A drawing a day…..

Throughout August I have been getting involved in the #DrawingAugust activity on Social Media (twitter) as another means of encouraging me to draw daily. I post my drawings regularly on social media and have to confess that I have been a little confused by the comments about being ‘prolific’. This is because my understanding is that to get good at anything you need to practice regularly and in order to get anywhere with drawing, you need to do this daily (not a few times a week or when you feel like it, but daily). Now that is not to say I am critical of anyone else that doesn’t do this, its just for me, in order to stand any chance of improvement, I need to do it daily. I need to focus on regularity and in the past, where I haven’t done this, I have slipped back to irregular practice. In summary, I wouldn’t say that I am prolific, (actually, I take too much time and I do not do it for hours and hours daily), it is more about trying to improve by regular practice. I would advise anyone who is getting into drawing and wants to improve to do this, because I think without the regular practice, it becomes just too hard and not second nature enough to weather the inevitably bumpy rides.

Now to drawing August. There have been a variety of themes in my month so I thought I would share my month’s worth of sketching in these themes. That way you can get to see the ways that I have tackled them. On some days, especially those where I have been doing some reportage sketching, I have done more than one drawing, so I have selected 31 sketches to share here. You can see my sketching practice on Flickr here and on Instagram here.

Reportage Sketching

I am particularly interested in reportage sketching of events and activities and so it makes sense to start with that aspect of my drawing first. The beginning of the month started with reportage sketching at the Manchester Dig the City gardening event. You can read the full blog about this here .

Another activity attended was the Saturday market in my home town of Bury St Edmunds Suffolk, a market town with a fruit and vegetable market every Saturday and Wednesday. Then most recently I attended a new vintage fair at Manchester cathedral and a boat show in Redhill. Well they say that variety is the spice of life!

2015-08-30_0009

here are the most recent sketches a little larger for easier viewing:

2015-08-30_0010

Café Sketching of people

I have been trying to improve my people sketching and therefore have frequented several cafes and shopping centres to capture people.   People in cafes are usually moving to a lesser extent than those in crowds and it is often possible to capture a little more detail because they are often in one position for a period of time! These sketches are usually done as a gesture in pencil to which the detail is then added in pen or a contour. I am trying to improve my cleanness of line.

2015-08-31_0001

Allotment and plant sketching

It’s a great time of the year to be sketching my boutique allotment and some of the fruits (and flowers of our labours), so here are a few of such images, some in situ on the plot and others already picked!   Oh and Mum and Dad’s apple tree in their garden is included too!  You can see more of my sketching on my boutique allotment here.

2015-08-30_0008

Location sketching

This month I have also been out and about sketching with the Manchester Urban sketchers: earlier in the month at Piccadilly train station and then more recently at Salford Quays. Other location sketches include a visit to Pomona, a wonderful wild landscape on the edge of the city and the start of a series of sketches around the streets of residential Salford.  Oh and almost all the sketches throughout this blog are in a moleskin watercolour sketchbook using watercolour paint.  The 4 on the right below (and the dill picture left above) are different: done in a strathmore tinted paper sketchbook and using coloured pencil.

2015-08-30_0007

This is somewhat of an eclectic mix of subject matters and I am thrilled to have taken part in this useful sharing activity throughout August. Now that September is nearly here, I have plenty more drawing activities to occupy me! Thank you for joining me on my sketching journey and I hope that you will continue to follow my sketching adventures!

My urban sketching collaboration with a playwright

As a landscape architect as well as urban sketcher, the idea of a Sense of Place, providing designs and drawings that connect with a place and what it is about are critical. In my urban sketching, I am always looking to create A sense of the Place in my drawings, whether it is through line, form, colour or detail (and usually a mixture), this is what I set out to achieve: an interpretation of the place in a way that resonates with the viewer that is familiar and provides a reference point.

Collaboration

I post my drawings on a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. It is through these routes that I am able to connect with a variety of other sketchers, artists and other creatives, whether it is to learn from others approaches, have a conversation about artworks or to learn about the overlap and potential collaborative opportunities, these are important connections. Of particular importance to me in my sketching is the reportage angle of urban sketching. Recently, I was contacted by an independent playwright and director, Vanessa Brooks, because the images I was posting, resonated particularly with the locations that she was incorporating into the writing of her new play: I love you baby.

Initially, the images that caught Vanessa’s attention were drawings in and around Salford in the North of England, UK: Samantha, one of the lead characters in the play lives in a hi-rise luxury apartment in Salford Quays and Vanessa has used my images initially to help route her internal view of the location. The two images below set the scene here with the views of the immediate apartment surroundings and the famous Lowry theatre on the Quays:

5ScribbleMyStreet_SalfordQuaysMediaCity2ScribbleMyStreet_Lowry

As well as the views of the quays, Samantha has views of the deprived and undeveloped Salford, the place from which young man Tyler comes from:

3ScribbleMyStreet_middlewoodlocks4ScribbleMyStreet_Pomona

Sister Sadie, travels through Manchester Piccadilly station with its queues of people and across Manchester to Samantha’s apartment for their mothers funeral and wake:

1ScribbleMyStreet_PiccadillyQueue-1\

6ScribbleMyStreet_Deansgate

This is what Vanessa calls ‘dipping into my visual world’ and now that she is moving from writing the first draft, to the process of developing the play on stage, my drawings appear large in her contextualization of the onstage activity

Having established a connection and resonance with these initial images, Vanessa then took a trip through my Flickr drawings and realized that many more would be of use in the establishment of places/things associated with other characters in the play.   These include the following:

A character called Clarence who lived with his elderly mother in a cottage in Yorkshire. This drawing took the playwright into Clarence’s past and the context he grieves for:

7ScribbleMyStreet_Wales4-1

A sister called Grace who is a nurturer and professional carer of dogs.   Here, my drawings of my own greyhound Tanzi have provided inspiration:

8ScribbleMyStreet_Tanzi

Another sister Sadie comes to Salford from London where she has a night-life existence. My drawings of Camden in London, provided some resonance here:

9ScribbleMyStreet_CamdenLock-1

Vanessa makes the comment that ‘the drawings help root her internal view into a reality but not a photographic one as this is too stark, but an interpretation of a place, which fits in well with the landscape, she imagines’. I am thrilled that my sketches have helped to inspire the contextual detail surrounding the characters of this new play and excited about the collaborative opportunities that urban sketching appears to enable. In Vanessa’s words, ‘ the context I’ve drawn from Liz’s work has been invaluable and demonstrates one of the principals of playwriting in particular and theatre-making in general: It’s a collaborative medium’

Over the next few months the play will be developed with three project partners including The Lowry in Salford and I am looking forward to attending the Scratch performance of the play there in November! You can read Vanessa’s blog about the use of my drawings to inform the play here.