sketching as soon as I left work on Thursday and was officially ‘on holidays’ – on the bus to the airport, at the airport. I sketched the view from where I stayed each night, food I ate and scenes along the way.  Some sketches are in ink and some in watercolour pencil and some a combination of both . Sometimes I can visualise what I would like a sketch to look like on the page, and I “know” (inside) that it will work in pen rather than watercolour pencil. On another day or another time I may have chosen different material. 

I am usually very happy with what i put on the page. Every now and then I am exceptionally pleased. I felt that this sketch of the cruise ship in Sydney Harbour really came together when I added the figures, The Sydney Opera House is in the background and it is a temptation to make it the focus.  However it did not fit on the page, so my decision was made.

I like to combine a feature of a building and the larger building to give it some context. This is beautiful The Russell Hotel  where I stayed on Thursday night.  I could spend some time on the interior, as I was leisurely eating my breakfast, and not meeting Chris and Liz til 10 am.  I tried not to get caught up in the detail of the staircase, The exterior sketch was done quickly, as once again I did not want to get caught up in the detail. I have been trying to figure out which room I was in and where I sketched from the Sitting Room Balcony, but it is a confusing building inside, with little staircases and rooms everywhere. 

Catching the ferry to Manly from Circular Quay. I sat on the top deck at the back. I watched as the city disappeared into the distance. This couple sat for a short amount of time on the bench in front of me. I got the lines of their heads and his arm down very quickly on the page, and was really pleased with the flow of the lines and getting their position down on the page. I can look at this and feel where his weight is and how she turns her head,. I ,quickly added some colour with my watercolour pencils, which was just as well, as they moved. I decided not to add the colour of the sky and water. 

Classic Manly on Easter Sunday. The Manly ferry , the coastal pine trees and Easter Eggs.

I sketched with about 12 few of Erin’s sketchers at Manly. I had met two when I was in Sydney, and had a lovely time chatting and sketching with them all. 

and home again. 

At the airport I decided   – no more sketching – (I did have a book to read) UNLESS I sat behind someone with fantastic hair, There was no one on the plane – but on the bus, there was a young girl with wonderfully braided hair AND bunny ears. How could I resist???? I’ve never drawn braids before and it was a  challenge ! It keep me very busy on the way into Melbourne city. Once I figured out the pattern, I could continue it while I waited for another bus.

I hope you have enjoyed my holiday. 

Please let me know if you have any questions about my sketching, using watercolour pencils, or my sketchbook journalling. I love to share my passion/obsession with sketching and the joys of watercolour pencils. 

 

USK Day 1 Cars in the city LAPIN & GERARD MICHEL

Cars in the city

Thursday morning with Lapin and Gerard Michel Read more About the instructors

This workshop  was originally to be co-taught with Florian Afflerbach (Flaf) , well known as a  sketcher of cars who sadly passed away earlier this year. A tribute wall of sketches of cars in fish eye style was at the Benzie Building at Symposium

Part 1 Car Portraits (quck sketch)

28jul2016-drawing-cars-in-the-city-1

Gerard explained the elipse of wheels and axels – going through the axis of the wheels . Of course it all makes sense now !

 

28jul2016-drawing-cars-in-the-city-2

The first part of the  Workshop was to sketch a car from a distance of about a metre or so, maybe a little more. We sat on the sidewalk or near a car and sketched three quarter view. The instructors  provided an example of how to work out the shape using simple boxes and we worked from that . I have no idea what I  wrote  here at the end of the page or what I was trying to make a note of. I think we had about 10 minutes each sketch.

and then the rain got heavier…so we moved

Part 2 (detailed sketch)

We found a nearby carpark and choose the car of our choice . I tried to find something interesting or obscure ( does nobody drive a gogomobile or a P1800S or Old Bentley to work ?) but a nice shiny black AUDI A5 was sporty enough for me. A hour here.

28jul2016-drawing-cars-in-the-city-3

I sat at the far end of the carpark and was adding  lines to the page. After a while, Lapin arrived and said no – move closer, move closer to the car. I was really close – but you can see how it changes the view of the car.

