View from the concourse at San Francisco International Airport
Near the end of 2010, I spent a week at a visual communication training course in San Francisco. More on the training course later. San Francisco really captured my imagination - a beautiful city to visit. I sketched two places that grabbed my attention: the striking San Francisco International Airport (so much space, air and natural light) and Peet’s Coffee and Tea (good coffee, good vibe) on Chestnut St where I’d grab a take out to kick start my day.
I kept notes on things I noticed day-to-day. In no particular order and with no reason, in San Francisco:
- Most vending machines take $1 bills (regardless of how old or ripped they are);
- Pedestrian crossings have a great ‘count down’ system so you knew how many seconds you had left to get to the otherside;
- Fresh pizza by the slice is exactly that: fresh and made while you wait;
- At Fisherman’s Wharf, there are seagulls the size of small dogs;
- Chestnut St has a great vibe, especially mornings and after work as everybody heads home or heads out;
- Police use Segways to get around the airport and in the city centre;
- You are spoilt for choice with great shops (the delis and kitchen/home ware shops struct me the most); and
- I sometimes got asked “How much change would you like back from that, sir?” when I left cash to pay a restaurant bill. A smart way to politely get a tip, one that made me smile and always worked.
View from the window seats at Peet's Coffee & Tea, Chestnut St
View from Institute Arcade, Darling St, Balmain, Sydney.
I’ve set myself a new rule. Wherever business takes me around the country, I’ll endeavour to come home with a couple of new, quick and lively pencil & ink drawings in my sketch book. The catch is that I’m only letting myself spend about 10 – 15 minutes to finish each sketch.
Drawing at speed really means I need to make sure I’m focusing and studying what’s infront of me right there and then. Shapes, perspectives, negative spaces, shadows, dimensions. It sharpens my sketching skills and brings greater confidence. As I perch on walls, window ledges or at cafe tables with my pencil and pad, it’s amazing to witness life as it rushes past. Meanwhile, I sit, study, look and let my pencil create simple lines across the cartridge paper.
Nepalese Gardens with the Ferris wheel as backdrop, South Bank, Brisbane
These are some quick sketches from recent trips to Sydney and Brisbane.
View from the Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane
Airports are a great place for thinking time. It’s also the perfect opportunity to sketch as there are so many things to look at and watch: people, faces, cafes, planes, machinery, movement and energy. I drew this last night while waiting for my flight. Sat at Gate 59 at Sydney’s Domestic T2, this is what was on view – the ground staff were loading up a Jetstar flight as dusk approached and menacing stormed clouds hovered over head in the distance. As I sketched people stopped to watch for a moment or stole a quick glance and then moved on – everyone hurriedly trying to get home on a rainy, wintery night.
Paddington town house, Sydney
So often I admire these style of houses as I drive or walk past. The ornate balcony iron work, the solid and re-assuring architecture and wonderful windows that sometimes reveal a glimpse of a hidden interior as you stroll past, day or night. I was priviledged to be commissioned privately to draw this beautiful house in Paddington for a personal gift – it gave me the chance to study the architecture in detail and bring it to life on my white art paper using light and shade to accentuate the strong midday Aussie sunshine. My client loved the illustration and said it made a great gift.
Shere village church, England
This B&W pencil illustration was a private commission and shows the view from the centre of the village towards the church, which is a very popular spot for weddings as the setting is so idyllic and typically English.
Wedding invite. Priceless view.
Sydney is simply blessed with thousands of beautiful harbour views. This B&W ink line illustration was a private commission and it was used on the front of a wedding invite. The illustration shows the view from where the wedding reception was held.
East Clandon Church, Surrey, England
The beauty and history of English churches is fascinating. This black and white pencil illustration was a private commission for a collector – it is one of my favourites as the cut away pencil shading takes the viewer’s eye down the lane way towards the church. Black and white pencil illustrations to emphasise light and shade are so simple and the earliest technique I learnt — but it’s one I can’t shake and one I can’t get out of my system. Nor do I ever want to.