Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finished and Klaar!

A watercolour doodle I did some time ago (have I posted it before?) which kind of describes how I'm feeling - ie the woozy man, not the jaunty girl - after a marathon two months or more of drawingdrawingdrawing and for the last two weeks, colouringcolouringcolouring on the computer. Below is a collage of just a few of the line drawings for the health manual I've been working on, which were preceded by copious pencil sketches which were submitted for comments and many changes. They had to be very clear and explicit, with each tiny face bearing a tiny expression and every little figure representing an ethnic group, with a hairstyle, a set of clothes and usually an ailment or health issue. So many decisions to make, so many reference pics to look up... but, I'm done! Holding thumbs and crossing toes as it goes into meetings and gets discussed ad infinitum, that it won't come back with more changes. Ah well, there are worse ways to make a living.
One great thing I've discovered during this long stretch are Podcasts. They made hours and hours of sitting, eyestrain and shoulder-burn (I did get up to stretch and fetch too many snacks) positively uplifting. Some of my favourite listening sites: On Being , Savvy Painter,  Melvyn Bragg on BBC... there are so many more, I could sit here for ever and never get through them, but very happy to have found them when I did.

Not sure what to do with myself now - I will I hope, get back soon to painting and sketching, of the loose & spontaneous variety, but for the the moment I'm just pottering.

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Deep Purple Breather

I'm still up to my ears in my big illustration job and will be for at least the next three weeks - hundreds of little scenarios showing public health problems and how to deal with them, involving many confusing briefs, sketches, instructions and changes to all of the above... I'm through the pencil rough stage and busy with line drawings, next is colouring them all up in Photopaint....ooh my burning neck!

But I have got out now and then for a breath of air and some happy sloshing around with paint. It's jacaranda season (almost over already) so I just had to join sketcher friends in one of the purple shrouded avenues that grid the city and try once again to capture their glow. This one was actually sold after its appearance on our Joburg Sketchers page (thank you Peggy, if you read this!) I'll tell you soon about another lovely painting weekend, but it'll need a bit of work to show and tell... in the meantime, back to the drawing board.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Old Post Office

Sketches from a few weeks ago when I went to an art exhibition in an old building that used to house Johannesburg's Post Office processing site. Enormous sorting sheds where trains and buses would offload piles of mail, buildings that used to be stables for the P.O. horses, strange machines whose purpose is a mystery (to me anyway). This all hidden behind walls that I've driven past so many times and vaguely wondered if there was anything interesting behind them. We went back to draw before it's all changed - the City Library still uses some of the premises for storage but loft apartments are in the planning stage for others.

In the meantime, Summer has arrived! Gardens are buzzing, jacarandas are in their full purple magnificence, birds and frogs are calling and swimming pools are sparkling in an early heat wave. Why is it that enormous mountains of work - absent and leaving me twiddling my thumbs all through the winter months, when sitting in a sunspot and ploughing through it would be an appealing alternative to sitting on icy windswept pavements - suddenly arrives in truckloads, just when all my urges are telling me to go outside and paint, sketch, experience. Moan, moan, moan and I shouldn't when work is often hard to come by, but really...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Heritage Day

 It was Heritage Day on the 24th September, when South Africans celebrate their very many different histories, traditions and cultural backgrounds. With my English, Scottish and Swedish ancestry long jumbled up in the past, I would have quite liked to potter around in the garden at home with a good old South African braai to finish off the holiday - but a sketchcrawl had been called, so off I went to the Constitution Hill venue, expecting to draw some of the buildings as I did nearly three years ago.
Well, it was a very busy place, with a 'Light the Way' event planned to coincide with the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York just getting into gear. I had started sketching one of the stair towers housing the 'Flame of Democracy', of the old awaiting-trial blocks which have been preserved as a reminder of the Concourt's grim past - but when some very loud thudding music and dancers started getting into action in the square, I turned my attention to them. (perhaps that distraction was why I put the leaning fellow's hand on the tree in the foreground :-o)
After some frantic drawing, eventually there were too many people blocking my view, with quite a crowd gathered around watching every move of my pen I decided it was time to escape the heat and noise and return to my corner of suburbia, and a relaxed braai with my family.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trees in the City

On a gorgeous Spring morning last Friday, a few sketcher friends and I met in Braamfontein to record a 'Parking Day' event where artists and activists were supposed to take over parking bays and transform them. It had been cancelled at the last minute and not an activist was to be found. Lots of cars in the parking bays, students to and from nearby Wits University, some vigilant security guards steering a few beggars away from the streets and cafés - I decided to try and draw the row of public art tree sculptures that runs all the way up Juta St, but all these things got in the way. I added the colours so you can spot them among the other activity!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lunar Ladies

My daughter is the designer for Lunar clothing store in a shopping centre not too far from where I live. Behind the scenes of the elegant, uncluttered showroom is a hive of activity where these seamstresses cut, measure, pin and whirr away on their machines to bring the designs into being.
I popped in a few weeks ago with the problem of an urgent hem for a 60th birthday party (mine!!) to be taken up and no working sewing machine to do it myself - quickly and efficiently taken care of by the ladies - but not before I had the chance to tuck myself in between rolls of fabric and hanging garments and sketch them hard at work.

Apologies once again for being so scarce... turning this large sounding age was one thing I've been getting my head around, along with some wonderful surprises that came along with it (my sister who was supposed to be at home in Texas popping up at my birthday party!) - and other projects, pleasures and possibilities have been claiming my limited attention, time and concentration. Drawing (apart from a big illustration job that arrived in the middle of this flurry of activity) and painting have taken a back seat, but things are quietening down and I think I'm feeling that urge to put pen and brush to paper again!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Three days at the Mall

 I spent three days last week actually being paid to sketch - on a chalkboard - for a promotion in Sandton City shopping centre. I had to draw background themes for people to come and sit in front of and have their photos taken so it would look as if they had, for example, angel wings or a chef's hat grasping a wooden spoon and cake, or blowing seeds from a chalk dandelion. It was really effective and fun when people took part, though most in the centre were rushing to get where they were going or too shy, so we didn't get as many takers as I was expecting.
In the long waits between customers I sketched anyone who hung around for a few minutes - it's a long time since I've done such a lot of people watching and sketching, I think the practice did me good. Read the script if you want to know more :-)