Wednesday, December 19, 2007

'The Sketchercisers' installed at The Art of Moving exhibition, Tuggeranong Art Gallery,
Artist's statement
From May 2006, I joined Julie Oakley in England and Penny Crompton in South Australia in Julie's on-line challenge to take some exercise in the neighbourhood every day for a year, stopping along the way to do a sketch – good, bad or indifferent – it didn’t matter. Every evening, we blogged our sketches and some comments relating to our outing, or the day generally. Through blog comments to each other and with blog visits from many guests around the world, we supported each other to complete the challenge. A daily coming together – a different sort of nourishment.
You can also visit Julie's blog, one mile from home and Penny's blog, with my boots and sketchbook

Dimensions: approx 170 x 170 x170
Media:Domestic furniture, mixed media

The chairs with gear represent the three of us - bike helmet for me, hat and glasses for Penny and a raincoat for Julie. The two windows at the back are 3D, recreated from small sketches done during my night walks. The pelican, above, is also inspired by a sketch.
We each have a place mat with a small computer and a drawing implement. Spreading from our placemats are a selection of the many sketches we did. At the back, on the right, you can see the small aluminium foil sculptures of Julie's son on his skateboard done from her stick figure sketches. There's a detail picture of them on the previous post.
Penny - here you can also see some small gates I made from her series of gate sketches

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This is an installation (still in progress) arising from this one year challenge. It will be exhibited at 'The Art of Moving" Exhibition in Canberra in November/December 2007


Artist's statement
From May 2006, I joined Julie Oakley in England and Penny Crompton in South Australia in an on-line challenge to take some exercise in the neighbourhood every day for a year, stopping along the way to do a sketch – good, bad or indifferent – it didn’t matter. Every evening, we blogged our sketches and some comments relating to our outing, or the day generally. Through blog comments to each other and with blog visits from many guests around the world, we supported each other to complete the challenge. A daily coming together – a different sort of nourishment- building new habits.
You can still visit the blogs at

Dimensions: approx 170 x 170 x170
Media:Domestic furniture, mixed media
Julie's comment on one of her last entries, "Exercise, nature and sketching - a magic potion for soothing the soul" gave me the idea for the format - the whole experience was a bit like the daily get-together of a main meal, only a different sort of nourishment. So here is a different sort of table setting. There are three places with chairs. Penny's chair has a hat and sunglasses, Julie's, a raincoat, and Alison's a bike helmet. (They are not placed correctly in this photo)You can see Penny's gates, made from wire and rusted metal, Julie's 'sketches of Hugo on the skateboard and two of my night window sketches. Also a pelican flying above. I need to make some more placemats. I will print out a variety of pictures and cut them into strips and weave them through the centre 'grid' of the cloth. I will add some painting/sketching paraphenalia, probably paint/print some bike tracks, footprints, make a model of Julie's dog, write/embroider some extracts from the blog texts and see what else is, if anything is needed.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Day 365
Well, here I am for the last day of this year long challenge! This is our house, one of the old workers cottages, built by the government for employees of the nearby brickworks which supplied the bricks for Canberra houses until the mid 70's. Until the brickworks closed, this area was polluted by the kiln smoke so house prices remained low. Now, the area is rapidly gentrifying and these weatherboard cottages are being knocked down or occasionally removed to the country.
I have drawn the car too small - well, it's use has declined greatly over the last year - even with downsizing to one car for a family of four drivers. All of us cycle nearly everywhere these days. My studio is at far left - a converted carport - too small, but I know I am lucky to have it. It looks onto the road and into the back courtyard where Hermione's lemon tree grows in a large tub.
This year-long 'sketchercize' project has been a marvellous challenge for me. I have got in the habit of looking much more closely and 'seeing' line, shape, colour, texture and pattern everywhere, not to mention enjoying the antics of Canberrans, wildlife etc. I have become far more comfortable with having a go at sketching anything and making the sketch 'good enough' - rather than giving up and starting again. I am especially pleased with my collections of night walk pictures and portraits of men at the library; also that I'm getting better at landscapes. There have been many days when I haven't felt like sketching but often it's been these occasions which have produced the most special sketches.
During the first 6 months of, mostly, walking 6 km per day, I lost about 10 kilos (22 pounds) but found I needed to do more energetic, hilly cycling (and pay attention to portion sizes) to lose the second 10 kilos. My fitness improved such that I was able to do a 3 day, 240km ride along rural roads, stopping along the way to sketch. Now the challenge will be to keep the weight off. (After 5 years, 65% of weight losers are heavier than they were before losing weight!)
Most of all, I have enjoyed sharing this challenge with Julie and Penny and the regular and occasional visitors, sharing snippets of our lives and our local haunts, through pictures and comments. I thank you all for visiting and supporting me along the way.
There is a spin-off yet to come from this experience. I am participating in an exhibition with the theme, 'the art of moving', using ideas and pictures from Penny's, Julie's (with their permission) and my blogs, produced in a sculptural form. My ideas for this are still evolving but will have to be actualized by September.
So that's it for now, my friends. Future artistic endeavours will be posted on my Scribbles blog - please visit me there.
ps. After sketching our house, I cycled to Manuka to stretch my muscles on the hills. 10 km cycle

