An Artist Afloat
Sailing and sketching
Excitement hit on Sunday morning, somewhere between loads of laundry, a final tidy of the boat and a visit from our friend Adrian. The stressful jobs were done and I was ready to go sailing! There was a total lack of wind, so the sails remained furled, but we maneuvered away from the dock easily and headed to Waiheke. Our night at Blackpool was quiet and uneventful. I made the most of having time to read, Jim worked on the drain pump which had already began to misbehave, and the next day we set sail to Kawau.
We had beautiful winds. All the work which Jim had done on the hull paid off as Island Prism cut through the water at 6.5 knots. We met heavy rainfall, with beautiful sunshine in between, and by the evening were anchored near the Governor's mansion at Kawau. The anchorage there is secure and very pretty. The island has a colourful history, having been home to cannibals, coppermines and Governor George Grey, who imported exotic plants and animals and drove around the island in a carriage drawn by four zebras. Some of the animals remain today- peacocks and wallabies roam alongside the native birds.
The island's birdlife are always happy to see people, especially if you come bearing bread. A flotilla of ducks swam out to see us as I sketched the view from the boat in the late afternoon, and the following day the peacocks and weka stalked the cafe in hope of edible gifts. The peacock's feathers were glorious in the sunlight, although he did seem to have trouble turning round in the confined space between tables!
I was experimanting with my new Noodler's Nib Creaper and Lexington Grey ink. The pen is a flex nib, which gives it a range of line variations as you change pressure, and Lexington grey is a lovely shading ink which goes from a light pencil shade to a deep grey. The two worked together beautifully as the pen allows the ink flow to vary- I think the duck sketches show it well. On the cream paper in my sketchbook, everything had a very gentle 19th Century air. Next time we're back I might need to try something a little more outrageous, but for now the greys and greens suit the beautiful mansion house and peaceful island very well.
Kawau is beautiful, and it was tempting to stay another night- maybe looking for wallabies at dusk and barbequing on the beach. But the wind was blowing well so we decided to take it to head up the coast to Leigh.
Today's post is a bit on the image heavy side- click on an image to expand it for a closer look.
I've been trying to follow along with Inktober. It's a month long drawing challenge where the aim is to draw every day in (yes, you guessed it) ink. There are optional prompts to follow, but I've decided to go the route of doing my own thing and using a different tool each week.
During Week 1 I focused on using fineliners- not the most adventurous start as I use them all the time, but it was school holidays and I had time to do lots of detailed drawings, so I figured I'd make the most of it. I'm enjoying mixing up pens of different sizes- it gives interesting variation in the hatching and line. On the days I had time to draw twice, I grabbed my Lamy Safari. Sorry fineliners, I love you but don't think we're about to enter an exclusive relationship.
On a boat note, Jim's polished up the anchors and we've been working on repairing the furler, which has required quite a bit of running around and ordering parts. Finding affordable steel rope proved a bit of an epic task, but Jim managed it, and my paperwork endeavours succeeded in getting Prism an extension here in NZ- meaning we can spend the summer in NZ waters.
Week 2 of Inktober saw me going back to work. Goodbye lunches at the boat yard with Jim, sketching and playing with watercolours. Hello, long days at school! For my tool, I picked my new Noodlers Konrad pen. I wanted to explore the flex nib, and be able to work quickly in case I was pushed for time (which I was).
I was a little nervous about the pen as I had read quite mixed reviews about it. Noodlers pens are handmade but are also very inexpensive- this can lead to a pen which requires some tinkering (it seems like the perfect instrument for people who like taking things apart). I lucked in and became the proud owner of a pen which wrote perfectly straight out of the box. The flex isn't as dramatic as you might get with a dip pen nib, but is enough to give decent line variation when sketching. I think it will take a bit of practice to optimise this, but for this week I found it fun to use.
I've been working my way through some of the ink samples I ordered along with the pen, with some pleasant discoveries. Noodlers Blue-Nosed Bear (the partly waterproof ink I used on the owl) showed beautiful colour variations when I added water, pulling turquoise tones out of the dark teal.
For more inky explorations, see my blog post inky jellyfish.
My ink samples come from Goulet Pens. It's been a great way of playing with different colours! (I am in no way connected to Goulet other than being a very happy customer!)
The list of boat jobs is steadily getting ticked off, and I'm slowly combatting the paperwork and research side of things. And, of course, sketching. The rudder is back on and smoother and steadier than it's been in a long time, the mast is undergoing some major repairs and any weekend now I could get the call to come down to the boatyard and help slap on bottom paint.
Slapping on watercolour over my Platinum maki-e brush pen is much more relaxing. I'm loving the variety of lines I can get from this pen (and look! I used the same materials for two drawings in a row!).
Sketching my Jimmie is fun too. He reckons I've drawn too much hair. I reckon he needs a haircut!
We've also checked our watermaker is in full working order. This is an essential part of our emergency kit, in case we run out of water or our water gets contaminated. Jim made up a bucket of salt water and I pumped it through. The result was excellent- salt and chemicals all removed. I had fun with a multi-coloured pen and carved my own arrow stamp from a bit of lino.
We're still not sure if we'll make the 17th October for our launch date, but it's great to see things progressing!
There's a wonderful sense of achievement when you finish a picture that you've been working on all week! I began drawing a word with illustrated letters last weekend. In my infinite wisdom I decided I'd work on it in ballpoint pen and would cross hatch the whole thing. This probably meets Andrea Joseph's success criteria for 'drawing like a barmpot'. I have worked in biro before, but this A4 drawing was the largest yet.
Some things I learned:
I'd love to hear what you think!
It's been a busy month. At school, I've been working with Year 7/8 students to write then rehearse the script for our full school production- which, with a cast of over 800 is getting bigger than Ben Hur! At home I've been taking Andrea Joseph's Creative Lettering course at Sketchbook Skool. I was a little hesitant- I love Andrea's work and teaching style but wasn't sure about a whole four weeks of lettering. I quite like calligraphy, but could I do almost a month of it? Every day? I was worried I'd get bored. I was wrong.
Every day Andrea posted a new video for us to watch, and most days we had a new piece of homework. I like playing with ideas and didn't always complete tasks in a day, with the result that the course finished yesterday and I am approximately a week behind. This isn't a bad thing- I've learned a LOT, and feel very inspired. Many of the ideas are things I will be able to adapt and utilise when the course is over, which is why the initial 'playing around' stage is so important to me. I've got over my feeling that 'lettering must be perfect' but can now make it close to perfect if I want to. I can create words that are pictures and pictures that are words and I hope that the lettering in my sketchbooks will never again be a hastily scribbled and embarrassing afterthought.
Andrea's instruction is excellent and the course is inspiring. Definitely recommended if it's run again. And I still have access to all the course materials, so I can take my time and enjoy finishing off- between helping direct our cast of hundreds! On with the art- and on with the show! Which style of lettering do you like best? Write a comment- or click my instagram link to see more!
An Artist Afloat- Painting the world one anchorage at a time.