Canberra sketchers meeting at the NGA

The March meeting of our newly formed Canberra sketchers group was a really pleasant get together and everybody seemed to enjoy the buzz of activity in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Australia. As you can see we all  had a productive time!

Canberra Sketchers March 2015I was a bit of a wimp as it was warm and the air conditioned environment of the gallery beckoned me.

Sandstone Buddha NGAI made myself comfortable, and took time to draw a second century red sandstone Buddha which is about to be returned to India because it was stolen. Of course, when the gallery purchased it they did not know it was stolen and currently all key items in the Indian collection is part of a major provenance investigation.

It is only right that it be returned but before it left public display here, I decided to take time to really look at it and draw it. There is nothing like drawing to make you really look at something. It was quiet and peaceful in the gallery and I was really pleased I took time to do this as I probably would not have the opportunity to see this again let alone draw it. The red sandstone Buddha, originally cam from the Uttar Pradesh region of India.

Links to news reports relevant to the provenance investigation of the NGA Asia collection.

National Gallery of Australia to return stolen Buddha statue to India

Buddha statue found to have been stolen will be returned to India

If you are local or visiting and interested in Canberra Sketchers don’t hesitate to contact me for details about our meetings.

Added Later see how Leonie Andrews saw the Canberra Sketchers event 

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EDM challenge drawing 132

I have been very remiss and not shared my drawings much lately. I am still drawing mundane everyday items as practice but not as often in January. Anyway here is everyday Matters drawing challenge 132 “draw a chain”. It sounds easy but is more of challenge than I thought it would be!

drawing of a chainI used watercolours, watercolour pencils, and pitt pens in a Strathmore  Mixed media sketchbook, which is nearly finished. There are a couple of pages left and it is full. It is the second I have filled this year.  I have decided to bind my own sketchbook and mix the type of papers in it so I have a variety of drawing surfaces. I have also decided to make it larger, I am not sure if this will be successful but I will find out as I use it.

If you are interested in this challenge here is  the EDM challenge list .

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An everyday item becomes a fabric pattern

I have got myself merrily side tracked creating this. I set about to do one of my everyday drawing challenges  and then decided to scan and digitally manipulate it into repeat pattern. This is how fabric prints are designed.

scissors sketchHere is my original sketch for prompt #105 on the EDM challenge list As you can see they are scissors. If you click on the image you can see a larger version. The drawing was done in a Strathmore mixed media sketchbook using watercolours,  and pitt pens. As I worked the scissors I decided that I did not want a shadow behind the objects because I wanted to turn it into a design. I knew I was going to take it into photoshop and set the objects on a transparent background and I did not want to have clean out the shadow.

scissors patternOnce I had scanned it I decided I liked the red handled pair and created 3 versions each with different coloured handles.  I then arranged them and set them into a repeat pattern. Fabric designers do this so that the pattern repeats seamlessly across the fabric. This is what the pattern looks like in repeat. I have a larger version of this which people can see if they click on it.

scissors patternMost people like a simple background of one colour. So at this stage you could make the background white layer a colour.

scissors pattern But I like to play with pattern on pattern. It makes it more complex but I like complexity. If you click on the image you will see in the larger version that there are wavy lines behind this.

scissors pattern I liked the effect and tried some chevron stripes. Once again if you click on the image you will see better what I am talking about.

scissors pattern

Then I decided I wanted a lighter feel so experimented with laying another pattern behind the scissors.

scissors pattern I then tried a subtle second texture over the grid.

I am still experimenting and having fun with this. Of course I created and stored the scissors as a photoshop pattern preset too- so now I will be able to set it behind other pieces! I feel a sewing theme coming on.

Its interesting what can be done with simple sketch let me know if you want to see more because I think I started something… Off to go back to photoshop!

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Drawing is good for mental health

sketch of art materials Science says drawing is good for mental health. Not only does it make you happier it is good for your brain. Print.com recently ran an article by Robin Landa. Draw Yourself Happy: Drawing, Creativity and Your Brain makes some very interesting points in favour of establishing a drawing practice.

Researchers have found that drawing not only effects the brain but also improves makes you happier. I think most people who draw know this but it very nice to have science back you up on this! So, instead of an art practice being a guilty self indulgence it becomes an activity that promotes good mental health!

Another confirmation of a personal belief, is when I talk about the muscle memory of drawing things like an elipse or a circle or even a straight line – I discovered I am not talking rubbish. Discoveries like this is always a relief and obviously just has to shared. (She says with a grin)

In another piece of research “Drawing on the right side of the brain: A voxel-based morphometry analysis of observational drawing” used voxel-based morphometry which is a scanning method, used in this case to study how observational drawing effected the brain. They worked with art students and non-art students and measured the volume and performance of grey and white brain matter while drawing. Guess what they discovered?

… drawing relates to changes in fine motor structures in art and non-art students. Also, the scans revealed that the art students had more grey matter in the precuneus in the parietal lobe, an area of the brain linked to a wide spectrum of integrated tasks, including creativity, visuo-spatial imagery and more.

So put simply (I think) is that when we draw we grow more grey matter in the area of the brain that is responsible for things like creativity. What this says to me is that practice really does lead to improvement because what is happening is that your brain is developing. So the mantra practice, practice, practice makes scientific sense.

Also when drawing dopamine is released but, as James E. Zull points out,

the dopamine is released in the newest region of cortex, the part that we use to create ideas, make decisions, and plan our actions. Thus, we feel rewarded when we create new objects or actions. And since creativity is based on the decisions made by the creator, the reward system kicks in when we are in control and inventing things that we have thought of ourselves.”

This  little nugget had me thinking, particularly the phrase “the reward system kicks in” I think it kicks in even stronger when others recognise the activity. The reward is enhanced in social situation which explains why various internet drawing challenges work so well. This is my hunch, but I am sure somewhere in the world researchers are looking at social learning and the internet. What do you think?

Anyway over cuppa do pop over and read Robin Landa’s Draw Yourself Happy: Drawing, Creativity and Your Brain

sketch of art materials About the images. These are a couple of recent sketches. I have decided that this blog needs a redesign so I am drawing art materials and working out ideas. These were done in a Strathmore mixed media sketchbook which is 5.5 in x 8.5 in (14 x 21.6 cm) using artist pitt pens, Derwent watercolour pencils and watercolour paint. Click on the thumbnails to be takes to larger versions.

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