Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Bunch of Sketches & Visitors

 Yikes - it's April, and autumn already, and I've been so busy sketching and painting and thinking about what I want to/need to/have to do - posting it all has taken a back seat. To think I once started blogging to try and motivate myself to draw more... well, something's working at the moment!

We've had a couple of visits lately from sketchers from other parts of the country and the world. Ex-Joburg Sketcher Barbara Moore came up recently from her new home in Simon's Town in the Cape, and three of us had a relaxed morning catching up and sketching on a beautiful clear autumn day at Zoo Lake.
An icecream man pondering the lake with a beaded dragonfly mobile behind him
Waitrons and a mirrored angel - over cappucinos at Moyo restaurant 
A couple of weeks before that French urban sketcher Michel Davinroy was in town. He had been sketching prolifically on his own, but joined us at a Dance Umbrella rehearsal at the Market Theatre for the difficult challenge of capturing the unpredictable movements of contemporary dancers, mostly in the dark!

And yesterday, we arranged a mid-week sketching session in the nearby suburb of Melville to meet Brighton, England resident and world traveller Fiver Löcker.

It's exciting that we are so much "on the map" that sketchers from around the world are starting to seek us out to draw together, and enrich us all with their stories, sketches and enthusiasm! 
Car guards and basket ladies outside the Golf Tearoom in Melville
Fiver sketching on her iPad in the eclectic clutter of Antz café, Melville

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bassline Musicians

Our group met in Newtown for our regular First Friday date and decided to walk over to The Bassline, a live music venue which has hosted concerts for almost every major South African musician for the last 15 years. A bronze statue of late music legend Brenda Fassie (affectionately known as MaBrrr) gazes over the square, with a hospitable chair next to her for anyone who wants to pose for a photo, or in this case, a sketch. Wisdom was a willing volunteer who went and sat for us as soon as he saw what we were doing, and was very insistent that I noted down his name for posterity. 

There was a lot of activity in front of the club - a tall-hatted cleaner and a series of people who gathered and hung around until a shady looking character arrived, did some exchanges with each of them and disappeared until the next lot. I didn't investigate further, and tried not to make any eye contact! 
I started drawing some men sitting on the lawn in the square while the others finished, when the man with the guitar, Paulos, spotted me drawing him (he had also tried to pose on MaBrr's chair earlier, but too late for my sketch). He leapt up and came and stood right in front of me, launching joyfully and without restraint into a loud crackly version of "I wanna know what love is", and then, when I said I hadn't finished him yet, into a sort of rap conversation with Wisdom adding a background chorus "Johannesburg, Johannesburg"... Not sure if we were supposed to reply in kind, but it was very funny, and fun. I hope we lightened his day as much as he did ours!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Shark Party

One of my great-nephews had his fourth 'Shark' themed birthday party last week (still not quite keeping up). That means three years since I did this post on his first birthday party... I'm not sure why I haven't sketched at any of his older brother's birthday parties, possibly just too much to take in and put on a page. At least at this one, they were more or less contained in a swimming pool for some of the time! It seemed appropriate to colour my quick pen sketch with children's felt tip markers... I should have got there earlier to draw the terrific food table with sharky birthday cake, watermelon bowl, brownies with fins etc - they didn't last long after the little guests arrived!

I recently added a Search widget to A Sketch in Time... why didn't I do that years ago? Within seconds I found all references to "birthday party", and the other day when I wanted to remind myself how to make a home-made scraperboard - pop - there it was. I sometimes despair of ever keeping up with all the techie stuff available, but this one was worth the head-scratching!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Heritage Home and Hotel

Two sketches of buildings from the same era in Johannesburg's history - the top one is of Northwards, an Arts and Crafts Movement home built for mining magnate and randlord John Dale Lace. His flamboyant wife, José took milk baths and had her coach pulled by four zebras to go shopping in town; was allegedly proposed to by Cecil John Rhodes, and was mistress to King Edward VII. More about this fascinating lady here if you're interested! Sadly they ended up in abject poverty - how does that happen!? 
Our sketching group went to draw in the gardens after a week of scorching heatwave, but this day was chilly and drizzly and we eventually had to go and find a café to warm up in. It's still cool - surely summer can't be over so suddenly and so soon?

The other sketch was done after visiting William Kentridge's enormous and wonderful tapestries at the Wits Art Museum, over coffee at a restaurant that had a good view of this little inn which dates back to the Boer War. It was used as a watering hole for British troops, and a stopover for postal riders, and where British High Commissioner Sir Alfred Milner met commander of the British forces General Lord Kitchener for talks in the bar, which gives the hotel its name. 

I have to say, I learn more history from sketching and having to look these things up than I ever did as a dozy student doodling at the back of the class in school!  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Storms (again) at Common Ground

When sketching last September at the Spring Day in Killarney Park, I met a funky young guy, Dokter Skruph, who had a stall there. I was interested in a little folding stool he was selling, and he was interested in my sketches - anyway, to cut a long story short, he emailed and invited me (and any Joburg Sketchers who would like to) to come and sketch on Saturday at the Seven Sounds concert. Now, this is not the kind of event I go to ordinarily... way too old, sedate and home-bound to go so far out of my comfort zone to listen to music that I felt sure I wouldn't appreciate... but, although none of the other sketchers could make it, one daughter was keen to go and promised to sketch too, so we ventured forth with our GPS into the network of highways and back-roads to find this new Common Ground venue in the Maboneng District.
Inside the park from the unfamiliar streets, we found a little patch of grass under an olive tree, shaded from baking sun and the glare of a cloudless blue sky. There were only a few people in so early to watch opening musician Matthew Mole. I needn't have worried - the music from here on was all wonderful and totally easy to love.

 I spotted Dokter Skruph sitting in the hatch of his shop chatting to friends and drew them - a thank you for the invitation as well as the first time I've had a chance to sketch an actual spaza shop, a ubiquitous and typical feature of the South African urban landscape. I hardly noticed it was clouding over...
...until I began on my next scene during the lovely sounds of Shotgun Tori - the smudges and spatters on this one were pitter-patter raindrops and just as The Muffinz, fresh from the Apollo in New York, started their set, the skies opened and Joburg threw down one of her famous, no holds barred thunderstorms which had everyone scuttling for shelter.

After a while the sun and a few determined people started emerging from their cover - here some of the musicians (Tidal Waves, I believe) on the roof with a huge mural of Nelson Mandela in his boxing days on a building behind them, waiting to see if they were going to be able to go on or not.
   And the audience trickled back with their hessian bag cushions, to wait in hope for the music to start again... which it did, with so cool Guy Buttery setting up a smaller, more movable stage in the middle of the arena to play his astonishing acoustic music on guitar, saw (the woodworking kind) and umm...something that I'm not sure of...a sitar? Before Eskom cut the power and the harassed but well prepared organisers dashed to start up a generator to finish the concert. At which point I had to go, to find my way home before any more storms or darkness fell - but I will be back to listen to more wonderful music (I missed out on a whole lot more - my daughter had found friends and stayed longer) and naturally, sketch.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Stormy Day in Fordsburg

I'm cutting and pasting this post from the Urban Sketchers website, catching up a bit on posting here on my once again neglected blog - only Feb and life is already too busy!:
For the 46th WorldWide Sketchcrawl on Saturday 31 Jan our group went to the historic suburb of Fordsburg on the outskirts of Johannesburg. We met outside this building on Mint Rd and discovered that there was a bustling market getting into gear behind us. Some self-designated car guards and a vendor selling clothes hangers - everyone trying to make a rand or two for the day...
 Before we could get going on the market, there were rumblings of thunder and some fat drops of rain, warning us to get under cover, so we took advantage of the kind offer of an artist, Hermann Niebuhr, who has a studio in the area to use his balcony to sketch from. We got there just in time before there was one of several deluges. (Sorry about the quality of the images, my scanner is was out of action.) Below are Marlene and John - with the luxury of chairs and a table - sketching the view.

And the sketchers huddling under the tin roof along the balcony - we still got pretty wet with some interesting droplet effects on some of the sketches.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Late, but Happy 2015!

We returned last week from a frosty but lovely Christmas and New Year in England where we spent a relaxed holiday with family. I didn't even try sitting outside in that cold (though everyone said what a mild winter it was) to draw, but I did this sketch from a warm living room window. Those wintry tree skeletons could provide years of inspiration with the varying veils of mist and colour, this is a very rough and inadequate quickie rendition. I only managed a few other even rougher sketches when I found myself twiddling my thumbs in a warm spot...

...and now here we are back in warm if not quite sunny South Africa and our jungly green garden that needs some serious taming.
Wishing everyone who looks in, a wonderful, productive and creative new year!