28jul2016-drawing-cars-in-the-city-4
We were encouraged to start with the headlight and then draw organically through the reflections in the light (including your self if you were there). I found this very difficult without the context of the rest of the car, so sketched it in pencil. There is an immense amount of comparative measuring involved , as nothing your mind tells you is correct actually is!

I am so proud of this sketch, I cannot believed that I produced something so amazing that is outside my comfort zone. It is a character and almost a monster car. Each time I look  at it I amaze myself .

28jul2016-drawing-cars-in-the-city-5

We gathered to discuss what we had learned, but the parking attendant in charge of the car-park turned up and moved us on as it was a private carpark. oops .

Part 3 Cars in the City

We walked around the corner and found a sheltered area outside an office for the final part of the Workshop (and asked permission to use it). It had a row of parked cars and the city skyline (thanks to some building demolition). This final part was about drawing cars in context with the city around them. Gerard explained how to add depth by adding the foreground anchor to help understand the perspective of the scene. Cold and raining . an hour here.

 

28jul2016-drawing-cars-in-the-city-6

I was more comfortable with this scene. I enjoy drawing cars. But the challenge here was how and what to emphasize. I decided where to add colour right at the end of the session.

dscf1199 dscf1204 dscf1205

MY TAKEAWAYS

  • The perspective of an object can dramatically change as you get closer to it or you change your angle or height.
  • Draw what you see and the perspective can figures itself out
  • Dress warmly as you are going to sit on the ground outside

stocking up for travel sketching

I have I started thinking about my art gear for my upcoming three week holiday in the UK, and have purchased and ordered some supplies. Some had to be ordered online and I bought extras to stock up for home as well.

gear

I am going to attend the Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester for three days, and will I be continuously sketching for the entire time.  I sketch daily now and will have even more to draw when I am away.

I’ll be taking my current pencil wrap (same old one as my new one did not get made), filled with  new Faber Castell LONG pencils. I’ve bought new watercolours pencil and will take doubles of a few that I am prone to use/loose.  Payne Grey, Ivory, Light Yellow Ochre.

I also bought some new watercolour pencil colours that I have been advised for UK trees, buildings  – Sap Green, Hookers Green, Alizarin Crimson.

DSCF1190

I am taking three Moleskine 13 x 19 cm Watercolour Sketchbooks. I have already started the first one by holiday sketching- drawing my new suitcase, some British pounds. I’ll sketch my clothes before I go. Then at the airport, on the plane ….

eraser

My eraser is specific – it fits in my pencilwrap in a pencil space. TOMBOW Mono Zero 2.5 x 5 mm

DSCF1195

I’ll take two waterbrushes – one in use and one spare. I use ZIG Brush H20 Medium Tip. It has a filter that slows the flow of water. This suits my drawing style, as I don’t flood the page with water and colour and I like to work in small areas on the page.

DSCF1193

And a spare sharpener.  Blunt pencils make for a bad drawing – so much of my drawing of objects relies on the hint of detail,  which a sharp, fine line provides.

Of course, this is just my usual sketching gear. I am enrolled in four workshops and four activities at Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium. They will all challenge me and build my techniques and skills but are all suited to my drawing based approach. I will buy some extra art gear in Manchester when I get there. I am sure to get ideas from the other 500 sketchers there !

Lost Trades Fair Part 1

In March this year a friend and I took a one hour train ride from Melbourne to the regional town of Kyneton (population 8000) to go to the Lost Trades Fair. It was first held in 2014 and has rapidly established itself as an event, this year attracting over 15000 people in two days.

What is the Lost Trades Fair?

