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.
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.
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.
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.
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).