Saturday, 17 June 2017

Tooradin, Victoria

We like to visit the small out-of-the-way places and the unassuming township of Tooradin proved an unexpectedly peaceful and interesting place. Situated on Western Port Bay, 60 km south east of Melbourne city it has a tiny beach, mud flats, remnants of an old pier, myriads of soldier crabs and birdlife. 

The region hosts the largest area of White Mangrove south of the tropics. 

Top that off with the picturesque Old Jetty Cafe, which served very nice snacks. 

It’s only a 15 minute drive south, off the main Princes Highway, although we managed to take a wrong turn getting back and ended up in traffic crawling through sprawling new housing estates to the north of Tooradin. An ugly aspect of Melbourne’s growth.

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

Friday, 16 June 2017

Off to see Van Gogh

A trip to the city to see the Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria – stories on the train and lunch outside the gallery on a warm winter day.

An uplifting day for sure!

#TombowMarker, #HandbookJournal 5.5"x5.5"

State Library of Victoria Sketchmeet

Sketching the State Library of Victoria on a cold winter morning.  It was good to join a sketchmeet with Urban Sketchers Melbourne after several months. 

Only a small group on this cold Sunday morning but it turned out gloriously sunny and we were able to sketch outdoors.

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

Fiesta Malaysia, Melbourne, 2017

Pity we were rained out at the Fiesta Malaysia event but not before our friends in the Peranakan Association got to do their song and dance and we got to enjoy some satay and roti chanai from the numerous food stalls. I put a grey wash over the whole sketch after I got home. It helped depict the gloomy wet day.

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

Waiting Room Sketch

People in the waiting room at the Casey Hospital, Victoria when I had to go for a scan of my sinuses. Sketching sure helps to pass any long wait.

#TombowMarker, #HandbookJournal 5.5"x5.5"

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Emerald Lake Park

Sketched this while flocks of noisy cockatoos were circling overhead. Emerald Lake Park, Victoria, is a really beautiful spot and made us feel better about having to pay $6 to park in an empty carpark on a Thursday. 

The Lakeside station of the famous Puffing Billy steam train is adjacent to the lake.

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

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Out Gippsland Way

We made the most of the wonderful autumn weather with a drive out Gippsland way (that's the area east of Melbourne city). 

A stop for morning tea and sketch in a park opposite the Railway Hotel in the township of Warragul. I was expecting more of this service centre for agriculture and dairy farming but it was rather drab and run down.

Further east, a stop for lunch at the cafe strip in the tiny town of Yarragon. Someone here had some foresight to make this strip so pretty with gift shops, cafes and a rather nice art gallery. 

At Yarragon there is a little art store called Tritec Art Supplies. I was struck by their range of hand bound leather journals (SS brand. I think only for dry media). So tempting but I didn't buy any.

Sketching in the car was hard. Just toooo bumpy...but maybe I kinda like the sketches.

#TombowMarker, #HandbookJournal 5.5"x5.5"

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The High Street in Berwick

Sketching at the High Street, Berwick. A nice way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon before the storm clouds set in. 

Berwick is a suburb 41 km south east of the Melbourne CBD. It was named by an early leaseholder after Berwick-on-Tweed in England. Dating back to the 1850s the oldest part of Berwick (called Olde Berwick) around the High Street shopping area still has an appealing English country village feel. 

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

The Berwick Inn

The Berwick Inn Hotel was established in 1857. It was an important meeting place and major staging post en route to the gold fields of Gippsland to the east. I had a hard time with this sketch as I was standing close to the roadway, the wind came up and my sketch got wonky.

This was a more comfortable sketch as after standing to do the initial rough layout I could sit on a park bench. Colour was added at home as the wind got too uncomfortable.

Addition of a map of Australia to show the location of Gippsland.

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

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Sketching at The Berwick Show

We spent an enjoyable day at the Berwick Show (Victoria, Australia). This is an annual agricultural and horticultural show well known for it's large cattle exhibit.

Sketching sheep judging offered a lot of opportunities for practicing fast sketches. At times I was sketching "blind" ie. not looking down at my sketchbook. I found that first drawing a foot of the person and then working upwards from this anchor seemed to work well even though this is not a comfortable sequence.

This reluctant jiggling sheep won the top prize. 

Belly-up for the judge to have a look see.

I didn't know they sheared goats! 

#LamyPen, #DeArtramentis Document Brown Ink, #HandbookJournal 5.5"x5.5"

Narre Warren Equestrian Trail Fail!

