Two days ago, my friend and I went for a walk in Lenah Valley, a suburb in Hobart, Tasmania. The sky was a brilliant cobalt blue, the sun was sparkling, the greens were singing and as we walked by houses, they were beckoning “sketch me!”, “sketch me!” but we were going for a coffee and a walk, so we tried to ignore them.
We came across this round-about, which started as a wool-bombing spot and has remained as a community sculptural/art-communication spot. The decorations and little driver is regularly changed.
And then we came across this house. There was something about this scene that made us pull out our sketch books. The angle, the leaning mailbox, the sheep and the juxtaposition of the tall tree behind the house.
I ran out of room to really show how small the house looked in front of the huge tree behind it.
Then we continued our walk and we were awe-struck by hedges. They seemed alive, moving, writhing green waves. They were entrancing.
There are so many gorgeous suburbs in Hobart with glorious houses to sketch. I hope that if you haven’t visited Hobart, that one day you will be able to.
Stay safe and take care.
Thanks for visiting and sharing the unfurling artist’s journaling and journeying.
Hobart’s monthly sketch meet took place at Wendover Place, New Town, Tasmania. I chose to draw and paint the historic Wendover House.
I drew some outlines with a watercolour pencil, trying to keep in the forefront of my mind not to draw too much roof. I think if you can nail the roofs, the rest of the structure works out. It’s still a bit off but the accuracy is improving. I then did ink outlines with my Fude pen, which I’m loving.
I was going to add paint, only to discover I had forgotten it. So, I then decided to draw more and make the unusual fence the feature of the drawing, rather than just leaving it as a suggestion.
I found painting it a little tedious so I left some unpainted. It is always difficult to decide when enough is enough. I’m happy with just the little bit of green I’ve added to the hedge. I like the white left behind.
It was a great afternoon spent with ten urban sketchers.
Yesterday, we had a great turnout, and hence, an invigorating urban sketching session, reinforcing the saying “the more, the merrier” as was such the case. We dispersed, picked our building to tackle and went to work.
I tried this duplex on Elizabeth Street. I took the photo about an hour afterwards, so the shadows had changed somewhat. I still ran into some perspective difficulties, but such is the learning process.
Afterwards, we had a coffee and our throw-down at the State Cinema, a very cool, stylishly restored cinema that has been screening moving pictures since 1913. Most of the Hobart sketchers group took on the Lyndhurst ornate house (feature photo). We had two new participants and a sketcher return from “their best holiday ever”, visiting Iran. We took turns perusing her amazing travel sketchbook and photo book. Stunning.
Upon my return home, I found myself still in the painting mode. So, I painted an orange-bellied parrot (thanks to Stuart J. Smith for giving me permission to use his photograph). Orange-bellied parrots are critically endangered with less than fifty parrots thought to exist in the wild today. With all the horrible bush fires, I wonder if they’ve fallen victim to the ferocious flames and if that number is even lower now?
They are not endemic to Tasmania but it is one of only three species of parrot to migrate. The orange-bellied parrot breeds in Tasmania and it winters in South Australia and Victoria.
Last year, at Salamanca Market, I met a retired university professor from the US and he is an avid birdwatcher. He has come to Tasmania every year for two or three decades. He bought virtually all the original paintings of endemic birds I painted. He’s back in Tasmania and sought me out at the market on the weekend. He said that all my paintings are framed and hanging at his residence. He’s 83 years old. He told me that they won’t let him rent a car/drive but some Tasmanian University contacts are taking him birdwatching and he’ll be doing some work there. Anyways, he was disappointed I didn’t have any original bird paintings and asked me to paint “lots” during the week. The Orange-bellied parrot is the first. It’s a start…
I’m trying to stick to my goal of drawing Bellerive houses. I postponed venturing out onto the footpath (sidewalk) until later in the evening on the 24th of December to avoid all the foot traffic from the Hurricanes Big Bash game against the Melbourne Renegades at the Blundstone Oval, which by the way, the Tasmania Hurricanes were the winners. 🙂 Often, I’m at the oval watching the game but not this time because my cricket-bud is overseas visiting England.
Anyways, I settled myself on my stool, and no sooner than after drawing my first couple lines, a car, towing a boat, pulled up just behind me, which entailed a lot of unpacking, unloading a dog and consequently dog-barking activity. Eventually, the dog was brought inside because it was not happy with me sitting in front of its house and wasn’t about to stop trying to communicate this to me.
After all the Lamy pen bleeding debacle with my last drawing,
this time I tried a different approach and drew some initial lines with a water colour pencil and then inked it with an Artline pen. Using an Artline pen is nowhere near the pleasure of using an ink nibbed pen. I might give myself a belated Christmas present and order a Fude pen (a Liz Steel, Australian urban sketcher guru, recommendation). I’m not very happy with this drawing (got the side perspective wrong again) but it is part of my skill-development journey, whether I like it or not. Also, Liz Steel says that one of the most common mistakes people make is draw too much roof. I concur.
I hope you’ve had a pleasant day digesting and working off Christmas lunches or dinners, or both.
Around the world, it’s a familiar story. Older houses, full of character, that are purchased and/or inherited by the next generation, are being bulldozed down and replaced by sterile lots of four, eight or more units. Historic houses are disappearing at the rate of knots, and with them, the charm of neighbourhoods.
I live in Bellerive, Tasmania, where there are many gorgeous houses with iron laced verandahs and decorative facades. When I was walking and admiring the houses in my neighbourhood, I saw a very senior lady using a walker to slowly make her way around her large yard. I thought to myself, whoever inherits this will probably knock it down and sadly replace it with twelve units. At that moment, I decided I should try to capture these houses on paper before they disappear. I’ll be posting my drawings here if you’d like to follow my progress with this project – Houses of Bellerive.
Today’s house is this one that I found on York Street. Judging from the carefully chosen and painted colour scheme, this house was once loved.
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.
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 final building I sketched in Portugal, the Igreja dos Congregados, while leaning up against the Porto train station on a very narrow footpath, with continual foot traffic going past and the odd person asking for money.
The Porto train station is a spectacular building with hand painted individual tiles to depict historic scenes.
Goodbye, Portugal. You have been amazing and I toast you.
With my $10 notebook, Artline black pen, small set of watercolour paints and tiny paintbrush, I set out into Porto determined to have a crack at drawing more ridiculously challenging buildings.
The first building I attempted to draw was the Clerigos Tower. I sat on the cement and my bottom got too sore to continue the drawing, and I was getting lost in the detail. For me, to be able to achieve a better end-result, I would have to draw this building several times to simplify and eliminate elements.
Next, I drew some of this building named Conselho Regional do Porto.
Then I had a crack at drawing the Centro Portugues de Fotografia. A tour group decided that it would be a good meeting spot to gather right in front of me. I had to crane my neck and then wait for them to move along as the group started to grow as more and more people arrived.
It’s day nine in Portugal and I’ve done 19 sketches so far. That’s the most I’ve ever done travelling. Also, I have rarely painted outside but I have on this trip. I try to ignore the excuses that I could so easily agree with: there’s not enough time to do be able to do it justice, you’ll hardly get any of it drawn, you won’t have time to add paint, it’s going to be a bad drawing, you’ll rush and the perspective will be all wrong and more of the same. Most of the drawings/paintings that I’ve done, I’ve had to do in a short space of time, 20-30 minutes, and because of limited time, I haven’t been able to do whole buildings, but I’m giving it a crack and as a result I’m starting to build quite a collection of drawings.
Thanks for visiting and allowing me to share some of Portugal’s awesome buildings with you.