Urban Sketching at Botanical Gardens

On Saturday I made it to the Melbourne Urban Sketchers meetup at the Royal Botanical Gardens. I haven’t been for over four months and I was missing the group: the comradeship; the sharing of the ideas, experiences and knowledge; the ease and comfort of sketching in public with others. The turn out was huge – maybe due to the warmer weather or maybe due to the current “Urban Sketching in Boroondara” exhibition attracting new people. As usual it was fascinating to see what everyone choose to sketch and how different everyone’s work was, even when they tackled the same subjects.
I sketched Fern Gully Rest House with another lovely lady, who works in IT – so we had something else in common to chat about.
Fern Gully Rest House: subject and sketch
Sketch: Fern Gully Rest House
Afterwards I took a slow walk towards the city, stopping at the National Gallery to look at some new exhibitions: the humorous and thought-provoking “David Shirley: Life and Life Drawing” and colourful, sparkly and fun “Express Yourself! Romance was born for kids”. (I’ll have to come back with my kids – I’m sure they’ll enjoy it as much as I did)
Self at Express Yourself exhibition
During the two hours train ride back home I was reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” and relating it back to how I feel while I paint. I love painting, it makes me happy – simple admission that took me a long time to recognize and accept.
Reading 'Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience' on the train

In the garden: white

White potato creeper
White potato creeper
Pandorea jasminoides or Bower vine
Bower vine
Philadelphus ‘Virginal’ (?)
Philadelphus Virginal
Flowering succulent
Flowering succulent
White rose bush at the front of the house that made me fall in love with the house while looking through the rental listings.
White rose bush
Some of the roses have jut a tiny bit of pink blush.
White rose
My quick attempt to paint a white rose
Watercolour of white rose
And my much slower sketch of another white rose in pencil
Pencil sketch of a rose

One year after leaving

London - top of St Paul's Cathedral
It’s been a year since we left London. Few months of travel and visiting family; six months of adjusting to being back in Melbourne and enjoying catching up with the old friends; another period of adjustment as we moved to Bendigo four months ago.
London - Barbican centre
London - Barbican balconies
Around our second month in Bendigo I reached my lowest point: feeling jaded by constant changes, socially inept, resistant to exploring new place and making new friends. I was missing London: my amazing, talented, beautiful friends; the museums, art galleries and theatres; knowing that this vast, old, vibrant city will always be full of surprises to stumble upon. Without me noticing, London seeped into my bones. The images come unexpected, bright and precious – riding a bus across the heath, walking along Thames past the colourful sea of tourists, drinking tea at the friend’s kitchen table. They hit me with the full force of longing and I miss London with my whole body.
London wall - home of pigeons
However, two months ago there weren’t any fairy godmothers around to wave a wand and magically whisk me back to my old life in London. Days kept on passing, new friends were met, new routines were established, new places were discovered. Spring came bringing gorgeous blue skies, explosion of flowers, abundance of bees and birds. I love Australia – I feel more relaxed and confident here. It feels right to be at this place at this time – providence brought us here to learn what we need to learn. For now I wish for stability, for staying in one place, for using the energy for the inner-transformation instead of the physical journeys. The future will unfold itself in all its intricacy and beauty and take me where I meant to be.
Eastern Rosella

Sketching at Sovereign Hill

Wednesday was a public holiday thanks to the horse races, so we decided to visit Sovereign Hill before it gets too hot and too crowded with the summer tourists. Sovereign Hill is a village recreating the life during the 1850s goldrush. There are mines to explore, period buildings to see, costumed staff and volunteers to chat to, food to try out, a tent camp with a stream in which one can pan for gold, etc.
Sovereign Hill -  Main street
Last time I was here was probably about 15 years ago and my most vivid memories were of the candle-making and the tall wooden mine tower.
Sovereign Hill - candle making
My daughter visited Sovereign Hill quite recently on the school excurtion, but wanted to come back to try out some boiled lollies. So while the kids were enjoying their lollies I had my chance to do some urban sketching, but I wasn’t fast enough and had to rush at the end to avoid being “helped” by my son.
Sketching in Sovereign Hill
Sovereign Hill - sketch
I got confused by all the buildings on the left, so ended up with the empty space, which I later used to journal about the trip.
Sovereign Hill - wooden shack

In the garden: purple

While I was away in Queensland, there were few warm days here and the plants exploded into the sea of greenery and the abundance of flowers. Upon my return everything looked so lush. It feels like nature is hungrily enjoying the best of the weather between the chilliness of the winter and the scorching heat of the summer.
I’m slowly getting to know the garden that was designed and planted by strangers. Eventually, in a year or two, it will have to go back to them, so I’m conscious about how I change it and what I plant. I get the impression that the owners liked purple.
Dried up iris
The light purple irises are mostly gone, but now the darker ones are starting to bloom.
Deep purple iris
I made a sketch of one of them in the watercolour Moleskine in about 30 minute – a small sign of progress: instead of grumbling about the lack of time and daydreaming about what wonderful paintings I could produce if I had few uninterrupted hours every day; I sat down and painted something in the time I had.
Watercolour sketch of iris
Here are the photos of other purple flowers for your enjoyment.
purple daisies
Bee in the purple flowers
I wonder what this one is and if it is edible as the leaves smell like mint.
mint-scented purple flower
Purple climbing rosePurple climbing rose

Beauty in nature

On Wednesday my husband, daughter and I watched the total lunar eclipse.
Lunar eclipse
On Friday I discovered a swarm of bees in our garden.
Swarm of bees
The world is such an amazing magical place with beauty to be found everywhere. I’m grateful that painting is part of my life as it helps me to slow down and look at the wonders that surround me.

5 lessons learned from daily painting

Sketch of ScienceWorks Building

ScienceWorks Builidng – pen and watercolour wash in Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook (14.0 x 21.6 cm)

Hello! and sorry for the disappearing yet again. The school holidays started on the 19th of September and I took the kids first to Melbourne and then to Queensland. I had the best intentions to continue with the daily painting and blogging, but at the last minute decided to leave the laptop at home as it was another heavy item to drag around with me and I like to travel lightly. Once the holiday started I had to admit to myself that I would much more prefer to relax and enjoy it, instead of constantly look for the opportunities to paint.
Palm Trees
I feel that doing the daily painting challenge for 18 days was enough to teach me that:
1. I can paint regularly in the evenings.
2. Regardless of how much I enjoy painting, every evening I still had to overcome the desire to just rest and the reluctance to pick up my brushes, but once I did I would completely loose myself in the process and enjoy it immensely.
3. Painting every night at the end of the busy days is tough. From the next week I’ll aim to paint just five evenings per week allowing myself to have one evening to chill out (read a book, watch a movie, sit outside in the garden and stare at the stars) and another one to plan the week ahead and do paperwork.
4. Having a well organized work space and consistent routines helps immensely to get some painting and drawing done.
5. To continue painting in the new environment or outside my daily routines (holidays!) I need to have a well thought-out detailed plan beforehand.