I spent about an hour and forty minutes drawing and painting this outside today. Usually I draw outside and paint inside. This is the historic fire station on Argyle Street in Hobart, Tasmania.
My thoughts are with those in New South Wales and Queensland where bush fires are raging. Three lives and over 150 homes have been lost. I hope the wind changes direction to stop the fires in their track and that good soaking rain falls upon the scorched and blistering dry land. Take care, everybody.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope that the upcoming week is kind to you.
I arrived back in Tasmania from Canada on Monday. Two days later, and still rather jet-lagged, after work, I walked up to pick up prints I had ordered. I passed the historic fire station and thought I should quickly try to draw this. Ten minutes into the drawing and I had had enough.
When I was in Canada, I did two urban sketching sessions with Oliver Hoesser. He introduced the grey texta (felt pen), which you can paint over. This captured my interest A LOT. This is potentially a much quicker way to apply shadow. I trialled it with this quick sketch and my conclusion is that this is a great tool for sketch books, especially holiday sketching when you’re trying to capture scenes, events and people on the fly! It can really be a time-saver not having to wait for paint to dry to add the next wash.
For new urban sketchers and/or watercolour, this removes one step, simplifying a challenging medium and task. Urban sketching is a bit like learning to drive there are so many things to think about and check, you can feel mentally exhausted after an hour! So, if you can simplify adding shadows that can really help people from becoming too discouraged when learning. Watercolour is a challenging medium to control, whereas, a texta is much easier to handle.
I usually draw in the shape with a water colour pencil (learnt this from Liz Steel), then add pen and paint. I found that my watercolour pencil lines on the Stillman & Birn paper acted as a resist and kept pushing the paint away. I had to keep applying paint to the edges of the watercolour pencil before it finally more or less accepted it.
The historic fire station on 79-81 Argyle Street, Hobart is a whole street block long! Since 1911, for 92 years, it was the Fire Brigade’s operational headquarters. It is now a museum and the restored building currently contains a wide range of historical firefighting equipment ranging from hand drawn firefighting pumps, turn of the century firefighting trucks, antique uniforms and historical documents and photographs.
I loved the two urban sketching sessions I did with Oliver Hoesser in Vancouver, Canada in the Opus Art Supplies store on Granville Island!
Some concepts were refreshed, reinforced and introduced. It has excited and reinvigorated my enthusiasm to continue developing my urban sketch skills.
Oliver’s philosophy is to master drawing contours then you can become fearless about drawing anything because you can break down any complicated scene or object into a section of contours. So, we began the first session as most art sessions begin, with some contour drawing exercises. I chose my pencil case and then a water bottle.
Oliver encouraged us to hold are pens far back from the point to create looser drawings.
Some of the takeaways for me are:
1. Connect by overlapping (composition & contour).
This contained a Light Bulb moment for me. Oliver said that, for example, when he’s in a town and he likes two buildings that are far apart from each other, “no problem!”, he just draws them side by side. (Throughout the course Oliver repeatedly said, “no problem!”).
I’ve often wanted to draw the old McCanns building on Elizabeth Street in Hobart, Tasmania, and the new university residential building (divided by a road going between them) because I think the juxtaposition of the new and old would be quite interesting but didn’t know how to handle the road. If I keep the road in the drawing, I would split the drawing, creating two pictures on one page and the composition would really not work.
When I read the International Urban Sketching Manifesto it seemed quite rigid about drawing accurately the scene.
International Urban Sketching Manifesto
We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
Our drawings are a record of time and place.
We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
We support each other and draw together.
We share our drawings online.
We show the world, one drawing at a time.
Injecting creativity into the drawing seemed to be discouraged. I didn’t think I could just omit the road but, not only is it permissible, Oliver encourages this for the sake of composition and creating an end-product that is interesting and draws people into the picture!!! This interpretation is HUGE for me and really renews my excitement for urban sketching.
He showed us several examples from his sketch book and this example from a magazine:
2. If don’t want to overlap two unrelated objects, find something in the environment to use as a connecting design (a train, boat, buildings, banner, cast shadow, cobble stones and so on can be used).
Stay tune for Part Two, where I will reveal another Light Bulb moment and more clever composition strategies…
Until then, take care and thanks for stopping by, PJ Paintings
I accompanied my friend to the historical town of Kempton, Tasmania today. Rain was predicted but blue skies prevailed.
We stopped at the Old Kempton Distillery for a cuppa, a yummy bowl of pumpkin soup and a painting drop-off. The Distillery is hosting the Artlands 2019 exhibition, running from August 25 – September 29, from 10 am – 4 pm daily (free entry). My friend has entered two gorgeous long and narrow paintings of scenes of the southern midlands.
There are many interesting old buildings and houses along the main street.
I wanted to paint “Big Hill”. I thought I would draw a picture with Big Hill dominating the composition but it didn’t turn out that way. I’ll have to come back to do “Big Hill” justice.
I raise my glass and toast the Artsland 2019 exhibition at the Old Kempton Distillery. May many people explore the historical town of Kempton, including the Distillery, a really impressive, grand old building, and feast their eyes on art capturing this special part of Tasmania.
