September 5, 2013

Week 2 of Drawing August

I expected that the second wek would be easier, but it turned out to be just the opposite! Winter flu and deadlines; leaving in the dark, in the rain, and home in the dark and rain. Late winter, gahhh.

But there are some interesting drawings anyway!

August 8
A quick duty sketch while going home, unwell. Southern Cross Station, a place I have often wanted to draw. Inked a day later.

August 9
I posted the serious one on the challenge site, but let's face it, I prefer the silly one myself. Pen, marker pen, pencil.

August 10
Still unwell but up to drawing the clutter on the table at night. Pen, marker pen.

August 11
Drawing Button Hill for the first time. Very windy and cold, the horses did not want to talk to me. Large vista, double page. Pen, pencil, marker pen.

August 12
A beautiful big bowl of lemons, given to my husband by a colleague. Lemon cake! Lemon curd! Their colour is so vibrant it warrants breaking out the watercolours. First time in a year! Pencil, pen, watercolours.

August 13

I drew this on the 12th but painted it on the 13th. Happy with the dark bowl, but feeling very rusty with paints in general. 

August 14, 15 
Lots of mental images of early spring on the farm. Drew it one day, inked it the next.

Looking back from the end of the month it seems like it's not a bad effort even though this was probably the lowest week of winter.

Up next, spring...

August 20, 2013

Roundup of Week 1 Drawing August

Started the weekend by drawing at the Queen Victoria Market with the lovely Melbourne Sketchers. Thanks for invting me, it was a fantastic morning!

And a good way to kick-start drawing again. Feeling very rusty indeed! When I looked at my sketchbook, I realised with shame that I have drawn only three things in there all year. Tsk.

Toby doesn't seem too worked up about it, though. 

For August 4th, a mind's eye image while musing on the idea of made-up plays on rainy days. I suspect the rain was chucking down, it seems to have been all month!

Something quick, late at night for August 5, based on a photo of a colleague. Not an ideal likeness, but I like the line.

Early the next day, on the train. SPORT. Rumbled. Smiled sweetly. Scribbly lines as the train rushed and swayed.

Still raining on August 7, laundry drying over the fire. Hiding in the kitchen, it's the only warm room in the cottage.

And there you have it, a roundup of the first week of Drawing August. 

More to come!


August 10, 2013

Drawing August

'One a day, every day.'
'Little and often, that's the way to move a mountain.'

It was just luck that I stumbled over Drawing August, the one-a-day twitter challenge. Luck in the blogosphere, because it was DesignGirl who contacted me one day, out of the blue, and asked if I would like to join their regular sketching group -- 'Do you still go out and sketch, your blog hasn't been updated for years.' she wrote. >ouch< Though I think her actual words were much nicer than that. 

Over the next few weeks I thought about her email a lot. I saw the notices come and go - 'we're sketching here', 'we had coffee there'. And I really, really wanted to go. But I haven't drawn for too long, it's terrifying, my pencil hand is so rusty it might as well have dropped off. I was busy, but not so busy that I couldn't find the time. And so the need to get back to drawing grew, gradually. I knew I had to go.

Another message from the group told me about this 'thing called DrawingAugust...' The deal is, a picture a day, tweet it with the date. We all get to share what we are doing. 

I needed a good hard kick in the seat of the sketchbook, so I said, 'sure, I'll join in' - nevermind the book manuscript deadline and the rest of my life this month, 'sounds like fun!'

So I am drawing again. Here's the rough sketch for August 1:

I like it better than the final, which I have temporarily mislaid. 

If you're interested to see the wealth of what's out there, check Pinterest or Twitter and search for #drawingaugust -- I promise you, you'll see some fabulous art, and what a variety of it there is!


August 10, 2012

Craft weekend photo post

Lots of photos from the recent craft weekend at Hepburn Springs. Thanks everyone for a wonderful time!

Winter blooms | Amanda's Block of the Month | Lounge, with the Summer Quilt | First finished project award to Bek! | Cosy slippers | Deb's quiet colours | Beautiful breakfast | Potash St | Sore eyes - Jo's hexagons!

August 8, 2012

Vintage Food Posters

Something I think about a lot: how diverse humans are, how competitive and troublesome and argumentative and delightfully different from each other.

And yet we all have to eat. We share biology, we learn tastes, we acquire cultural references. We need to eat, but we learn how.

I remember studying for a Masters in Art History, and peering at a fresco painting, my nose as close to the surface as they would allow, and thinking:

'Okay, so that streak, that's where his hand touched the wet paint, and that big long curve, that's made when you swing your arm from the shoulder, not the elbow, like - so.'

And then standing back and thinking something like 'Holy crap, I've got the same length of reach as Leonardo.' And getting the chills.

It's silly, really. Of course we have the same reach. I'm a fairly tall, well-fed twentieth century woman and he was a middle class illegitimate son (which means access to food was probably good, not the best) - and so we could very conceivably be the same height.

Of course we share biology - humans haven't changed all that much in 500 years. But we forget. We think it's different. It is -- and it isn't.

So here we are, online, looking at food posters from the past.

The text apparently translates as: "When the dining is well- run the spirit of production will rise." That's a cultural context if ever I saw one. But I also see a welcoming smile, a platter of food, a group of people, a family and a sense of festivity.

