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 , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

28 bench-sitters

Another collection of strangers, mostly tourists, sat on benches in the square next to Bath Abbey. They’re chatting, reading, texting, pondering, relaxing, waiting, eating ice-cream, and just watching, like me. The square’s a great place for sketching people, they usually stay still for a few minutes and are far enough away to make them simple to draw, few details to distract. oct08After 2 years of devotion to Lexington Grey I’m now enjoying two new Noodlers inks, Brown 41 and Bad Blue Heron. All three are waterproof and combine well; loaded in fountain pens, and diluted in water-brushes they make a handy sketch kit offering line, shade and colour. Pure Pens have now restocked and have bottles and bottles of fine Noodlers inks for you to try (I think they’re the only UK/European stockists?).

Noodlers water-proof inks in fountain pen and water-brush, a dash of white gouache in the top picture, A6 – about 2 minutes per figure

Posted in Bath, coloured paper, from life, inks, kit, Lexington grey, line drawing, people, sketching, street scene, urban, waiting, waterbrush | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Urban sheep

A flock of sheep on the steep field in front of Lansdown Crescent on the Northern slopes of Bath. An odd but lovely urban sight, a very faint echo of the times when drover’s roads criss-crossed the UK, bringing flocks of sheep into many city-centre markets. (More history below the pictures…) The sheep were good to draw, slow-moving with chunky curves, spindly legs, and their head shape reminded me of camels.


White Rotring pen, Lexington grey in fountain pen and water-brush, white gouache, A5 – 45 minutes

sheep1White Rotring pen, Noodlers brown ink in fountain pen, Lexington grey water-brush, watercolour, A6 – 30 minutes

‘Medieval Bath became a city of trade and prospered from the woollen industry. It was ideally situated as drovers could bring their sheep in from the edge of the Cotswold Hills, the River Avon powered the mills and proximity to the port of Bristol helped the traders sell and transport their goods. Bath became famous for its tightly woven broadcloth. There were 50 broad looms in one area of Broad Street alone. The importance of the wool trade is illustrated by the occupations of MPs for Bath – three weavers, a cloth maker and a cloth merchant – while in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath is “an expert in cloth making – better than the cloth-makers of Ypres and Ghent.” ‘ (From the Mayor of Bath’s website)

Posted in animals, Bath, buildings, coloured paper, from life, Lexington grey, sketching, urban, white pen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An urban stroll

I’ve been reading Freehand Drawing and Discovery by James Richards. Richards is an architect so his drawings look like planning proposals, but it’s got a lot of good tips on creating simple but effective urban landscapes. It also mentions ‘serial visions’, a series of sequential drawings that share the experience of moving through a city (see below for the original source). So I had a go at a ‘serial vision‘ in Tenby; I didn’t have long and only managed 4 line drawings, adding the shade and colour later. Imagine you’re walking through a gate tower in the ancient city walls, past some shops, towards a tree, where you turn left. (Here’s the Google Streetview version. And there’s a Seattle urban sketcher’s attempt here.). I like the way a sequence of pictures adds the sense of time passing, and I’ll try another one in Bath soon.

tenby stroll11tenby stroll4tenby stroll1tenby stroll3

Platinum sepia pigment ink in fountain pen, Lexington grey water-brush, watercolour, A5 – about 10 minutes per drawing

The idea of ‘serial visions’ appears in Gordon Cullen’s 1961 urban planning book ‘Townscape’. Here’s his explanation:Croquis GC02


Posted in buildings, from life, inks, journeys, line drawing, sequential, street scene, technique, travel, urban | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Glasses and bottles

Six attempts to sketch translucency using a range of line thicknesses; from ‘barely there’ (the pencil on the green San Pelegrino), to ‘bold’ (1mm Pigma pen on the chair with pint glass). They’re all late evening sketches of whatever’s in front of me, to keep up the daily drawing habit.

glass1In the pint glass above there’s no ink/paint where the water ‘is’, but my brain can’t help seeing water there; the lines around it provoke a form of closure, the irresistible urge to complete a partial image or implied pattern. The highlights and shading tell me water should be there, so it is! I think closure can make sketches more engaging and satisfying than highly finished pictures and photographs; the viewer completes the image.

glass11snacks3tests04 tests03april2All sorts of mark-makers, Lexington grey ink water-brush for most of the shading, watercolour, A7 to A5 – 10-30 minutes each


Posted in collections, coloured paper, from life, glass, inks, Lexington grey, monochrome, objects, sketching, waterbrush | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


A seated figure sketched while waiting for a couple of minutes at the Sports Village at Bath University; I used the rest of the page to test inks on top of paint. One corner of the testing was oddly beautiful, the ink branching into the wet paint, so I’ve posted that too; serendipity.

lots17Lexington grey in fountain pen and water-brush, watercolour, A6 – 5 minutes for the sketch


Posted in Bath, from life, inks, Lexington grey, line drawing, people, sketching | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One bad apple

Another go at mostly painting, just using pencil lines for the overall shape and some pens for the lettering on the sticker. I usually add water-colour at the end of a sketch, after establishing line and shade with ink. Here it was all built out of colour, letting the paint dry before adding the next glaze for the green and red markings and the stalk shadow, or painting wet-on-wet for the bruise (the skin was broken and rot was slowly spreading…)

apple11Pencil, white Gelly Roll pen, blue and red Pigma pens, water-colour, A6 – 20 minutes

Posted in botany, food, from life, fruit, objects, pencil, sketching, technique, watercolour sketch, white pen | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment