Monday, September 26, 2016

Coffee in Rosebank

Oh - this was a draft I forgot to post... just some back views of people choosing their refreshments at Exclusive Books coffeeshop in Rosebank while I indulged in coffee and cheesecake, and some guerrilla sketching.

Spring in Black & White

 We were down in Franschhoek again last week, mon mari (a little French to suit the location) very busy with meetings, so I had plenty of time to chill - and there is no better place to do that - reading books, drawing and just gazing at the amazing scenery. The house we stayed in has a number of beautiful old black and white drawings and prints of trees in it and I was inspired to try using just pen and ink (my Lamy pen with a fine nib, and Noodlers black ink) to sketch in spite of the seductive brilliant greens just beginning to sprout from every dry branch and vine.

A pair of Egyptian geese had produced a family on the pond outside the house - last time my husband was here there were seven goslings, now reduced to three with a sighting of a rooikat (caracul or lynx) with a little feathered body clamped in its jaws reported! I sketched the survivors grazing on the lawn - their ruthless parents were now dive-bombing them to chase them off the premises - oh to be a bird!

I did try one little watercolour sketch of some indigenous watsonias against the fields, trees and mountains but my sketchbook paper and clumsy waterbrush conspired against the beauty I was trying to portray (well that's my excuse anyway).

Monday, August 22, 2016

Printing and sketching at WAM

I'm sorry my posting is so erratic - I have been painting, but nothing I feel quite OK with showing anyone. Oil painting feels a bit like wading through mud right now... hoping it will change into a flowing stream soon, I'll keep trying.

It was a busy sketching weekend though, with a friend's wedding on Friday. I may post those sketches later as they need a bit of work. I've sketched at a few now, and it's hard to convey all the colour, ceremony, movement and emotional importance of weddings on the spot. I always hope for much better results than I get and I would like to give them something worth keeping!

On Saturday our group went to the Wits Art Museum where a Walter Battiss exhibition is on, and a children's printmaking workshop. I had already had a good look at the exhibition a couple of weeks ago, so I concentrated on the oblivious back views of the people looking at the art. We went to the coffee shop to find the children's workshop in full swing. There were a lot more kids and adults than I could fit into my sketch but it was great to see a museum space being used to stimulate children into actually making art themselves instead of being passive (and often bored) onlookers. The tall photographer did double duty as one of the few who could reach the drying lines.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tai Chi Sketching

Just a lot of little sketches from the tai chi class I've been taking since the beginning of the year today... My teacher Masako kindly allowed our sketching group to sit in on a lesson, and a masterclass in ryuku kobujutsu (using weaponry) she gave to a student practicing for his black belt. I foolishly thought by drawing the exercises I'd be able to remember them in future classes (my brain just won't, although Masako says my body eventually will!), but although it looks slow and meditative, I couldn't keep up with the constant seamless movements.

The first two sketch pages were warming up - the tai chi bodies and my sketching fingers both - and I tried out various pens and brushpens before settling on my trusty Pentel brushpen, which made appropriately calligraphic marks.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Doing the Laundry

I went back to life drawing at the nearby Figures&Form group for the first time in months yesterday, and was taken aback to see that a washing line was strung up behind one of the models. Somebody, or the universe, seems to be trying to tell me something... (I was quite pleased with my painting here but unfortunately did it on cartridge paper which buckled and didn't take kindly to too much layering).

The washing line outside my studio and its drapery and shadows have been grabbing my attention for some time now and I've been wondering if it could possibly become the subject for a painting or series of paintings. In a podcast I was listening to on Tuesday, from The Savvy Painter with Christopher Gallego, he talked about how certain unorthodox motifs around his home and studio grabbed and nagged at him to paint them, and that one should go with those urges... I've been thinking I must be crazy to want to paint the washing, but John Singer Sargent did it, and actually it has many associations for me as my children have grown over years and my husband and my lives are changing. Maybe I should have been painting it all this time. These are some sketches - a notan scribble in my studio sketchbook, a watercolour in which the laundry came out quite well but I badly messed up the shadow... and another where it's the other way around. Shall I do an oil painting, or am I crazy?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Moving Into Dance

Our Joburg Sketchers group was given kind permission to sit in on a practice session at Moving Into Dance, a professional company which develops and produces award winning Contemporary African dancers, choreographers, arts administrators and teachers, many from disadvantaged communities. It was exhilarating, not to mention exhausting (I know I know, sitting there on my derrière...) watching and trying to sketch the ceaseless movements of the young first year dancers - it's obvious they must have come a long way since January.
I thought perhaps there would be some repetitive practice movements that would give us a chance to capture postures, but those were few and far between as they flew, spun, stomped, twirled and leaped around the room, sometimes almost landing in our laps where we sat lined up on a bench at one end. So we had to do what we could... I drew with pencil as I couldn't find a gap in the action to even reach for my watercolours at the time, but added colour later to help define some of the frantic lines I put down - and to convey some of the energy of these beautiful dancers. Only 5-10 of them will go through into second year, and even fewer into third - heartbreaking I'm sure for the ones who don't make it, everyone is passionate and dedicated - how on earth do they choose?!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Greek Day at Rotary Arts Festival

 I cannot believe it's almost July! I have so much I should be doing but finding it hard to knuckle down and do any of it, including updating my blog (doggedly keeping it going though, as proof that I actually DO do something every now and then).

These sketches from a few weeks ago at the annual Rotary Arts Festival... I see this time last year I was thinking of having an Urban Sketchers display or stand there next time, which never happened.
We had fun though on the Greek-themed day, sketching the kids from the Saheti School playing bouzoukis, singing and dancing, as well as catching other scenes from around the shopping centre - over coffee in the bookshop, a life drawing session from the Figures & Form group, and a lone pianist who I hope realised his beautiful playing was appreciated even if he didn't draw the crowds. I stuck to simple contour line drawing after a brief attempt to take my watercolours out in a shifting, shuffling situation!