Book of little treasures

Came across a little concertina book tucked away in my bookshelf. From memory, I enjoyed doing these and especially where I get to the part of the drawing when the structure has been worked out and the tones just start to ‘pop out’ through darkening and also erasing.

It has been a while since I have done this kind of drawing – slow, intense looking and direct copying from nature.      


Finishing the unfinished

Dawdling to draw this morning, I flipped through a sketchbook.

Mmm…a few unfinished drawings there. Can’t remember this one (top left) but I do remember buying a waratah to draw. This as subject matter, is very Margaret Preston. I see her hand coloured linocuts. Strongly drawn. Thick black outlines. Very Australian in what she chose to draw. I don’t know what mine is, but I felt like scribbling with coloured pencils, erasing, then scribbling back over the top. Oh well, at least it is finished now – for want of a better purpose!

A little disruption – Ubud (1)

A wonderful three weeks in Lodtunduh, Ubud has disrupted my little blogging routine. 

The first five days was spent in a workshop ‘Balinese botanica exotica with Suzanne Archer’. The drawing, learning and and seeing was wrapped with fantastic company and in a beautiful environment – home of a dear friend.

And yes, above is not my usual A5 sized morning-on-the-balcony-sketch. Lots of charcoal layering, drawing in, removing, drawing over. And yes, after 3 days on it, it is unfinished. But, no matter. The experience of working large (2+ metres) and working with traces left behind by drawings removed was new and interesting to me.

 If I could, I’d have included in the sketch above, the staccato-like sound of the geckos, the sound of carp splashing about in the pond below and the 6am prayers sounding from a distance. Enclosed by glass panels, I loved this little space with its high pitched thatched roof and immersive views of the rice paddy fields.


And here, I am back to my A5…well, at least 2 A5!

Here’s a bit about the workshop:

Ways to hold a pencil (3)

 Still using pencil sticks. Still scribbling till forms take shape. Still admiring the structure of this plant and its shadow.

A good thing about using materials designed for kids are the small number of primary and secondary colours they often come in. I can see more easily which of the two greens and two blues are the warm versions.

I get into a state of indecision when choosing from my other box of pencils accumulated over time – light ultramarine, phthlo blue, ultramarine, helloblue, grey blue let alone the blues that are greenish blue. And then there’s olive green, sap green, turquoise green, jade, viridian,  pthalo green, light green, earth green and so on. 

And don’t get me started on house paint swatches. My goodness. How many whites?!

And so, its a relief to just have two greens, two blues, two reds to choose from.

Ways to hold a pencil (2)

Not sure where I found them but I have a pack of kids coloured graphite sticks. Rather than having pencil points, they have hexagonal ends. This means you can get thick and thin lines. You can also do large shapes holding the sticks side on. 

But I got a bit carried away with scribbling, I felt I needed to bring back ‘a bit of order’ or definition and went over the two layers with a 4B pencil.

It kind of gives you a couple of goes at drawing the same thing. That’s ok, some of us (me!) need a few attempts. Imagine having the visual intelligence and accuracy of Leonardo Da Vinci or closer to our times, Lloyd Rees. Sigh.

Ways to hold a pencil (1)

If I hold a pencil in the ‘normal’ way or as I was taught ‘correctly’ in kindergarten (!), I am most likely to do contour lines whether through continuous line or blind drawing. This is one way. 

If I hold the pencil on its side, I am inclined to do tonal blocks and shapes. 

If I hold the pencil towards the top of it – as blogger Leonie Andrews has suggested to me – I get a scribbly effect. Feeling a bit not in control, Left Brain starts to get in the way! Left Brain says, doesnt matter …that’s how it is, try again.

Thing is, trying something that feels awkward or uncomfortable can be a way of gauging that I’m trying something different. 

Mmm…think I’ll leave this here…over thinking doesn’t help either!

From in here, to out there (2)

Still enjoying the simplicity of using pencil. This time I started blocking in the whole page with different tones using the side of a 6B graphite stick. Then I focussed on shapes but mainly working from the negative space. They kind of emerge when I do that. I find myself looking for shapes on the page rather than necessarily drawing what is in front of me. I quite enjoy it as there’s more scope for me to ‘move pots’ around, make up some foliage and even make my balcony look a bit bigger!

Semi-observational, semi-made up. 

Next, there will be giraffes, elephants and a flock of birds coming into my view…along a running water stream, of course.

From in here, to out there (1)

On grey and cold days, I prefer to be inside, looking out to draw. And yesterday, Brett Whitely’s drawing style came to my thoughts. In a youtube interview of his wife Wendy Whitely, she mentioned the notion of ‘from in here, to out there’ in his drawings. He has done for example, a huge harbour landscape and a matisse-like squiggle suggesting a balcony at the lower edge of the canvas. Maybe the concept is not new but his way of capturing it is refreshing to me.

When I look at his paintings or drawings, I can almost ‘see’ him using his whole body to draw – moving from one side of a huge canvas (or triptych) to the other side, reaching high up, bending right down and using large whole of arm, shoulder calligraphic moves. Very gestural, very expressive and so free.

I’m not sure how comfortable it would have been for me to have had a conversation with him, but I would loved to have just sat in a corner to watch him in action. I don’t think words would be needed anyway.

In comparison to him, I feel like a mini robot. I’m usually seated, with small wrist and hand movements which are almost always within the confines of an A5 space. 

How wonderful it is then, to be able to learn from such talent. 

Mmm…maybe I start by moving up from A5.