Category Archives: urban sketching

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. 

 

Lunar New Year sketching

Over 40 (perhaps up to 60) Melbourne Urban Sketchers met on a blue-skied sunny day at Queen Victoria Markets to sketch for Lunar New Year. Although the markets are busy, especially on weekends, we found spacious, shady places to sketch. 

 

such a wonderful sight to see sketchers all around

The Queen Victoria Markets have been operating in Melbourne for more than a century. This historic landmark is spread over two city blocks, and you can shop for everything from Australian fruit and vegetables, and local and imported gourmet foods, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs . A place to visit for locals and tourists ! (www.qvm.com.au/about/)

There was so much to sketch, and I choose two of the mythical creatures that were between the market sheds. I used my Lamy Safari Joy ink pen and watercolour pencils. I wanted to capture the people as well as the Lunar New Year.

a group photo at 1pm

We were one of at least 25 worldwide Urban Sketching Regional Groups that were sketching for the Lunar New Year.  

and here are some roosters I sketched a while ago . For Year of the Rooster

Urban sketchers in Ivanhoe

About 30 people from  Urban Sketchers Melbourne  met at Hatch Contemporary Art Space in Ivanhoe, Melbourne at 11am, then once again at 1pm after the sketch to share. This event is part of 2016 Pinpoint Contemporary Art Fair held by Banyule City Council. We sketched for the morning on postcard size paper (and some larger) on location in Ivanhoe. group

The sketchers included Lionel King visiting from Sydney and a few newcomers, including Colin, a local, who could give us local knowledge of where to sketch – a big thank you !
It was very surreal to be with Angela Williams, Alf Green and Lionel King, as the last time we were in one place together was in Manchester, UK in July this year for the Urban Sketching Symposium.

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looking down a driveway/laneway near Upper Heidelberg Road

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War Memorial on Upper Heidelberg Road

Above are my two postcards from the morning.

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The sketches were laid out on the tables at Hatch, as we chatted and enjoyed their hospitality of tea, coffee and biscuits !
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The finished “Postcards from Banyule” were then put in a display cabinet at the Ivanhoe Train Station (work will be displayed for 2 weeks).It is in the area where people buy their ticket or shelter from the weather, so should get a lot of people looking at them. (Ivanhoe is a suburb in the City Council district of Banyule).

Sketching Mum’s favourite London

I have almost finished scanning and uploading my three UK holiday sketchbooks to my flickr website. Every sketch holds a memory of a time and place and I feel like I want to show you them all. These blogs have been more of a ‘holiday snaps’ than art talk. I did not know where to start and stop sharing my English holiday sketches on my blog.

However, my mother (and travelling companion) has recently mentioned a few places and events that express what London means to her.  I have taken her suggestions to form the basis of my blog this week.

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Mum & I in Regents Park, London

I have taken Mum’s words and added my sketch

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  •  the green spaces, so many lovely squares. We were using our Oyster Card just like all the locals and other tourists – Russell Square, King’s Cross, Jubilee Line, Westminster!!!!

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the places to visit like British Museum and Library

 

 

 

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  • then there is beautiful Regents Park, an oasis in the busy streets around Baker Street. Pity we had a little trouble finding our way back to Bloomsbury

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  • London is the red buses, telephone boxes and post boxes

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  • not forgetting that time we sat eating lunch after hearing the ‘Bells of St. Clements’

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  • and looking down the street at the Royal Courts of Justice.

London is all that and more……………

 

 

USK Day 1 Hunting and Gathering FRED LYNCH

Hunting & Gathering: Sketching Vignettes and Lists

Thursday afternoon with Fred Lynch . Have a look at this great short video of Fred describing his Workshop.

Day 1 – the afternoon.

As I write this I am recalling how I spent the time between morning and afternoon Workshops –  I remember now – finding hot food and trying to get warm. After sitting out in the open in the morning on a carpark floor, I was pleased that Fred Lynch’s Workshop Hunting & Gathering: Sketching Vignettes and Lists was based indoors (although we did go outside at intervals)

I choose this workshop as I hoped it would assist me to capture the essence of a place without having to sketch the whole scene.  It did this, but was also the most challenging Workshop I attended as I had think about  technique and what I put on the page .

Vignettes

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After an introduction to and discussion of vignettes , including examples of what they are, we were given 20 minutes to go out and sketch. We had to sketch a 4 thumbnail sketches  of one object, from 4 different views or focus. I chose the facade of a nearby building, zooming in on some features, or stepping back to show more of the building.

vignette longer study

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The second sketching session was a longer study of one of our initial thumbnail sketches. This   challenged me as it involved the interaction of the white of the page and blocking out silhouetted shapes. In this case the image had to speak, to make a statement, to tell. My usual style is the ‘unfinished’ look where edges fade away,. That is the visual equivalent of the edge of the vignette saying ‘blah blah bl…” instead of telling a whole story . It was very difficult not to fall back into the familiar. I found it difficult to know where to find the hard edge to stop.

