Saturday, June 22, 2019

April and May in the Gardens

I have become a witness to so many changes in the gardens over the past few months. Different plants are flowering and there are subtle variations in light and colour in the various areas. I have big plans for some paintings that are still "cooking" in my head but in the meantime I have continued with ink drawing on location.

The last few months have bought a few personal challenges which I won't go into here, but throughout all my worry and anxiety I found my visits to the gardens to be a real therapy for me.
I have started on some much larger drawings, all created on location in various shady spots. The weather has been kinder too, with the heat of summer behind us.
Japanese garden, ink drawing by Robyn Bauer

These drawings are on A2 sized sheets, 42 x 60 cm. Difficult to carry around but worth it for the immediacy of the mark-making done with the subject right in front of me. They are really tonal studies utilizing every range of tone from very black through to the white paper. These tones are pre-mixed and carried in my array of tiny bottles.
Large cactus, ink drawing ny Robyn Bauer

There is quite a lot of detail in these drawings which can only be seen in the originals. Every type of pen was used, including twigs found on the spot. The textural qualities of the various leaves and plant surfaces are incredibly beautiful and I really want to do justice to their qualities. At the moment it's all about texture and tone.
Fig Tree Study, ink drawing by Robyn Bauer

I love nothing more than sitting in the cool of the rainforest area studying the magnificent Fig Trees with the vines that cling to them creating an interesting cascading veil effect. I wish I could convey the earthy smell of these areas.
Under the large succulents, ink drawing by Robyn Bauer

During April and May I actually had a broken arm although it didn't stop me working. I developed a new strategy of working with my non-dominant hand and even now that my arm is healed, I make sure to use my left hand for at least some of the drawing. I also do quite a bit of "blind" drawing where I am really concentrating very hard on what I am looking at and don't look at the paper. When I am teaching, I call this the "Zen of Seeing".  It gives a quality of authenticity to the mark-making, a real feeling of leaf structure and appearance.
Rainforest stream, ink drawing by Robyn Bauer

I have given several free workshops which have focused on tone or value and its importance in helping to achieve a strong composition. I have lots of tricks that I use, including the use of a viewfinder, creation of a thumbnail sketch and squinting down with your eyes to simplify the shapes and reduce the colour to a clear tonal range.
Large lagoon with waterlilies, ink drawing by Robyn Bauer

A funny and unexpected side effect of teaching the monthly workshops is that I end up inspiring myself! Ideas occur to me while I am teaching (I might have started off with a different plan and weather necessitates a change of direction) and then I can't wait to try them out.

Succulent area, ink drawing by Robyn Bauer

Still making new discoveries both with the wealth of subject matter and with techniques I am inventing to interpret my surroundings.
Sculptural tree form, ink drawing by Robyn Bauer

I am planning to spend some time in the City Botanic Gardens as my residency allows me to do this also. They certainly have the large century-old trees. Just have to work out the logistics of getting all my gear in there on the bus!

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