Monday, 19 December 2016

The old Berwick Primary School

Berwick is an outer suburb, 45km from the Melbourne CBD. When the Berwick Primary School relocated in 2003, the building dating back to 1869 was slated for demolition and the surrounding area zoned for shops and car parking. Fortunately the local residents and the National Trust fought to keep the building and the lovely Pioneers Park was constructed next to it. Parts of the original building of the school have been restored and are heritage listed. Presently the building houses the rather nice Primary@Pioneers Park Cafe. There is also a small gift shop situated in one of the original classrooms and is run by the National Trust Society.

Sketched and painted this on a gorgeous warm sunny day while seated on the hard ground beneath a shady tree. (The comfortable park bench close by was being used by children and their doting grandmothers). I'm looking forward to taking my grandkids there when they come to visit.

Here is the front of the school.

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

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Edinburgh Gardens Sketchmeet

Another sketchmeet with Urban Sketchers Melbourne this time at Edinburgh Gardens. What glorious weather! Most of us were focused on the Fitzroy Memorial Rotunda built in 1925. The gardens were established in 1862. 

I stayed on to finish a panorama sketch after a lunch of burger and chips from the very convenient food truck which pulled up. The chips were the best ever! Were they fried in duck fat!?

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

Pencil, watercolour, on #Strathmore400 series Watercolour Journal 7.75”x9.75”

Port Melbourne Sketchmeet

Station Pier in Port Melbourne, Australia, opened in 1854. Today it is Melbourne’s primary passenger terminal for interstate ferries and cruise ships. It was the early landing/departure site for immigrants and troops going to war.

It was during this sketch with Urban Sketchers Melbourne on 24th September that I received the phone call that my latest grandchild had been born after his mother’s 36 hour labour. So much distraction didn't make for a good sketch!

There were lots of things to sketch at Port Melbourne – buildings, cranes, buoys, distant ships, trams, people, restaurants. It was a beautiful sunny day but the strong wind was uncomfortable especially for those sketchers painting on easels.

I (and many others) parked ourselves on part of the pier in a sheltered area. It was a nice experience to be sketching close to other sketchers surrounded with the sounds (and smell) of the sea below us (always mindful of not losing any sketching tools through the gaps between the wooden planks of the pier).

It was a good turn out for the sketchmeet.

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

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Sketching at the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

At $25 per person, guess who *didn't* go for a punt tour on the lake. Here I’m trying out a sketch with no pen work (just some pencil). 

I thought this was some historic cottage…

but it was just a rest area called William Tell Rest House. I rather like this relatively free  method of alternating pencil and watercolour and working out the composition as I go along instead of being literally accurate. 

Here’s the view from where I was sketching from, the little rest house is far away but I made it the focal point. 

View of the pond from the William Tell Rest House side of the lake.

Here's a bit about the punt tours.

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

Sunday, 18 September 2016

More Melbourne Sketches

With all the interesting buildings in Melbourne and the relatively mild winter there’s been no excuse not to sketch whenever we’ve been out.  I carry my trusty Handbook Journal and brown ink pens with me all the time. Here are a few done in the past three weeks. As I'm the photographer, that's always my spouse in the photos (he's recently been introduced to urban sketching, in fact any sort of drawing).

This art deco block of apartments in South Yarra was built in the 1930's. Sketched on a very warm winter’s day.

I particularly like this one of a train as it crosses the Yarra River. (I happen to like trains).

You could say it's a rite of passage for an Urban Sketcher in Melbourne to sketch Flinders Street Station. 43 years ago I caught the train from Box Hill to Flinders Street everyday and then the tram up Swanston St to work. I'll come back another day with my bigger sketch book and paints.

This next building was a challenge to sketch. Opened in 1929 The Forum had the largest seating capacity of any cinema in Australia. 

Presently a venue for film and concerts, sketching it's minarets and Moorish Revival exterior gave me a headache. I took some liberties with spacial placement.

#TombowMarker,  #LamyPen, #HandbookJournal 5.5"x5.5"

Friday, 2 September 2016

Rediscovering Melbourne

Rediscovering Melbourne again after 40 plus years is helping us keep sane while house hunting.

Enjoying the impressive Degas exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne.

Looking down on St. Michael's Uniting Church from Westpac Bank Building. Melbourne.

Victoria House, South Yarra, Melbourne. A building across the street where we stopped for coffee.

The foyer of the Regent Theatre, Melbourne while waiting for the start of an opera performance of "Tannhauser" (with our new Seniors card discounts of course). I can't believe it, we saw a performance of "Tannhauser" in Melbourne 40+ years ago!

#FaberCastellPittPen and #TombowMarker, #HandbookJournal 5.5"x5.5"

Abbotsford Convent Sketchmeet

So nice to finally get to sketch with USKMelbourne! 

