Once Upon a Wall

“Once Upon a Wall”
Luminance pencils over Sennelier oil pastels.
380 x 540 mm. June 2017

Once upon a wall there was a corroding remnant of street art.  Only a head and shoulder remained.  Whatever the rest of the image was had long gone.  It had presumably cracked up then flaked off, washed and blown away over time in brittle particles.

But look again.  The peeling layers of paint have transformed into tulle!

Once upon a wall there was a princess from a fairy tale; an apparition of Marie Antoinette; a dancer from Les Folies Bergère; a Belle Époque courtesan (maybe Camille herself);  or perhaps Saint-Säens’ Dying Swan.

I was touched by the vision of this tattered graceful wallflower – enough to prolong her life and give her a new audience by drawing her.

During the course of my drawing I searched the internet to find the street artist and see what the paste-up had once looked like.  The artist goes by the name of Sobr.  The original was a head-to-toe paste-up of a woman dancing in bandeau and shorts.  Weather and time have combined to transform the figure from nonchalant female to tragic romantic heroine.

Of course you might simply see a dirty wall.  And you wouldn’t be wrong.  We each bring our own stories and interpretations to that which we encounter.

Here are two more figures by Sobr which I photographed.  The subject of my drawing had been similar stylistically to these.  Sobr made a series of stencils of dancing women which he called his “It’s Time to Dance” project.


Technical note:  I used Sennelier oil pastels (a French brand) to ‘map’ in the colours on the paper before I put any pencils on.  Here is a detail of Sennelier under-colour before pencils were applied.  The addition of oil pastel adds to the richness and saturation of the finished coloured pencil drawing.

How it began:  initial layer of colour applied with Sennelier oil pastels, using a bristle brush to push the colour into the paper.

This image shows the range of 120 Sennelier oil pastels.

Here are the three sizes the pastels come in (shown next to a pencil to give you a comparison). The biggest one only comes in black and white.  So far I have been using the smallest size.

 

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Sumptuous Paris

I take photos to make drawings from.  But not always.  These ten photos don’t require reinterpretation as drawings.  They are happy just to remain photos – celebrating a city with more than its share of visual romance; sumptuous Paris.

La Conciergerie with reflections on the Seine pre-dawn.

Jardin des Tuileries

The view from the steps of Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in the late afternoon.

Ravens being fed at Parc des Buttes Chaumont on a benign autumn Saturday.

The joys of coffee and pastries from a shop such as this! (My daughter, Alicia and her friend, Marissa.)

Melt-in-the-mouth cakes within, elegant architecture without – appreciated simultaneously.

Stunning floral display at Jardin du Luxembourg.

From inside one of the art galleries at Centre Georges Pompidou, looking across from Notre Dame to Pantheon.

A view of Les Halles (St Eustache on the right) from Centre Georges Pompidou.

Construction and constructing…

 

 

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Kookaburra sits…

As I sat on a Sydney balcony admiring the view,

which included planes every couple of minutes,

I heard a song and turning around I saw that I was being watched

by a kookaburra on the balcony opposite.

I was inspired to sing an Australian nursery rhyme (with one or two word changes) “Kookaburra sits on the balcony/Merry merry king of the town is he/Laugh Kookaburra, Laugh Kookaburra…”

“Gay your life must be…”

“High in Syd-en-ey”.   

And when he had sat there long enough, (can you see him?)


he flew down to be with his mate.  (Can you see them?)

The End.

(Apologies to Marion Sinclair)

 

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Sideshow Alley

“Sideshow Alley” drawn with coloured pencils and Sennelier oil pastels.
213 x 230 mm. May 2017

Boulevard de Clichy in Pigalle is a busy strip of peep shows, sex shops, clubs and bars.  In search of bright lights as well as photos of Moulin Rouge, I went there one evening last October.

I have always had a fascination for fairgrounds – the scariness of them.  Pigalle with its neon kaleidoscope and promises of thrills is just like a fairground – a tawdry extravaganza of colour, people and noise.  By day it is simply sad but at night it bursts into showy splendor.  (Day or night you need to watch your back.)

A few months back I did a drawing of Moulin Rouge which I called “Show Time” also from this particular visit.  The two drawings make a good pair.

“Show Time”
November 2016

“Sideshow Alley”
May 2017

“Sideshow Alley” is an overcoat of coloured pencils – worked into an undercoat of Sennelier oil pastels.

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Evensong

“Evensong” is a drawing of rue de Rivoli in coloured pencils and Neopastels. 280 x 300 mm. May 2017.

Why would I give a prayer-like title to a drawing of a busy Paris street?  The answer is that when I walk and am deeply inspired by my surroundings, what could be more like prayer?  Or to think of a more modern term, ‘presence’ is what I feel when my senses give me pure joy – rapture at the gorgeousness as day transforms to evening on my rue de Rivoli stroll.

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My Blue Whale Neighbours

Who knew that Blue Whales hang out off the coast of Perth during our summers, a few nautical miles from where I am sitting typing at home right now?  Not me, until last week when I happened across Whale Watch Western Australia on the internet.  Not one to muck about, I booked myself a place on the  7 hour excursion which went out yesterday.  Here is some of what I saw…

At 8 a.m sharp we glided out of Sardine Wharf at Fremantle. The water close to shore was like a millpond.

“This way”, signalled a cormorant as we left the inner harbour behind.

Our destination was an area known as Perth Canyon.  This is a submarine canyon located off the coast of Perth approximately 22 km west of Rottnest Island.  It has an average depth of 1.5 km (5000 ft) and is 15 km across, making it larger than the Grand Canyon.  As it is a nutrient-rich eco hot spot, it is a perfect feeding ground for mega fauna including the Pygmy Blue Whale.  This cetacean is a subspecies of the Antarctic or True Blue Whale.  ‘Pygmy’ is a misleading name as this whale is not much smaller than the Antarctic Blue Whale – measuring around 70 to 80 ft long.

A Fleshy Footed Shearwater.

Another view of the shearwater.

Photographs of Blue Whales don’t do them justice.  This is a case of “you really had to be there” as only from the boat can you fathom how majestic and ENORMOUS these mammals are.  The crew of Whale Watch Western Australia love their subjects and were extremely respectful towards them.  They gently maneuvered the boat so that the whales were comfortable in our presence.

A mother and calf were close to us. When a third whale appeared, she nudged her young one into position next to the boat to keep the other whale at bay.

Summer being essentially over, soon our whales will head off to Indonesian waters to spend winter there.

An elegant fluke sequence as the whale dives…

A shearwater lands on the water to enjoy some  dispersing whale poo. (That is the orange-colour floury substance you can see in the water.) Whale poo is nutrient-rich and fertilises the ocean.

Delicious.

What a delight to see albatrosses!  After much checking of “The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds” and the internet,  I can safely say that this is a Yellow-nosed Albatross (Indian ocean form).  A medium-sized albatross such as this is known as a mollymawk.

What an exceptional day yesterday was.  To think that all this is happening so close to where I live.  I also saw dolphins, petrels and Australasian gannets but I didn’t get any good photos of them.  (They were too fast!)  Yesterday was a bit like going through the wardrobe in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and finding myself in Narnia; pure magic.

My neighbours are Blue Whales  – who knew?!?

https://www.whalewatchwesternaustralia.com/

 

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The Elegant 4th

“The Elegant 4th”
Coloured pencils and Neopastels. 190 x 285 mm. April 2017.

This drawing celebrates the simple elegance of a quiet street in the 4th arrondissement on an October afternoon.

You may also like to look at the page Coloured Pencil Impressionism

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