Big Draw: Old Railway Station

Eric Ngan organised The Big Draw Meet-Up in Auckland’s old Railway Station for this, the last Saturday of June. I trained into the new train station at Britomart and walked the short few minutes around the corner to the old train station on Te Taou Crescent.

The forecast this weekend was in keeping with the season, and as I emerged from the underground train station I saw it wasn’t just raining, it was *chucking* it down. With luck though, the wind wasn’t too bad and the walk to the venue was rather pleasant - you know - for a rainy, Winter’s day.

We had a pretty good turnout to the Meet-up with a number of new faces. The old station has been turned into private apartments, but we were allowed into the cavernous entrance so we could still draw while the weather did it’s own thing outside.

I came to this Big Draw with a very paired down set of tools. In fact, if I couldn’t carry my equipment in my coat pockets, I left it behind. One thing with us watercolourists though, we need water to paint with and generally take sealed jars of water, but this time I decided to use a new tool: the water brush. These brushes have a soft plastic barrel that holds the water and with a gentle squeeze, the water flows out through the brussels of the brush.

It was a revelation to use. I’ve known about these brushes for years but never tried them. Now I’m wondering if I’ll ever go back to traditional brushes; certainly not when out-in-the-field anyway.

The best thing about these water brushes for me was that I didn’t lay down as much paint on the page. It’s something that annoys me about my technique and it was delightful to be able to brush the delicate washes of colour onto my drawing.

It was so well worth braving the weather and making the effort to transport myself to the Meet-up today - as it always is. I was reminded, yet again, that making the effort is always worth it - for the drawing, and for the group.

Associated links:

The Makers: Workshop

My sister is a crafty devil.

I had no idea of the extent of her work until I saw the mountain of collaged boards - literally, piled over a meter high, that's a mountain, right? - in a basket in her studio. The woman is prolific! not to mention talented, and modest.

I think she's adopted.

The Makers

My family is creative. We sew and we cook, we garden and we preserve, we paint and we quilt. We make things.

We're also all over the country, with the main core of talent residing in and around The Farm in Taranaki, New Zealand. And they have all the fun there - curry competitions, fossicking adventures, painting furniture - and it sometimes feels like the rest of us are on the fringes: too far North or too far West, miss all that comradery and support.

So we started a closed Facebook page and called ourselves The Makers.

On our page we show our work, we ask questions, and generally support each other. This page is relatively new, but by crikey, it's a wonderful connection to each other.

A Retreat

Online is great, and supportive, and works for us for the every day - but we have so much more fun when we're together, so naturally, the idea of having weekend retreats at The Farm has come up. A weekend where we in Auckland can drive down to Taranaki, and my cousin might be visiting from her homebase in Victoria, Australia. We coud all get together for a couple of days where we make stuff.

One might say a quilting bee, or a sewing circle, but with more wine, and lots more food.

At the retreat, those who love to bake, bake. Those who love to draw, draw. Those who love to garden, well, you get the picture. We might also have workshops where one of us could share expertise with each other - maybe we cold all learn to make felted cushions, or stitch a small quilt, or decorate a piece of funiture. We could also swap our skills - I'll paint you a dozen labels if you give me a jar of blackberry jam.

The Workshop

The other weekend when I was at The Farm, we had an impromtu workshop. A prototype, if you will - though that was more an afterthought. We mostly just got really excited about getting ourselves covered in glue and ink.

My aforementioned sister creates collages, and my Aunty Pat wanted to give it a go. I already had some drawing assignments promised, so I sat at the end of the kitchen table with my 2B pencil and sketchbook in hand, while Jo loosed her collage collection on and an almost overwelmed Pat -

They got started, ripping paper, gluing layers, modeling paste. Stamping, drying, dying, smudging, smearing until I couldn't take it anymore and had to join in.

The really great thing about the day was that the work could be left for important things like looking after Granddad, and cooking lunch, and talking to Marlee and such. The kitchen table was a workhorse for our endeavours. Jo had lots of ideas and suggestions with the battle cry of "More On!" when both my Aunt and myself thought we were finished. (such Noobs!).

We had a super great time.

Links to people to learn from and experience art 'n' crafty things:

Kelly Rae Roberts

Donna Downy

Arty Em

Keri Smith