September 28, 2009
For the record, it is very difficult to photograph yourself knitting, especially when you don’t enjoy knitting, had to spend half an hour doing it to remember how, it takes you more than 12 seconds to look convincing so you can’t use the timer, your camera is out of batteries so you have to use your phone, but because you can’t use your hands you have to put the phone on video and balance on your collarbone and the neck of your tshirt and try and knit within its line of sight, and then drop the phone, and then upload it, draw a still from the phone and try to work out what it must look like from the other side.
Pen and sepia ink with colour added in Photoshop.
September 26, 2009
I went over to wander the city botanic gardens in my lunch break last week – I love the avenue of bamboo, tall and green and rattling and carved with pale graffiti – and found that they have eels in the ponds! Eels swaying through the waterweed and nosing up to the surface, a turtle sunning itself on a rock and stretching a hind leg lazily, and great big bearded dragons posed on rocks with their tails hanging down into the path, scaring – and being scared by – small children.
I went back to draw the eels yesterday but stopped in a gallery on the way and ended up listening to BBC comedy sketches with the owner instead.
At the bottom of the page are my nephews, in Sydney trying out my cousin’s two-wheel skateboard (without any resounding success), and on the right is the younger’s drawing of the sundial in the garden in Killara – it has a twisted pedestal of thin red bricks and the gnomon (yes, I had to look that up) is verdigrised. The blue areas are probably a fairly accurate depiction of the path I followed bounding around to point out where the shadows went over the bricks and the edge of the base and how they worked.
September 24, 2009
This is a very small (about 1.5 x 1 inches) scratchboard picture based on the sketches I made driving back from Sydney with my sister on Monday. I decided then to do a road for this week’s Illustration Friday topic. She wanted me to put the view of Muswellbrook in as well. It’s been years since I’d been driven that way, but I remembered those towers (they were shaped like a plastic stool we had at the time) and the sign reassuring passers by that the clouds are only water vapour.
Here are the driving sketches (as ever, to see a larger version you can click on the picture to go to its Flickr page, then click on “All sizes” above the image):
My fast sketching ability was taxed, but it was a beautiful drive, though a long day. We met the removalists at my grandmother’s house in Sydney at 6am, were on the road by 6.25 and arrived at home in Brisbane at 9.30pm, very stiff from not being able to put our seats back because of boxes (of plates and dolls and cotton reels, photos and icecube trays and picnic sets) and (in my case) from driving down Cunningham’s Gap for the first time, at night, in the rain. There were some stops along the way, but right at the very end there were roadworks and we had to take a great long detour to get to our street.
The removalists arrived yesterday in the dust storm and I now have a house… very full of chairs (I am only babysitting some of them), but with real, grown-up furniture – a love seat and wooden recliners and a little green sofa and a sideboard and a serving trolley and a lovely dining table with big clawed feet and a bewildering assortment of occasional tables.
September 20, 2009
Posted by tanaudel under life
| Tags: death
|  Comments
I have had a weekend of… something-yellow-labelled-Thrive and old lace. And bottles with odd contents, labelled only with the names of family members. Cufflinks and photographs and records, nutmeg graters, aprons, diaries and slides.
Tomorrow: a 12 hour drive with my knees underneath my chin because of ballgowns, very old mixmasters and paintings by a minor artist of whom Google says his works hardly ever come on the market, which is probably because my grandmother owned most of them. I’m at risk of being flippant, but it’s only to keep general spirits up. We were in hysterics yesterday afternoon, and all burst into tears together yesterday morning.
Everyone says it is sad deconstructing a life, and I keep saying that she wouldn’t have been sentimental about everything – there are things you treasure, like the wedding ring and watch and the ring from the man who asked you to marry you but you didn’t want to get married again, and those you put in a shortbread tin at the bottom of a cupboard under your folding travel hangers. But other things are just the clothes you wore because a body has to wear clothes, and there’s no point getting sentimental over that – unless its over the scent that lingers on them.
September 18, 2009
Being able to have people over whenever is one of the reasons I bought a house (a related reason was to have a Spare Room), and so, since June…
September 17, 2009
Posted by tanaudel under art
, On writing
| Tags: art
, brisbane writers festival
, gary bryson
, james a levine
, jeb brugmann
, miriam cosic
, nick earls
|  Comments
The Brisbane Writers Festival was on last week and this weekend. I was in Toowoomba on Saturday (the sketches above are of Aimee and Lisa trying to decide on fabric for a costume for Aimee – I sat on a chair in the store and drew and Aimee said that from the side I looked like Whistler’s mother) but on Sunday, after baking too many Snickerdoodles, I drove in to South Bank. The flower above at bottom right is – I think – a passion flower. Such strange, almost excessively fringed and tassled flowers.
I saw a panel on “Writing the City”, with Jeb Brugmann, Gary Bryson, Nick Earls and Miriam Cosic (top right). More a discussion of what they’ve written than the techniques & theory (but I’m used to a different sort of convention!), and the highlight for me was Nick Earls reading selections from his books describing parts Brisbane over the years. They also talked about the culture/’emotional fact’ of a city and how this is relevant both to urban renewal projects and to writing fiction (including fictionalised cities) – something that actually came up in a town planning seminar I was at yesterday morning. I like writing about cities, so I will be thinking about all this for a while.
On the right page at the bottom left is James A Levine (no website), who was signing when I sketched him. I had run into Tim while sitting on the edge of a garden bed drawing pigeons and he and I went over to show the sketch to its subject. We had a very pleasant conversation (and he signed the drawing).
September 14, 2009
Scratchboard with digital colour. I haven’t entirely edited out the texture left behind by scraping the board. This is another instalment of the saga:
I am also working on some other background projects, of which more in the fullness of time.
September 13, 2009
My sister, on the left here, will not even agree to be a subject for photoreference. When she suspects I am drawing her, she starts moving and shifting position. Sometimes she starts up when I am drawing something else altogether, and then I don’t enlighten her.
Otherwise, she is excellent company. She wakes up to the smell of biscuits (snickerdoodles today), and I come home to the smell of fresh-mown grass.
September 11, 2009
Posted by tanaudel under books
, On writing
| Tags: book reviews
, edith schaefer
, georgette heyer
, gerald durrell
, hc miller
, jacquie durrell
, kingsford smith
, mary durack
, nancy bird
, robin miller
|  Comments
The Hidden Art of Homemaking – Edith Schaefer: I’ve seen one edition titled simply The Hidden Art because the original title is the worst thing about the book. It limits both audience and scope. The book is about the right, duty and the joy of using inclinations or talents in little ways every day. It has chapters on music, art, cooking, reading, writing – and argues graciously and appealingly for the beautification of life and the world in little ways, using desires and gifts to make wherever you are home, for everyone. It was written in the ‘70s and although that shows (hanging mobiles, anyone?), it is one of the few books written by a Christian woman I have read that wasn’t about being married and having children. She writes about people living alone, married, in share houses, in flats and tents, staying in hotels or student accommodation, pursuing careers and giving them up, building things with their hands and their minds, being of service without being servile. It speaks about people who have only inclination as well as those who have talent. Nor was it focussed solely on the self or on other people – one of the lines I liked best was how “you are the environment in which other people live.” It was simple and broad-reaching and lovely and I find myself remembering and applying little things.
A Civil Contract – Georgette Heyer: One of her regencies, but not a comedy and not entirely ‘romantic’, it is a novel about a marriage of convenience between two people of very different backgrounds, and about learning to be content with a situation which is less than ideal, and yet far more practical and real than the ideal. I’m not sure entirely how successful it was – I find myself liking it for the themes it attempted rather than the success of the execution. Don’t read it expecting one of her mad, break-neck, light, melodramatic tales, but it was pleasant enough, and different and a little sad.
Flying Nurse – Robin Miller: A cheerful, eventful autobiography by the ‘Sugar Bird Lady’. Robin Miller trained as a nurse before obtaining her pilots licence, and this is an account of her early flight experience, of ferry flights from Europe and America, unusual patients, the early days of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, adventures in Western Australia and the air. She has an ear for anecdotes and for the small adventures that other authors tend to glide over, such as what provisions are made for relief on long solo flights. It was full of laughs, but also a fascinating portrait of a time and woman who although in a ‘man’s job’ refused to make concessions on that basis and undertook aircraft maintenance in short dresses, delivered babies midflight, talked rooms full of deeply suspicious miners into taking a pink medication served on sugar lumps, and who loved the huge isolated, conflicted, changing areas that she served. Robin Miller – Wikipedia. Royal Flying Doctor Service – Wikipedia.
Beasts in my Bed – Jacquie Durrell: Jacquie Durrell was the first wife of Gerald Durrell (author of My Family and other Animals among many other things – September 2008 review). This picks up with their first meeting, their hasty marriage, the painfully-written, immensely successful books (Gerald did not consider himself a writer), travelling in Africa, South America and Australia, travelling by ship with menageries, starting a zoo, beginning to make wildlife documentaries for television. It lacks the effortlessness and beautiful detail of Gerald’s own writing (although he keeps a running commentary in the footnotes), but it is interesting and light-hearted.
Book Chains: I’ve been rabbiting on to people about how I love accidental chains of books (it has to be at least semi-accidental, otherwise it’s a course of study). Flying Nurse, a garage sale acquisition, features in the longest so far: I read Nancy Bird’s autobiography My God, it’s a Woman earlier this year (January review); she talks about someone called the ‘Sugar Bird Lady’ and had her first flying lesson with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and was married by John Flynn who founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service; I picked up The Southern Cross Story (March review) which was by Kingsford Smith, and happened to be bundled with HC Miller’s Early Birds about early Australian aviation (also in the March review); reading Flying Nurse I realised the author was not only HC Miller’s daughter, but she was also the Sugar Bird Lady (she flew the polio vaccine, which was given on sugar lumps, around Western Australia) and flew for the RFDS; I then discovered that her mother was Mary Durack Miller who wrote the Australian classic Kings in Grass Castles about the Durack family; while telling my sister this, I flipped through the book and found out it had either been signed by or belonged to Mary Durack Miller.
Wikipedia: Robin Miller; Nancy Bird; Kingsford Smith; John Flynn; HC Miller; Dame Mary Durack.
Writing and Nonfiction: I’ve been wondering lately about that divide – indistinct but definite – between non fiction which is merely interesting, and non fiction which rises above a mere recount of events and becomes… a story on its own terms, I suppose. It’s something to do with texture and richness, the techniques (but not the sole preserve) of fiction writers – not necessarily of ‘plot’ as it is known at any given point in time, but colour and scent and thought and flavour. Gerald Durrell’s My Family and other Animals (review) is so rich you can close your eyes and see Corfu, the haze of bees, the olive trees, the ocean, the crumbling villa, the antics of the animals, the hysteria of the household. Jacquie Durrell’s writing contained interesting accounts of endearing animals and intriguing people (I did like seeing the glimpses of Gerald’s family through the eyes of another!), but it was always just an account. Isabella Bird makes you intensely aware of the miseries of being cold and damp and fleabitten in Japan (October 2008 review), of the sensation and sights and smells of standing on the rim of a lake of lava at night in Hawaii. Dickens, except when observing the small comedies of shipboard life, gives an account of America that is intellectually interesting, but not compelling on another level. M. M. Kaye’s The Sun in the Morning is richly coloured as a box of paints, while A King’s Story is the most desperately dull piece of writing I have persevered with only because I knew it was meant to be interesting (he was at war! he crossed Australia in a train that turned over! he fell in love and caused a constitutional crisis – how do you make that dull?). I read a biography of L. M. Montgomery that was awful, but blessedly short, and am reading one of Yeo Thomas that feels like an espionage thriller (although I wish the author would translate the French quotes more often). So… no conclusions yet, just observations.
September 10, 2009
Back to scratchboard (getting back into practice for a project). Coloured in Photoshop. This took… under 3 hours from sketch to upload, I think.
It’s an illustration for the story of the brave little tailor, who killed 7 flies in one blow and spun that achievement into a kingdom. If you don’t know the story, this is just after he challenged a giant to squeeze water from a rock. He is now demonstrating his superior abilities by squeezing whey from some cheese he had in his pocket. Also, you may note the green scissors have returned! Previous instances include:
And in other news, I now have internet at home!
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