Thursday, 28 December 2017

MelbourneUSk Final Meet 2017

Melbourne Urban Sketchers had a successful full day event on the 9th of December in the Fitzroy Gardens area. 

On the way there on the train I got unexpectedly bussed from Dandenong to Caulfield Stations due to a train line disruption but it was a smooth express ride on the freeway so luckily no time was lost. 

The group met at Burston Reserve in the city at 9.30am where we picked up our goodie bags of art materials (courtesy of Senior Art Supplies for this special sketchmeet), our pre-ordered Melbourne Urban Sketchers T-shirts and handmade folding journals (made expertly by volunteer members of the group). 

I decided to use the new folding journal. 

There was lots to sketch around Burston Reserve like the Great Petition sculpture. It was unveiled in 2008 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in the state of Victoria. The scroll-like sculpture was fun to draw with many sketchers seated inside the scrolls.

 St Paul's Cathedral was visible from my comfy seat among the palm trees. The cathedral is very impressive from its front but I was too lazy to walk over to the front so I settled for a view of the back

At the end of the morning there was the usual sharing of sketches. It's always amazing to see the range of different interpretations...followed by the always fun group photo. 

Kere Kere Cafe in the adjacent Fitzroy Gardens was the lunch venue and the eager group was then treated to a speedy 45 minute watercolour demonstration by MelbUSk member Jay Parappil. 

Much inspired, I spent the rest of the lazy afternoon sketching Captain Cook's Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens. 

The cottage was originally built in 1755 in Yorkshire, England, by the parents of Captain James Cook. (James Cook was the English explorer who made the first recorded European exploration of the Eastern coast of Australia in 1770). The cottage was dismantled, each brick numbered, shipped to Australia in 1934 and reassembled at the present site. It is a popular tourist attraction.

The perfect day ended with much laughter over the excellent lucky draw prizes, sharing of sketches and final group photo (unfortunately I didn't win anything). A couple of Captain Cook's Cottage guides dressed in their 18th century costumes were thrilled to recognize themselves in some sketches and stayed to have their photo taken with the group.

I made some new friends among the 40 sketchers at this meet and look forward to more sketchmeets in 2018.

Group photos courtesy of Melbourne USk.

Marker pen, #Moleskinesketchbook 3.5”x5.5”. Marker pens and watercolour on handmade folded journal.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A talk and sketch at Monash University

I attended a stimulating talk at Monash University, Melbourne on Singapore being no longer a multilingual society. When I was growing up in Singapore, everyone spoke 4 or 5 languages (to varying competence). Now with English taught as the main language in all schools and the Government directed promotion of Mandarin at the expense of other Chinese dialects, the society has become bilingual – English and one other language (Mandarin, Malay or Tamil). Much can be said about this situation...

It was nice and cool in the shade of some trees outside the Robert Menzies building after the talk. Monash University is unrecognisable from what it was in the 1970s when I was a student there.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Old Berwick Post Office

I discovered a seat conveniently in front of the Old Post Office in Berwick, Victoria, so how could I pass up the opportunity to sketch this old building. (I didn’t have my paints with me so I added the colours after I got home). 

This historical landmark with what was the court house next door (and postmaster's residence behind) was built in 1884 and is one of a number of 19th century buildings preserved in Berwick’s High Street area.

#LamyPen, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8” 

Sunday, 12 November 2017


On Saturday 11th November 2017, Urban Sketcher (USk) chapters from around the globe held sketchwalks in their cities to celebrate 10 years of Urban Sketchers. (There are more than 200 official chapters). Using GMT time, photos from each chapter were uploaded in turn at designated times to the USk Instagram account starting with the first chapter to see daylight (Auckland, New Zealand) to the last chapter to see the sunset (O’ahu, USA). The hashtag was #USkglobal24hrsketchwalk. 

I sketched on the train going to the Melbourne Urban Sketchers sketchwalk for the #USkglobal24hrsketchwalk. 

I only attended the morning session held at the Block Arcade in the Melbourne CBD (the afternoon session was held at Flinders Street Station). 

The Block Arcade, Melbourne. 

One of Melbourne’s most richly decorated interior spaces, it was erected in 1892, the design inspired by an arcade in Milan. There was a poignant start to the sketchwalk when the whole CBD observed a minute’s silence at 11am for Remembrance Day.

A rather daunting scene but here is my sketch, drawn and painted in an hour, a rush job as I was expecting to be pounced upon by the manager of the arcade who was going around telling us sketchers to leave. 

Management later changed their minds, welcomed our presence and said we should come more often! The sketch group got a lot of attention from shoppers.

An unexpected bonus was entertainment by opera singer Sarah Lobegeiger. She caused a painting in a shop to fall and smash when she hit a high note!

I was chuffed that she shared my sketch on her Facebook page!

