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Sketching From The TV.

by Bill Bradley
(Darwin, NT, Australia)

Pencil thumbnail sketch

Pencil thumbnail sketch

When I first started drawing, I read somewhere that a good way to learn was to sit and draw thumbnail sketches of the newsreaders on TV.
I found this virtually impossible to do, as the shots kept changing so quickly.
I had heaps of 2" square thumbnails with with large crosses through them.

Then when watching a video one day (does anyone remember them?) I accidentally hit the pause button. Crikey, this is it, I had a still image for 5 minutes before it clicked into play again. That was definitely more my style.

I recommend this to anyone to sharpen up their drawing skills.

The two pencil sketches here are from a video tape of our local TV news at the time of the East Timor crisis. The first one was a quick TV shot of a local Darwinite reaching over the fence at the quarantine yard and offering support one of the refugees.
The second one is a of a 75 years old (then) Aussie nun who was less than complimentary (I actually wrote "spitting venom") about the Indonesian military.

Every time I look through this section of my sketchbook, the memories come flooding back of that traumatic time. There is no better way to fix a scene or a subject in the memory.


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Wash pencil at the movies

by Bill

Marlon Brando and John Saxon

Marlon Brando and John Saxon

Here is another one from an old sketchbook that I did with a video player on pause, and copied scenes from a movie.

I learned heaps from doing this, and not just about drawing. I think looking at clips from a movie with enough intensity and concentration to draw them, made me more aware of what the director had in mind. I watch movies now with a lot more critical and informed eye.

On the TV screen the shot is laid out, I can use the frame of the screen to judge distances and ratios better. Negative space and all that. I have worked through a few movies like this, and when I see them again it is as though they are old special friends. I can mouth the dialog as it approaches one of "my" scenes

This sketch was done with a nice fat soft pencil that had been lying around for ages and I looked at it one day and noticed that it had printed on it "Derwent wash pencil". Sure enough I gave it a try, scribbled a bit then scrubbed into it with a small wet bristle brush. Great! I did a few of these pencil and washes after this one.
I have even done it with ordinary pencils, it works, after a fashion.

Washing with a brush into a pencil or pen and ink sketch is a great way to add a few tonal areas on the quick. I also reckon it looks better if it is done quickly. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it :-).

I am not as precise with the washes, I just dash them off quickly with a small cheap bristle brush.

I do it in an ordinary cheap sketchbook, not anything like proper watercolour paper. Cheap and good fun, nothing serious, that's sketching for me.


** Note from Kerry:

Bill, this is another treasure that you are sharing with us. It is just fabulous!

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Ta Promh Temple Ankor Cambodia

by Bill Bradley
(Dawin NT Australia)

Pen and Ink Wash

Pen and Ink Wash

Last year I had a backpacking holiday in SE Asia and one evening I was having a quiet beer and I started chatting to another Aussie at the next table about my next days boat trip.

"Oh they keep you hanging around for ages he said, you have to wait until the boat fills up before they leave" and then he said something that I will probably always remember, "of course you'll be OK, you've got your sketchbook".

He had noticed me earlier updating my sketchbook, which is also part travel diary and part scrapbook.

He was right of course, I was OK. Boredom doesn't bug me at all anymore. Those long tedious waits when I can see my fellow travelers restlessly pacing up and down fly by for me.

I have sketches of the insides of boats, an Airbus 310, a long distance overnight bus, a stranded mini-bus and of course many and varied establishments that happen to sell cold beer.

Travel sketching is magic! When I am on my own it breaks the ice and starts so many conversations with the locals. I did an old Chinese restaurant sign in Chinatown in Malacca. An old guy looked at my representation of the Chinese characters and shook his head, I handed him the book and he did his version. That line of script is worth a dozen photographs to me.

The sketch in the photo was done was done from a small patch of shade over about three quarters of an hour on a very hot and humid day. There was a steady stream of camera clicking visitors, who spent on average five minutes taking in the scene, and then off to the next place before the heat got the better of them and they headed for their air conditioned hotels.

So, next time you go traveling, don't get bored, get sketching.


**Note from Admin:

Hello Bill
What a great story you have given us here!

I visited your page. Your story there also had me completely enthralled. I just love your art style. Thank you.

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Saigon Street Scene

by Bill Bradley
(Darwin Australia)

Pen And Ink Sketch, Saigon Street Scene

Pen And Ink Sketch, Saigon Street Scene

Hi Kerry,
I have just spent a few weeks wandering around Vietnam and of course I took a sketch book with me.

I guess that I got a few curious looks from time to time, because rather than pick a sidewalk cafe on the basis of how popular it was, or how good the service or the food, my criteria had to be that I could get a good view. Many times I changed seats or moved my chair to a different position to get a glimpse of the action.

Needless to say there is no shortage of action in Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as we like to call the central district.

My position at the junction of the two streets shown in my sketch was perfect allowing me to get a good view of the main street without actually getting run over.

I had problems with my fountain pen on the trip, so I used 0.1 Staedtler pigment liner which was nice and easy to draw with but the ink was more permanent than I normally use, so it was hard to create much of a wash effect when I hit it with a wet brush.

There was a really large power pole with masses of wires and other stuff hanging off it which could have spoiled a photograph of the scene for sure, but as we all know, drawing is special and we can include or delete what we want. I just sketched in the wires where they happened to be in a patch of clear sky.

Incidentally, the service was awful, the food was bland and the beer was warm! Ah well, you can't win em all!

Cheers Bill.

***Note from Kerry:
Hi Bill, it's great to hear from you again! Thanks for giving us a glimpse of Saigon through your eyes, I just love your sketches.

Shame about the warm beer - erk. Anyway, welcome home!

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