Saturday, 18 November 2017

Old Berwick Post Office

I discovered a seat conveniently in front of the Old Post Office in Berwick, Victoria, so how could I pass up the opportunity to sketch this old building. (I didn’t have my paints with me so I added the colours after I got home). 

This historical landmark with what was the court house next door (and postmaster's residence behind) was built in 1884 and is one of a number of 19th century buildings preserved in Berwick’s High Street area.

#LamyPen, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8” 

Sunday, 12 November 2017


On Saturday 11th November 2017, Urban Sketcher (USk) chapters from around the globe held sketchwalks in their cities to celebrate 10 years of Urban Sketchers. (There are more than 200 official chapters). Using GMT time, photos from each chapter were uploaded in turn at designated times to the USk Instagram account starting with the first chapter to see daylight (Auckland, New Zealand) to the last chapter to see the sunset (O’ahu, USA). The hashtag was #USkglobal24hrsketchwalk. 

I sketched on the train going to the Melbourne Urban Sketchers sketchwalk for the #USkglobal24hrsketchwalk. 

I only attended the morning session held at the Block Arcade in the Melbourne CBD (the afternoon session was held at Flinders Street Station). 

The Block Arcade, Melbourne. 

One of Melbourne’s most richly decorated interior spaces, it was erected in 1892, the design inspired by an arcade in Milan. There was a poignant start to the sketchwalk when the whole CBD observed a minute’s silence at 11am for Remembrance Day.

A rather daunting scene but here is my sketch finished in an hour, a rush job as I was expecting to be pounced upon by the manager of the arcade who was going around telling us sketchers to leave. 

Management later changed their minds, welcomed our presence and said we should come more often! The sketch group got a lot of attention from shoppers.

An unexpected bonus was entertainment by opera singer Sarah Lobegeiger. She caused a painting in a shop to fall and smash when she hit a high note!

I was chuffed that she shared my sketch on her Facebook page!

And here's the group photo (courtesy of Melbourne Urban Sketchers). 

How exciting to have been part of this USk event!

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8” 

Berwick Artists' Society

Sketching the scene and people there was a good way to remember who I met at my first weekly meeting of the Berwick Artists' Society. It was held outdoors due to a power failure in the meeting room but what a nice day to be outside! Old Cheese Factory grounds, Berwick, Melbourne.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8” 

Sketching at the Doctor's

It was a long wait to see the doctor but what better opportunity to sketch people.

Marker pens, #Moleskinesketchbook 3.5”x5.5”

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Pelikan Societe, Hastings

Lunch at the coastal town of Hastings (on the western arm of Western Port Bay east of Melbourne, Australia). Pity it was too cold and blustery to be outside. The town has many marinas but was unexciting to say the least (it won the Victorian Tidy Town Award in 2004!). This restaurant as we discovered was a gem. (Obviously many people already knew that).

Some white mangrove near the shore. They are common in around Western Port Bay.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”.

Dundas Street, Dunedin

This is perhaps my favourite sketch from our Dunedin, New Zealand trip. I found a spot to sit on some steps by the pavilion on North Ground field on our last (and only warm sunny) day. I was facing part of Dundas Street, looking at a row of new and heritage houses and a church. I loved the bare trees and the hill behind.

It was beginning to cloud over when I left.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”

Sketching Dunedin Architecture

I really liked Dunedin...except I’m told it’s dark and cold all year round. The distinctive 19th and early 20th century architecture has been preserved giving the town a special charm. Old buildings have been re-purposed for new uses. Built in stone or brick, these buildings were built to last by the early Scottish founders. 

Here's a sketch at the University of Otago. The brickwork pattern was dizzying to draw until I got to understand it. 

Here's the former police station, viewed through the window of the very interesting Toitu Otago Settlers Museum cafe. The vegetable muffin I had for lunch wasn't bad either.

I wish I'd had more time and the weather better. Here's a building on the University of Otago campus. 

The former railway station now houses art galleries. 

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”.

Madam Woo Dunedin

On our recent trip to Dunedin we had dinner at the famed Madam Woo restaurant. We had an excellent Malaysian hawker food inspired meal but it was expensive. 

Some of our dishes were authentic (as I know them from Singapore/Malaysia) and others were interesting fusion food. I would go there again!

Madam Woo Dunedin is one of five in the country founded by Michelin-star chef Josh Emmett. Coincidentally the Air New Zealand magazine on our flight home featured an article about him taking his staff on a culinary tour of Penang, Malaysia. How neat is that!

#TombowMarker, #Moleskinesketchbook 3.5”x5.5”

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Dunedin Museum Sketches

It was cold and a bit rainy during the 3 days I spent in Dunedin, New Zealand recently but I got some enjoyable sketching time at a couple of museums there. 

At the Otago Museum. For this sketch I tried something new and prepared the coloured  background for the page before going to the museum.

The mechanical Dimetrodon (it was an exhibition of dinosaurs from the Permian age). I got tired of it roaring every time someone walked past.

Here an old trolley car and a ceremonial Maori kite at the very informative Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. 

My visit was made all the more meaningful knowing that my son-in-law’s late mother (whom I sadly never got to meet) was once the director of the institution.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”.25”.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Planes and More Planes

I did some sketching of planes on a recent trip to New Zealand. 

At Melbourne Airport

And Dunedin Airport on the way home via Christchurch and Auckland. That's cows in the paddock. The tiny Air New Zealand plane arrived for me to sketch just 7 minutes before I had to leave!

Good thing our flight was not disrupted due to the fuel crisis at Auckland Airport and we got home as planned. (Damage to the pipeline bringing fuel to Auckland Airport was the cause of the disruptions which lasted several days).

