Sketching From Above.

Image 6 Tuesday Class. October 28 2014. Hello, ‘It’s Christy here’, and we have an exciting class mapped out today for our 4th week into this term. We will be heading out on location a little earlier than usual, and so we start with a fast exercise in the studio. Image 2 Everyone arrives pronto, and we observe what appears to be ‘tall boxes’ in the middle of the room. Yes, indeed, can’t you see they’re actually ‘a birds eye view of rooftops in Italy or Paris?’ With a little added imagination that is. We are observing sketching from this perspective to give you observation skills when you’re travel sketching, and have a lofty rooftop view of a city, or looking down on a small country village from your hilltop. Or simply sipping tea from your balcony and feel like sketching the neighbours backyard. You get the idea. Image 3 We quickly sketch the ‘tall boxes’ exercise and add tonal values in one colour. This has been great for everyone to observe what’s in front of them, and additionally tackle perspective in their sketches. Image 5 We cheerfully head out to Darley Road where we hope to sketch the ‘real life’ of what we’ve just done in the studio. Rooftops. Some prefer to take the long walk there, and others car-pool, but we all get there rather quickly actually, and find the perfect sketching view perched up at the top of Darley road. Gorgeous compositions come to life, and we focus on the church steeple in the distance, as an indicator for our ‘vanishing point’. Image 7 Toni and I encourage everyone to do their colour on location this time, and with wonderful results, a few of the class are using watercolours for the first time. We take them through the initial approach and are delighted with everyone’s progress today. Image 8 Before long it’s time to head to the cafe. We don’t have far to walk, it’s an amble down the hill to the ‘Roast Office’ cafe, and are all seated at a lovely large wooden table in this wonderfully quirky cafe. It’s one of my favourites. Their healthy food selections are a refreshing take on ‘groovy’ and I always come away feeling decidedly uplifted.   Image 4 Our class today have forged through with several sketches depicting a truly wonderful time out together in each others company. It’s always a pleasure and I look forward to next week. Good job everyone. ………………………………………………………………………………………………… Thursday Class. October 30 2014 IMG_0439 Thursday Class. October 30 2014 Oh how tiresome. Another magnificent  day. However do we cope with all this gloriousness. But somehow we do and everyone arrives happy and keen to understand what the box arrangement you are circling on the Studio floor is about. You are imagining looking over many tall red roofed homes from above. You could be in Paris or Tuscany and seeing how all the shapes below you interlock. You are looking for 3 tones only today. Where’s the lightest side, the darkest side and the mid tone side. Image 13When we go out on location to upper Darley Road you will see the relationship. You’ll have noticed that the green trees in the foreground are the brightest. They are closer to you so stronger in colour. Squint your eyes and you’ll see the softer effect of the middle distance with its bell tower and red tiled roofs surrounded by dark smokey greens. The background has distant hills which are even more smudgy. This is what you’ve been working up to. Finding the different tones in your subject. Everyone today showed how much they’d learned from their warmup sketch. IMG_0455 If someone mentions coffee (oops I think it’s usually me!) then the thought of it always entices us away from our total absorption in sketching and we head down the hill  – today to The Roast Office. The big table is ours as we take our places and get coffee ordered. Out come the sketch books and Karen and I give any help we can to making sure we are clearly seeing front, middle stance and horizon in every sketch. Image 11 Leaving that white round your top edges here is crucial to getting that distinction. It may be a sketch with quick colour but these observations make it work. Looking at today’s lineup of sketchbooks shows you’ve learned well. Image 12 …………………………………………………………………………………………………… Friday Class. October 31 2014 Image 18 Friday Class. October 31 ’14 Another day to have our students scratching their heads. Oh no the tables have disappeared again and in their place is a collection of cardboard boxes of different heights and widths. OK we know what’s going on here, it’s that “going away” thing, how on earth are we going to get those angles right? It’s like a geometry class. No we won’t be challenged by this, the floor tiles are helping us to see the angles. Not even by the black hairy spider perched on top. Oh that’s right, he’s waiting for Halloween. Image 20 The interesting thing is that we are looking down on the boxes from the chairs so the view is rather like that of looking down on buildings from above (there’s a clue here as to what we will draw on location today). I was amazed at how everyone threw themselves into this exercise even if it didn’t feel as comfortable as some might like. But how can we draw buildings if we can’t work this one out? Yes, the results speak for themselves. After a couple of warm-up sketches, those angles didn’t feel as daunting after all and we could start to see where they should be. Fantastic work everyone! Image 5 Our location today was rather special high on a hill (with a lonely goatherd) overlooking Manly. It was like The Sound of Music for us! It was a little far to walk from the studio so we car-pooled and drove up Darley St next to St Paul’s School where the vista opens up and the rooftops of Manly are bordered by green trees. Image 2 It almost looks like Italy from here with the red rooftops and church tower in the foreground. Many took shade under the trees to sketch as Summer is well on its way and some folk disappeared round the corner to the carpark of a unit block to sketch a different view. It was important to note the colours in the distance fade when compared with the foreground. When you analyse the trees far away you realise they are not green as our brain is telling us but more of a blue colour or hints of purple. “Ah ha” said a few when I pointed this out. IMG_0466 “There’s a cow round the corner” said a couple. “What? Here in Manly? Quick everyone go and sketch a live animal” I said, after all we rarely get a chance to do that in this location. I had a bit of a laugh when I got to see the cow, it was a life-size model done by the students – not to worry, it was still animal shaped! IMG_0464 We then went down the hill to The Roast Office which used to be a Post Office. Another place with quirky decor, rather good coffee and unusual tables hanging off ropes. Lunch was very yummy with fresh ingredients and we had plenty of room to work on our sketches of the view as it had been a bit hot to finish off the painting in the sun for many folk. Really some lovely work from today, I was so thrilled. Well done everyone. IMG_0465 …………………………………………………………………………………………………… Saturday Class. November 1 ’14 IMG_0486 Saturday Class. November 1 ’14 I can feel the heat as soon as I wake. Even a slight smokey smell – as in bush fires. It’s 33 degrees celsius as I walk slowly to the Studio with the aroma of star jasmine and gardenia heavy in the air. Luckily the Studio is cooler so that we are comfortable as we contemplate the brain exercise before us. Image 21 Each one takes a seat and we discuss how the boxes – I mean tall houses – are going away from you in two directions only. Once you get that it’s easier to see where to put your lines. We are above eye level here so no need to look for that. Karen and I were really impressed with how well everyone understood the concept. For colour it’s only 3 tones again. White on top, dark on one side and mid tone on the other. You can only see 3 sides so that’s all you need. Image 25 It was car-pooling again as we decided who would go with who to get to our location. Better to drive when it’s up a hill and mighty hot to boot. For most there was some shade and a slight breeze – hot wind might be more accurate! But nobody in sketching classes ever complains about weather as we are on a mission. You can only sketch and nothing else matters.


Here as we look over the vista we talk about giving the foreground trees more emphasis with colour, then you have something to compare the softer middle distance colours to. Which means you’ll then know how much lighter the distant hills need to be. Image 24 Time to get out of the heat and down to The Roast Office for refreshments. It was very nice to sit down and order something tasty and it wasn’t roasting inside either. I’m very fond of their little spinach feta and quinoa muffins. Along with a good coffee we feel our strength returning. Once again our today’s sketchers have succeeded in their mission. To show the 3 differing tones in your sketch from front to back. Excellent work everybody. We can take you anywhere! Oh and as I publish this, we have thunder and lightening, black clouds and a storm, followed by sunshine again! ©ErinHillStudioChristyPowellJudySallehNov’14.

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