My 2019 Studio workshops

This last week I took part in the oneweek100people challenge, promoted through the Urban sketchers social media sites. The idea is that you post your people sketches on line each day and try to hit 100 in the week. This is the first year I actually completed the task and it got me thinking about the importance of continued practice, continually learning and honing skills. This is important both to improve my own art but also to be a good teacher. In two weeks time I will be starting my own series of sketchbook sketching day workshops in my studio.

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Collage creation 2: Materials and Media

Collage framing

In this second of 3 blogs reviewing my collage progress in 2018, I am going to discuss collage materials and media.   The first blog sharing my works from this year is here.  I am not claiming to have developed these techniques off the top of my head. Those interested in collage materials will no doubt of tried and used many of the elements I will discuss. However, all of the work I am presenting on my blogs is my own and the final results represent my own way of seeing and creating.  It’s important, once you have an understanding of techniques and your own areas of interest, to follow your own path.  There is plenty of opportunity for that with collage!

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Collage Creation 1: In the beginning…

COLLAGE LIZ ACKERLEY ART

Over the last 12 months I have started my journey into collage creation.   It has not been without its ups and downs.    I am used to drawing from life, using pens, ink and watercolour.  However,  I also crave texture in my visual work.  The materiality of things, their physical form and the feel of their surfaces  fascinates me. I am interested in how that materiality is connected with creating a sense of place.   In addition, composition and colour are important aspects of my visual studies.  Mixed media and collage in particular, are therefore obvious media for my exploration.   Moreover, they enable individuality and an opportunity for endless experimentation!  

 In this series of 3 blogs, I’m going to share some of the inspirations and approaches I’ve taken so far.  I will also discuss some of the techniques and media that I’ve started to explore more recently.  The aim is that these additional approaches will help support a particular uniqueness and ‘own voice’ to my work. 

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Going Back to My Roots (Reportage in the garden)

Stillingfleet reportage Liz Ackerley

Over the last few years, I have developed an interest in capturing events and activities through drawing.  This so called reportage approach has so many outlets!  I have been commissioned to capture reportage: one-off events, weddings and festivals and series of activities to name a few.    Telling stories of places and occasions through drawing is my passion!  With a background in landscape design, I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to record a garden Masterclass in drawings recently.  This blog describes the day.   Continue reading

Persevering with People (drawing) 

People Drawing_Smithfield Market

It’s been a while since I blogged on here.  No excuses so I’ve decided to get back to it with a post about Persevering with People drawing.  In fact capturing people (in my drawings) is something that is often on my mind (perhaps more so than any other element of drawing).  This is because capturing busy places and people is a focus of some of my commissioned reportage work, including weddings and other events.    My view is that like most aspects of drawing, constant practice is required and maybe this is even more so with people!  When I don’t draw people for a while I definitely notice and find it more difficult.  The way I capture people, the materials, the type of drawing, the level of detail etc, is also a source of internal debate! Continue reading

Urban Collaging in Porto (Prit, Poscas and pencils are perfect for Porto)…

bridgecollage_lizAckerley

Those of you that follow me on my blog and on my social media platforms will realise that I have been developing my collage work for a while, alongside my sketching work (see previous Urban Sketching in Porto blog).  However, my trip to Porto is the first time that I have developed my urban collaging pieces out on location.  Collage for me is a natural mixed media technique.  With a background in landscape design and an interest in the materiality of things, it gives me the opportunity to explore both texture and composition and to present them in a finished piece of art.    This blog shares the approach I have taken to develop the sketchbook pieces and explains their possible future development. Continue reading

Drawing at a wedding: Tower Bridge in London

Last weekend I attended a wedding at Tower Bridge where I was commissioned to draw the occasion. You can read more about my drawing at weddings here.  Usually, as I am based near Manchester, my weddings are in the North West.   Often my clients are very familiar with my work and drawing style and like my reportage approach!  Despite that, there is always a degree of nerves,  especially ones at such impressive venues as Tower Bridge and Dickens Inn, St Katherine’s Dock!  

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From Chorlton To The City: Illustration techniques

Chorlton exhibition

Since January of this year I’ve been working on a little exhibition of my work called: From Chorlton To The City.  The exhibition is at The World Peace Cafe, The Kadampa Meditation Centre, Chorlton.  The preview is on Friday 4 th May 5-8 pm.  In this second part of a two-part discussion about the work (you can read the first part here), I’ll explain the illustration techniques I’ve used.  There are 3 different types of images in the exhibition: Colour-first sketches; Ink-first maps and Collages. Each approach requires specific techniques.