Lists

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This was great fun. In the ‘classroom’ we discussed things about Manchester that were different from home. Some unusual suggestions were made. We then went  out to hunt for something to sketch  a visual list. This was easy  as I knew it would be a building feature. We do have chimneys in Melbourne (it was 12 degrees yesterday in our Spring) , but there were so many unusual chimneys in the one block that I wanted to draw them.  I don’t know why I sketched them so small on the page ! I found these easier to give distinct hard edges to.

MY TAKEAWAYS

  • lists can reveal more than a whole scene
  • they are an alternative way of describing a place by and showing your interest and communicating it to people
  • it is hard to change your normal style in three hours

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)

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

 

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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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.

 

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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.

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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

Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium 2016

It has been four weeks since I returned from my UK holiday and even longer since I attended the Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester . I am still slowly scanning my sketches .  I feel the need to catch up and share my experiences from the Symposium before it becomes a distant memory. To do this  I plan to post a blog one day a week this week on the Workshops I attended.

What is the Urban Sketching Symposium

The Urban Sketching Symposium is a three-day event where people from around the world meet to draw and learn together in the host city. (This year it was Manchester). It includes on location sketching workshops, activities, lectures, panels, exhibits and artists demos. Symposium participants get one-on-one interaction with local and international workshop instructors. We got to choose urban sketching workshops out of a rich menu that covered a wide range of subject matter, including perspective and architecture, picture design, storytelling and reportage, colour techniques and more. This year there were 478 participants from 44 countries !!!!

Who are Urban Sketchers

Urban Sketchers, is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the artistic, educational and storytelling value of on-location drawing, promoting its practice and helping sketchers around the world connect with each other.

USK in Manchester

In October 2015 when the location of Manchester was announced, I booked my flight. In January  I successfully registered for a ticket and in March chose the workshops I wanted to attend. I registered for 4 workshops of 26 on offer and 3 activities of the 9 . I did not go to any Lectures or Demos , which was just as well, as I don’t think I would have had the time or energy.  Today I am reliving the excitement of the event itself. Tomorrow the Workshop blogs begin.

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Just some of the wonderful sponsor products in the Symposium goody bag.

My extraordinary experience

Registration .The Wednesday day before Symposium I joined other Urban Sketchers and collected my Symposium sponsor (ie goodies) bag and necktag with name in BIG LETTERS from the Manchester School of Arts Benzie Building. This building would be the starting and ending venue over the next few days. With the name tag on you could spot a USK-er in the street and chat to them. Once again, I really didn’t get a chance to look though the goody bag properly until I got home. I had decided to use my usual Moleskine watercolor sketchbook everyday and my watercolour pencils (the known) while learning the unknown. I did not want to challenge myself too much at once !

27Jul2016 Symposium opening event

The Opening Reception at Manchester Town Hall . Sketching from the back of the room.

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The string quartet were surrounded by about 20 people sketching them

The Opening Reception was held on Wednesday evening in the magnificent 19th century Neo Gothic Manchester Town Hall with its crystal chandeliers, mural walls and organ . An grand venue to start our four day adventure. We were met by waiters bearing trays of wine glasses. There was an amazing buzz in the room as people met, chatted, mingled and talked (and sketched too). I felt that this set the scene for the collegiate and welcoming feel of Symposium.

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Each morning would begin at 9am with a half hour morning meeting, which was a lovely way to bring people together, continuing that ‘buzz’ as well as providing any practical updates.

It is exhilarating to be with so many like minded people and to see sketchers everywhere  – and for those of us who had travelled (the majority of us) it was all in a new exciting city .30jul2016-usk-morning-meeting1
Over the next three days I drew the grand Midland Hotel (where I was staying) each morning from 8.00 for about 15 – 30 minutes. I sketched at the morning USK meeting, ending the day with another Symposium event (Peveril of the Peak or the Closing Ceremony). There were morning and afternoon Symposium Workshops and Activities which were challenging as I tried to absorb new and different concepts or techniques in just three hours.  During this time I was also meeting new people and seeing friends. All of this time I was carried along my the excitement and energy of the people and the event.

If you are curious about what actually happens, there are a number of videos online
A five minute  video  by Urban Sketchers

or 5 , 15 minute videos by Parka as he travels with his camera around various events. Capturing snippets of the day.