Marker pens, #Moleskinesketchbook 3.5”x5.5”

Sunday, 3 September 2017

San Remo

Armed with my sketchbook and paints we took a drive to San Remo, Victoria, Australia. The beach away from the touristy cafe area was just beautiful but the wind was freezing! No wonder it was so cold, we were after all close to the southern most tip of the mainland of Australia. I only managed a quick gestural setup with pencil and painted it at home from a photo reference.

Looking across to Philip Island and beyond to Bass Strait. 

A bit of history.

The San Remo Jetty.

Pelikan feeding takes place every day at noon (at the fish and chip restaurant by the jetty). Beware the tourist prices if you eat there, 2 pieces of fish (Gummy Flake) and one serve of chips will set you back almost $20. It was a good lunch I'm pleased to say.

The gulls were feeling rather left out.

Watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8.25ins. 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

I'm a Sketchbook Artist

After attending several workshops in Singapore recently it's been good to take stock of the last 5 years. Conclusion – I'm an urban sketcher and sketchbook artist rather than a plein air painter. Here are some favourites since I started in 2012. Some are favourites because of the stories they tell or the memories they conjure up.

2012. A group of evangelists descended on me for the hour I spent sketching the corner of this quaint street near where we lived for 3 months in Taipei. This first el cheapo sketchbook served me well. In those early days I worked mainly just with black markers. 

2013. A sketch at Sydney Airport before embarking on the start of our 8 month stay in Singapore. The more time you have the more details get added. This was a longish wait. 

2014. Back in Edmonton, Canada and a sketch done with the Edmonton Urban Sketchers group at the University of Alberta. Watercolour before pen lines seemed to work well. 

2015. A snippet of a week in my life. One sketch done on each of the days.

2015. A record of our one bedroom apartment. Edmonton, Canada.

2015. This was our favourite fruit stall man at the weekly Century Park Market, Edmonton, Canada. He gave me a bag of peaches for sketching him.

2016. So nice to be part of USk Singapore again for the next 5 months. This was sketched in Chinatown at their first sketchmeet of 2016.  It was almost Chinese New Year and the festivities had begun.

2016.  Sketching moving performers was a challenge at the  Spring @Bukit Pasoh event with USk Singapore.

2017. So pleasant sketching at Emerald Lake Park in Victoria, Australia while squawking cockatoos circled overhead. Watercolour before pen allows more freedom. I'll have to try this more often. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Travel Sketches (Singapore July 2017)

Travel sketching is about keeping a visual diary and telling stories about places and experiences. Here are sketches I did while in Singapore in July to attend the USk10x10+ASEAN50 Sketchmeet.

I have many old ties to the Cairnhill Road area. One of these is the house (extreme left) where I got haircuts at a friend’s hair salon in the 1960’s. 

It’s now a restaurant. A raised step on the other side of road was a convenient place to sit to sketch this scene.

Meeting up with old primary CHIJ schoolmates has become a regular feature of my visits to Singapore. The group has steadily grown over the last 10 years as everyone retired and had more time to socialize. Friendships rekindled after so many years take some nurturing so each meeting has taken my relationships with these old friends a little further. I sketched the back of my old school on the way to lunch with some of the old schoolmates. 

The school has now moved to a new location but the original school buildings have been restored and now forms a tourist precinct called CHIJMES. (Read about the history of the school by clicking on the dots on the right side of the web page here).

The former school chapel is now a popular choice for wedding receptions. I caught a couple of weddings the day I was there and sketched (as quickly as I could) one photoshoot. 

Here’s the old school chapel steeple done on another visit using pencils (a bit of a departure for me from my usual pen). I try to visit the old school a couple of times on each of my trips to Singapore as walking the passage ways fills me with nostalgia. Each time I think what if this is my last visit. 

The sketch is all a bit wonky as I was perched on a thin ledge looking up with my sketchbook on my knee. 

The Book Cafe was a quiet out of the way place to indulge in morning tea and do a sketch before visiting the David Hockney exhibition “A Matter of Perspective” at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI). I hadn’t realized that the STPI had been set up by American master printmaker Kenneth Tyler in 2002. He had worked extensively with Hockney in Los Angeles. This morning tea felt like a nice reward for successfully getting around using Uber and the GPS on my phone. 

The STPI is housed in a restored 19th century warehouse along Robertson Quay along the Singapore River. Coming out from the building I was met with the sight of this awesome foot bridge across the river – Alkaff Bridge. It is shaped like a tongkang (the light bumboats used to ferry goods along the river until 1983) and named after a prominent Arabian family of the early 20th century.

What better way to pass the time when caught in a torrential rain storm? Eat and sketch of course. I sketched this selection of Malay cakes (all green ones on this day) and a cup of tea at the Courtyard Cafe, National Gallery. Unfortunately the nearby hands-on exhibit for little kids made it a really noisy sojourn. 

I joined USkSG for one of their regular Saturday sketchmeets and found myself sketching along South Bridge Road in Chinatown. 

The Sri Mariamman Hindu temple dating back to 1829 is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Next to it is the Buddha Tooth Temple and looking the other way, the Jamae Mosque.

A Christian church is not too far away. The multicultural aspect of Singapore is what I like most about the place.

Emerald Hill is one of my favourite areas. It’s a conservation area of Straits Chinese architecture from the turn of the 20th century. Except for a few businesses towards the bottom end, the buildings have mostly been turned into private residences. This red building stands out on the street and is an antique shop. Many an Urban Sketcher has drawn this building.

Here is a rather distinguished pristine white residence. 

#LamyPen, pencils, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8.25ins.