Monday 21 October 2013

Extreme Sketching in Hobart

I have just spent a fantastic week sketching the historical buildings and landmarks in and around Hobart Tasmania. I took a group pen and wash sketching which also combined a holiday with sketching.
The group renamed the tour 'Extreme Sketching'. The first day we went to Mt.Wellington with its superb views over Hobart and the Derwent River. Our driver had the bus door torn out of his hands when he tried to leave the bus, and we were nearly bowled over by gusts of wind recorded at 130 kph.
Holding on to each other, we managed to get to the covered observation lookout, so all was not in vain.
Some of the group sketching Richmond Bridge built in 1823
While sketching at Oatlands we again encountered extremely strong winds, but some of the group braved the elements and sketched the beautiful old mill, while rugged up to the max. The rest of the group (including myself), found shelter in a cafe which was an historic building, beautiful in itself. Opposite the cafe was a lovely Georgian style building built about 1837. 'Oatlands Lodge' is now a colonial accommodation bed and breakfast establishment.
Just as we were packing up our things to leave, it began to snow. No wonder it had been so cold!!!

My sketch of Oatlands Lodge c1837

We were fortunate that we were not actually caught in any torrential rain, but on most days we just missed doing so. We did see the sun on occasions but nothing dampened our enthusiasm.
These sketching art tours are made so enjoyable and rewarding for me as each person brings something special to the group. They were a great group of like-minded sketchers and they produced some amazing work.
Battery Point semi-detached houses

Battery Point was a wealth of colonial buildings, and Salamanca with its converted warehouses was another favourite place we sketched. Add to this the oldest bridge in use in Australia at Richmond, where the convict built bridge was constructed in 1823, and the beautiful convict built bridge at Ross with its distinctive Celtic symbols - and not to forget Port Arthur where we sketched from Scorpion Rock Lookout, high above the site and encompassing the water and many of the convict buildings.
This was a really memorable art tour, and when I go again I would not change any of the itinerary, but would change the time of year - as the locals kept referring to October as the 'windy month'. Little more than windy, but still an amazing and truly beautiful place.

Luminous Watercolour Glazing

I have just had another article published in Artist's Back to Basics on the subject of 'Watercolour Glazing for Luminosity'. This is a quarterly magazine and I write an article for each issue.
I describe how you can achieve glowing and intense colours yet still retain a translucency with the use of overglazing.
This is a method of painting diluted transparent layers of watercolour on top of a dry wash.
The article has examples of colour and explanations of how to apply the colour to achieve the effect you want. The order you apply the colours is also important.
Happy painting - and let your colours sing!
Detail of Liquidamber seed

Saturday 5 October 2013

Sketching South Coast (Kiama) NSW

I have just spent 2 days sketching the Illawarra region of the south coast of New South Wales. I took a small group and we based ourselves in Kiama. Everything was in walking distance and there was so much to see just in this one area. The beautiful area is mostly dairy farming now, but many of the farms are being subdivided and sold off for housing. The vivid clear blue water and the rolling green hills are quite unique to this particular part of the south coast.
The weather on day 1 was absolutely perfect. Not a cloud in the sky, and the sun warming our backs as we sat and sketched to our heart's content. Above is the view from near the lighthouse at Kiama looking back to the surf beach. There are lots of beaches down the south coast.
We also went to Gerroa and did a few sketches of Seven Mile Beach, and a very favourite place of mine, Werri Beach. My parents had a house here for nearly 45 years so I spent many wonderful years exploring the areas from Wollongong to Nowra and beyond.

In Kiama there are some historic buildings, and the Post Office, with its bright heritage colours, is a real stand out. Next to that sits the police station and court house, both original buildings from the mid 19th century. There is a very interesting history surrounding the Illawarra region. It is well worth a visit.

Above is a photo of me sketching at Kiama. We were lucky enough to find some emply picnic tables with perfect views over the water, rocks and beaches.

Friday 4 October 2013

Banksia Workshop in Canberra

I have just returned from teaching a Banksia workshop in Canberra, a place I always love visiting. This very successful workshop kept me on my toes, with 15 motivated and talented participants.
"It is all about the process" I kept reminding them. When tackling a subject that at first appears to be complicated and intricate, just take it one step at a time, rather than feel it is beyond your capabilities.
The subject I chose was originally Banksia prionotes, which is a banksia I have recently painted and I felt it was absolutely achievable. The banksias that arrived for the workshop were Banksia hookeriana, which although similar in construction, are smaller and have thinner leaves.
Banksia hookeriana
The hardest part of any botanical work is the drawing. If this isnt right, nothing else will be right. So the first morning was spent working very hard at getting the drawing correct by working with the Fibonacci Spiral.
One of the student's drawing of the Fibonacci Spiral of the B.hookeriana
Pay close attention to the "information" on the plant. Work out the Fibonacci sequence. Draw what you see.
The next step was to do a colour match, and a colour study. This ensures there are no mistakes when beginning the final painting. All the various components of the subject are practised and perfected before the painting.
The above student's  work shows the colour study and confirmation that the Fibonacci Spiral works. It is very easy to "see" the spiral formation on the subject.

All of the class began their final painting on Day 2. They were all feeling confident and were all very happy with what they had achieved over the 2 day workshop.

I continue to get an enormous amount of satisfaction out of sharing my skills and knowledge with others, and to take them on the journey of creating a wonderful botanical painting.