Monday, April 30, 2007

Day 364
Another of the sketching possibilities I have enjoyed this past year has been sketching at the National Gallery. As it was cold and windy today, I went there for this second last day. These are two 1937 costumes from the Ballet Russe. They employed a number of artist designers, including Matisse to design sets and costumes. The ballet company was in Australia when war broke out and so the costumes ended up remaining here, eventually to be acquired by the Gallery. They have really exciting designs and colours. 12 km cycle

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Day 363
I walked to Hermione's bench again - to look for my purse which I may have dropped on the way home the other day. This tree was beautiful in the moonlight, sharp shadows of leaves falling across the trunk. Ralph found my purse at home while I was out. Done with pastel when I got home as it was raining again - 50ml so far.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Day 362
I cycled around the lake in the rain so just stopped to do a quick scribble. The boats look too big - oh well never mind! 17 km soggy cycle

Friday, April 27, 2007

Day 361
Another theme I wanted to revisit in this last week is night views. It was raining and I carried an umbrella and just my small moleskine and a pencil. I stopped under the light of a streetlamp to catch the orange glow of the cloudy sky behind Black Mountain and started to sketch this city view with telephone wires and the tower. Just as I was finishing, a fox scurried past, only a few feet away - he did get a shock when I greeted him heartily :) 4 km walk

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day 360
A cool, grey start to the day. I just have a few walks left to do to finish the year and wondered how I would like to use those spots. First up - another walk to Hermione's bench, this time to include the actual bench in the picture. For blog visitors who wonder who Hermione is, visit the archive 10 June on this blog (or my other blog - archive March 1 to read/see a little of her story. 6 km walk

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Day 359
I cycled to Manuka via some hills and found the bookshop open, though it's a public holiday for Anzac Day. I was sitting at the wonderful long table where people can read, and loved the two reds, not to mention the 'posture' of the book unpacker. 10 km cycle

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day 358
Shirley has asked how I do bicycle wheels - nothing beats careful observation but here is an explanation of the aspects I consider - if I have time or inclination in the moment. Looking back, I see she particularly asked about spokes - I should have said, I think it looks silly if you do all of them. (There are about 18 to each end of the the axle) And by chance, a bike features in my daily sketch - seen riding back from my sculpture class where I am making some mini gates from Penny's sketches. 12 km cycle

Monday, April 23, 2007

Day 357
I have returned to find autumn full on and the evenings are chilly - it will soon be time to start lighting the fire. After fixing another slow puncture, I had a pleasant ride to Woden to get some long sleeved vests (singlets), though rain threatened on the way home. 12 km ride

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Day 356
At Forum, Trudy showed me her little books of collages done from favourite cuttings from art, fashion and other magazines. She adds to them in various ways. Her collection of books were wonderful and such a fabulous resource - much more perused and useful than old magazines on shelves or in heaps, as mine are. I resolved to have a go as I think my mark-making skills are weak and it will be 'good for me' - maybe even fun. So today, I cycled to the art shop to get a little visual journal and here is my first page. I did enjoy it. It will be part of my next art plan to finish this book within a few months. 12 km cycle

