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
Bottom Mossley (Manchester Road)
Around Woodend Mill, Mossley
Sketching from the street :
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!.
Over the last few weeks I have been spending some time decorating and preparing my little studio. I originally introduced my new workspace at Woodend Mill here on my blog some time ago and at that point it was very much a shell.
It has taken me a while to get it ready for action and I’m pretty much there with it now (apart from quite a few finishing touches!) so thought you may be interested in hearing about its development. At the time when I posted that last blog, I had started to create some ideas on pinterest but soon realized that I had enough of a vision in my head to continue without developing the board extensively. Continue reading
It’s nice to be beside the seaside and it was great to be sketching in Whitby on the East coast of the UK for a couple of days last week! As is usual for me trying to capture the places I visit- it’s about recording my visual diary, my ‘snapshots’ of the visit. They are not necessarily images that I create in 10 minutes but they are snapshots to the extent that they are the images that I think epitomize the place and its character. I chose to use a sketchbook (not very successfully as the 200 gsm Fabriano paper didn’t take watercolour well (perhaps it will prompt me to develop my line only and line with pencil work further!) and loose 300 gsm Bockingford watercolour paper. The sketchbook work tends to be more of a diary, perhaps thumbnail sketches, looser and with additional pieces added such as maps. Continue reading
This May I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to capture a wedding celebration at Browsholme Hall Tithe Barn, outside of Cliteheroe in Lancashire, UK. Reportage Illustration, the art of visual storytelling, is a particular interest of mine. You can read about the sorts of thing I’ve covered through reportage sketching here, including events and special occasions, travel destinations, restoration projects and journalistic correspondence. The focus of my work is to capture a sense of place, a sense of occasion and a sense of emotion. Weddings are therefore a natural occasion for me to be interested in drawing. Continue reading
Yesterday, Sunday 14th May 2017 I was privileged and honored to be able to view and sketch at the first public swimming event in 24 years at Manchester’s Victoria Baths. This was a one-off fundraising event for the restoration of the baths. Continue reading
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!).
At the end of February this year, I was thrilled to be commissioned by the Manchester Airport Property Group to capture their first lunchtime event at Manchester Airport’s Transport Interchange. These events, which will include a wide range of community activities, including, food, seminars and product launches (publicized with the hash tag #FarFlungFridays on social media) are aimed at animating the large public realm area and are named Platform Although video and photography were being employed to create a video of the event, the drawings were considered a welcome addition, as a way of capturing the energy of the occasion and the vibrancy and context of the set up and location. The intention is to use the drawings in marketing material. This blog shares my process and results. Continue reading
Over the last few weeks I have been using grey-toned Strathmore Paper to create drawings, in addition to my usual watercolour sketches on white watercolour paper and in sketchbooks. The contrast between the two different approaches means that I have had to think about the various aspects of drawing and adding colour and darks in different ways to what I have been used to. This blog outlines my approaches. In parallel with this toned-paper work, I have had my eyes tested and have now reverted to wearing a combination of reading glasses and varifocals. The later should be much better for when I am out and about drawing! One of the two pairs is indeed rose coloured and I must admit to thoroughly enjoying my work on toned paper. Long may my rose-tinted glasses serve me well! Continue reading
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
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to have been one of the artists who took part in a Mehndi festival, in a house in Levenshulme, Manchester. This blog is about my involvement, the approaches I took to develop my henna tattoos and the results…I did say this one was a little different! Continue reading
I am thrilled to have been invited to exhibit and sell my drawings at the Sale Arts Trail Christmas Bazaar to be held on Sunday 27th November at the Claremont Centre in Sale. I have attended both the summer and Christmas events as a visitor and also as an Urban sketcher in recent years, so it is particularly thrilling for me to be able to exhibit for the first time. Continue reading
As promised, this is the second post of my holiday sketches from Zante, the first, arguably more polished sketches, can be found here. I am so pleased that I decided to take a small portable A5 moleskin watercolour sketchbook as well as working on loose paper. The sketchbook enabled me to record my visual diary, in parallel with the finished pieces on paper and importantly, it allowed me to be looser, more experimental, less polished and to have fun! Continue reading
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