3 Stockholm doorways

Ostermalm in central Stockholm is full of late nineteenth century apartment blocks, some with lovely doorways. I planned to sketch lots of them when we were there this Summer but only managed three…


All Lexington grey in fountain pen and water-brush, watercolour, A6 – 20-30 mins per doorway 

Posted in buildings, collections, from life, holiday, line drawing, Stockholm, travel, urban, watercolour sketch | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


A bit late for Halloween, but here are some recent skull sketches. The first is of the full-size medical model that I’ve drawn many times before. I love its tricky curves and deep hollows, and the brown and blue inks combine to make lovely soft shadows for the eye sockets. The second is six different views of a beautifully detailed tiny plastic ape skull I bought in Japan (possibly a ‘crab eating macaque’?). I think it’s meant to be used as a key-ring/phone-charm, a modern netsuke.

skulls etc1Noodlers Brown 41, Bad Blue Heron and Lexington grey inks in fountain pen and water-brush, A6 – 30 minutes

skulls etc6Brown 41 ink in fountain pen and water-brush, Lexington grey in water-brush, watercolour, A6 – 30 minutes

Posted in animal, body, coloured ink, death, fruit, inks, Japan, Lexington grey, monochrome, skulls | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still lives

A family waiting outside the Bath Grand Pump Rooms, next to the Roman Baths. They sat silent and still for about 20 minutes, which made drawing them much easier. I was about 30 yards from them and couldn’t see whether they were serene, or bored, or relaxed, or just very very tired after a day of sight-seeing. I think the boy was holding some sort of dog, I could just make out long ears and a lead!

oct09Brown 41 ink in Fountain pen, Lexington grey in water-brush, watercolour, A6 – 20 minutes

Posted in Bath, coloured ink, family, from life, Lexington grey, people, street scene, urban, waiting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


It’s the 11th day of the 11th month, so here’s a bas-relief memorial tablet in Salisbury Cathedral, placed in memory of Edward Tennant, a young officer and poet killed on the Somme in 1916. It includes touching testimonies to his life and times; “when things were at their worst he would go up and down in the trenches cheering the men, when the danger was the greatest his smile was loveliest”; and “he gave his earthly life to such matter as he set great store by: the honour of his country and his home“.

oct10Noodlers Brown 41 in fountain pen and water-brush, watercolour, A6 – 20 minutes

It was the junior officers’  job to lead the way ‘over the top’ and expose themselves to the greatest danger as an example to their men; they made easy targets in their distinctive uniforms. Some 12% of the British army’s ordinary soldiers were killed during the war, compared with 17% of its officers (BBC). I think the memorial was based on this 1915 portrait by John Singer Sargent, hence the long neck.


Posted in brush pen, coloured ink, death, inks, line drawing, monochrome, monument, sculpture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

26 more Japanese commuters

More quick sketches from Japan, this time a collection of commuters at Kyoto main station around 10pm. I was sketching from one of the many high balconies (see below), pleased to catch a couple of salarymen in the middle of a long series of bows, top right. Just using fountain pen and water-brush again, this time with Lexington grey ink, and a touch of white for the phone screens.

tokyo14Lexington grey ink in fountain pen and water-brush, white Rotring ink, A6 – 30 mins

kyoto1The soaring interior of Kyoto station at night. I drew the commuters from the next balcony down.

Posted in coloured paper, from life, inks, Japan, journeys, kit, Lexington grey, line drawing, monochrome, night, people, trains, urban | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tokyo commuters

I spent last week on a study trip to Japan,  a great opportunity generously supported by the Japan Foundation. The schedule was hectic and very full, but it helped to hone my speed-sketching skills, straight to ink using a simple fountain-pen and water-brush kit. So here’s a collection of Tokyo commuters on the subway, and a serene priest I saw elsewhere holding a bowl of tea (he wrote his name next to the sketch). More to follow when the jet-lag subsides…

tokyo11Noodlers Brown 41 ink in fountain-pen and water-brush, A5 – Each person took a couple of minutes for the line drawing, and 5 minutes adding the wash later

Posted in brush pen, collections, coloured ink, from life, inks, Japan, kit, line drawing, monochrome, people, trains, travel, urban | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

toys R me

Here are four Britain’s cowboy figures, three views of a horse, and various robots enjoying some ‘circle time’. Toy figures are great sketching subjects; they’ve already been simplified as part of their miniaturisation, helping you see the key shapes and structures, with less distracting detail. You can also get the angle and composition exactly how you want, they don’t move, and the better made ones are useful practise for drawing figures in the ‘real world’ (where I often see cowboys, horses, and robots).

oct11oct12oct05Noodlers Lexington grey, Brown 41 and Bad Blue Heron in fountain pen and water-brush, white Rotring ink, watercolour, A6 – various times

Posted in animals, collections, coloured paper, line drawing, monochrome, objects, technique, toys | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments