Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sketching at the Sydney Opera House

As a Melbourne girl, born and bred, I know that Melbourne is better than Sydney. Fact. But when you fly into Sydney and the plane dips under the clouds and you see all that sparkling blue water you think, I suppose Sydney does have something going for it. And then when you get off the airport train at Circular Quay and there is the Harbour bridge and the Opera House in all their glory and grandeur, you go, okay Sydney, you're all right, just stop rubbing it in, okay? At least you can't beat Melbourne for the coffee. We'll always have coffee.

A couple of weeks ago Kim and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. Every year we try to do something really special for our anniversary because really, what better excuse? This year we did something a little crazy and went to Sydney for one night. Yup, just one night! We booked super cheap flights when JJ was only 3 months old and then looked forward to it for the 6 months after that! Grandparents on both sides took each child for the night (thank you, thank you, thank you so much, Ma and Pa and Nan!) and Kim and I flew off for a weekend of culinary delights, relaxed sketching, and unbroken sleep. Or so we thought. Hotel pillows. Really, is there anything worse?

We had such a great time but best of all, I got my drawing mojo back. We both stopped to draw at lots of different locations and it was so relaxing and just plain fun to get engrossed in a drawing like that. I thought I'd be more worried about people looking at what I was doing but no one did. Except for a flight attendant on the way home who complimented me on a sketch I was doing of the window and wing. (It wasn't a very good drawing but I smiled and said thank you, and it was really okay).

My favourite time sketching was on the Sunday morning when we sat outside with a view of the Opera House, against the backdrop of the bridge. Despite being Winter the weather in Sydney was sunny and calm. The forecast that day was for 18 degrees. Okay, Sydney, I'll give you that too.

I don't even know how long we sat there. Maybe an hour? The good thing about drawing the Opera House is that it's such an iconic image, you can't really get it wrong. You could botch it big time and people would probably still know what it was. The difficult thing about drawing it was, well, it's difficult to draw! Or, more specifically, difficult to colour. Getting the 'sails' down was okay - the shapes are easy enough. I did an outline first with a mechanical pencil.

But applying colour was hard because your eye sees that the sails are white. But they're not white. Well, not wholly. It made it easier that it was a clear, blue-skied day because the shadows were sharp.

I'm still really new to watercolour so I often get it wrong. My biggest problem is applying too much water and having to try and remove it without doing irreparable damage.

I don't mind though. I'm learning and I'm having lots of fun mucking around with my little watercolour kit. The great thing is it's such a portable medium so it's excellent for applying colour right then and there.

I've done lots of other location sketches in the last few weeks so I'll show you the ones that weren't complete disasters over the next little while....