Urban Sketchers Sydney – October Meet

Last Saturday, I went on my second Meet of the Urban Sketchers Sydney group. This time, the Meet was held in the grounds between the Sydney Town Hall and St Andrews Cathedral.

The main object of the day was to attempt a sketch of a moving subject, the newly built ‘Sydney Light Rail’, a red and deep grey, modern-style tram.

There were 40 or so Urban Sketchers in attendance and most started with the Light Rail as the subject. Quite a few of us went in the other direction and chose stationary subjects i.e. buildings or parts of buildings. I chose the side entrance/steps to the Sydney Town Hall.

Sydney Town Hall

To be honest, I found this subject challenging enough and when it started to rain a little it was even more challenging. After I finished this sketch, I did wander over to the Light Rail and started to sketch it. It was kind of weird how the subject kept disappearing… I didn’t get to finish the sketch at the time but it certainly was an interesting challenge and experience.

We then had the ‘Throw Down’ and once again it was marvellous to see all the different interpretations and styles of those present.

Throw Down

I am so glad that I came across this group on Facebook. Urban Sketchers Sydney is full of friendly and inspirational people and I am looking forward to attending my third Meet in November. I wonder where it will be? 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/groups/usksyd/about/

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

3 October 2022

The Sydney Urban Sketchers

NB: They are actually known as ‘Urban Sketchers Sydney’ however, Sketchers rhymes well with ‘adventures’
and it is the ‘adventure’ I’m writing about.

5 Minute Sketching Techniques

As I write this, here some 60km/37miles South-West of Sydney, Australia, we are in week 9 of the latest lockdown (with another, hopefully, only 5 weeks to go) due to the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Like many millions of people around the world, to put it simply, ‘we are over it’ and we are constantly looking at ways to keep one’s sanity (or as they call it these days, our mental health) afloat.

Fortunately, I have a wide range of interests and am particularly glad that a couple of years or so back I took up sketching along with Watercolour. It really has been a life-saver for me. Whilst I sketch and paint, my Wife continues her Crotchet journey she started a year ago.

These interests are a huge help when we are not building our business. I also have a part-time job share where I mentor people who want to start a business.

Within the last month I spent some money at the Book Depository via a gift voucher to further my study of sketching. The books below are just two of a series of books tasked with providing the willing student with ‘5-Minute Sketching Techniques.’

I possibly will buy one or two of the other books in the series but right now (as far as Watercolour is concerned), I am aiming to improve my skills in Architecture and Landscape.

I am enjoying the books immensely and cannot wait for lockdown to finish so I can sketch and paint en Plein Air once more. Till then I have to make do at home.

Till next time!

Written by David Johnson

25 August 2021

Freedom Through Sketching and Painting

I love the freedom Sketching and Painting gives me.

One basically starts off with no image on canvas or paper. You might have an image in mind and then you set about creating it from your imagination or a memory, or indeed a combination of both.

If you are using a reference photo you already have a basic framework though, generally speaking and unless you are into Photo Realism, you will come up with an interpretation of the image at hand.

The Photographer has a scene before them. Certainly, (they can create an image in Photoshop from other images) but they don’t have to create shadows or the image when they are ‘live’ to a scene.’ Many scenes are already presented.

They choose the composition and begin shooting.

The Painter on the hand has to sketch/draw (mostly) the contents of the image, creating the effect of shadows, light, shape, texture and form with essentially 3 things, canvas, brush, pigment and a skilful hand.

Painting en Plein Air is the closest relation to Photography, I feel. Both the Painter and the Photographer have a scene in front of them and it is up to them what they distill from that scene, composition-wise to come up with an image.

The Photographer manipulates through camera, lens, lighting, angle, filter and later Photoshop or similar, using their imagination as well.

The Painter manipulates with their choice of canvas/paper, brush, pigment, line, angle, light and uses their imagination as well.

Back in the studio both can finish off their piece.

I’m not trying to say that Painting is better or is more creative than Photography though as each medium is irreplaceable. Painting cannot replace the immediacy of Photography. Photography can capture that ‘moment in time’ in less than a second, Painting cannot.

On a personal level, I have been photographing since the early 1980’s, although not as much these days. Sketching and Painting has certainly taken over, particularly in the last 2 years.

One of the things that I love about Sketching and Painting is the freedom it gives me and also the challenge of creating an image using basic tools. 

In an article a while ago I wrote called, ’There Are No 36 Megapixel Brushes’ I wrote about how someone can take a photo with something as simple these days as a phone camera and, due to the technology available, come with a technically decent image. Composition/imagination is another story, however.

As a Sketcher/Painter, we cannot go out and buy a Brush and Pigment that will give us a technically brilliant sketch or painting.

Yes, there are electronic Sketching and Painting apps but you still have to have the technical and artistic skill to create the image.

I still love Photography but it takes up a different place in my life these days. Equipment-wise, I’m heading towards Mirror-less cameras and a high-end compact that I can take anywhere.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my journey in Sketching and Painting and I can see myself continuing this journey for many years to come.

Written by David Johnson

11 October 2020

To Gather Its Essence

To Gather Its Essence

En Plein Air Attraction

Earlier in the year I purchased my first set of Watercolour Half-Pans and have been enjoying them immensely.

The Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolour set has 40 different colours with 5 spares and whilst there is a tremendous range of colours I have been reading where, as a beginner, working with a limited palette can teach me more about the mixing of colours.

At the recent Sydney Pen Show, I came across Sennelier Aquarelle la petite Watercolours, pictured below.

IMG_4664

Unfortunately, they had run out of them at the Show so a set had to be posted to me. They just turned up today, very nicely packaged with a bonus Honey-based Soap for cleaning brushes and a Thank You note. The Supplier was Calligraphy Supplies Australia.

All my Watercolour paintings have been thus far, indoors and lately, I am really looking forward to giving En Plein Air a try and having a smaller pallet would be beneficial I think.

The Journey of Discovery continues!
Written by
David Johnson
10 September 2018