Sydney NSW 2000 – Bennelong Point

February 14, 2012

Derwent 3B graphite pencil; 5-6pm, midweek, Feb 2012.

The start of Year 2 of (Proper) Urban Sketching already feels very different. I’m not sure why, but have suddenly taken to drawing very slowly (almost like blind contour drawing) for 40min stretches (very long by my standards), without rushing into b&w tonality and consciously getting proportion and measurement on my side. The final result looks insubstantial, but I don’t care; there’s plenty of scope to add colour later – my focus is on getting the foundation as correct as possible, even if it looks like it’s fallen off an architect’s desk. I’m reconciling myself to the fact that a lot of urban sketching involves perspective and hard edges – and it would be nice to get buildings looking right! J.M.W.Turner certainly worked on them in his early career – the medieval cathedrals.

This is a view I was keen on from an earlier twilight visit, with the strong contrast of the trees and vegetation to the left (the tail end of the Royal Botanic Gardens) and the unusual architecture of Macquarie Street, from the ‘toaster’ at 1 Macquarie Street on Bennelong Point, through to the Renzo Piano building to the left. The Piano building seems to have emboldened architects with later buildings. Not as enthralled this time round with the view – it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as I’d remembered -, so included more of the Circular Quay buildings. I was very intrigued about being able to fit everything from the Reserve Bank in Martin Place (far left) to Australia Square (far right), with such greats as Customs House and Chifley Square in between.

The process was looser than it seems. Only two real measurements at the beginning: the height of the new AMP building being one pencil-height and the Circular Quay ‘white’ building being half that height. I didn’t even bother with a pencil-width to see how much I should get in across the page. After about 20 structural lines, I laid in the detail. Normally I would have rushed into tonality (too quickly). With the sun setting (this was approx. 5 to 6pm). I will review this work in terms of pen and ink, as well as colour. I seem to have overcome an imperative to produce rushed, overly-dramatic lines.

Public seating on the Opera House boardwalk. Lots of red roses and moody couples about given it’s Valentine’s Day, but I wasn’t disturbed, left to my own devices. I have a vague recollection of being photographed, but my work was completely absorbing!

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