why this kolaveri di

August 15, 2012

Mid-week, 12.30pm.  Cnr King & George Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

Overcast weather = can sketch as slow as I like; sunny weather = need to sketch fast (because the shadows change).

Why this kolaveri di? is my personal soundtrack these days: a brilliant song with brilliant lyrics. It (and the global phenomenon it created last year) is impossible to explain, but English-speakers need to get a translation of the lyrics (it’s in Tanglish, half-Tamil half-English) and the best version (in terms of tempo) is the film soundtrack. I came upon it searching around the Net for Sydney architecture photography and found a flashmob event in Pitt Street Mall using this song (another flashmob event in Central Station looked like fun as well); I’m not aware of anyone having sketched a flashmob dance event in progress(1).

I decided to check out this iconic Darrell Lea chocolate shop today, having done some preliminary work at home with photos. The photos certainly diminish the complexity of traffic lights, light poles and other street furniture; most ‘moody’ photographic shots come across as portraits-of-buildings rather than focussing on people. The shop is something of an anachronism because it’s been relatively untouched for decades: only a chocolate shop can get away with baby blue and bright gold in the corporate real estate market of Sydney’s mid-town. I can’t imagine the colour scheme when it was a pub; that was before colour photography was invented.

Today’s involved two stretches of 20minutes standing up; I might try a sitting position in the tiny space between Rebel Sports’ escalators and the Apple building (see RH page). This particular view takes in another corner block historic building, the one with the dark red domed roof on the NE corner of King and Castlereagh Streets. I was sure the focal point of any sketch would have to be the people under the shop awning, but the historic buildng up the street is my focal point today via the over-the-top ornamentation of the shop’s facade.

Sitting is out of the question on the other two street corners. I crossed the road and found I could stand reasonably okay outside the Louis Vuitton shop in George Street. I wanted to try and capture how small the shop is and how overbearing the modern skyscrapers around it are. This led my eye down to the Sydney Arcade building (now refurbished) in King St (built in 1881). 

I like the marks made by the pencil so much, I’ve decided against any post-production doctoring. I’d prefer to draw additional sketches rather than mutilate these ones (I’ve never been happy about scanners dictating what my work ends up looking like).

There’s a City of Sydney Development Application proposal stuck to the Darrell Lea shop so I suspect the building’s days are numbered.

I hope you’ve all seen the 2nd architectural post on http://scratchyas.wordpress.com – the ink sketches are spectacular! I’m taken with the idea of preparing washes in advance at home (based on studio work with photos and thumbnails from photos) and taking the pages into the field for on-location contour work (especially where sunny weather and sharp shadows militate against prolonged drying time for colour washes). 

Notes. (1) Probably Veronica Lawlor’s method, as used by her in sketching the Tour de France cyclists in Paris, is the way to go – spend 30mins drawing the flashmob dance location backdrop, then use the 3mins of the dance to sketch the people. The deal of course is to be aware of the flashmob event’s logistics beforehand.


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