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Day 355
On the last day, all classes have an exhibition of the work they have done, whether it be finished pieces or samples. Our class moved directly from the self portrait to begin on a 'narrative portrait' to take the whole 4 1/2 days. We first laid out a blanket 'sandwhich', incorporating the borders of old woollen blankets, then a smaller piece of calico, not necessarily in the middle and then were directed to "with pen and ink, on the fabric, Just Start - using the information gathered in the self portrait, but not looking at it." Before Forum, I had already decided that, if possible, I would use the week to catch the pleasure and fun I have had in the past year with my paintbox, sketchbook and bicycle - we had to include our face - so here it is - about 20 inches square, fabric, paint and stitch. Hermione's lemon tree appeared (when life hands you lemons, make lemonade), the spotty fabric represents journeys to me, and needing a bit of colour in the bottom left, the organic drawing pins represent life's vicissitudes.
After the exhibition, and enjoying seeing what all the other classes had done, I drove home to Canberra with my friend, Lynne, my bike in the back of her car.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Day 354
On the last evening La Party is held. I am not a party person but it's fun to sketch those who are. They wear 'whatever they feel like'. Below is the shibori class parade. They hung their fabrics samples from umbrellas. The fabrics were beautifully patterned but I didn't try to catch that.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Day 353
Here is the huge felt bag Pam, my room mate, is working on - nearly two feet high. It will be too heavy to use as a bag, though.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 352
More garden installations - the largest 'tent', on the right, is about 3 feet high. The top installation is about 10 feet long, made from sticks, leaves, sead heads on a ochre painted or chalk background.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This is just a note to say that Ali successfully completed her trip to Orange by bicycle. She went a bit faster than anticipated and found herself 40 k short of Orange on Saturday night as dusk approached. She then hitched the last few k, being picked up by a dentist, who both drove her to Orange but also kindly provided accommodation that night. A long journey completed, mainly under pure leg power with wind and bigger hills to deal with than originally thought! I should have posted this yesterday - but a temporary bachelor lives in sloth.

Ralph (Ali's partner)
Day 351
At Forum, garden 'installations' appear - these are fabric 'things' on sticks - the fabric bits are about 2 feet high.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Day 350
Forum days are fully organised with classes, lectures, chatting etc so every day, I do some exercise by cycling across town from the boarding school where I am staying to the other part of the school where the classes are held. The first thing we had to do in class was draw a self portrait, using pen and ink and "gathering as much information as possible". Consequently, everyone drew every wrinkle and we all looked very old, and of course, intense concentration made us appear very severe. I found it interesting to compare this effort with one done a year ago, when I first joined Everyday Matters (see here)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Day 349
Well, that was fun! And I am quite pleased with my sketches though I would have liked to have had more time to stop and draw - I had to allow plenty of time to get to the next place with accommodation for the night. Perhaps, another time, I would take a tent and sleeping bag, and less art stuff. I only used my usual pen and water colour. I've realized there's only any point in taking materials that I am really comfortable with - this wasn't the time to be practising with less familiar materials. Otherwise, I happy with what I took, though the weather and my bike were kind so I didn't need the warm gear, bike spares or first aid stuff. The distances between places are a downside for Australian bike touring but I didn't find the landscape as monotonous as I'd expected. I just noticed more and more detail -probably due to my sketching experience over the past year. My fitness preparation was quite adaquate. I was never stiff, rarely puffed - just healthily tired by the end of the day. Thank you to all my blog visitors for your support in the months leading up to this adventure. I am really pleased to have done it.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Day 348
I set off at 7.45, hoping that there will be accomodation at Cargo, about 55 rather hillier kilometres away. I have head winds, and several punctures caused by the dreaded organic drawing pins (bindis) - I find I cannot take my bike off the road or the tyres will be spiked. At last however, I see how to sketch hills! - and catch the patchwork feel of fields. :)

Day 348 - Part two
But at Cargo, there is no longer any accomodation! Too tired to manage the last, super hilly stretch, I decide to hitch. No sooner have I found a ride, than we stop at the scene of an accident. Someone has rolled their car, there is sewing stuff spilling on to the road and the car has a Canberra number plate. Another car has already stopped but the emergency services haven't yet arrived. We stop and I discover it is another Forum participant. Astonishly, she is uninjured but stuck in the car so I chat with her until help arrives and she is extricated. She is fine and I continue with my new friends.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Day 347
After taking the wrong road from Boorowa, I ended up doing 92 km along a different road than I'd planned but that meant I found the lovely cafe and I still made it to Cowra by 3.00pm. During the war many 'aliens' were interned in Cowra, including 500 or so Japanese prisoners of war. They staged a break out and over 200 were killed. They were buried in Cowra and over the years the Returned Servicemen's League looked after the graves so well that the remains of all Japanese soldiers who died overseas were relocated in Cowra and the Japanese Government funded a beautiful Japanese Memorial Garden to be built.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ralph sees me off.

Day 346
On my way at last. Just for the first couple of minutes, I feel very alone but there is a bit of traffic and drivers give me a wave and plenty of road space. A lovely cycling day, with no problems. I arrived at Boorowa at 3 o'clock. 46km
Click on images to enlarge them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Day 345
Well, now I am all ready. My stuff weighs about 14 kilos including 3 litres of water. I can hardly believe I'm really going to Forum on my bike! I went for a practice ride with my bike fully laden - it was fine. I expect to arrive on Sunday and should be able to post a message that I have - or Ralph will. Back in time to celebrate Julie's Day 365! 4 km cycle