Gangnam style and horses

Last week I was a music video called Gangnam style. It was so fun that when I went to church camp in Mapleton over the weekend I couldn’t help but dance, and neither could the rest of the camp. See video here: Campers Gangnam Style
On the was back home, we stopped at a stable where I was filmed with horses and added this scene into our video. This reminded me how much I like horses, so at lunch today I have been sketching them with black pen.

Horse in valley landscape

A gentleman dances past horses in a stable

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Experimenting with Ink

Portrait in two colours

This week I used new techniques with the ink. The subject was a cat and my first drawing to use two colours of ink. Black was used first to cover over pencil lines with brown used later to show colour and shade. This was drawn by looking at a portrait photo.

The small brush strokes made the fur look fairly real. I feel that the technique worked because it overcame the weakness of my inability to shade while only using one colour. However, it took me half an hour to complete which is beyond my available time to dedicate to this activity if I am to continue regular inking. This was because I first penciled the lines, as I am not yet confident with pure inking.

To see what inking is like on a live subject, I did my next drawings of the cat while he was sleeping, returning to a single colour of black for simplicity.

The cat sleeping

This proved a challenge. As the cat moved and curled itself around in it’s sleep I was rushing to finish the drawing. Ink drawings cannot be corrected, unlike pencil and paint. I had to rely on my memory and eventually drew the final position of the resting cat which had gradually turned itself into a ball.

The cat rolled in a ball.

While these last couple of drawings were frustrating, it did remind me why I enjoyed inking with brush and why I avoid using solid fine tip pens. The flowing lines with varied width, similar to what I use in calligraphy, have a grace about them that I cannot feel in mediums other than brush art. They feel graceful to draw. I need to remind myself to use this flowing technique more often rather than rushing through drawing as I did today. Achieving accuracy without pencil marks proved very difficult, however, it is like removing the training wheels on a bicycle, it should become less of hassle if I practice a little without aid of pencil each week. Time management is also an issue to overcome, however, with practice it should become faster as I hesitate less often.

With a new job starting next week and many responsibilities in the community I am continually concerned with how much time I will have available for art. Based on these drawings I feel I will have plenty for this activity and I look forward to drawing new animals, perhaps I will try horses and tigers next.

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Ink Landscape with Tree

This time a wide white paper was used.

First the tree was drawn from a real tree in pencil. Then the background hills were sketched. Finally the pencil was inked over and new buildings, boats and flora populated the scene. I used my signature stamp in red ink. Drawing the buildings and trees was challenging as it was easy to get the size and distance incorrect. Ink is unforgiving as you cannot remove it from the page, or paint over it, without ruining the work. I feel this is a successful start into ink brush art as it was easy and fast to draw. Two factors that are important if I am to continue illustrating with ink weekly besides my work and community responsibilities this year. I am confident further illustrations can be made with ease and felt relaxed while doing this.

I especially love how the fields turned out on the hillside. A last minute addition. The clouds were defined so well with light and shadow that it surprised me, I had not expected such traditionally shaped clouds to be realistic and 3D in nature. The texture of the tree bark’s dark patch proved very difficult to translate into ink, but it is a good estimation of the tree I saw.

I am very happy with this result and will continue with more ink illustrations. I feel it jumps to life more than I could have hoped given the effort it requires and the amount of simple freehand light strokes. Perhaps later I can master how to draw grass.

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Ink Landscape

Today tried my hand at ink brush art. I used some ink brushes on calligraphy practice paper with black ink. I will try to get some good paper without lines to ink on later and possibly try different ink colours. I chose an Easter theme, Jesus tomb in a landscape.

Setup table for ink brush work using large heavy objects as paper weights.

First I used a pencil to sketch the landscape. I made fairly simple lines without shading.

First I used a pencil to draw the landscape.

Then I inked over the pencil with my brush very quickly. The brush can change thickness with pressure, I used a fairly light pressure for consistent width. I like how it flows.

Then I used a fine brush to cover over the pencil lines.

Empty inked landscape ready to be filled in.

Finally I populated the landscape and filled some of the hills in with my larger brush. I used a thin brush to make a rocky tomb, with it’s round stone door open.

Thickened some lines with my larger calligraphy brush, filled Landscape with trees, bushes, stones, Jesus' tomb, path, town and grass using a small brush.

This is very enjoyable, I hope to do some more this week. Hopefully I will have a more suitable sheet of paper as this one was rather rough, being only practice paper for my calligraphy. I feel adding a lighter colour than black would be good for the shadowy hillsides, they turned out very dark. It is difficult to draw people at this scale, I tried to draw a couple of people next to the tomb, can you see them? They look like small trees.

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Ink drawings are interesting.

I was looking through some ink drawings at Sparrow Canyon Illustrations and enjoyed them. I am now trying to draw a few myself. Have a look at his recent drawings on his blog: 210~214 of 240


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Chinese Embroidery

Hunan has its own style of embroidery and I had the opportunity to learn this skill at the  Hunan Embroidery museum. They can look spectacular. The first step is to draw a picture onto the fabric using pencil. I chose a traditional Chinese building like what I had seen in several old paintings. I then drew some clouds around it to give the drawing some sense of height as if it is located in the mountains.

