Saturday, June 27, 2015

Commissions and more urban sketches.

I been working pretty solidly finishing commissioned paintings and finding a bit of time to work en plein air sketching to brush up my skills before heading off to the symposium in Singapore. (More about this in the future)

Robyn Bauer  Commissioned painting of Ipswich

This one is of Ipswich. The brief was to include the old and the new, and I spent a morning driving around getting a feel for the place. I knew Ipswich had some gorgeous old Queenslanders and when I spied a view of the water reservoirs and the bright yellow and blue shop I knew I had my subject. There are layers and layers of paint, not obvious in the photograph. Acrylic on canvas.

Robyn Bauer  Commissioned painting of Suncorp Stadium and Hale Street Brisbane

This painting shows Suncorp Stadium on the left and some of the Hale Street houses on the right. A strong composition based on angles, and while at first I was hesitant to include so much of the road I think the heightened colour makes the shapes interesting in themselves, and roads are so much a part of our lives these days. It can't all be just picturesque cottages! My son actually said to me the other day that when he was stuck in traffic driving in Hale Street, he thought "I'm in Mum's painting"!

As I mentioned last blog post I am working on a Brisbane River Project amongst other things. I am saving some of the drawings but in the meantime can post some recent urban sketches.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Brisbane River

 Like many Brisbanites I drove out to see the US warship "George Washington" which was moored at the mouth of the river for three days. It is a huge nuclear powered aircraft-carrier with 38 planes on the deck. We couldn't get too close to it as is apparent from the drawing. This was done at Pinkenba.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Brisbane River

As a total contrast, this boat (although US Mississippi style) is a bit more fetchingly festive. It is the Kookaburra Queen II drawn from Eagle Street Pier.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of cemetery 

This was done on a second trip to the South Brisbane Cemetery at Dutton Park. The little white bridges are private jetties.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of cemetery

 This was a very quick last minute one at the cemetery. The two pylons on the right are the edge of the Eleanor Schonell Bridge. I was itching to draw the angel (not a lot of sculpture in this cemetery compared to the one at Toowong) but still wanted a hint of the presence of the river.

Finally another river one showing the Story Bridge from Eagle Street Pier Coffee Club.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Brisbane River Project and some meditations on Urban Sketching

Today I have decided to officially start my Brisbane River Project. I have been preparing mentally and with drawings for the past few months. None of the drawings I have done so far are to be included. I have purchased some new paper - Canson Montval Aquarelle 200gsm 24x32cm, so a little larger than A4. Drawings will be A4 with a small border. 100 sheets in gorgeously generous block.

My first outing was to drive to Pinkenba at the mouth of the river with all my drawing paraphernalia. The giraffe-like cranes really call out for an ink drawing. Unfortunately the weather defeated me. Rain steadily grew heavier and visibility was very poor. I was already resigned to working from the car but even that proved impossible. Pity. But all that driving in the rain gave me plenty of thinking time and I can visualize the sketches I have in mind as well as of course being open to visual stimuli on each spot.

All will be done en plein air. There is an immediacy and truthfulness to this kind of working. Plus it is fun.

My working titles are also fun to ponder at the same time. Barcarolle comes to mind, - this is a song sung by Venetian gondoliers. My work can be seen in the nature of a visual song, with lots of separate verses, then joined up for display. There is also a big factor of Natural History recording going on. This river, this time, this place, this person's response and interpretation.

Driving back along Kingsford Smith Drive I was excited by the possibilities the riverbank provides. I stopped at Portside for a coffee. Again the rain meant poor visibility and no pelicans around but I will return there.

In the meantime here are a couple of preliminary sketches I have done featuring the river this week.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Brisbane River

 This one is of the HMAS Diamantina which is in the Maritime Museum. I sat on the Goodwill Bridge and looked down. Done with various ink pens and wash. Finished en plein air.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Brisbane cemetery

This view of the river is from the South Brisbane Cemetery Dutton Park. Yes the crow was really there momentarily and he was making a racket! The sky was very white with rainy mist and as usual it was the life around me of trees, plants, birds that became my true motif. Cemeteries are noisy with bird life and this one right on the river especially so.

I have also crystallized a few thoughts on urban sketching. I liken it to the slow food movement. One must slow down completely to sit and draw using eye, brain, hand. It can become a kind of meditation like the Zen of looking. The great advantage of living in 2015 is that one can combine this age-old technique with the advantages of the internet, blogging, instagram and the excitement and immediacy of instant posting to the world!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ink stained fingers - Media experiments with my urban sketches.

This week I went out sketching four days to two different locations. For those following my work closely it will already have become apparent that I am concentrating on the Brisbane River. I have done nine from the riverbank so far. I am going to start numbering them Brisbane River 1 etc.

It is winter in Brisbane at the moment and although the temperature range is 7 - 22 degrees C it does feel a bit uncomfortable giving up the comforts of the studio to be subject to the vagaries of the elements. I am realising I had my little studio routines all worked out and now that I am working so much en plein air I am made uncomfortably aware of how many cups of tea I must have been making in the studio not to mention loo visits etc. Also because I have done so much life drawing I must have developed a 25 minute habit of working then a five minute break ( to suit the model posing)! I am tending to do this outside as well.   It is really a question of being more organised with a coffee break, loo break before setting up.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Brisbane River

I have so many different materials I decided to go back to this buff paper and use black and white charcoals. The result looks a bit too neat for my current sensibilities. I would like to go back to the same spot and do a quicker messy ink drawing. The view is from the Newstead House lawn looking over where Breakfast Creek joins the Brisbane River.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Breakfast Creek Hotel

 This is just a little further to the left of the last image. The famous Breakfast Creek Hotel from the other side of the creek. I have a little set of watercolours but dislike adding colour piecemeal like this, too much like colouring-in. I did throw some salt on the wet patches as it dried (fish shop nearby) but would like a lot more of the accidental effect than is happening here.

I caught the bus into the City and walked down to the City Botanic Gardens. It really is the most awesome spot for sketching, with the river, boats moored and the bank on the other side. I used a bit of coloured oil pastel (old fashioned cray pas) on the yellow, blue, orange bits and on the white masts. The plan was that this would act like a wax resist with the ink wash, but it wasn't too successful with the masts so I went over them with, wait for it...  Bic Whiteout! This is now a staple in my kit.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Brisbane River

My fourth sketch for the week and I think the most successful, having learned from some of the earlier frustrations. The white of the boat ropes is white ink over the ink wash. I have to wave the book around to dry it before this can be applied. The view is very close to the previous one, from the Botanic Gardens looking toward Kangaroo Point over the Brisbane River.

People have been pretty much ignoring me as I sit and work. Only one man asked if he could have a look and an old lady said I was wearing too much red!