St Peters NSW 2044: St Peters’ Anglican Church

March 22, 2013

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A4 Milini 150g sketchbook, double-spread; coloured biros – Stabilo point 88 fine 0.4 (grey, charcoal, black, green, light blue and dark blue)

I haven’t done any pen-and-ink work for a long time, so I jumped at the opportunity of using six coloured ‘biro’s, after seeing them for $1.70ea at Eckersley’s York Street recently. The colours seemed ideal for urban sketching in Sydney, where there’s both a lot of grey and a lot of green.

I received a flyer in my mailbox today from a church in the local area and thought I’d nick out and sketch it. It’s a heritage-listed Gothic Revival church built in 1838 (now minus its spire), painted white, with a cemetery nearby. Not far from the Cooks River, it was the local church for important Sydneysiders, some very wealthy, who kept villas far away from the bustle of Sydney Town in colonial times. Despite the very muggy, overcast afternoon, it was a remarkably quiet and serene environment. I regret not having spent time here before.

I have been interested to read this week about Ian Sidaway, a British artist who keeps two sketchbooks for on-site landscape/streetscape sketching: one landscape Moleskin for black pen and another for pure watercolor. He uses a lot of hatching but keeps the look very streamlined and minimal, with a very strong compositional foundation. I haven’t yet had time to copy any of his sketches or check out his influences including Charles Rennie Macintosh. Macintosh featured in a tv documentary recently about Art Nouveau and I spent three years wandering his Teachers’ College building at Sydney University, absorbing its lines and moodiness; little wonder I like the architecture of both Art Nouveau and the local InterWar Period.

I simply started on the far left of the RH page (as I normally do) and moved in all directions, each small piece of geometric shape in turn, until reaching the edge of the page. No attempt today to think ‘compositionally’; no foundation lines except a generalised horizon line. Initial contour in the Light Grey, then moved to Black for the darkest darks, then a lot of in-fill in the greys and other colours. Eventually moved from the very severe angles of the sandstone tombstones in the foreground to the (much more) interesting sandstone tombs to the left, moving across the gutter. I normally fizzle out after an hour or so, often leaving the LH page of my double-page spreads very unfinished.

I was curious to see how things would scan and I’ll probably continue in this vein for the next few days.

At the moment, I’m channeling painter Clarice Beckett, who managed to create her tonal masterpieces by sneaking out of the house for a short time before breakfast each day. Also temporarily caring for The Invalid, I am timing my escapes in a similar manner. The next five days or so will be local on-location sketches!

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