Camping at Cockatoo Island last night was fantastic. As the first camping experience for our young family it was ideal. It is an intriguing place, with a rich history and dramatic natural and industrial scenery.
I found myself staring at the disused buildings with their greys and purples along side the glowing sandstone. It was really beautiful.
Carrying my sketchbook all the time has become very natural and recording experiences through notes and drawing, just normal. My family and children accept it – my daughter called out to me today “hey, Mum….draw that…”.
Last night I enjoyed using my sketches and notes from the Blue Mountains and did some painting. A cool breeze came along with the rain so it was lovely to open all the windows and feel refreshed. I wasn’t pleased with the outcome so I haven’t included an image. It’s still good to put paint on the brush.
Another opportunity arose for sketching in the Blue Mountains. Off I set for a walk with great intent to do some drawing at a street corner that has wonderful trees and period architecture. Somewhere I always admire.
It was roasting hot. Really hot for the mountains. High twenties and absolutely still at 8.30am in the morning. Walking and walking I arrived at my little spot where I have painted en plein air during a previous visit. I sat in the gutter and looked around. Waiting….waiting….for that moment to strike. Well nothing. I sketched a house and a hedge, then focused on a bush. As beautiful as the mountains are it wasn’t working. Mmm.
A bit annoyed I started to walk back. I looked up and I saw the street rising into the distance and deep green fir trees framing the distant view. Got it.
Do I need to have a dedicated time slot to draw? Well… I think, no. It is great to have chunks of time planned around creative output but it seems that we need to also react to observations and experiences when they occur. That immediate response is invaluable. Yes, we can build on them but making some marks on paper as a direct result of something affecting you is key. As a person whose art work is based on observations and the experience of seeing I need to seize the moment.
Planned time and work space is essential but it doesn’t always give rise to great experiences or observations. They are part of the everyday.
I thought about this when I visited the Blue Mountains this week. A ride on the train with my family lead to this little sketch I made in the carriage. I didn’t have a ‘sketchbook’ with me but I made do. This isn’t about making a drawing but recording the experience. My daughter wriggled and chatted in the seat next to me. I was attracted to the shapes, colours and design of the train. We’ll see how I can build on this later.
Yes, Summer school holidays still going! We sat outside today do some painting on the balcony. I took a moment to look down and see Lewis lying in the sun. After waking up at 5.00am this morning, I envied him. With his big whippet chest sprawled across the ground I proceeded to draw his profile. My daughter loved it and wanted me to do another one for her. Oops…the dog had moved. We talked about how I like to see what I am drawing ‘from life’ and she said “OK – trace it!”. So we did and after a couple she said “Look Lewis is doing a trick!”.
This morning it was beautifully sunny with blue skies, but the air was crisp. You could tell it was going to get quite hot. I looked up and down the street from our balcony. The corner telegraph pole was casting a striking shadow on the footpath and the sun was catching the pink flowers nearby. As we are up from 6.00am most mornings (like many young families) I fed everyone, including Lewis the dog, and made time to do some quick sketching from the balcony.
Regular practice is key and responding to a subject that you find uplifting straight away is satisfying.
I did say quick though – my son hunted me down and clutching his Dinosaur magazine said “Mum, I’m this guy with the horns on his head”. Then I was joined by my daughter who wanted to see what I was doing. We chatted about the drawing and she said we must go out drawing together again, and I agreed.
This afternoon I wandered down to Hayes Street Wharf in Neutral Bay. Sitting on the new jetty I sat for a while to see what would take my interest. (My mind also needed some breathing space as I had just walked out of the house and the noise levels had been …let’s say…high.) I sketched some of the boats and the small houses that sit right on the edge of the harbour. Even on a drab day like today I love seeing how the light hits the various planes in my view.
The ferry arrived so all the people sitting with me suddenly left. I couldn’t help but try and capture the ferry chugging off to the next stop.
It was draughty so I moved to a bench at the bottom of Hayes Street. The bench was quite high off the ground so my feet kind of swung in the air. I thought to study more boats but I was drawn to the industrial buidlings on the harbour’s edge. There was such an array of interesting shapes…
(The industrial buildings are ex HMAS Platypus base. The ‘Platypus Site’ is undergoing remediation and there are plans for it to opened up for commercial and public use. According to the Harbour Trust government website…)
See, you learn things when you stop and draw!
Yep. It is still the school holidays so time to be creative feels limited. I stole a few minutes while I was cooking the dinner to capture some pieces of fruit sitting on the kitchen window sill. The light was striking them and making some beautiful reflections. Sometimes it is good to catch these moments – trying to recreate them in your studio space can make the outcome quite…forced.
I used the sketch and my notes after the house had settled for a painting. http://theartiststudio.com.au/work/