Splitting silk thread

Blue and silver silk threads were used for clouds while gold, brown and red were selected for the building. You then need to separate the threads into the right thickness before threading the needle.

Begin stitching with needle.

Perform the stitching by filling in space between your drawn pencil lines, keeping each stitch besides the previous in same direction so as to fill sketched drawing. By changing the direction of lines you may create a 3 dimensional effect. For example, follow the slope of a roof to make it look like tiles. When you start and when you finish one area, make sure to repeat a stitch through the same hole and cut off the thread from the fabric to secure it from unravelling.

Assistance from my teacher

I am grateful for the assistance of my teacher. Embroidery requires some patience, a good eye and a steady hand but can become addictive.

With Teacher

I enjoyed learning embroidery and would encourage you to drop by this embroidery museum if your ever in Changsha to see the art on display.

Embroidery stitches up close

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Chinese Calligraphy

The first of my new hobbies: Chinese Calligraphy. Upon returning to Australia I have continued to use my ink brush. Using the brush requires a lot of concentration but it still feels relaxing. You can vary the width of the stroke by applying pressure. It takes a lot of practice and patience.

Writing Calligraphy during Chinese New Year.

The four letter line of a poem I wrote.

I am writing the character "Fu" which means Luck.

The character "Fu".

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Chinese High Speed Railway

During my stay in China, I travelled on a Chinese high speed train for the first time. My journey was from Changsha to Guangzhou and took 2 hours. To put this in perspective, the distance between Brisbane and Sydney is the same length as this journey.

Arrival at Guangzhou South Station

The train was named CRH2-105C and was manufactured by the company CSR. From what I have learned, it operates on the worlds fastest commercial railway service. I started the journey at Changsha Southern Railway Station, which only receives high speed trains with as many as one every 10 minutes. With so many trains operating, there was no problem buying the ticket an hour before my journey.

While based on an earlier Kawasaki design, CRH1, this train was completely built by the Chinese company.

Peculiar seats to lean on while drinking at the on-board bar.

Bar area of dining car.

The seats were comfortable. However, I wish there were power plug connections as my laptop battery was low. The dining/bar carriage had interesting wall rests for patrons to lean on while drinking and I spent most of my time in this area.

The Chinese Ministry of Railways ordered 30 sets of CRH2C stage two, name code CRH2-091C to CRH2-110C and CRH2-141C to CRH2-150C. They operate at 350km/h. One can only imagine the speed of future passenger trains.

The railway stations were also fascinating. Changsha South Station looked like an airport with its large open interior space and curving roof. When I arrived in Guangzhou South Station, the escalator led me down to the hall beneath the railway tracks, revealing each track to be supported by a row of diagonal concrete members.

Waiting area in Changsha South Railway Station. Nice curved roof.

Comfortable economy seats.

Structure beneath the Guangzhou South Railway Station. Each of the tracks has a row of supports.

It was a fairly impressive and fast journey. The next time I travel to China, I hope to use the Shanghai Maglev Train.

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Japanese Food

The port city of Kobe offers a variety of japanese rice wine, sake, and an interesting soft beef that is marbled with fat. The beef is rather easy to eat and the fatty taste goes well with the very mild flavoured sake. There are museums that explore the history of sake, explaining the ancient and modern methods of producing it from rice.
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Easter – Travels in South East Queensland

During the Easter weekend my first destination was Mount Tamborine not far from Brisbane, which my family travels to for lunch each year. While there I noticed one of the wine shops promoting Heritage Wine produced in the Granite Belt, near Stanthorpe and decided to travel there later in the week. On Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed a walk down the Southbank markets, and tried out an SLR camera on the Ibis birds. I am certainly impressed by the improvements in camera technology in the last five years.
Finally on Wednesday, I drove to the Granite Belt. My family has much history in this area, and I enjoyed looking at the sandstone buildings constructed in the town. These included the St. Mark’s Anglican Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church and School, the Warwick Post Office, Freemason’s Hall, Town Hall, Police Station, Courthouse and a nice statue of Thomas Joseph Byrnes (an early premier I believe, and the first statue to be placed in brisbane city, though it has been since relocated to Warwick!) amoungst other significant stone buildings and monuments, all in a small country town no larger than the suburb of Carindale. (as a side note, it most likely has a large boundary, however to me the town limits seemed small).
We continued our journey past the town of Warwick to the Heritage Wine house, on the road to Stanthorpe. I took some notes on the interior of the dining and drinking hall, as I was impressed by the dark wood furniture and brick interior, and surprised at how well the modern carpet blended with the very traditional and formal (but warm and homely!) setting. Despite the climate, Heritage have a nice range of white, red and fortified wines available, though what convinced me to travel there was their ‘moonshine madness’, a blend of coffee, chocolate and fortified wine which I had tried in Mount Tamborine during the Easter weekend. We took a bottle of my favorite to taste (though there was a rather dry red with a richer smell), a Club Red 2005, with us along with some apples being sold from a nearby farmhouse. I think this shall go along nicely with our spicy food at home. Finally we arrived in Stanthorpe, much smaller than Warwick, with many small shops to visit, and an interesting art gallery of masks and self portraits. A good trip, filled with much history, food, wine, a black and gold landscape, and sandstone architecture. I shall definately visit Warwick and the Granite Belt again some time in the future.
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