I went sketching again today. This time we went to the Fairfield Boat House. It is on the banks of the Yarra River. The boathouse was established in 1908 by a John St.Clair as a picnic, camping and refreshment room area. It is beautiful, but warning, take your own picnic lunch as the food is expensive and not that interesting. When we were there they had a cover over the jam for the Devonshire Teas…that’s fine but one would have hoped they’d let the wasps out from under the cover first. Having said that, the place has everything one would want to relax enjoy the view, take a kayak, or one of the boats along the Yarra and it is definitely eye candy for artists.
I should have taken more photos but it was coffee, chat then down to business. This is my third time out and I have learnt a lot. This time I just took a pencil and a sketch book that I had made many years ago and have never used. It must have waited for this challenge. The paper in it is an Indian handmade paper with a bit of tooth and texture and fleck; it gave the pencil work a nice feel. It also takes water-soluble oil pastels well although I did not use them today. These are a couple of the photos I took, unfortunately I didn’t even take a shot of what I was sketching…doh!
Bird Houses and seed containers keeps the many birds happy. Kookaburra laughing, unidentified and hidden others were calling and singing adding to the beauty.
The table in the foreground is the upper level. Huge shady umbrella’s keep the sun at bay and the falling leaves from the gums otherwise they would be dropping into your coffee. The next level is on the wide shady veranda you can see to the right.
On the ground level is the open air seating and access to the boats and kayaks and of course you are right on the Yarra and yes, our Yarra is always sepia coloured and proud of it itself. For those that don’t know it is often (derogatively) called the upside-down river. I love every inch of our Yarra. I am lucky enough to live across the road from the Yarra Flats (Yarra Flats Park features 85 hectares of pastoral and heritage landscapes, natural bushland, wetlands, abundant birdlife and a number of informal picnic areas.
so part of the Yarra is with me all the time.
For the aborigines of the Wurundjeri tribe (part of the Kulin nation that had occupied the lands around Port Phillip Bay for at least 30,000 years) the Yarra River was a life-source that had been etched into the landscape by the ancestral creator spirit Bunjil – the wedge tailed eagle. They called the river Birrarrung – “Place of Mists and Shadows” and it was the dreaming path they followed and camped beside through the calendar of countless seasons.
The Sketch… After three sessions of being out I have managed not to panic but to relax and start with the scene closest to me. I started with a pole and promised myself to go slowly, not try to finish everything and I soon found I was happy and in the zone concentrating on a small part…
I have come to terms that when I am outside sketching for practice and being with supportive like-minded friends, perspective and angles and correctness is to be practised but not made ‘precious’. I so enjoyed the sunshine (albeit a bit too warm again…33c). The setting was all I could wish for as were my new-found friends. I am looking forward to the next session which will be at St.Kilda beach.
Your painting/sketch can look really silly, but when you take it away from the subject matter, it becomes something entirely different. When it’s not competing with the landscape, it can work. (Clyde Aspevig)