“The Lost & Rare Trades Fair celebrates the art of skilled manual work and ancient and traditional trades and crafts, their special tools, traditions, languages and secrets which are now threatened by mass produced products in our modern society.  Our aim is to unite people that still have these skills and reignite the significance that these trades and crafts have in todays environment, setting them on a steady path for the future, before they are lost to history.  “

Read so much more about this incredible initiative at the website Rundell and Rundell

There were over eighty amazing, knowledgeable and skilled traditional tradespeople set up in white tents in the grounds surrounding the Kyneton racecourse. These artisans practiced their crafts and explained them to fascinated onlookers. It was very interactive and the people are passionate about their trades and craft. They included an armourer, cooper, fletcher and windsor chairmaker.   The crowds grew during the day, but there was food and entertainment to sustain us.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my lunch sketch.

14mar16 LTF lunch

Last year I eagerly raced around, trying to take it all in, wanting to sketch everything and not miss out on seeing anything. This year I decided to focus on a few craftsmen and artisans, and be prepared not to see everything – quality not quantity. The stalls that I sketched were not chosen for a specific reason, I just happened to be there and there was a good place to sketch nearby. Sometimes the artisans did not know I was sketching them and others I chatted to while I sketched. I sketched 11 stalls. Maybe next year I will go for the two days of the long weekend.

Mar2016 Vintage Caravan LR

A Country Affair – vintage coffee cart

On the day I took a while to ‘warmup’ and feel comfortable in my role as sketcher for the day.An initial wander took us to coffee.  I sat down, trying to decide what to draw and what style to use. So I drew what was in front of me – the coffee caravan, In hindsight, it was far too ambitious. I should have stayed in my comfort zone and drawn my coffee, and then moved on to scenes.

Mar2016 Lost Trades Fair leathergoods LR

I then sketched the leathergoods stall across from me.

I was also choosing which medium to use when – my watercolour pencils and my Lamy ink pen. I also brought along an A4 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook to try and draw larger, as well as my everyday 19×13 cm Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. My aim for the day was to attempt to give character and movement to a scene – capturing the moment. I was not attempting to draw a portrait (although it is always pleasing when the figure vaguely looks like the person) but some of them are such characters that they are unmistakable.

Sometimes I started sketching in pencil and capturing the moment. Once I discovered the person was going to stay still or repeat the moment I added colour and features. Here are the sketches. Note: The combination of light graphite pencil sketches and light watercolour pencil does not scan very well and I am disappointed that they do not look like my originals.

Mar2016 Dean the Cobber LR

Dean the cobber – a really enjoyable time here as I sketched Dean mixing clay with an enthusiastic member of the crowd, who was really enjoying getting stuck into the mud. Her brother and then her family chatted to us . Dean builds a cob oven from clay, sand, straw and water. I was watching on and sketching but so tempted to join in. I could almost feel the mud between my toes. This was in an A4 page.

Mar2016 Spoonsmith LR
I was feeling weary so sat under a tree, but it had to be one with a view to sketch and it was the Spoonsmith.
This was the other sketch I did on an A4 page

Mar2016 Penny Farthing LR
Penny Farthing – attracting attention with the Penny Farthing Bicycles and steampunk gear. Large circles are difficult to sketch sometime so I tried to focus on the costume.
I will continue with Part 2 next week, with some more of my sketches from the day and the stories behind them.

You can see my sketches from last year

Lost Trades Fair 2015 Part 1

Lost Trades Fair 2015 Part 2

My burger at Lost Trades Fair

Yesterday a friend and I spent the day at the Lost Trades Fair at Kyneton, just over an hour by train from Melbourne. The Lost Trades fair showcases traditional, rare and unusual arts and trades and actively promotes the people who practise these skills.

The weather was just perfect  and I sketched all day completing 10 pages. I was experimenting with reportage sketching – telling a story.  I still have to scan my sketches and write commentary. I need to reflect on how I managed the day and what I would do differently. These will be the topic of a later blog.

Today is all about my lunch at Lost Trades Fair.

14mar16 LTF lunch

After sketching and talking to some incredibly interesting stall holders, we stopped for a well earned lunch at Sidonnia Hills Natural Beef for their Drover’s Burger.


