Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Brisbane River Project and some meditations on Urban Sketching

Today I have decided to officially start my Brisbane River Project. I have been preparing mentally and with drawings for the past few months. None of the drawings I have done so far are to be included. I have purchased some new paper - Canson Montval Aquarelle 200gsm 24x32cm, so a little larger than A4. Drawings will be A4 with a small border. 100 sheets in gorgeously generous block.

My first outing was to drive to Pinkenba at the mouth of the river with all my drawing paraphernalia. The giraffe-like cranes really call out for an ink drawing. Unfortunately the weather defeated me. Rain steadily grew heavier and visibility was very poor. I was already resigned to working from the car but even that proved impossible. Pity. But all that driving in the rain gave me plenty of thinking time and I can visualize the sketches I have in mind as well as of course being open to visual stimuli on each spot.

All will be done en plein air. There is an immediacy and truthfulness to this kind of working. Plus it is fun.

My working titles are also fun to ponder at the same time. Barcarolle comes to mind, - this is a song sung by Venetian gondoliers. My work can be seen in the nature of a visual song, with lots of separate verses, then joined up for display. There is also a big factor of Natural History recording going on. This river, this time, this place, this person's response and interpretation.

Driving back along Kingsford Smith Drive I was excited by the possibilities the riverbank provides. I stopped at Portside for a coffee. Again the rain meant poor visibility and no pelicans around but I will return there.

In the meantime here are a couple of preliminary sketches I have done featuring the river this week.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Brisbane River

 This one is of the HMAS Diamantina which is in the Maritime Museum. I sat on the Goodwill Bridge and looked down. Done with various ink pens and wash. Finished en plein air.

Robyn Bauer Urban Sketch of Brisbane cemetery

This view of the river is from the South Brisbane Cemetery Dutton Park. Yes the crow was really there momentarily and he was making a racket! The sky was very white with rainy mist and as usual it was the life around me of trees, plants, birds that became my true motif. Cemeteries are noisy with bird life and this one right on the river especially so.

I have also crystallized a few thoughts on urban sketching. I liken it to the slow food movement. One must slow down completely to sit and draw using eye, brain, hand. It can become a kind of meditation like the Zen of looking. The great advantage of living in 2015 is that one can combine this age-old technique with the advantages of the internet, blogging, instagram and the excitement and immediacy of instant posting to the world!

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