Saturday, May 31, 2014

Drawing Makes Me Love Things More

For the next two Saturdays I'll be doing workshops for the City of Perth as part of their Winter Arts programme of activities. To prepare, I've been wandering around the CBD looking at suitable sketching spots and possible plan B's if the weather is too much of a challenge.

The city centre does not feel warm and friendly. The architecture does not inspire cosiness,  human warmth, humour or delight. Attempts at quirky and funky are overburdened with transparent tryharditude, poorly masking the real intent of persuading people in to spend money.  The city's dead, what can we do, oh lets make some urban arty alleyways and do what Melbourne does.

Whatever its mood and its failings, this is where we will for the next two Saturdays be and this is where I sat down to sketch yesterday afternoon.

I'd come from a sketching class at The Meeting Place, where I managed to compose a picture that was mostly asphalt and draw some oddly proportioned cars that looked like they were all parked on different slopes - not the fault of the terrain, please note, but of my failure to see the wheel and body placements properly -  I sat on a bench in Forrest Place and drew other people doing the same. As I studied the slope of someone's shoulders, the way they put their hands to their face, the hair that fell over their eye - as I drew their jaws and ears and hoodies and chins, the bleak, cold city became a much nicer place.

Drawing makes my eyes kinder, makes me love things more and makes me feel closer to the life around me. It makes me give the things I draw a quality of attention that changes the way we respond to each other and the atmosphere around us. That goes for rocks and trees as much as humans and other creatures.

It was good to remember that yesterday, that the world changes when I change.

nb: the building isn't in the city centre, its a remnant sketch from South Freo.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Littlest Sketchbook

 For some time now, I have prided myself on my sketchbook fidelity, a sort of serial monogamy where I finish one sketchbook before starting another. But my pride hath cometh before a fall. After only a few sketches in my new A4 landscape Moleskine watercolour book which followed on the heels of a humongous Stillman and Birn, I slipped a tiny tiny Moleskine sketchbook into my bag yesterday like a stolen sweet and, as I sat waiting for Melinda to arrive for our coffee catch-up, I got it out and shamelessly drew in it.

How secretive it felt, and how delightful to hold. How quickly the wee pages were full! When I'd watercoloured an entire double page spread there was still plenty of water left in my water brush for more. When the drawing was finished, the book slipped effortlessly, in fact a little smugly, into my handbag. What to do now? Should I frolic and gambol with my new little amour while my steady, reliable love pines alone on a shelf? Or give up the wild life in favour of traditional values, honour and commitment? It may be just a fling, a passing fancy. But it might be the start of something new.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Swan Poop, Rain and Intuitive Navigation

There was a plan: drive to Jackson's in Balcatta to drool over art supplies and buy stuff, find a cafe near Herdsman Lake to check out the waterbirds and do some sketching, then home. Well we are neither mice nor men but our best laid plans also ganged agley. For a start, contrary to internet advertising, Jackson's were shut. Then, when we got to Herdsman Lake there was no cafe. When we stopped to ask an elderly woman in her front garden if there was a cafe in the area she called her husband in Chinese and he told us that their daughter takes them when they want to have coffee.

So we parked the car and got out a stool and a rug and walked to the edge of the lake to draw. There were ducks and swans and coots and ibis. Most of them made tracks when we got close, though they seemed more resigned than afraid. The sky was dark with clouds and the lake took on a violet grey hue. By the time I put violet grey on my drawing it had started to rain. It eased up for a while as we walked back past a group of grazing swans, enough for us to take photos and have a short mostly one way conversation with them. The ground was a minefield of swan and general waterbird poop. Shoes were wiped before driving commenced.

Thanks to some intuitive and optimistic navigation, we found ourselves in Subi and stopped for a cuppa and some drawing-tweaking before heading home.

Brush pen, watercolour and raindrops.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Little Wonky, A Little Angst

I have a theory that if I start a drawing at some interesting point - some detail that draws my eye - it should develop outwards from that point in the correct proportions and with perspective taken care of by focusing on looking and drawing what I see.

The theory came a little unstuck yesterday.

I was sketching with Ellen and Anthea in my Saturday morning class for The Meeting Place. It was wild windy weather, but we found a fairly sheltered spot at an outside table on the eastern side of the Patisserie. I liked the look of the street signs and thought i'd start there. Moved down the power pole adding bits of detail. So far so good. Over to the pots and shrubbery, the kerb, the entrance to the building, the awning - by which time nothing fitted or matched up.

When I got home and added the colour, other issues began to raise themselves. As I wrote on the drawing, I love the attention to detail that I see in artists like Tommy Kane. I feel the pull of that delight in every little thing. At the same time, I love the loose, spontaneous approach to sketching where colour slops outside the lines and there is evidence of paint playing its own unpredictable games on the paper. Control, loss of control. Which am I? Who is me? It quickly got quite angsty.

All I can think to do is keep drawing and eventually with the 20:20 of hindsight, I'll figure it out.