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What Next?

I can’t believe that we are already into February and My last blog was over a month ago!  To be fair I have moved and it does take a while to settle and organise.   Excuses aside it’s good to be back!  As this is my first blog of the year I thought I’d share my plans for 2018.  I’m really looking forward to the challenges of some new approaches: The ‘What Next’?  My commissioned reportage work including several weddings (London and the North West) will also continue to be a focus of my time this year.   I am also always on the look out for new reportage projects.  Here are some additional things to keep me busy!: Continue reading

Salford I’m going to miss you: Sketching Salford

Salford Claremont Road Sketch

Last week,after 11 years living at Irlam’O’Th’ Heights , SaIford M6, and several of them spent sketching Salford, I fled for the hills. (Mossley to be precise!) Actually, it took a number of trips, over several days and there was little in the way of fleeing!  This post shares a small selection of my illustrations of Salford completed over the last few years ( I wasn’t sketching regularly when I first arrived).  They range from the streets immediately surrounding where I lived to the well known public locations that Salford has to offer like Salford Quays.  There are stories associated with many of them and I will mention a few as I go.

The starting place-The streets around where I lived

It was whilst walking my greyhound down Sumner Road in Irlams ‘O’Th’Heights that I had this need to be able to draw my surroundings more effectively!  As a trained designer, I was frustrated with my drawing abilities and decided I needed to draw much more regularly (and better!).  From that day, I just made a start, then I joined Manchester Urban Sketchers.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Local scenes Salford LizsScribbles

Salford precinct LizsScribbles

Salford sketches LizsScribbles

Sketching Salford: Museum and Art Gallery

For the last couple of years I have been a member of Salford Art Club that meets and exhibits at the Salford Art Gallery.  Coincidentally, as of 9th December 2017 there is a Manchester and Salford Urban Sketching Exhibition at the Art Gallery.  Like a number of other urban sketchers, I have several pieces in the exhibition.

salford Museum and Art Gallery LizsScribbles

Sketching Salford: in Monton

I often went to Monton to sketch.  It has an interesting high Street and the Bridgewater canal runs nearby.  I was also invited to capture the Bridgewater Weekender day held on Worsley Green.

Monton Sketches LizsScribbles

Reportage illustration in Salford LizsScribbles

Sketching Salford: those well known places and famous buildings

There are numerous amazing buildings and well known areas in Salford, including:Salford Quays, Media City and Salford Lads Club.    The very first sketch I had printed and sold was of the Lowry. War Horse was running a the Lowry and one of the lead actors saw my sketch of the venue, including the WarHorse trailer.  He was keen to buy a copy, which we did.  We also auctioned a copy, signed by all the warhorse actors, for charity.

Salford Quays LizsScribbles

LizsScribbles_OrdsallhallWedding

Sketching Salford before I left

Although the weeks before and during the move were hectic, I managed to create these last black and white sketches. They include the local streets and some views/buildings (like my local garage) that I had always had in mind to sketch, but hadn’t!  I have only recently created black and white sketches as a matter of course.  Now that I have the Duke Confucius 551 fude, I am enjoying the simplicity and clarity of these simple drawings.

Salford LizsScribbles

Salford LizsScribbles

Salford, I’m going to miss you.  Because you won’t be on my doorstep, I will not be sketching you regularly.  But I will be back.  Onwards and Upwards, quite literally as I am in the Hills now in Mossley, Tameside.  I will be posting my local sketches and those further afield as usual so please stay tuned for more of my sketching adventures.  Wishing you all a very peaceful and healthy 2018.  Thank you all so much for all your support and comments in the last year and here’s to a fabulous 2018 for us all!

Time for change (snappy sketching)!

penandink sketching mossley

I can’t believe that its been so long since I posted on here, the topic of this blog will give you a better understanding of why!

I have never been a very fast sketcher so snappy sketching has not been a particular focus.  This is despite the fact  that I do a lot of capturing things as they are happening in my drawings!- my subjects are very varied from weddings to events and special occasions to the development of places and capturing aspects of scientific research.  You can check out some of my #reportage projects here.