 Day Before USK Symposium in Manchester (26 Jul 2016)

USK Manchester Day 1 (27 Jul 2016)

USK Manchester Day 2 (28 Jul 2016)

USK Manchester Day 3 (29 July 2016)

USK Manchester Day 4 (30 July 2016)

 

Over the next week I will be sharing my experiences of the following Urban Sketching Symposium events

  • Cars in the City Workshop
  • Hunting and Gathering : Sketching Vignettes and lists Workshop
  • From  Macro to Micro- a visual story of  building Workshop
  •  Soaring Spaces Workshop
  • Recording a musical city Activity
  • Making time for postcards Activity
  • Pub crawl- Draw if you’re sober Activity
  •  Lettering, Line and Balance Activity

 

 

 

 

 

my UK holiday sketching journey begins

I am not sure where to begin sharing my sketches and stories from my recent three week holiday to England from Australia, which included the Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium, a week in Manchester, York and London. I have so many wonderful memories associated with each sketch.

I have started scanning the first of three sketchbooks.

My sketching for holidays always begins months in advance. I like the excitement of the countdown to a holiday, the research it involves  and the little things that need to be purchased that let you now you are going on a holiday . I have already written about these:

and that is before the plane leaves the ground !

When I leave, I already have in mind some the opportunities I may have and the scenes I may draw although I do not know what some specifically look like. These are fairly controlled situations and usually involve a lot of waiting time.

  • on the bus to the airport
  • at the airport
  • on the plane
  • my hotel – the exterior and the room, breakfast if it is included

These are the sketches I that I am including today. They are only a selection.  I am adding them all to flickr albums .

Each sketch is a specific memory of time and place, although some are contain generic shapes and objects (airplanes ). The more I draw these the better I get and the more comfortable I am with the process and limitations of time/space/equipment.

23Jul2016 to the airport

On the Skybus on the way to Melbourne airport.

It is a 20 minute bus journey to Melbourne airport . From previous experience, I know that I will have a view of the luggage racks or the back of someone’s head in front of me.

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Melbourne airport . our plane !

At the airport there are always lots of planes to draw. It is great if I can draw the plan I am flying in (as in this case), but any plane will do. They involve lots of strange shapes (at the nose of the plane) and inconceivable foreshortening for the rest of it (lots of measuring and comparing size and angles). I usually end up with the wing going off the page . I wrote the notes on the page later to try and remember the process of customs and immigration and what we had to do when.

23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi 2

 

 

 

 

 

22 hours of flight provides lots of drawing time – the people, their shoes, the food and more. How often are you given time like this ! I can easily spend the time trying different techniques. However I am also distracted by the movies,  reading, and discussing our upcoming travel adventure.

28Jul2016 The Midland Hotel

Midland Hotel . Manchester

We were staying in Manchester for a week. I thought that would be plenty of time to sketch the exterior of the stunning Midland Hotel, as well as the interior of the rooms. As usual there was not. Life was so busy and I was still completing the drawings  on the day we were leaving. This drawing was completed in four sessions of between 15 and 30 minutes. I would  leave the hotel at 8ish , walk across the road and sit on the same bench at the back of Central Library and add a few more lines and colour. My new best friends are Venetian red and Dark Sepia Faber Castell watercolour pencils. But more about that later…..

I hope you enjoy joining me on my sketching journey . Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to talk about. I could talk on and on about travel sketching .

 

 

 

Return from UK holiday – catching up

I have just returned from 3 weeks holiday in England, which involved a lot of sketching. Slighty jet-legged, I am sorting out, catching up, reliving wonderful holiday memories and planning ahead. The sketches on this page are a few that I have scanned today.

27Jul2016 Manchester Town Hall rooftop

I travelled to Manchester for the Urban Sketching Symposium and then to York and then to London.27Jul2016 Symposium opening event

The holiday was wonderful and very special. I was overwhelmed with the history that surrounded me and the architecture of these three cities. I travelled with my very very patient mother, who understood and accommodated my sketching as we travelled – it is so easy to get distracted and ‘need’ to sketch something as you pass by it.

1Aug2016 York The Shambles

1Aug2016 York Micklegate Bar

I filled almost three sketchbooks (Moleskine 13 x 19 cm) with travel sketches in those three weeks. I now have the long task of scanning them. But before I can do that, many of the pages need to be ‘finished’ . This usually involves adding the date, heading, transcribing my scribbled pencil notes into the page in pen. Sometimes I want to find out more information about the place I have sketched and look online for details. I usually don’t add anymore to the sketch that I did on location, unless it is to add a bit more colour, or intensity to some areas.

5Aug2016 London Russell Square 5Aug2016 London Trafalgar Square

 

 

Once scanned, I will add them all into an Album on my flickr site, and a few on this blog.

Many people have been sharing their sketches and summaries and videos of their Symposium experiences on facebook and their blogs. I am looking forward to spending time looking through these one day.

I had decided not to blog, scan or try and keep up with any social media while I was away. I wanted to spend my time experiencing the sights, meeting people and sketching. However I did end up posting one drawing a day to Instagram. I am alissaduke1 if you want to see them. I also shared these to my facebook page Alissa Duke Art.

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 !