My Demonstration and workshop at Salford Art Club

Over the last couple of Wednesday evenings (2 x 2 hours) I ran a demonstration and workshop on Urban Sketching at Salford Art Club, held in Salford Museum and Art Gallery.  I am also a member of this art club so for some reason (I think it always is when you know people!) it was a little bit more nerve wracking than usual.  However, members made me feel very at ease and we had a couple of great sessions.  Fortunately, on the first session earlier in July, the weather was great, enabling me to demonstrate my colour-first technique outside and also set the group off with some thumbnail sketching practice around the outside of the gallery as a way of capturing snapshot views of the place before settling on an overall view.  Unfortunately we had to run the second session inside the gallery but with plenty to sketch (and an example to hand of how this compares with the outside situation), this wasn’t too much of an imposition!  The main focus of both sessions was capturing the essence of the place using relatively quick techniques and creating depth in the drawing (without necessarily focusing on perspective only).  Members seemed to really enjoy the sessions and engage with the approach of drawing from life.  For me, with an interest in reportage illustration as well as urban sketching, this is the focus of all of my work. Continue reading

Water and colour-it was always going to be a messy business……

One of my goals for this year is to develop and improve my watercolour approaches : not necessarily in the traditional ways but those of the looser; more atmospheric and dynamic artists like Jean Haines and Judith Farnworth who let the water and the colour sing! I love the life, movement and freedom of their works so I’m interested in how I could incorporate some of the approaches into my own artwork. I want to do this with three main areas of application: my existing urban sketching and reportage illustration; figure drawing and ‘other’ watercolour paintings (possibly rural landscapes, not sure yet!).

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Drawing every day: a doddle or a drama?-Diversity is the key


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

What view to sketch?-Welcome to the Neighbourhood


Last weekend whilst out sketching , one of my fellow sketchers asked: how do you go about choosing your view to sketch?  It’s an interesting question and it got me thinking beyond the theory of composition, at how exactly I choose my view to sketch .   Here in a short summary; mainly illustrated with recent sketches of my local area  are some of the things I take into account when  deciding which view to draw and what to include.  Note that with most of them, there is more than one reason the composition was chosen. Continue reading

As 2016 Draws to a close…. My Sketching Stories of the year


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

Sketching at Manchester City and ChinaTown: Defining the Sense of Place


Over the last two weekends, I have visited two different Manchester locations to draw:  The Etihad Stadium in East Manchester, the Manchester City Football Club grounds and ChinaTown in Central Manchester. Each of  these drawings were created over a several hour period: pencil, ink then watercolour (paint and pencil).  In terms of identifying the best main view and composition, I did this by walking around the site and observing different aspects: the angles, the depth of view, the light and shadow etc.  The other thing I do is to write down (or at least have in my mind) key words that reflect what I feel for the place and what I want to convey in the main sketch.  I can then refer to this as I draw.  Continue reading

Holiday sketching: Zante on Paper


For a while I have been torn between using loose watercolour paper to create my sketches and recording in sketchbooks.  There are pros and cons and as an urban sketcher with an interest in telling chronological stories through drawing,  I have often worked in sketchbooks (moleskine, Stillman and Birn, SeaWhite, Handbook) and most often at A5 size for its portability.  For me, the issue with using that approach alone is three-fold: one is the size is arguably a little small (although of course you can buy larger size sketchbooks, but then there is the size and weight!) ; secondly  creating prints from them is not always straightforward.  The third is that because work for prints was in my sketchbook, I was getting tighter and more precious with my sketchbook work (which is the opposite of what I want!).   Continue reading

Colour first….Have I said that before…..

I have mentioned colour first in several of my posts of late so at the risk of sounding a bit like a stuck record, I will talk about it again here.  I am talking about it because I want to develop the approach, (lots of others do it as a matter of course), but I want to see how I can progress it for my own needs and in specific ways.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have used colour first in many situations and I want to share those drawings as a way of unpicking where I might be heading with it.  Results have been variable, leading to a whole lot of questions and clarifications and I am going to share some of those thoughts here. Continue reading

Moving On: Hooray for heroes but don’t be a sheep!

It has taken me longer to move on from the urban sketching symposium in Manchester than I had expected although I wasn’t sure what I expected really!  You can hear about some of my takeaway lessons from my role as correspondent here.  The olympics has certainly helped me to move on over the last two weeks and I don’t mean because it was a diversion or that I sat and sketched the activities ( although that may have been a good idea! ) but that the athletes talked so passionately of this concept of just keeping practicing and going on to improve skill- just keep on going… It’s a point well made.  

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Preparing for #USkManchester 2016: context, Colour and Kit

My goodness time is getting short before the start of the International Urban sketching here in Manchester next week (from July 27th) although really, it begins when people start arriving this coming weekend!  This is the second blog about my preparation for my role as correspondent at the symposium.  In this blog, having addressed some of my people practice in the previous preparation blog I am going to be talking about context and colour  before finishing with a quick summary of my sketch kit for the occasion! Continue reading

A change is as good as a rest

I spend quite a bit of time sketching in Manchester and as a result, can get a little overloaded with the cityscape!  So, as this last weekend was the last chance I would have, before the Urban Sketching Symposium in Manchester (#USkManchester2016), I decided upon a different environment for my sketching and headed off to the south Lakes, around lake Windermere. Recently I have been doing specific commissions and this has meant that the fast and quick sketches, that are going to be the order of the day for the symposium, have taken a back seat.  Therefore, in this first week of my own personal sketching practice countdown to the symposium I decided to let myself in gently (although the voice in my head is shouting very loudly: Don’t panic Mr Mannering!!).   Continue reading

What’s your Story?

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

Ready Steady…Sketch

Over the last few weeks I have started to think more about quick capture and how best to produce the best sketches when I have limited time.  Of course I am thinking about my forthcoming role as correspondent at the 7Th Urban Sketchers Symposium (#USkManchester2016) here in Manchester in the summer and wondering how I best adapt my current approaches to be able to deliver!   With this in mind I have been trying a few sketches using watercolour first and here are the results. Continue reading