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

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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

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

Sketching the King Street Festival in Manchester

reportage illustration at King Street Festival in manchester

Manchester’s King Street Festival is now in its 3rd year and it is the first year it has included the top area of King Street, with parking bays turned into mini parklets for the duration! All along this iconic and historic shopping street there was al fresco dining, free fizz, gifts and goodiebags, a bandstand, a grand piano, pop-up parks, an art garden together with heritage tours and events from Manchester’s premium names in shopping, food and drink. The festival was also supporting The British Red Cross We Love MCR emergency fund for those affected by the Manchester arena attack.   This year I sensed, amongst the sadness and quiet reflection of the St Ann’s Square flower memorial, togetherness and a feeling of Manchester pulling together in solidarity. This is what makes Manchester special: its people and its places. Continue reading

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

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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

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

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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

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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

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

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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

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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:

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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.