A second children’s playground

January 29, 2011


My lunchtime sketching basically revolves around a 20-minute rest at a cemetary or a children’s playground, which sounds regrettable, but they are the only quiet areas with seating, away from the factory where I work which is basically plonked down in the middle of suburbia. I’ve noticed a huge second children’s playground on the bus coming to my place of work each day, but  found a third children’s playground this week, on a day when the temperature dropped below 30C degrees. It seemed entirely unprepossessing at first, but the idea of sketching is to just get in and ‘see if you like it’ half the time, temporarily waiving any considerations about it being an ‘interesting’ composition. At one stage I tried to add vegetation, but (like a background, e.g. trees), but that seemed to distract. Sketching is ‘drawing-as-it-is’ while drawing is about selecting subject more in terms of composition and other values.

I’ve “upgraded” to Staedtler fineliner pens as well, with Morandi’s four darknesses of cross-hatching in mind.  Today I’ve seen Paul Heaston’s completed panorama in his Japanese butterfly USK sketchbook. As usual, I’m retaining my original pencil lines which don’t scan and so don’t affect the quality of the penwork in the digital scan/upload; I’m conscious of “selecting” those pencil lines which I want to keep, as part of the composition process. One selects aspects of reality in the original sketch so it’s silly imposing moral or aesthetic rules about which ones to select in subsequent re-working.

I’ve limited myself to just a foreground (done in 0.7mm pen) and the playground vertical supports done in 0.5mm and the rest in 0.3mm and 0.1mm pens.

Will keep going back to my two children’s playgrounds over time for different treatments, involving cross-hatching, watercolour pencil washes, etc. These playgrounds are a cross between LEGO blocks and skyscrapers, so they are the best foundation for midweek daily drawing of the Built Environment I can find. I like to think the “blocky” experiences are helping in sketching cars, for example. At the end of the day, this is my “beginner’s cathedral” – today, a playground, tomorrow, a cathedral.


* The focus of the Sydney Sketch Club is moving towards Nature in March, with a series of sketching sessions at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. As a former librarian working at the State Library NSW and the NSW Conservatorium, I used to be very familiar with the RBG. I used to lunch in the spot now occupied by the Tropical Plants pyramid; in more recent years, I’ve been associated with the Palmhouse exhibitions mounted by the local Surface Design Association – so it’s something of a personal ‘backyard’ for me.


* during March and April, Wendy Shortland is running Saturday classes devoted to bookbinding/sketching/journalling and the RBG follows this with on-site sketching in the afternoons. This seems to be me to be a terribly worthwhile study and a wonderful foil to my foreign language uni studies during the week (as well as work, of course!). The photos above are of a small triangular butterfly book, as taught to me by Rosemary Dobson ages ago, in conjunction with a calligraphy certificate at St George TAFE, with Copperplate calligraphy on one side and coloured pencil sketches of flowers on the other, combining that side of my personality that loves bookbinding/botanical sketching – couldn’t call it ‘botanical illustration’!/calligraphy;

* in the lead-up to things botanical (notwithstanding there are four dozen pieces of sculpture and art installation in the RBG, so there’s plenty of figure drawing to be done), I’ll stay with urban-social things being organised by the Sydney Sketch Club in the coming weekends like Kings Cross and Victoria Park (Mardi Gras’ Fair Day, which has usually been too draining in terms of heat and humidity in the past – though I can always escape that by visiting the Nicholson Museum or the little Tom Bass sculpture near the university entrance gates nearby). I wouldn’t mind tackling some vintage cars and even trams at Sydney Tramway Museum’s Vintage Tramway Festival (26-27 Feb). 


* Staedtler (Germany), pigment liner Fineliner pens, 0.1/0.3/0.5/0.7mm. $26 from Eckersley’s, York Street.

* Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Sat 12 March to 16 April, 9.30am-12noon $220. Wendy Shortland sketchbook making and journal Bookmaking & Sketching. SMH Autumn of the Arts.

* http:/scratchyas.wordpress.com. Meegan talks about the value of figure drawing from sculpture, something I need to pursue.

* Vintage Tramway Festival. Sydney Tramway Museum, Loftus. Sat 26 Feb (9a-9p) and Sun 27 Feb (9a-5p) . $15 entry, concession $10. Incl trams, veteran and vintage cars and vintage buses.

* www.urbansketchers.org: Paul Heaston at http://paulheaston.blogspot.com/


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