And here's the group photo (courtesy of Melbourne Urban Sketchers). 

How exciting to have been part of this USk event!

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8” 

Berwick Artists' Society

Sketching the scene and people there was a good way to remember who I met at my first weekly meeting of the Berwick Artists' Society. It was held outdoors due to a power failure in the meeting room but what a nice day to be outside! Old Cheese Factory grounds, Berwick, Melbourne.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8” 

Sketching at the Doctor's

It was a long wait to see the doctor but what better opportunity to sketch people.

Marker pens, #Moleskinesketchbook 3.5”x5.5”

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Pelikan Societe, Hastings

Lunch at the coastal town of Hastings (on the western arm of Western Port Bay east of Melbourne, Australia). Pity it was too cold and blustery to be outside. The town has many marinas but was unexciting to say the least (it won the Victorian Tidy Town Award in 2004!). This restaurant as we discovered was a gem. (Obviously many people already knew that).

Some white mangrove near the shore. They are common in around Western Port Bay.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”.

Dundas Street, Dunedin

This is perhaps my favourite sketch from our Dunedin, New Zealand trip. I found a spot to sit on some steps by the pavilion on North Ground field on our last (and only warm sunny) day. I was facing part of Dundas Street, looking at a row of new and heritage houses and a church – the former Dundas St Methodist Church and Sunday School. I see it is listed on the Heritage New Zealand website under Lost Heritage. I loved the bare trees and the hill behind.

It was beginning to cloud over when I left.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”

Sketching Dunedin Architecture

I really liked Dunedin...except I’m told it’s dark and cold all year round. The distinctive 19th and early 20th century architecture has been preserved giving the town a special charm. Old buildings have been re-purposed for new uses. Built in stone or brick, these buildings were built to last by the early Scottish founders. 

Here's a sketch at the University of Otago. The brickwork pattern was dizzying to draw until I got to understand it. 

Here's the former police station, viewed through the window of the very interesting Toitu Otago Settlers Museum cafe. The vegetable muffin I had for lunch wasn't bad either.

I wish I'd had more time and the weather better. Here's a building on the University of Otago campus. 

The former railway station now houses art galleries. 

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”.

Madam Woo Dunedin

On our recent trip to Dunedin we had dinner at the famed Madam Woo restaurant. We had an excellent Malaysian hawker food inspired meal but it was expensive. 

Some of our dishes were authentic (as I know them from Singapore/Malaysia) and others were interesting fusion food. I would go there again!

Madam Woo Dunedin is one of five in the country founded by Michelin-star chef Josh Emmett. Coincidentally the Air New Zealand magazine on our flight home featured an article about him taking his staff on a culinary tour of Penang, Malaysia. How neat is that!

#TombowMarker, #Moleskinesketchbook 3.5”x5.5”

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Dunedin Museum Sketches

It was cold and a bit rainy during the 3 days I spent in Dunedin, New Zealand recently but I got some enjoyable sketching time at a couple of museums there. 

At the Otago Museum. For this sketch I tried something new and prepared the coloured  background for the page before going to the museum.

The mechanical Dimetrodon (it was an exhibition of dinosaurs from the Permian age). I got tired of it roaring every time someone walked past.

Here an old trolley car and a ceremonial Maori kite at the very informative Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. 

My visit was made all the more meaningful knowing that my son-in-law’s late mother (whom I sadly never got to meet) was once the director of the institution.

Marker pens, watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8”.25”.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Planes and More Planes

I did some sketching of planes on a recent trip to New Zealand. 

At Melbourne Airport

And Dunedin Airport on the way home via Christchurch and Auckland. That's cows in the paddock. The tiny Air New Zealand plane arrived for me to sketch just 7 minutes before I had to leave!

Good thing our flight was not disrupted due to the fuel crisis at Auckland Airport and we got home as planned. (Damage to the pipeline bringing fuel to Auckland Airport was the cause of the disruptions which lasted several days).

Marker pens, #Moleskinesketchbook 3.5”x5.5”

Sunday, 3 September 2017

San Remo

Armed with my sketchbook and paints we took a drive to San Remo, Victoria, Australia. The beach away from the touristy cafe area was just beautiful but the wind was freezing! No wonder it was so cold, we were after all close to the southern most tip of the mainland of Australia. I only managed a quick gestural setup with pencil and painted it at home from a photo reference.

Looking across to Philip Island and beyond to Bass Strait. 

A bit of history.

The San Remo Jetty.

Pelikan feeding takes place every day at noon (at the fish and chip restaurant by the jetty). Beware the tourist prices if you eat there, 2 pieces of fish (Gummy Flake) and one serve of chips will set you back almost $20. It was a good lunch I'm pleased to say.

The gulls were feeling rather left out.

Watercolour, #MoleskineWatercolourAlbum, 5x8.25ins.