Industrial Cathedral

Industrial Cathedral
"Industrial Cathedral" charcoal drawing on paper 131 x 131 cm Jane Bennett. This drawing was a finalist in the 1998 Dobell Prize for Drawing (Art Gallery of N.S.W.) ; Finalist in 1998 Blake Prize for Religious Art ; Winner of 1998 Hunter's Hill Open Art Prize

Monday, September 24, 2012

Artist in Residence at the Sydney Heritage Fleet- Part 5 ' Follow the Fleet'

My first attempt to paint the entire Rozelle contingent of the Sydney Heritage Fleet ended in disaster when my canvas stretcher snapped in two.
I was better prepared for my second attempt, with a bigger easel, stronger canvas stretcher, more ballast and longer cable ties.
Armed with a canvas stretched on the strongest and heaviest stretcher frame I could buy, this time I took my "studio" easel. It might be called a studio easel but I can manage to stuff it in the back of the car and use it for plein air painting.
I brought the longest cable ties that I could find to tie the canvas to the easel, and the easel to my trolley luggage, which I am using as an anchor.
The canvas stretcher weighs about 10 kilos; my large easel weighs at least 15 kilos and the trolley luggage with all its contents of extra paint, brushes, palettes, turps, painting medium, sketchbooks, lunch, thermos of water, folding table, first aid kit, spare clothes, hat and boots weighs in at a good 25 kilos. I also took the French box easel, just in case. It took 4 trips to lug this stuff the 200 metres from the car to my painting site, and 5 to lug it back, as a wet canvas has to be handled on its own.
If all of that starts to be blown around in the wind and into the water it really is time to wimp out and go home. 
I'll never need to join a gym or a bootcamp. Who knows, large scale plein air painting could become the latest fitness craze!



oil painting the Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay en plein air by artist Jane Bennett
My plein air painting of the "Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay" 2012 oil on canvas 122 x 183cm

$15,000
Enquiries about this painting

It isn't immediately apparent which bits belong to which vessels.
I tried hard to take a photo showing both the painting and all the ships in the same frame to show some of the difficulties.
Apart from the distance making details hard to see, there is a narrow window of opportunity to do any painting. I have to choose a day that has no more than the gentlest breeze, and has enough sun to throw some light on my subject. Even then, there are only a few hours of painting time between when the early morning haze lifts, and when the afternoon sun starts to dazzle my eyes.


oil painting the Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay en plein air by artist Jane Bennett
My plein air painting of the "Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay" 2012 oil on canvas 122 x 183cm

$15,000
Enquiries about this painting


Photography doesn't really work, as a telephoto lens flattens and distorts the relationships between the vessels and the colours are highly misleading.  There is such a mad jigsaw puzzle of funnels, prows, awnings and lifeboats all jumbled together. Bits that belong to one vessel can easily be mistaken as belonging to another .

For understanding the close up details, I find it better to visit the Rozelle shipyard and run my canvas past the gauntlet of all the volunteers who have devoted their lives to rescuing these ships. If I've made any truly embarrassing mistakes I can rely on them to correct me. Loudly, often and in great detail!
oil painting the Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay en plein air by artist Jane Bennett
My plein air painting of the "Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay" 2012 oil on canvas 122 x 183cm

$15,000
Enquiries about this painting

In the centre of my painting, the 'Bronzewing' and 'Currawong',  tugs recently acquired by the Sydney Heritage Fleet, are face to face like two old friends having a chinwag.
Crammed behind them, the funnel of the a coal-fired steam tug 'Waratah' juts out at a jaunty angle. 'Waratah' was built at Cockatoo Island in 1902.
After a lot of untangling. the steam tug 'Lady Hopetoun' appears shadowed in the background of the dilapidated hulk of the 100 year old ferry 'Kanangra'. The 'Kanangra' is another link with Cockatoo Island. I remember catching her  in the morning when I was painting on Cockatoo island in the early 1980s. I think she was retired by about 1985.

oil painting the Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay en plein air by artist Jane Bennett
My plein air painting of the "Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay" 2012 oil on canvas 122 x 183cm

$15,000
Enquiries about this painting

Beyond the 'Kanangra' are the runts of the litter, the 1908 motor launch 'Protex', the 1943 motor launch 'Harmon' and the 1955 motor launch 'Berrima'.


oil painting the Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay en plein air by artist Jane Bennett
My plein air painting of the "Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay" 2012 oil on canvas 122 x 183cm

$15,000
Enquiries about this painting

To the right of the canvas is the graceful 1903 "gentleman's schooner", 'Boomerang', which I have just finished painting on the slipway at Noakes.

oil painting the Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay en plein air by artist Jane Bennett
My half finished plein air painting of the "Sydney Heritage Fleet from Blackwattle Bay" 2012 oil on canvas 122 x 183cm

$15,000
Enquiries about this painting


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