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.Continue reading
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
I haven’t posted about my people sketching for a while, although I am always looking to improve my people drawing. This is because my area of interest, reportage illustration, involves telling stories of people and places through drawing. Last weekend I attended one of the 10×10 Manchester and Sheffield Urban sketching ‘Reporting from your city’ workshops. These types of workshops are taking place all over the world to celebrate 10 years of the Urban Sketching organisation. The session on Saturday is one of 4 that I will be attending, entitled : Great Stories. Each one will cover a separate aspect of drawing the big picture on location. Continue reading
This last weekend, we (myself and fellow artist Hugh Winterbottom) ran our first Sketchbook Sketching Foundation workshop which aimed to equip people with some of the techniques and skills for drawing out on location and for recording their world in sketchbooks. It was an action packed two days (9.30-16.30 Saturday and Sunday) with a range of subjects covered and lots of opportunity for sketching practice. This blog gives an overview of the weekend and what we learnt in the process. Continue reading
When I first started drawing very regularly in 2013/14 I set myself a task to be drawing every day within 6 months. I managed that and at the time, well, until recently, I had done that. I was often doing several drawing courses, e.g. Craftsy, on-line sessions like Sketchbook Skool etc. It didn’t seem so hard. There was a variety to draw and there was direction. But as time went on, I got my own direction, my own commissions and yep, my own pressures! Bigger (I started with A5 sketchbooks but now I usually use A4 or bigger, paper or sketchbooks (a topic for another blog!), more detailed, more text, …more time…It was a treadmill and I got the impression that If I stopped, I might never start again! Continue reading
Despite the weather in Manchester over the weekend (wet and cold on Saturday, cold then wet on Sunday!) vibrant colours and a celebration-feel lifted our spirits in the city centre as the Chinese New Year Celebrations took hold in several places, from Exchange Square to Deansgate and China Town. I spent some time on both days (although the celebrations were actually a four day event with New Years Day being Saturday 28th January), trying to capture some of this ‘sense of occasion’ in sketches. From the costumes to the dancing and decorations, the colours and the crowds, it was a festival for the eyes and ears and a challenge for our sketching spirits!
As 2016 draws (get it!) to a close, I thought I’d capture my year in sketches ( some but not all of them!), partly as an aide memoire (those of you that read my blog know how I like to document my drawing adventures!) and partly to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going. Its been quite a year in many respects and those of you that have followed my #scribblescompilations on social media in my 12 days of Christmas countdown, will be familiar with most of the combinations below. However, this blog puts a narrative to the visuals and I have tried to group things so that you can see more of the approaches and types of things that I am interested in recording and the approaches I’ve taken to drawing. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog about the process of creating my artworks including prints and my 2017 Calendar for my stall at Sale Arts Trail Christmas Bazaar on Sunday 27th November 2016. You can read it here. We are now only days away from the festivities so I thought I would give you an update with some snippets of what I’ve got in store for you at the Bazaar. As I mentioned in my previous blog, although I have been a frequent visitor and sketcher at the previous events, I have not exhibited before so its a super exciting time for me (with a little bit of nervousness thrown in for good measure!). Continue reading
In my last blog: A change is as good as a rest, I mentioned that I would be posting something of my actual sketching practice in the lead up to the Urban sketching symposium in Manchester at the end of the month. This is the first of a couple of posts I hope to do and reflects some of my people drawing sketching practice. In preparation, I have been looking at several books, blogs, Craftsy and other on line video courses so particular thanks to James Richards, Suhita Shirodkar, Marc Taro Holmes, Melanie Reim, Lynnne Chapman and Gabi Campanario for their inspiration and direction. I’ve also been doing some sketching! All I can say is, its work in progress for me!! Continue reading
I cannot believe that I have not posted a blog on here for nearly 3 weeks. But I have a few excuses: firstly I have had a pretty hectic time with a few big commissions, including #citiesofhope and The Manchester Histories Festival. Also, I have been writing blog posts as part of those commissions as well as posting on the Urban Sketchers blog on a weekly basis with my countdown to the Symposium sketches. Am I forgiven yet? The other thing that has been taking my time is that I have been running some Urban Sketching workshops, some for the Manchester Histories Festival and then this week I have had two days running two workshops at the Creative and Media Academy here in Manchester (MCMA). It is this week’s workshops that I am going to talk about in this blog. Continue reading
This week I have been continuing with the practice of fast people drawing and drawing people in motion and with that comes an interest in using different pens and pencils as well as finding sketchbooks that are good enough quality to allow practice of different media, including watercolour, but without breaking the bank. This blog reviews some exploration from the last week. Continue reading
For the final leg of the trip, between Christmas and New Year, it was back to Perth to stay at my sister and brother-in-law’s home in Subiaco . Arguably, because it was a more city-based experience, it was the time of the most concentrated urban sketching and I sketched to capture some key places within Subiaco as well as further afield, as a way of embedding the place in my mind. My mum also had her birthday on 27th so I was able to capture in a sketch,her tea party at my sister’s house.
