Manchester Histories, in partnership with Manchester City Council, commissioned me to document ‘From the Crowd‘ in a series of Reportage of Peterloo 2019 illustrations. You can read more of my reportage work here. This Peterloo 2019 production is a musical theatre piece, co-produced with Walk The Plank and Brighter Sound and involving a large number of volunteers (Laurels). These volunteers then supported members of the public to deliver this impressive collaborative performance. In the words of the production’s Creative Director, Evie Manning (CommonWealth): ” From the crowd is a dialogue between 1819 and 2019. We’ll be remembering those that protested and lost their lives at Peterloo and those whose lives today are affected by different oppressions”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
Until earlier this year, most of my urban sketching was done in a sketchbook. Sketchbooks of all shapes (landscape, portrait, concertina), sizes (pocket, A5, A4, A3) and brands. Moleskine, Stillman and Birn, Handbook and Seawhite of Brighton are a few of the brands I’ve used. However, as I increased my sales of sketches and prints, it seemed sensible to create more of my sketches on loose paper. You can read about my #ThisPlace series of original drawings and limited edition prints here. These images were saleable and easier to scan. This in turn resulted in a dramatic reduction in my sketchbook work and a rather haphazard use of sketchbooks in the following months. This blog is about the impact that I believe reducing my sketchbook sketching has had on my drawing practice and how I propose to move forward.
My sketchbook sketching practice
Earlier in the year I was using an A4 moleskine watercolour sketchbook much like a visual diary. I sketched in this sketchbook very regularly using a variety of approaches and often wrote notes of explanation about the scene. Sometimes I divided the page into a series of smaller thumbnail sketches. Subject matter was varied. I also had different sketchbooks for different subject matter eg. people sketching notebooks.
My Sketchbook sketching alternative loose paper work
For some reason as I started to do more loose paper work I did less sketchbook work. The loose paper works tended to be whole scenes with very little in the way of descriptive text. A title and date were the norm for these sketches. Often, they were colour first and they would take longer than my average sketchbook sketch: perhaps 2 plus hours. Because they were to be prints there was also a tendency to be more precious about them. I enjoyed these pieces and there are strong benefits to creating them. However, I do feel that my sketchbook sketching work took a back seat. This in turn had an impact on the variety of things I was sketching. In hindsight, I think I should have put more effort into creating both types of drawing in parallel.
Sketchbook sketching-The benefits
Here are what I consider to be some of my key benefits of sketchbook sketching and the reason why I need to do more of it!:
- I am creating a visual diary, something to look back on, a chronology of events and ideas.
- The sketchbook automatically provides stories: of places, of occasions, of objects, through the visuals and narrative.
- It keeps me observing and recording: anything that catches my eye, so increasing the variety of subjects that I sketch. Inside, outside, from the car, waiting for a bus etc (this seems less likely with a loose piece of paper!).
- Everything is in one place so it becomes a toolbox of ideas about subjects, sketching process etc.
- Because it is always to hand, it keeps me sketching daily. I have to say that by not keeping a regular sketchbook, it is easy to slip into bad habits of not sketching very regularly.
- Its not as precious as a piece of loose paper (for me anyway!) so there is a greater tendency to try different approaches.
- Sketchbooking keeps me thinking about presentation of the pages and layout and therefore storytelling. It goes beyond the composition of the drawing itself.
Sketching in sketchbooks gets me out with other like-minded urban sketchers and sketching friends. Of course it doesn’t matter whether you are doing this in a sketchbook or on loose paper! However, when using loose paper I often go on a specific ‘mission’ to do a sketch and this is often alone rather than with a group.
Getting back on track with Sketchbook Sketching
Last weekend I attended one of the Urban sketchers 10 x 10 workshops at Salford Quays. The session meant that I took a sketchbook with me (I chose an A5 moleskine that had remained half full for sometime!). I subsequently created a number of sketches over the bank holiday weekend in this small book. It got me thinking about getting back into a regular sketchbook sketching which I plan to do in the coming days. In order for me to feel the benefit I am going to use a main sketchbook rather than several at once. I will try to use different approaches depending upon the subject, time available and materials. These are likely to include pen and ink work, watercolour, collage and perhaps coloured pencil/crayon/pastel. Given that my key interest in sketching is driven by the reportage storytelling aspects, it is that which I need to focus upon in my sketchbook work.
I am also going to think about ways of overcoming the endless searching for a perfect sketchbook! There are always pros and cons with any type of sketchbook so I am going to try to live with this and stop using this as an excuse for not progressing! What have been your main sketchbook sketching dilemmas? I’d love to hear about them!
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
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
The Oxford English Dictionary cites the origin of the word ‘reportage’ to come from the Early 17th century French, from Old French reporter ‘to carry back’. In this way, reportage illustration is a form of visual journalism, visual storytelling. You go out into the world around you and take back with you that experience. That memory, in drawn form, with pen, and ink and…. whatever else it is possible to record onto a surface with. 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
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
This last month (to the day) has seen some drama in our house. When I say ‘our’ house, I use that as a general term. It’s the place I grew up, not the same house I spent my childhood in but its home because the people (my mum and dad plus others) and the ‘things’ make it so. It’s where I have so many memories and now I have been given some time to be able to capture them in drawings. Not that I have had too much time yet, but I have made a start and I will continue. So this blog is about drawing memories: a sense of place and sense of things. 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
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
To say that it has been a traumatic week sounds dramatic. I received an urgent call on Wednesday lunchtime. By Wednesday evening I was standing outside the Stroke unit in my hometown down in Suffolk. Hugging my parents and wondering what was next. The corridor setting was quiet, cold, remote and downright scary. There seem to be 3 types of people around; those going about their daily routine; those who have come to know this as their daily routine and the downright fearful. 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