The saying “music to my ears” usually rings truer than “music to my eyes” but on this occasion both sayings were equally accurate. Normally the audience is in darkness while listening to an orchestra play but the Liz Steel & Mike Botton team organised a private performance by the Aries Wind Quintet so that we could draw music.
I’m not confident drawing people but I think the ‘100 people in 5 days’ challenges are paying off. I signed up for the challenge in 2017 and 2018. I didn’t do it this year but I should sign up again next year because I do think I am reaping some positive benefits from it. Drawing changing and moving faces, as musicians inhale and exhale deeply, was a challenge and a privilege. My favourite piece that the orchestra played was “Carmen”.
I was going to paint the music stands and the clarinet player’s outfit but I decided not to because I thought it might make the picture too heavy by adding more black, and that it could lose some of the liveliness being conveyed. There is so much decision-making required with art!
I find the composition pleasing with this drawing. The chair and musician don’t quite all fit on the page. I enjoyed exaggerating the size of Micoto. In most orchestras, the flute section is predominantly female. He’s a little outside the box by choosing the flute and the drawing is reflecting this and telling a ‘story’. I’m thinking of leaving this drawing as a pen sketch. Or do you think I should add paint?
The urban sketching workshop I attended (May 2019), taught by Liz Steel and organised by Mike Botton, took place in the Umbria area of Italy. This region is green, hilly and dotted with green’s complementary colour of red. It was so beautiful seeing wild poppies.
We settled in the quaint, small town of Montone, where at every corner, and everywhere in between, there was a scene I yearned to paint. We visited a few towns in the region and passed poppies growing in cracks in the pavement, at the base of street signs, along the gravel sides of roads, fences, gates and in the fields. This is the view from the hotel room’s bathroom at the Hotel Fortebraccio. Do you see the fields of red poppies in this photo and in the photo above?
We visited the town of Assisi that is grandly presented on a green platter sprinkled with red garnish.
I painted this scene for the end-of-the-course postcard exchange.
I used to paint poppy fields quite often.
Yellow Poppy Fields
It was good re-visiting a topic that I haven’t painted for several years and playing with the punch-factor that complementary colours can deliver. What topic/theme is capturing your interest? I’d love to hear about it.
The first day of Liz Steel’s urban sketching course took place in the gorgeous town of Assisi, where we were privileged to experience the coldest day in May in 56 years! We were all walking around like Michelin Tire mascots, dressed in as many layers as we could wear. On our way into the square, there was a sudden gust of wind and the water from the fountain greeted us. We took refuge in an archway, where Liz gave us our first exercise, to do thumbnail sketches of things in the Piazza del Comune that conveyed a ‘story’.
Then we had about 20 minutes to do a sketch. I had laid my first wash down, when my little water container, blu tacked down onto my paint tray, was blown off, spilling the water onto my paper and promptly removing my first wash of colour. The conditions were challenging and passer-bys were telling me that I was brave and offering encouragement, which was lovely.
Then we went on to sketch the Basilica Di St Francesco. The rain made my paper quite wet when I drew and painted this little painting of this magnificent and impressive building.
I had another go with my brand new dagger brush, after we unthawed at the hotel.
Tomorrow we’re sketching in Montone. Hopefully the weather will be kinder.
Before we made our way to Liz Steel’s urban sketching course in Montone, Annette and I started off sketching the most challenging building in Florence, The Duomo, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. I ran out of steam well before I came anywhere near finishing it. I also started drawing it too big for it to fit on the pages of my sketch book but I’m happy with the focal point and the depth that it conveys.
Later in the day, we settled in the Piazza di Santa Croce and painted one of the many laneways leading to the square. I experimented with painting wet-in-wet and then adding pen, and vice versa.
Upon my wanders, I stumbled across this amazing building, the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (the national library), which is huge. It’s almost a full block. This is part of the width of the building. This is a super quick sketch of it.
Then, Annette and I returned to our starting point, and had another attempt of the great Duomo, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. This time we tackled the front view.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore’s construction began in 1296 and was completed in 1436. The basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches and it is the largest brick dome ever constructed. It is an awesome, massive sight.
The first stop in Italy is historic Bologna (actually every town and city in Italy is historic!).
We got caught out again with going to a restaurant and after eating finding out that they didn’t accept credit cards. Two years ago, when Annette and I were in Italy for Liz Steel’s Urban Sketching workshop, we got good at asking beforehand. While waiting in the restaurant, I started practicing drawing arches.
The city is full of arches, providing constant undercover walkways for pedestrians, which came in handy as it was rainy and cold. I had to buy myself a cardigan to help me cope with the fresh temperatures. The shop keeper said that she has been selling an extra lot of warm clothing as many visitors, like me, have been caught out.
I tried to draw more of these tricky things at the University of Bologna, the oldest continuous operating university of the world, being founded in 1088 by an organised guild of students for students.
This building is the Teatro Comunale in Bologna.
I also tried to draw one of the views from the apartment window which looked onto the Piazza dell Agosto.
Thanks for stopping by and I wish everybody a gentle Sunday, whether you’re a mother, or haven’t been a mother, or have loss a child or mother, I hope the day is kind to you.