The beach and the cinema-but not as we know it!
Two of the things that I loved the most were the fact that you go to the beach to take a dip as simply as you would put your umbrella up in the UK! and the arts cinema is an outside venue, surrounded by huge pine trees and everyone has a picnic!! How fab is that! Both these instances were not so easy to take part in and sketch at the same time: there was no way I could stand and do a sketch breakfast on the beach on Christmas morning for example! The Cottesloe Beach sketch is therefore a drawing of the most famous building on the beach done at 7 am one morning, sitting on rocks amongst local fishermen and the cinema sketch shows the scale of the trees relative to the theatre itself done as I sat in my seat and just before the light faded and the film: Blind Date started!
Being down the road from the most wonderful diverse park is another advantage of the Subiaco location. Kings Park affords wonderful views down across Perth from a vantage point lined with gum trees (what else!). Kings park is one of the largest inner city parks in the world and at 4 km2 it is larger than New York’s Central park and is the most popular destination in Western Australia. Come to think of it, I could have spent the whole of my time recording aspects and views of this park-there’s a thought! The park is a mixture of grassed parkland, botanical gardens and natural bushland with two-thirds of the grounds conserved as native bushland.
We walked a couple of miles or so over to this interesting little place (reminded me of Camden, UK) for a drink or two and some Tapas one evening. I loved this place! This is the view from the window of the bar.
No set of sketches from this place would be complete without mentioning the accent and language! Everything here seems to be shortened! So seeing the port of Fremantle shortened by all the locals to Freo was an ideal opportunity to get that one into the story! The streets have that nautical feel and there is a fantastic little brewery and eatery on the shore, not to mention fishing boats….
Flying out of Perth on New Year’s day, it is hard to leave this much blue, to return to grey. At the airport I was able to draw the plane from the gate. On the aircraft I added watercolour and received much interest from the cabin staff, who kindly got the sketch signed by the pilot.. A nice way to end an eventful and inspiring trip.
With thanks especially to my sister and brother in law for all they did to make this a special family trip as well as to my niece and her partner and nephew and his new wife-Hey look, thanks guys! xx
I hope that you have enjoyed my 4 part Aussie Adventures and I look forward to sharing more sketching adventures soon!
After the stopover it was a mere 7 hour flight from Singapore to Perth in Western Australia and a daytime flight, leaving at 9,30 am and arriving in the afternoon. Then, after a family reunion and a single night in Perth, we travelled, in several cars, armed with everything imaginable, drink, food, clothes, wedding dresses, Oh, you name it…….’down south’. Now this is difficult for us Northern Hemisphere habitants to get our heads around: In this part of the world it is cooler down south (mid 20’s so no worries on that score!) and warmer and drier up north (if only this were true in the UK!!). We were to stay for a week: Wednesday to Wednesday with the wedding on the Saturday.
The Margaret River region is awash with many wineries and in the summer many people travel there to get married on one of the vineyard estates. My nephew and his bride to be were to be married on Aravina Estate in Yallingup , 266 km from Perth. Yallingup is named after an Australian Aboriginal word that means ‘Place of Love’. It is a popular tourist destination because of its beaches and limestone caves, as well as its proximity to Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. We stayed in a large rented house 10 minutes drive from the venue that could accommodate the numerous people staying! It was like an episode from the Waltons (but with Australian accents!). In the couple of days before the wedding, I managed several sketches, I even managed to get over to Aravina to draw the actual venue (I knew there would be little time for this on the day!):
Places visited before the wedding Our accommodation in YallingupThe Weddding Venue: Aravina Estate
Of course most of you know that I had been ‘building up’ in sketching terms, for several months, for the wedding because I was going to be sketching it! This was scary, but once you are into the day, you have no chance to think about it, just to draw. So that is just what I did!
