Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sketching an Antipodean Adventure

A year ago I waved goodbye to Southampton Urban Sketchers (UK) and packed up my sketching gear for an adventure in New Zealand. My husband and I had offers of work in Auckland for a year and we were excited to travel to the other side of the world for a great adventure!

I didn't know what kind of art materials I would be able to buy in New Zealand and I'd heard that internet shopping could be expensive (everything has to be shipped a long way!) so I carefully packed my bottle of De Atramentis ink, my Lamy fountain pen and my Schmincke watercolours. On arrival I was very happy to find that Gordon Harris Art Stores sell my favourite Fabriano Venezia sketchbooks. 

We left a warm UK summer and arrived in cold, wet Auckland. After a couple of weeks of jet lag and disorientation I picked up my sketchbook and started to draw the unfamiliar buildings and scenes I discovered. The intensity of colour in nature here is quite staggering. In particular I remember being amazed by the turquoise colours in the sea and sky. I've got through a great deal of cobalt turquoise over the last year! It has also been exciting to include palms and tree ferns in my sketches, having been accustomed to English oaks and beech trees.





I made it to my first sketch crawl with BIG DRAW (Urban Sketchers in Auckland) in August 2016 and it was such a joy to find like-minded sketchers at a time when I was feeling uprooted and far from home. I've really enjoyed seeing parts of the city I might not have visited if it weren't for the group.


Auckland CBD skyline


Sketching in Auckland city centre with BIG DRAW

Sketching inside Ponsonby International Food Court

Over the course of the year I have tried to capture some of the heritage buildings in Auckland. I was fascinated to read the story of the Birdcage pub, formerly the Rob Roy Hotel. Built in 1885-1886, the building was moved 40m down the road and then back again (using huge hydraulic rams and a teflon-coated track) in order to facilitate the building of the Victoria Park Tunnel in 2010. The time lapse video of the building being moved back into place can be seen here: The Move Back

 Devonport, Auckland - a great place to sketch!

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell, Auckland

Auckland Town Hall during Auckland Arts Festival week

During our year in New Zealand we've managed to fit in a few weeks of travelling, around both the North and South Islands. Drawing has allowed me to preserve memories of our travels in a way that photographs cannot. Looking back through my sketchbook brings back vivid memories of the places we've been and the views we've admired. 

A Christmas break beside Lake Tarawera, North Island


Some quintessentially Kiwi specimens!

We will shortly be leaving New Zealand to return back to the UK. I have loved every moment of being in this amazing place and I very much hope to come back in the future. Ka kite anō, Aotearoa!

The lighthouse at Waipapa Point, South Island

Tabitha works as a GP and has been sketching for about 2 years. She loves to draw buildings and urban scenes using pen and ink with watercolour wash. Her 'big project' is to draw all the cathedrals in England. She collects her sketches online here



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

New Plymouth Ravens

A while ago we went to go see the New Zealand National Inline Hockey Tournament, here in Taranaki. Truth be told, I just went to do some sketching. One of the games was actually pretty exciting though. The local, New Plymouth Ravens, pulled their goalie in the last seconds to tie it up and send it into overtime. The game winner was scored by one of the smaller players too. So I came away with this sketch and brought one that I made of last year's tournament to get the colour treatment.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

La la land & the land where everything is bigger

On the way


26 miles to Catalina Island - do you know the song?  Take the cat from Long Beach to Avalon

The casino - not a real one, but uses the real Italian meaning of 'gathering place'

Caltech graduation - our trip's purpose - hot, happy occasion - finally a hoodie after 9 yrs!

Pasadena Jet Propulsion Lab, near Caltech - Mars Curiosity rover - 1 tonne size of a car

Clean room - in bunny suits - assembling the 2020 successor to Curiosity - Curiosity on steroids. Many years ago in Florida, we'd seen the same meticulous scene assembling the International space station.

3hrs to Texas, just USD180 for your boots

Many wonderful museums


Galveston tall ship "Elissa" - volunteers tarring ropes with half a dozen oil drilling rigs in the background.

Galveston bar

Behind the scenes for 7 hrs at the Johnson Space Center

Mission Control

Apollo series Saturn V

Astronaut chrysalis - just out of the neutral buoyancy pool (whole replica of the Space Station underwater for practicing on)

Bat colony - at dusk quarter of a million bats go out to dine over the bayou....

Artcar musuem







Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rainy saturday afternoon in Auckland

As part of The Big Draw we spent a couple of hours at the Ponsonby Food Court. Nice and warm and dry and great fun

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rainy day in the food court with the Auck group. 8"x6" sketch book

Southward Car Museum

MrBlack and I thought it would be a good idea to draw inside during the winter. There are lots of great cars to draw at Southward Car Museum, but no one has worked out how to heat an enormous concrete warehouse, so it was still a bit cold.

Southward Car Museum from Andrew James on Vimeo.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Crane City



Almost everywhere you look in Auckland at the moment you see cranes. They're everywhere! Here are a few recent examples.