 

IMG_1402

IMG_1403

IMG_1418

IMG_1421

IMG_1425

We sat on hay bales and I sketched my burger and finally ended up eating a slightly cool, but delicious burger. I chatted to people in the queue about sketching and my pencils. 

I like to draw a detailed object in watercolour pencil and then use my Lamy ink pen to sketch the context. In this case it was the people at the markets.

Here are the watercolour pencils I used (with a waterbrush)

DSCF1143

Left to right : Grass green, Chrome Oxide Green, ivory, Burnt Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Light Yellow Ochre, Deep Scarlet Red, Walnut  Brown, Burnt Umber, Magenta, Burnt Sienna, Madder Crimson.

All are Faber Castell  Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils, except the last , which is a Derwent.

See my blog posts  and sketches from last years Lost Trades Fair

http://www.alissaduke.com/2015/03/lost-trades-fair-sketching-part-1.html

http://www.alissaduke.com/2015/03/lost-trades-fair-sketching-part-2.html

 

 

On Saturday about 36 Urban Sketchers in Melbourne met at South Melbourne Markets for a few hours of sketching.

photos by Evelyn Yee

I stayed all day and completed 8 pages. I am experimenting with adding colour highlights to the page . I would like some of my drawings of crowds to have bit more interest . (Thanks Kaz for your advice !!)

14nov15 USK1 14nov15 USK2 14nov15 USK3 14nov15 USK4 14nov15 USK5

 

14nov15 USK6 14nov15 USK7

14nov15 USK8
Who are Urban Sketchers ???

We are an all-volunteer nonprofit dedicated to fostering a global community of artists who practice on-location drawing.

Our mission is to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of on-location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel.

1.We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
2.Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
3.Our drawings are a record of time and place.
4.We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
5.We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
6.We support each other and draw together.
7.We share our drawings online.
8.We show the world, one drawing at a time.

New exhibition of my sketchbooks

In August this year I was fortunate to have the opportunity to hold my first exhibition at my local East Melbourne Library. At the time, I also booked the space for my second exhibition for this month of October. Today I set it up with my friend and curator extraordinaire, Louise. This exhibition features 24 of my sketchbooks open at pages displaying a variety of themes. I hope to show people the wide variety of things that can be sketched and open their eyes to the concept of sketchbook journalingL1100103a.
The themes on the opened pages include people, travel, food, drink, Melbourne, tools, everyday things and medical – as you can see, a wide variety. Anything is sketchable! Some are quick sketches and others are studied drawings. I carry my Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook, watercolour pencils and Ink pen with me every where, and draw everyday.

L1100066L1100065

 

 

 

 

 

It was difficult, but fun to choose 24 pages from 55 books with sketches capturing the last 8 years of my life. I had help and advice to choose pages that had strong images in landscape format so that they would be interesting to look at in the glass display cabinets in the library. So many choices !

L1100094

L1100087

 

 

 

 

 

 

My exhibition is on for the month of October. If you are in Melbourne, I hope that you get the opportunity to come and visit.

L1100072 L1100100

 

My first solo art exhibition

My first solo art exhibition. It is small but it is all mine.L1100034

My local East Melbourne Library provides display cabinets for residents to book for a month at a time for exhibitions. With the encouragement of friends, I booked a space for August. Then, with the incredible guidance and assistance of my good friend Louise, (curator and exhibition designer) we planned and then set up my display.

THE PLANNING

joined images1

This took many hours and the time that we spent planning paid off.   I learnt that there is a lot involved in finding a theme, keeping focus and using the space of the  glass cubes that make up the cabinets. I cut 12 squares of 30 x 30 cm paper (the number and size of each shelf) and spread them out over the floor at home . I then decided what should be placed in each shelf. We took it all down to the library last Saturday, making slight alterations on the day .

All along, I had visualised how I wanted my feather and nests sketches to be exhibited, and the final display exceeded all of my expectations.

The theme of the exhibition was based around the drawings I have had printed as Greeting Cards and envelopes (which are available for sale on my Etsy site). They include feathers, nests, library books and ladders and snails.