Because my nephew and all the Grooms Men and Grooms maid (? Who has ever heard of this: it was my niece so pretty much everything got organized by her!), were at our accommodation on the morning of the wedding, I was able to start sketching (and thinking about just what materials I would use) then. I had an idea I would use watercolour pencil and ink later but the first sketches showed that this wasn’t a great idea-the pencil blunted quickly and the relative permanence meant that I may as well go straight to ink if I was going that route! I therefore did most of the drawings in pencil (a 0.7 mm rotring 2B lead, propelling pencil) and or ink (lamy fountain pen and a carbon platinum pen_ and added colour later. All of the sketches were done in situ, at the venue. None were done from photographs and the work done afterwards was just watercolour and some line (going over existing marks). I found the pencil easier, especially for the larger crowd scenes as it was quicker, enabling me to put figures into the scheme quicker. At the same time, it was not so blunt as to prevent the drawing of facial features. All of the drawings were done in a Moleskine watercolour album (13 x 21 cm) and the completed book was handed over to the happy couple when we left Margaret River.
Having experienced the process, I think in future I would seek to do all the line work in pen, on the day and then add watercolour pencil and colour later if necessary. I would also seek to jot down key phrases and thoughts rather than try and remember them! As for the book, I like the idea of giving a book but perhaps a bigger book or loose pages may work better, especially if prints are to be made, since several of my sketches were drawn over the double page.
With family altogether and plenty going on, it was hard to do more than a sketch or two each day (apart from the wedding day!). After the wedding, we did have a formal lunch at one of the more formal wineries and visited local towns along the coast.
Next up, for something completely different. Having returned to Perth, the next day was a long trip ‘Up North’ for a week. The next blog documents that trip, this time, in a concertina sketchbook.
Most of you reading this will already be aware that I spent much of December 2015 travelling (5th December 2015-2nd January 2016). I visited my sister and family in Perth on the West Coast of Australia, travelling from there south to the Wine region: Margaret River for my nephew’s wedding and North from Perth up the coast before returning to Perth for Christmas. This first of four blogs shares the sketches from my whistle-stop tour of Singapore. Actually, I hardly touched the surface in the couple of days we stopped over there on the way to Perth, but I wanted to share my sketches to show the contrast between this place and Australia as well as to show sketches done rather fast, in hot humid conditions which made it very difficult to dry the paint! This is rainy season so dodging the heavy showers was also a challenge!
The travel was made more exotic by the rather elegant dresses of the Singapore airlines staff so this was an obvious thing to capture in a sketch. The constant movement and bustle made them difficult to capture but good practice nevertheless!
Of course with only two days and feeling a bit exhausted, all I was able to do was capture a few impressions of this amazing city. The top map just gives a flavor of the different areas of the city, with Little India and Kampong Glam the two main areas visited. The bottom image is the street where we stayed and was very much a typical shopping street although the number of malls of the main street was somewhat amazing: so many shops. The Christmas decorations here were also rather stunning. The Gardens by the Bay visit was really just to see the superstructure trees which are such a photographed, iconic aspect of the gardens. As a landscape architect, I am fascinated by the development of this city and the concept of a City in a Garden. The greenery everywhere is notable and shows the validity of the ideal.
Temples in Little India and Kampong Glam are elaborate and challenging to capture. There are over 35 Hindu temples in Singapore, here are just a couple from the Little India area. The first: Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of the key attractions in the area, with ornate carvings of gods forming the central tower. For more information on the Hindu temples of Singapore, here is a link.
Little India was a great place to get some fast food in the form of Southern Indian cuisine. Masala Dosa with all the usual lovely lentil and spice based accompaniments together with fresh lemonade and all home made! I didn’t manage to sketch the food, but I did sketch the café!
The streets of Little India and Kampong Glam are teaming with life and I tried to capture this quickly in these two sketches:
Of course no visit to Singapore would be complete without a trip to the famous Raffles Hotel. As it happened, there was a restaurant bar across the road with outside seats, enabling these sketches to be created:
So as I said, a real fast track though Singapore but next up my Aussie Adventures 2 to include reportage of my nephew’s wedding as well as my general Margaret River sketches.