The small boat with a big job

I spotted the Phil Warren 2 on the ramp at Westhaven yesterday. It was a stunning morning and I was running early, so I figured I'd quickly sketch it. I've read about the incredible work they do cleaning up the Waitemata harbour, it's tributaries and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf so I reckon it's worthy of a sketch.

My sketching caught the eye of skipper Ben Harris who wandered over for a chat. He was getting it ready for a mission up the Whau River – the estuary that runs up past Lincoln Road to Glendene and Kelston and he would be meeting a group of locals up there for the morning's clean-up.

Ben says anyone can help out, so head over to their website for more details.  According to their website, volunteers collected nearly 90,000 litres of litter in the first six months of 2011 alone

I'm planning to lend a hand at some stage – and take the sketchbook of course.


The Kestrels last days?

I happened across the grim sight of the Kestrel at the Titan Slipway today. I'd long thought it would make a great sketch subject – when it was afloat – but of course procrastinated and missed out.

Sadly it sank a few weeks back and now I've finally got to sketch it – but as a reclaimed hulk with almost all of it's passenger decks and wheel houses missing! Word is that no one has the money to restore it, and it will be cut up for wood. Very sad indeed.

Here are some illustrations of the Kestrel in happier times. From the book Reflections on Auckland Harbour by Gainor Jackson, published in 1975...


Shakespeare found alive and well in Auckland

Today marks 400 years since the death of the great English playwright, poet and actor and it seems William Shakespeare – or at least his works – are alive and well at the bottom of the world.

When I sketched the 'Pop-up Globe' today it was packed to the rafters for a matinee performance of Twelfth Night. This full size replica of the second Globe Theatre (the one that was built on the ruins of the original in 1614) has been booked near it's 900 seat capacity for every session since it opened in February. In fact it's been so successful that the season has been extended – twice. That's apparently something like 70,000 punters in just a few months - not bad for some 400 year old shows – and in a city that usually prefers it's rugby over theatre too.

When I first heard that work on a 'pop-up' Globe had commenced in a carpark behind the Town Hall, I was totally skeptical - what a mad idea! So I went down for a look. I was surprised that after only a few days of work progress was well underway. The site was crawling with workers in orange high viz vests busily constructing what looked like a giant Meccano set. Described as 'cutting-edge technology combined with 400 year old design' the structure is almost entirely built from scaffolding. The site is sloped, so huge concrete slabs were being lowered into place to hold the whole thing down and stop it sliding down the hill. Finally it was clothed in corrugated iron.

If the construction materials sound a bit temporary don't forget the theatre is sitting in a council carpark – and they want their carpark back. Sadly the whole thing wraps up in early May so you better be quick if you want to catch a show. Here are some rough sketches below of the construction in action...


Tree House, Pataua sketch, framed

An old friend was about to have a major birthday celebration (you know who you are you old bugger!).

As is customary for me in these situations – I drew a complete blank when it came to deciding on what gift to give!

Miraculously, inspiration finally came. I'd give him a sketch I'd done a few years back of his surf ski, sitting on their family Land Rover, up at Pataua. Good idea, eh, but the sketch is bound in a sketchbook right, and I only had a week!

I did a quick high resolution scan and emailed it to Endemic World in Ponsonby Road. They printed it at A3 size for me using archival inks on acid free watercolour paper, matted and framed it in a raw oak frame - all in a week – fantastic service!

Some snaps of it below or check out the original sketch original post here.


Sketch visitor

Out and about sketching Downtown Auckland with Eric and Chantal from New Caledonia.
The fact we were sitting next to a French food cart was pure coincidence! Sadly the fine summer weather had changed to windy with squally drizzle.


Vultures Lane

Quick and dirty sketch of Vultures Lane - one of the pubs in Vulcan Lane central Auckland.


The Urban Sketching Handbook: Reportage and documentary drawing

Let's say, theoretically, you needed an author to produce a guide to reportage drawing. Who would you turn to – you'd want someone with some real life experience right? Perhaps someone who is well known for reportage drawing and has covered a major international event?

Well, that’s exactly what happened with The Urban Sketching handbook: Reportage and Documentary Drawing. The author is no less than Veronica Lawlor, the artist who stepped off a train in downtown Manhattan one day in September 2001. She walked into scenes of mayhem and destruction - but rather than turn around and flee - she took her pad and pencils out of her bag and proceeded to draw the scenes as she continued her way closer to the Trade Towers (check out some of her sketches from that day here).

In Reportage and Documentary Drawing Veronica brings us a whole world of reportage. You’ll find sketches here from as diverse a subject matter as the Hong Kong umbrella freedom movement protests of 2014, so well captured by digital artist Rob Sketcherman to sports events and courtroom reportage. Miguel Herranz documents the Barcelona anti-abortion law protests, Cathy Gatland captures the scene outside Nelson Mandela’s home the day of his passing to Ted Michalowski’s courtroom captures.

But it’s not all mayhem and drama, a large part of the book is dedicated to subjects that you can test yourself out on closer to home, the small stories that unfold in everyday life in any home, cafe or workplace if you know what your looking for. Inma Serrano captures a little girl doing her homework, Dhar Chedar observes exhausted passengers sleeping in a 3rd class train carriage in Indonesia and Isabel Fiadero captures checker players in Mauritania. Even one of my sketches of Auckland's Diwali festival makes an appearance!

The Urban Sketching handbook: Reportage and Documentary Drawing is the latest in a series of Urban Sketching handbooks, which also includes Architecture and Cityscapes: Tips and Techniques for Drawing on Location and People and Motion: Tips and Techniques for Drawing on Location both by Gabriel Campanario and the soon to be released Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location by Stephanie Bower. Most are available at Gordon Harris Art Supplies too.