Summer Scilly Isles sketches

Here’s a belated collection from a June trip to the Scilly Isles, thirty miles West of Land’s End. After months of lockdown and restricted travel the trip felt oddly exotic; being in a propeller airplane helped. From the top there’s the flight out in a Twin Otter (like a flying charabanc) along the Cornish peninsular and out to sea, then various coastal/island views on Tresco, and finally Exeter airport on the way back. I’m used to being on the coast or on an island and seeing the sea wherever you go, but on the Scillies there’s also always a scattering of other islands reaching out to the horizon; very very beautiful. All done in pencil and watercolour, haven’t used ink for months now…

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Six-score selfies

A round up of recent(ish) selfies. First is my take on the ‘One week, One hundred people’ sketching challenge from earlier this year. One hundred mirror selfies in one week, all tiny and done with pencil and smudge stump. I rapidly ran out of expressions and had to start using close-ups, odd angles, hats and other props to avoid too much repetition. Winston Churchill, my father, and various other people make surprising appearances!

And then twenty of the usual ones; reliable standbys at the end of the day when I realise I haven’t done my daily sketch yet, with the usual shifty, suspicious and disgruntled selfie expressions!

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A couple of small watercolour sketches, done on recent misty morning dog walks. The first is looking across Bath city centre, with the Abbey and other church towers/spires in the middle distance. The second is looking from above Bath towards the distant Mendips thirty miles away, autumn colours creeping into the landscape.

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A mixed bag

This month I have been mostly using Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils, in ‘dark indigo’. They’re my new favourite mark-maker; soft and responsive on the paper, lots of pigment for rich lines, and barely any smudging. They combine well with watercolour, and fainter lines can fade into the background when needed.

First there’s a crowd of fans waiting on a traffic island for a glimpse of Timothée Chalamet, in Bath filming Wonka. I added colour when I got home, hence the traffic light colours being upside down…

Then forty one quick sketches of Bath bench-life. People dozing, eating, drinking, smoking, chatting, pondering, reading, texting, some alone, some in groups, accompanied by five dogs, one pigeon and a bike. Spot three babies and an ice-cream.

And finally various scenes around town, all fairly small, A5 or A6. There’s even a few without people! (Click on them to see them larger and uncropped)

Posted in Bath, benches, collections, figures, pencil, people watching, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Just a scratch

Quick sketches while being vaccinated over the last few months. The centre was very quiet, very calm, and oddly normal given the strangeness and relative novelty of what was going on.

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Slight return

A quick post after many months of absence, apologies. The sketching has carried on in the meantime (I passed my ten year anniversary of daily drawing in March!), but the website had gone into hibernation. Here are some recent Bath sketches to get the ball rolling again; the local bandstand back in action after many many months silence, a cafe view in Kingsmead Square, and people relaxing in Queen Square.

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Next door

(Apologies for the recent lack of posts. Lockdown etc has broken/changed/started many habits, including a drastic reduction in my use of social media, which is probably a Good Thing. The daily drawing from life continues in spite of it all)

Here’s a set of sketches of Denis, our lovely 91 year-old neighbour. Since the start of the first lockdown I’ve popped round most days to see him for a chat, distanced for safety. Sometimes I draw him while we’re talking, and he’s usually amused by the results… “I look like an ancient elf!”

Most of the sketches are tiny (10cm x 10cm ish), and either in pencil/stump like these ones…

…or in the usual mix of pencil, fude-ink-pen, watercolour.

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Pocket drawing board

(I don’t think I’ve done a ‘sketching kit’ post for a while. They’re usually popular so here goes…) To keep up the daily ‘drawing from life’ habit (nearly ten years now) I make sure I’ve always got sketching materials on me. In the past I’ve just used any paper/pen in my pocket, but having more time on my hands recently (…) led to me making a tiny sketch kit. It weighs 37 grammes, less than any pocket notebook I’ve got, and gives me top quality paper/line/tone wherever/whenever. (It’s also forced me not to rely on the Duke Confucius pen for all my sketching)

The paper’s the great stuff I always use (Saunders and Waterford High-White Hot-Press 90lbs), ripped down to A6 size, and clipped (using a small length of poster hanger) onto a piece of 3mm plywood. Then I use a wonderfully dark 8B Mars Lumograph Black pencil (with a cap to protect tip and pockets) for line and a thin tortillon/stump/blender for tone. The pencil and stump are attached by a tube of elastic fabric, so you can quickly swap between them when drawing, just spin them (!) round in your hand.

The wooden board gives a great support for the paper, allowing the pencil lines to be as crisp or soft as you fancy, and smudging for tone is equally detailed and responsive. The pencil/stump combo captures all the key information, and I can add a quick colour wash when I get home if I don’t have my tiny palette/water-brush with me (see below). This kit’s unobtrusive (slightly stealthy?) so could be good for shy sketchers, and is great for making the most of those brief moments when opportunity and subject coincide! Here are a few recent sketches made with the kit…

I’ve almost completely given up on sketchbooks now and instead use a range of drawing boards for A3, A4 and A5 sized loose paper sheets alongside this tiny one. The boards offer better drawing surfaces and much reduced weight. Finally here’s the tiny palette I use, made from a Muji card case. Full instructions on how to make one are here.

Posted in airplane, clouds, figures, kit, pencil, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Post lockdown park-life

Here are around 170 people enjoying fresh-air, benches, sunshine, ice-creams, solitude and company. It’s been busy busy busy in Bath’s parks, not surprising with fine weather after months of lockdown. Due to foreshortening, trying to fit them all onto the paper, and ‘artist’s license’ people look closer than they actually are in the parks. But apart from the occasional mask it does all feel strangely normal…

(all drawn with Duke Confucius fude, dipped in various inks)

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Virtually sketching

Lockdown’s lack of group sketch-crawls has led to regular virtual meet-ups. Using Google Streetview you can freely wander a static location, get lost in side-streets and find a view that suits, joined by other sketchers on Zoom. Transcribing photos/2d images is very different to drawing from life, here’s James Gurney explaining the vital difference.  But it’s been fun hanging out with fellow sketchers again, sometimes adding them as Olympian observers above the scene, and the local subjects are perfectly still!

From the top there’s Liverpool (spot the near invisible correction to fit in the Liver-bird…), a roasted corn seller in Istanbul, The Alhambra in Spain, villagers in Pewsey (Wiltshire, UK), bathers in Varanasi (India), and finally tourists in Sintra (Portugal). We’re off to Hong Kong next!

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