Ashfield NSW 2131 – Allman Park

November 24, 2012

24x36cm (full-size), Derwent Drawing pencils (Ivory Black 6700 and Chinese White 7200) on black paper; 80mins.

Ashfield Council is the only Local Government Council (among Sydney’s several dozen) which is actively supporting outdoor sketching for the general public with regular free events. My own Council, adjoining Ashfield’s, has the lowest amount of green space of any Council in Sydney (if that’s an excuse), but I wish we had free Sketching in the Park events like Ashfield’s in the Marrickville LGA!

About a dozen sketchers met for 2 hours, a range of ethnic backgrounds and ages 8 to 80 (well, let’s be kind and say 60 years young). Expert and supportive tuition from Ellen for raw beginners, kids with mum in tow, through  to retired experienced artists.  I was astonished at the amount of drawing equipment provided by Council: not just a few bits of paper and pencils, but support boards with taped A4 paper (white, toned, black) and easels for everyone!

Today’s task was black-and-white sketching and Ellen ran us through the theory of thumbnails, a tonal bar and working large from a gridded-up thumbnail. After 30mins, we were set free and came together again for a very valuable feedback session at the end and a chance to see everyone else’s work.

The park is small but well-maintained; quite busy, not surprisingly given the massive high-rise housing round about. Ellen would have liked me to stick to 6 or 7 tonal grades from white to black, sketching with the one pencil, but I launched with an additional black charcoal-like pencil to get the darkest darks. The range of greens in the rows of hedges was phenomenal on this warm sunny afternoon.

I imagine there are public liability insurances issues and supply of equipment issues, but I commend this business model to other Councils, an opportunity to employ graduates of the likes of (strangled) Meadowbank TAFE/Sydney Gallery School. I am ‘getting in now’ before there are no art teachers available or when the consultancy fees of privately-trained art teachers become too excessive for Local Councils to bear!

A superb afternoon!


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