This is the most imposing of the 11 historic buildings in the Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne. Formerly the Convent of the Good Shepherd, this ex-monastic site on 16 beautiful acres is now home to several art galleries and cafes. 

My sketch (including colour) was finished on site. I should have taken more time in getting the angles correct because I failed to capture the soaring nature of the building above me. It was a very enjoyable day (and such an interesting location!).

 The sketchmeet finished up at the back of the building for the usual show-and-tell and group photo.

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

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

South Melbourne/St Kilda tram

A piece of Melbourne, Australia in Edmonton, Canada! 

I went on a tram ride on the High Level Line in Edmonton. These tram rides are run during the summer months by the Edmonton Radial Railway Society (ERRS) which owns more than 20 trams from around the world. Lo and behold the tram I rode in was an old South Melbourne/St Kilda tram. (I'm getting to know this line as I presently live along it). This tram (No. 930) was in service in Melbourne until 1997 after which it was  donated to the ERRS. It has been running the High Level Line for the past 10 years (and I never knew this all the time I was living in Edmonton). The High Level Line is a short historic streetcar route along the top of a narrow bridge over the North Saskatchewan River. A rather scenic route.

The tram stops for only 10 mins at Strathcona (it’s pick-up point on the south bank of the river) but I managed to finish this sketch over 3 times it stopped on its journey back and forth.

#FaberCastellPittpens, watercolour, #Stillman&BirnBeta” 8.5x5.5”.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Soft Landing in Melbourne

Snatched this very Aussie scene while finishing a nice sausage roll in a cafe – palm tree, roundabout, blue skies, whispy clouds and cafes. 

Settling back in Melbourne after 30 years away has left little time to post sketches or attend any sketchmeets.

It's nice to be back.

#FaberCastellPittpens, watercolour, #Monologuesketchbook, A6.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Sketching Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore

How could I resist sketching the yellow house at the end of Bukit Pasoh Road, Chinatown, Singapore. It presently seems to house the OSO Ristorante, a well-regarded Italian fine dining establishment.  This sketch was completed at the April sketchmeet of USKSg (which was part of Singapore HeritageFest 2016).

Unfortunately I haven't been able find out anything about this building's history. Bukit Pasoh Road itself is on a small hill which in the 1830's marked the western boundary of early colonial Singapore. "Bukit" means "hill" in Malay and "pasoh" means "flower pot". This was where earthenware pots used to be made. The road and it's vicinity is now a conservation area.

Every sketchers nightmare! This truck driver came and parked right in front and stayed there despite pleas from the sketchers for him to move. Finally after about 15 minutes another person got in and they drove off. Much relief from the sketchers. 

View unobstructed!

The yellow house was a popular choice of sketching venue. 

Here’s a video of the sketch meet, courtesy of Teoh Yi Chie (of

Pen and ink, watercolour,#Stillman&Birn Beta Sketchbook, 5.5x8.5ins. 

Monday, 25 April 2016

Thanksgiving Sutra Chanting Ceremony

There's more to Orchard Rd, Singapore than glitzy shops. The Ngee Ann Kongsi (Ngee Ann clan) organized a thanksgiving and sutra chanting ceremony in a make shift temple at Ngee Ann City Plaza over a recent weekend. 

There were tables of food and artifacts made out of paper which would have been burnt later as offerings. These included paper cigarettes and gambling cards!

I sketched the participants chanting at each station as they went round the ornate tent. It was unbearably hot in the tent, I don't know how they managed in their magnificent long red robes. 

Colours were added at home and I bought a gold marker to add the gold thread on the robes. These are the first sketches in my new Stillman and Birn Beta journal. The paper seems great for watercolour but the small areas of paint in these particular sketches don't put it to the test. 

Pen and ink, watercolour, #Stillman&Birn Beta Sketchbook, 5.5 x 8.5ins. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Chinese Heritage Centre 2016

You can't be a sketcher on campus at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) without sketching the Chinese Heritage Centre. Started in 1995, it is a research centre specialising in the study of overseas Chinese. Although the front of the building is the more interesting, I captured the back only because I could sketch it from the comfort of the newly opened Gong Cha tea and cake cafe. A small lychee and Alishan tea with Aiyu jelly will set you back $5.50! It was worth it.

Pen and ink, watercolour, #HandbookJournal (watercolour) 5.25”x8.25”.

Humanities and Social Sciences Building

This is the approach to the Humanities and Social Sciences Building (HSS) on the Nanyang Technological University campus where J has his office. It's a 5 min walk from where we live. Talk about an easy commute! I found this a rather difficult sketch to colour in as almost everything is GREEN! This second attempt isn't too bad.

Pen and ink, watercolour, #HandbookJournal (watercolour) 5.25”x8.25”.