In order to manage my time better and achieve a finished sketch more quickly I have historically turned to colour first.  I love this approach but with an A4 size or more it still takes hours rather than minutes.  Then a few months ago lots of things started to change.  Well they say that a change is as good as a rest!  I got a small studio; an additional job; I was travelling more.. You get the picture!  Sketching every day was not going to be easy and pretty much impossible in the way I had been sketching.  I started to take my trusted Duke Fude and notebook in the car and spend 15 – 20 min maximum ( often no more than 10) sketching before work.    Under these circumstances, colour wasn’t an option and I wanted to create illustrations that had at least some identity with the place/people!

A preferred approach to snappy sketching :

  • My sketchbook is anything that has good quality cartridge paper (that doesn’t have to take watercolour) and is no bigger than A5 size. My current sketchbook for this type of drawing is an A6-size handbook with a hard cover.
  • I use only one drawing implement.  My current preference, virtually exclusively is the Confucius Duke 55 fude with black ink.  This wonderful pen enables me to vary my line width and add darks easily.
  • My preferred drawing approach is single line contour (at least in principle!).   That way, even though I don’t have time for endless measuring, I can use the contour approach to get a reasonably proportional sketch.  Sometimes, when I am in a hurry, I try to cut corners and it really doesn’t work very well!
  • Most of these sketches are done from the warmth and comfort of the car.  Although people sketches tend to be on a bus or cafe.  Busy street scenes have also been captured standing in the street.
  • I try to use simple texture and darks to add depth and interest to the sketch.  This is even more essential in a black and white drawing.
  • I’m still keen to have a layering of foreground, middle ground and background to create depth in the sketch, using weight of line and detail to try to convey this.
  • Simplification is critical at this scale and I try to fade the detail out towards the edges of the sketch.

Recent Snappy Sketching examples

On the way to work

Top and Middle Mossley

penandinkdrawing Mossley

Bottom Mossley (Manchester Road)

penandink sketching mossley

Around Woodend Mill, Mossley

Sketching woodend Mill

Sketching from the street :

OxfordRoad PenandInk LizsScribbles Pen and Ink Bury St Edmunds LizsScribbles

People

people sketching LizsScribbles

 

As you can see, there is nothing particularly new about the approaches I am using.   But I haven’t done this type of sketching routinely before.  It’s useful to have a range of approaches for different situations and this simple quick technique means that however time-poor I am, there is always a sketch to be done!.

Watercolour exploration…and… all change!

watercolour architectural

Recently, I have been developing my watercolour approaches and starting to think about the sort of new art works that I want to create.  In particular, I’ve been thinking about my watercolour development.  How do I  create works that are related to but distinctly separate from my urban sketching and reportage illustration?  Having a studio gives me more questions and more scope!!

As I mentioned in my previous blog about watercolour, I’ve been starting to look at different media and the sorts of ‘paintings’ that interest me the most.  This is fundamental to my beliefs about the purpose of paintings.  I prefer the more impressionistic approaches and those that angle to a more abstract view.  I prefer to  allow the observer to ‘get involved’ and use their imagination! That said, I think I will always be grounded in the real world and a need to create a sense of place, at some level, in my work!

Watercolour development-Pigments, paper and brushes

I’ve started to explore colour and tone in my watercolour development.   Specifically I have explored how to achieve reflective light effects and the full range of tonal values with watercolour.  I’ve also started to develop my understanding of colour mixing of watercolour using a pure pigment palette.  The palette I am using is here (please ignore the top row):

watercolour palette

I’ve also started to use a selection of brushes for different aspects of painting.  These include Flat brushes, a Hake, a mop brush and two rigger brushes.  That is not to mention an unruly bristle one (that I haven’t used much yet!).  All have their distinct role.  The paper I’ve moved onto is Saunders Waterford (140 lb; 340 gsm) Not paper (see Venetian canal image below).  I originally used Bockingford which I find buckles and is not as good (see Alcatraz image below).

Watercolour development-Paintings

I created both paintings shown below from photographs on a desk easel in my studio.  My aim was to develop a greater understanding of tonal values and to be able to achieve the  full range of tonal values in the paintings.  Both were done using the pigment palette and brushes shown above.

watercolour practice

watercolour venice

watercolour development architectural

What’s missing?

I have evolved my thinking and my understanding about my visual work through my watercolour exploration over the last few weeks . Based on this exploration, I am keen to develop more of a textural approach in my work and a more individual response.   I am struggling to see how I do that with the pure watercolour approach I’ve been following.  My background in landscape design has driven a keen interest in texture and composition.  Therefore I need to explore other opportunities to achieve the layering and rich surface textures that I am seeking.  Previously, I have used mixed media/ collage approaches in design.  I am now going to explore how these can be developed in my artwork.  Watch this space!