My cultural frame notices the facemask (I thought those were new, only since avian flu. Apparently not.) I notice the size of the main figure - she reminds me of a fertility goddess, she's beautiful and large. But in the West we might criticise (though I probably wouldn't, not being one to throw stones and looking rather a lot like her myself). We complicate: that's a better word.

The cook in me wants to know what's on the menu, the academic wants to read up on how the food halls operated, were managed and maintained, the art historian looks at the shape and composition of flat elements, and wonders about propaganda posters from all sorts of cultures.

What do you think? Is this about unity - or about diversity?

Posters - Top: date, artist unknown, North Korea; Bottom: c1959, artist unknown, China. Accessed through Poster Gallery at Nanyang Technical University: 

July 30, 2012

Knock, knock

Anyone home?

We went to Open House Melbourne on Sunday. I'm so glad we got around to it!

Open House Melbourne is a weekend of open buildings. Special places, amazing places, eco spaces, places not normally open to the public.

We queued for the State Library tour of the elephant lift (for moving around that spare elephant) - a 1920s wooden panelled lift with, we were told, idiosyncracies.

We peered over the bannisters at the compass rose on the floor under what once was a Foucault's pendulum. Pendulum now lost and, as someone said, probably holding down papers on someone's desk. Beautiful staircase.

Then down into the catacombs, surprisingly bright for channels running into dirt floored wasteland for dead office chairs. Everyone's favourite garage.

And out into the rain of China Town, for a tasty Grill'd burger and a gentle stroll down to Myer for the mural hall, sixth floor ballroom and hall for streamlined 30s types to affect a bored moue at fashion parades. Meh. Darling.

Playing with the mirrors in Myer's Mural Hall. 

Finally, everyone's favourite haunted tin shed -- the portable iron houses of the 1850s still in South Melbourne on a fascinating old street.

Portable iron house, c. 1850, South Melbourne. 

A lovely day. Three very different faces of Melbourne. Hurrah.

View from the freeway bridge as we leave the sunny city. 

July 22, 2012

Pasta play

Today we tried some kitchen craftiness, inspired by the post here over at Cafe Liz.

It's not too hard to make beetroot-red pasta. You roast the beetroot, make pasta dough (a generous serve per person is 1 egg and 100g Type '00' flour, whizzed in a food processor) - then add a slice of the ruby-red beetroot to the pasta dough in the food processor.

Add more flour until it no longer sticks like napalm to everything, and presto, red pasta dough.

Being a nerd, I wondered what I could use to make other colours. And I know a bunch of kids who would love this! Some of those kids have kids of their own, if you get what I mean. Having a reason to play with your food can be fun at any age.

I decided to see if I could make some fun multicoloured pasta with a basic dough and a few additions.

To start:
First I made a biggish batch of plain pasta dough, by dumping 500g '00' flour in a food processor and cracking in five large organic eggs. It works better if the eggs are at room temperature, if you remember...

I then divided my plain basic dough into five portions and started testing. I kept each portion wrapped in plastic wrap so that it didn't dry out before I was ready to rock and roll it out.

Here's what worked!

A handful of fresh parsley leaves, blanched for 1 minute in boiling water, then cooled by swirling in cold water. I squeezed the green lump of wilted leaves hard before adding it to the food processor and blending it with a portion of the basic dough. The dough looked freckly. I wrapped it up and left it in the fridge while making the other colours.

Take two: I picked two leaves of silverbeet (save the stems for something else), then chopped and blanched them for 1 minute as above. Cool, squeeze like mad to get the water out. Squeeze some more. This time I processed the leaves to a sludge in the food processor first with a dash of olive oil. Then I added a portion of the basic pasta dough, buzzed it up and added flour till it wasn't too sticky. (That was a guess: enough flour so it would not stick terribly to the plastic wrap seems to be about right.) Wrap it up and leave to rest.

This one was simple: just a scant teaspoon of turmeric added to a portion of the dough and a dash of olive oil to make it all come together.

For this I cut off a chunk of the yellow turmeric dough (about half), to which I added a 1/2 tablespoon of the beetroot juice from the roasting pan. So I had less orange and yellow, but that's fine.

A slice of beetroot (skinned), added to a portion of dough.

The fifth ball of dough stayed plain, to provide the base for squiggles and other sorts of fun times.

Rolling it was the fun part! This involved rolling sheets of each colour, cutting them into spaghetti with the cutter attachment, then pressing them into a flat piece of a different colour.

That was so much fun that we decided to try sticking two flat disks (just roughly hand flattened) together, end to end. Ran these slowly through the machine on a wide setting and they stuck and became two-tone pasta!

Someone got fancy and it became a patchwork of pasta blobs that got rolled and then sliced...

The silverbeet leaves made a better green because although they were softer and made the dough a bit wet, the green leached out and the whole sheet went evenly green. The parsley dough retained its freckly appearance throughout, which was fun too.

The beetroot fades a huge amount in cooking, and ended up a genteel shade of pink.

The turmeric stayed bright yellow and it really imparted a kick to the taste of the pasta! I quite liked that, just be aware of it when matching your sauce.

We made a simple vegetable sauce and cooked up a batch to enjoy. It was a colourful lunch!

* Post updated to add more images - Blogger updated the date stamp. We don't mind, do we?