Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Thursday Morning in Bertrams




The sketchers group has been getting a lot of invitations lately - as Joburg warms up (and then some!) and events are planned before the rush for the coast in December.

One was to sketch some Street Theatre in the little, poverty stricken suburb of Bertrams just south of the city. We decided to go to a rehearsal on a Thursday morning, but sadly it had been rescheduled without our knowledge - so we found ourselves banging on an unresponsive corrugated iron gate in an famously lawless area. We recklessly decided to unfold our chairs on a corner and start drawing in spite of warnings by concerned individuals to keep our car doors locked etc etc.

As is usually the case when we venture out into Joburg's vastly varied streets, we soon felt part of the furniture as locals passed us by, some stopping to look and chat about drawing, some taking no notice; a father ushering his two sweet little boys to say hello to the gogos (grandmothers); an undoubted illicit exchange between a young chap and a passing mini-bus taxi driver; a woman coming to tell us her story of being kicked out of the nearby home for vulnerable people and being taken in by her kind friend, who came to join the conversation; men changing their car oil and pouring the old stuff into the empty plot next to us (ulp! - sometimes you have to just keep your mouth shut!) Only one very interested look into my sketching bag...luckily he wasn't interested in pens and paint. In the distance a corner café was bustling with activity, the peeling bark of the plane trees leading to it reflecting the surfaces of the decaying but still beautiful buildings.

It felt like street theatre in a way, even without the actors.

[And hooray, my blog list is back!]

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Medieval Fayre




Gosh! Experimenting with scrolling through a long image and astonished to find it seems to be working (please let me know if it's not, for you - doesn't work on my phone). ...The scrolling image has also disappeared from my view, so reverting to separate images of my long long concertina format.
This was from an event Joburg Sketchers were invited to, the Neigh-Bours Medieval Country Fayre, at Inanda Country Base way up north in horse country. I used a long sheet of paper folded into a concertina format and started at one end and sketched through to the other. It gives an idea of the wide expanse of very dry Highveld end-of-winter landscape, although the day itself was baking hot and we sought out every bit of shade we could find.I found one solid spot and stayed put, which was fine as the parade passed by without me having to move too much.

Well, I hope I can do that again if I have to, it involves html codes and posting your long image on Flickr (or some other cloud) first. I might try and make it bigger...

Still no Blog List reappeared.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Playing with Inks

Urban Sketchers Johannesburg (yes, we're now an official chapter!) was invited by Assemblage, a local visual arts community organisation to join a challenge to use only Lamy products to produce artworks or in our case, sketches. Lamy provided a range of their pens and inks to share among the participating artists. I have my own much-used Lamy safari pen plus a spare for just-in-case, so filled those and took a few extra colour cartridges...a cool pinky red, a viridian-ish green, another luminous yellow-green, purple, and a few drops of a dark prussian blue and turquoise in containers.

A shed at 1Fox - old industrial warehouses now restaurants, bars and event spaces... note the chandelier!
Most of my sketches ended up looking purply-green and I discovered that the luminous green was the only warm shade I had, and mixed with the pink had to serve to make skin tones and browns. With a high pigment load the intensity of the inks is amazing though, a little went a very long way.



Sketching friend Leonora and I sat on a busy street corner in the city and I sketched the traders. The guy selling cosmetics, combs and sundries in the "two Rand shop" never let up his call for a minute of "pondopondotworandi", interspersed every now and then by his neighbour yelling "Walalawasaba" which, I believe, means "you snooze, you lose!"


The same corner, slightly different experiment with the pens and ink. I tried swapping cartridges in the pens to see if they would show a progression from, say, green to purple, but as the pigments are so powerful, I would've had to put in a few km's of line to show the complete changeover.
Dismal attempt at the lovely old building on the opposite corner... need some architectural drawing workshops!
My Blog List has disappeared from my sidebar... I have no idea how - I reported it to Blogger Help and someone(?) said they were aware of the problem but so far nothing has been restored. Anyone else had this happen?

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.