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.

First Time at Urban Sketchers Sydney!

Last Saturday-week, I went on my first Urban Sketchers Sydney ‘Sketch-meet’. It was held in Surry Hills, literally 5 minutes walk from the southern reaches of the Sydney CBD.

I had joined their Facebook group late last year after it popped up courtesy of Facebook’s algorithm however, life came up in one form or another between then and this month which prevented me from attending the monthly outing.

Sydney turned on some beautiful Winter weather for the day with 19C/66F forecast and predominantly Blue skies. A warmer day than we can usually expect.

I arrived a bit earlier and met up with one of the sketchers, who had already started sketching. As time went by, more and more sketchers turned up until there were approximately 40 people in attendance.

One of the leaders of the day, Julie informed us where the important things were like local amenities, cafes and pointed out buildings and other places of interest that we might like to sketch.

We are then given 2 1/4 hours to sketch/paint and once finished, we all met as a group and enacted a ‘throw down’ as they call it. This is where everyone puts their creations in a group on the ground so that we can all see the different interpretations of the scenes being sketched/painted.

After that, a group photo is taken and posted on the Urban Sketchers Sydney Facebook page.

I chose a subject with too many windows I think and it was certainly a challenge perspective-wise. It certainly was relaxing, sitting there in the glorious sunshine. One of the attractions of sketching is that it is such a meditative experience.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning and I am looking forward to the next one!

Thank you Urban Sketchers Sydney for a great Sketch-meet!

Written by David Johnson

14 August 2022

Our Mental Fuse

A Beautiful Place

Last Sunday, after enjoying a nice afternoon tea at one of our favourite cafe’s in Picton which is about 15 minutes drive South from where we live, we decided to head out to Lake Burragorang which is part of the Sydney Warragamba Dam Catchment, Sydney’s main water source.

We are so fortunate to have such a majestic and beautiful spot that is only 32 minutes drive away.

Lake Burragorang is a man-made reservoir that was created by a Dam. Unfortunately, to create the reservoir, it was necessary to relocate residents who had lived farming towns in the Burragorang Valley since the early 19th Century. The lands actually belonged to Gundungarra Aboriginal tribe.

Construction of the Warragamba Dam commenced in 1948 and was completed in 1960 and is surrounded by a 3km exclusion zone to ensure the integrity of the water supply. It is sad that such a beautiful spot was created in this way, however, the end result is certainly a jewel to the eye.

My first visit there dated back to the 1980’s when I was just getting into Photography. I’ve been back there with social clubs and with my SLR/DSLR on a number of occasions. It has BBQ facilities, seats, amenities and is a great place for a picnic.

My previous visit was back in 2018, a year before those horrendous bushfires ripped through various parts of the state, including the Burragorang Valley. Even the though a lot of the green has returned in the past year, down in the valley, you can still see clear through to the ground where there is still little or no undergrowth. It will take time, but it will eventually recover.

The only camera I took this time was my phone as I wanted to concentrate on sketching and also writing some Poetry (if the mood captured me). My wife, Susan took her Crotchet with her, and after a brief walk we settled down to enjoy the surroundings for the next 2 1/2 hours.

The light was impressive throughout the afternoon as it danced and highlighted different sections of the landscape intermittently. I felt so relaxed.

I went away with the feeling that ‘I had indeed been away’ and not just been on a Sunday drive. The light, the ambience felt almost Spiritual.

We certainly won’t be leaving as much time between visits next time.

Written by David Johnson

16 February 2021

Sources of Historical information:

https://www.theland.com.au/story/5702018/painting-revives-rich-burragorang-history/ ; https://historyofaboriginalsydney.edu.au/south-west/location/burragorang-valley ; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-03/how-sydneys-water-needs-drowned-burragorang-valley/9390170