BOOKS

L1100010 - Copy

There is one display cabinet featuring library books and ladders.

I tried to add as many relevant sketchbooks as possible to the display as well as the finished drawings  on loose sheets of A4 paper as I am really a sketchbook artist.


joined images3

FEATHERS, NESTS AND SNAILS

I also wanted to include some of the original objects that the drawings were inspired by.

joined images2

L1100016

I have already received some lovely feedback from the library staff.

I hope that you have enjoyed strolling through my first solo exhibition with me today. It is very big event for me and I very proud of my exhibition.

testing watercolour papers

I draw daily using watercolour pencils in a Moleskine watercolour (13 x 19 cm) sketchbook, which I love and will continue to use.
But sometimes I want to do a more “finished” drawing  on a single A4 or A3 sheet.  I have been trying to find the equivalent of my Moleskine textured paper in this format, as Moleskine do not make their own paper and cannot be bought in sheets.
Recently I have been also using a pad of Arches Smooth 300gsm , was getting increasingly frustrated with the interaction of my watercolour pencil, water and the paper . I was finding that the pencil pigment on the  Arches gets “furry” or “fuzzy” as I pull the colour across the paper with water. This is the only way I can describe it.
In reality the difference is so subtle it is probably something that no one else would notice. So this is a very subjective review, as I am looking for something that suits me. But I thought I would share my experience.
I asked advice on Facebook groups and also looked online.  I received a number of number of suggestions which I took to my local art shop Parkers in Sydney .  After half an hour with a very patient assistant, I walked away with six sheets of paper (they did not have some of suggested brands : Aquabee, Holbein  Rhodia & Levenger) . Even when I was in the shop I could see and feel the difference between the papers, although after a while they all started to look the same and I was a little overwhelmed, so I made my purchases and went home.
Of course when I got home I sketched my newly purchased papers
there are subtle differences in the colour of the papers

UPDATE 2015 – I found the perfect paper – .It is called University paper. I believe it is produced by St Cuthberts Mill in the UK . Available at Deans Art in Melbourne ! In sheets.  210 gsm

I have never tested papers before, so it was all experimental.   I cut the paper into 13 x 19 cm rectangles (size of the Moleskine) .  I had only recently discovered that papers have a front and back side to them, so I have one for each.
I decided to test the colours and shapes that I have been drawing recently . Ivory Black – a colour I use in feathers and Magenta for macarons. I did a scribble of colour and then spread it out with a paintbrush. I wrote my thoughts down immediately on the paper before moving onto the next one.  Some were quite similar, but there was a difference.
Unfortunately the scans of the completed tests shows no difference between them. It looks like the same test fourteen times. so I won’t put them up online, but I will describe my immediate reactions and thoughts.

I have listed them from the best match to the least

The winner  is ….

         Lana 300 gsm Hot Press
FRONT – has more texture than back
BACK  – smoother than front. Not furry at all spreads well
I then drew a whole egg, feather and macaron, just to double check. It feels good!
                   Here are the other papers I tested and my thoughts.

 

Fabriano Soft Press 300 gsm

BACK not furry & spreads well, but settles furry. Paper has a bit of texture , not good for fine lines of pencil only
FRONT Paper fells thick not furry

Canson Montval 300 gsm

FRONT Textured paper
BACK not furry at all. Too much texture on paper

Arches Smooth 300 gsm

BACK furry
FRONT  furry

Bristol Board
Whoosh – glides off the page too smooth. Can’t get really dark lines
Fabriano Hot Press 300 gsm
FRONT Pigment does not spread well , stops and starts shows edges. A little more furry
BACK a little furry pigment does not spread well. stops and starts shows edges spread across spreads too much pigment
Saunders Waterford 300 gsm HotPress
FRONT furry . takes pencil well on its own. Not so good with dark colours. Front more furry than Back
BACK a little furry

if anyone has any other thoughts or suggestions please let me know. I now just have to learn how to cut sheets into even papers….