Finding my feet

I spend a lot of my time using Public Transport and Shank's Pony* to get places these days. It occurred to me as I was walking up Carlton Gore Road, past the off-ramp I have used so many times in my car, that I've never seen this part of town - really seen it. 

Sure, I've zoomed past, radio blaring, probably late to where I'm going, and never noticed the short, dead-end streets full of white villas; or the plywood fences going up to hide construction of new apartment buildings; or renovations that are happening along this road and so many others. I could go my whole life and never have known these things; and even now that I know these things, they don't have a massive impact on my life. Really. Yet.

I bus; I walk; I train; I ferry and yes, I miss my car but now my broken internal-GPS is reprogrammed enough that I can get to places I intend to, I'm properly mobile again. And I suppose what I'm really seeing is the benefit of ground level views of this environment I live in - or at least the potential of that.

The Big Draw

This past weekend was the last Saturday of the month so that means Eric and Steeven and Diane rally the troops for an afternoon of drawing and I then steal their photos and blog about it :)

Saturday was cold and I was late getting away. By the time I arrived at the Cafe on Benedicts Lane everyone else had been drawing for an hour. I was so hungry and cold that by the time I'd had a coffee and a muffin, I only had an hour or so to draw.

For ages now my go-to drawing implement has been an ink pen. Today I decided to go old-school and grabbed a pencil because my subject-matter, the cafe service area, meant I needed to stand on the stairs for my view. 

 Photos from the Big Draw at Benediction Cafe, Newton, Auckland.

Photos from the Big Draw at Benediction Cafe, Newton, Auckland.

By the time the troops were regathering to share our work, my pencil outlines were done. I was pretty pleased with my drawing; I'd looked really hard and drawn what I had seen not what I had thought I'd seen (a trap for young players) so the scene had come together well. 

It was not a "pencil drawing" but a foundation for ink and paint. I started to ink in the cafe but the enjoyable administrative duties of the day (check out the other great work, have my photo taken with the other participants, chat and all that kind of thing) meant I was going to finish this at home.

I used a couple of iPhone photos for reference but mostly I had done the work with the pencil outlines. Drawing is really important when painting. If you can't get the basics, the rest just makes things 'worse'. I can see that with a number of people who come to The Big Draw who are very good drafts people.

They can see the space and curves and the corners and the perspectives and get that on their medium. Their confidence is a product of very hard work over years of seeing what's really there, not what they think is there. Their loose paint is brushed over very confident, essential lines: they make it look easy, but it really isn't. 

And I see when I get into problems with my work it's because the foundations are not right. They've gone wonky somewhere. I saw that on Saturday when, after standing on the stairs, concentrating on my subject, my tiredness made my lines go wonky and I drew kitchen appliances on the wrong level so it was a good place to stop.

Back home today and layering the paint onto my drawing then inking the lines for definition, I could feel where my lines worked and what I had paid attention to, and what I did not: the reflections, the depth of the room, the crisp light that I have completely lost.

But that's okay. I'm finding my feet again in many things. 

 Drawing from Benediction Cafe, Newton, Auckland.

Drawing from Benediction Cafe, Newton, Auckland.