Urban Sketchers are about telling a story, not just about producing pretty pictures. 

It was such a disappointment to come across this equestrian trail in Narre Warren, Victoria, Australia only to find the commanding view marred by power lines! 

This area used to be a basalt mine but between 1983 and 1996 became the Narre Warren landfill. I guess it's some consolation that the gas is being used to generate electricity which is fed back to the grid.

The area was dotted with production wells collecting landfill gas. What an eyesore!

#LamyPen, watercolour, #Stillman&Birn Beta Sketchbook, 5.5x8.5ins. 

The Old Cheese Factory

This beautiful spot was in the 1860s the site of the Springfield Homestead, Cheese Factory and Kitchen Wash House. The buildings surrounded by lovely gardens are now a popular venue for weddings, social functions, community group meetings and a monthly farmers’ market. On weekends the Homestead Cafe is open and serves wonderful Devonshire Teas (nothing can beat scones baked on the premises). 

I started putting in colour with watercolour pencils but changed my mind and decided to wait till I got home to use my watercolours.

Not sure I made the right choice. The homestead has disappeared in the busyness of the surroundings. This is a recurring problem of mine, I should have decided on what my focus was to be and left what was unimportant uncoloured. 

#LamyPen, watercolour, #Stillman&Birn Beta Sketchbook, 5.5x8.5ins.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Should We Change the Date of Australia Day?

The 26th of January is Australia Day. It’s a public holiday and community celebrations are held all over the country. The lively celebrations for Casey County (on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia) were held in Pioneer's Park, Berwick. 

It was well attended with the crowds enjoying musical performances, wood chopping, wood sawing, a miniature train, horse and carriage rides, displays by emergency and fire services and the usual sausage sizzle (among other food stalls).

Celebrations on this day were accompanied by many protest marches across the country. Should the date of Australia Day be changed? I for one think so…but I’ll leave the discussion to another post. 

#LamyPen, watercolour pencils, #Stillman&Birn Beta Sketchbook, 5.5x8.5ins. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Wedding Weekend on Scotland Island, Australia

My son got married recently. The wedding took place on Scotland Island which is a tiny island in a beautiful estuary called Pittwater just north of Sydney, Australia. 

As access to the island is only by ferry, the small wedding party met at Church Point (an hour’s drive north of Sydney) to make the ferry crossing together. After the crowds and traffic of the city, this area was wonderfully quiet and peaceful. With no restaurants, shops or public facilities, Scotland Island is not a tourist destination. It is an island of mainly bushland with holiday homes (many of which are also Airbnbs). There are 4 ferry stops around the island and our destination was the second stop – Eastern Wharf. The 15 minute ride was almost too short. 

Here is a sketch done at Church Point ferry stop while waiting for our ferry to arrive.

Only 1 kilometer in diameter, geologically Scotland Island was a hill in a valley. When sea levels rose after the last ice age, water flooded the valley forming Pittwater and creating an island.

The families of the bride and groom had not met in person before this wedding and the group spent the long weekend sharing a house on the island. On the first morning we were awakened (too early) by a brilliant sunrise, shining water and the roar of speed boats leaving the many piers. Even the kookaburras laughed at our rude awakening. What a wonderful way to start the day!

Here are a couple of sketches of the many piers around the house we stayed at.

The chef hired to prepare the wedding dinner did not disappoint. He arrived with an assistant, all his ingredients and cooked the meal on site for 16 guests. It must take a lot of confidence to produce a meal for so many in an unfamiliar kitchen.

Here's what we had for dinner!

I chose not to sketch during the wedding ceremony but here is a sketch of a quiet corner in the wonderful house we stayed at. 

The new extended family brought together people from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. A beautiful wedding, stunning location, great house and a bonding of interesting people. It was such a happy and memorable few days!

I usually sketch in a sketchbook but these weekend sketches were done on pre-cut similar sized pieces of watercolour paper. I’m pleased to say my gift to the bridal couple of 9 sketches went down well.

A short version of this post was accepted as a guest post on the main Urban Sketchers website. See here

#FaberCastellPittPen, watercolour.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Trips to Sydney

Gosh, made 2 trips to Sydney recently - one at Christmas and again for our son’s wedding. Sketching time was limited but here are a couple of sketches done between family commitments.

Sketching at Circular Quay while waiting for the grandkids.

Looking down George Street. 

#FaberCastellPittPen, watercolour, #Stillman&Birn Beta Sketchbook, 5.5x8.5ins.