Chim chim cher-ee

More soft pencil sketches; Summer evening views over Bath chimneys and roof-tops to the trees beyond. There’s a couple of seagulls flying home to roost (?) in the first one, and more of the telephone wires I love in the second.


chim1Grafwood 6B pencil, watercolour, A5 – 30 minutes each

Posted in Bath, buildings, landscape, pencil, rooftops, seasonal, sky, urban, urban sketching, watercolour sketch | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In praise of pencils

I’ve tried to like pencils, really I have. I love their woody simplicity, but never found one that felt right on the paper (too waxy, too smudgy etc). But a couple of weeks ago I tried a Grafwood 6B. It’s consistently very smooth (no sharp grit), and very dark, but doesn’t smudge too much. The softness makes it highly responsive, and using it feels half-way between a brush and a pen. With almost no pressure the tip glides over the paper, making it wonderful for expressive ‘blind/contour drawing’. Increase the pressure and the line widens and darkens; turn it slightly and you find the sharper edge and get a clearer narrower line. It’s lightweight, won’t leak in your pocket, water-proof, and blends brilliantly with ink-wash and water-colour, the line vanishing when needed. I’m clearly a very late arrival at the pencil party, but here are some initial attempts, exploring it’s versatility… Two streets in Bath, a concert audience, people in a park, a rose, and my left hand.

juney01juney10juney08 juney02pencil1pencil2Grafwood 6B pencil, water-colour, ink-brush, mostly A5 – various times

Posted in Bath, blind drawing, buildings, cars, figures, hands, kit, line drawing, pencil, people, street scene, technique, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Back in the city

“Hey, I am just a city boy, I’m really not the country kind, I miss the city streets and the neon lights. See the train comin’ round the bend…” The first sketch is a passenger on a train back to the city (Bath, not NY…), after a walk in the Mendips. Then there’s a group of tourists in central Bath, followed by the original line drawing done on location. Then a cafe scene (and the same cafe previously), a man I saw in the local X-ray department, and finally some people on a train station platform. I love cities, so many people to sketch!

peeps2frome06 peeps1mendips etc06jan203weedier06 weedier10All done with fountain pen and ink-brush, with a bit of white crayon and ink on the first picture, and a dab of gold in the cafe, mostly A5 – from 2 to 30 mins

Posted in Bath, cafe, figures, hands, line drawing, people watching, trains, urban sketching, waiting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mendip views

A break from urban sketching with some rural pictures! They were all done in the Mendips, which rise above the Somerset Levels and have surprisingly good views for their size. An ink-filled water-brush was perfect for drawing the pattern of trees and hedges in the fields far below. And released from the city my water-colours came into their own, suiting the soft contours, subtle colours and broad features of the landscape and skies.

mendip1Looking South-West over the Levels towards the Quantocks…

mendip231…West, down the Bristol Channel past the two tiny islands of Steep Holm and Flat Holm and across to Wales (sketched using water-brushes filled with dilute ink)…

cars123skulls etc2…two views looking South East to Brent Knoll, a local landmark…

cars124frome09…two from the top of Crook Peak, including an avid reader (she highly recommends ‘The Night Circus’)…

skulls etc3

…the path along the ridge…


…and finally, looking out from Weston-super-Mare beach towards Steep Holm at sunset after completing a three day walk.

Posted in clouds, coloured ink, coloured paper, journeys, landscape, seasonal, watercolour sketch | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

mostly Greek

More sketches of classical statuary, mostly from the ongoing ‘Defining Beauty‘ exhibition at the British Museum, which is so full of wonderful stuff that I ended up doing very fast drawings with a marker pen, out of sight of the guards… There’s the Discobolus, a kouros (youth), draped women, Socrates (twice), a Sphinx, a faun grappling a nymph, and Apollo’s head. The statues are almost all Roman copies of original Greek bronzes, of which very few survive.  The last sketch is even more removed; it’s of a modern copy of a Victorian plaster model of a Roman copy of a Greek original (called the Belvedere Apollo which in the C18th was considered to be the epitome of classical sculpture). It’s damp-stained and patinated after years in our back garden.

frome11 frome10 mendips etc10 mendips etc11mendips etc12Pencil, marker pen, Lexington grey in water-brush and bamboo dip pen (the last drawing), watercolour, mostly A5 – various times

It’s always hard to remember that the originals would not have been white: ‘Most Greek sculpture that survives from antiquity is carved from white marble. It’s often assumed that there’s a link between the pure freshly cut marble and the idealism of Greek art. In fact, the opposite is true. Colour was intrinsic to ancient ideas of beauty, and sculptures would have been painted in bright colours.’ (Ian Jenkins, British Museum curator).

Posted in body, coloured paper, exhibitions, figures, London, monochrome, museum, objects, pencil, sculpture, statues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Comparing flowers and sketches

More botanical sketching, this time in our back garden. First some new leaves sprouting from a shiny hazel trunk, then Japanese and Chinese wisteria flowers compared. The final sketch is a similar wisteria comparison study, but was done when I’d just started sketching four years ago and was using extra-extra-fine nibbed fountain pens with black ink. When I compare the two pictures the main changes are speed (due to daily practise, but also better materials), a greater appreciation of the importance of curves, and the development of a more confident line (helped by using thicker nibs). Remind me and I’ll do another comparison in 2019!

frome111Fountain pen and water brush with dilute Lexington grey and Brown 41 blend, watercolour, A5 – 50 mins

mendips etc07Fountain pen with Lexington grey/Brown 41 blend, watercolour, A5 – 30 mins

frome01Fountain pen with Carbon ink and watercolour, A6 – a fair while

Posted in blossom, botany, comparisons, flowers, garden, seasonal, Spring | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Ink brush sketching

Here’s another collection of people in town, this time a monochrome set,  done with a water-brush filled with dilute ink for speed. They were sketched one afternoon while sat outside a cafe in early Spring, hence the scarves and big coats. The last of the three was an attempt to meet Chris’ challenge of drawing feet on the move, very tricky…

apples7 apples8easter33333Dilute lexington grey in water-brush, A5 – 30s to 1min per face/figure

Posted in Bath, body, brush pen, clothing, Feet, figures, inks, Lexington grey, monochrome, people, people watching, street scene, urban, urban sketching, waterbrush | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments