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.

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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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Posted in Bath, Duke Confucius, figures, park, people watching, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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Posted in drawing buildings, Istanbul, Portugal, Spain, street scene, urban, virtual sketching | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lockdown sketches #3: botanical

Having more time to watch the loveliest Spring I can remember means I’ve been drawing more plant life.  Weeds like ivy and bindweed and sticky weed caught my eye at first; I love the way they’re creeping and covering. But old trees, magnolias, wisteria and cauliflowers have their own sinuous charms… (spot the mosquito that nearly bit me while drawing the wisteria…) Mostly inks, with a bit of water-colour

Posted in Bath, botany, ink brush, inks, park, seasonal, Spring, urban sketching, watercolour sketch | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Lockdown #2: people (and birds)

Given social distancing I’m having to be more resourceful to sketch my favourite subject… Here’s a 2m distanced supermarket queue, neighbours sat outside their front doors on VE day, a man doing tai-chi in the park, three Zooming sketchers watching Sintra tourists on StreetView, and various others including quick Zoom portraits, magpies and domestic TV viewing!

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Posted in Bath, dip pen, figures, line drawing, park, people watching, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lockdown sketches #1: landscapes

I hope you’re well. Strange days and worrying times, but much to be thankful for; health, a garden, fine weather, a dog to walk, and family to share it all with. Also thankful for the daily drawing habit, providing continuity, a bit of purposeful structure, and timeless moments when it’s going well! These were done during long dog walks; mostly in inks using a water-brush, a speedy way to catch lines and shapes, and very stable for layers of tonal washes. I think our constrained times have made distant open landscapes more attractive than usual, and the clearer air probably helps…

From the top there’s Kelston Round Hill, then five views of Stantonbury Hill, a moon-set at 5am (our dog had woken up early…), our neighbourhood seen from a nearby hill, Lansdown Crescent from below, and the back of the Royal Crescent.

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Posted in Bath, brush pen, coloured ink, ink brush, landscape, monochrome, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

London Calling #2

The second of three posts collecting sketches from  recent trip to London. This time, mostly museums…

To the Museum of London to pay homage to a sacred relic, Paul Simenon’s bass guitar, as smashed on the cover of London Calling. Centrepiece of a small but lovely exhibition to mark 40 years since the album came out…IMG_1193

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Then to the British Museum. Here’s the great court in the centre of the building, seen from an upper window…arnos vale_0020 (4)

(On my last visit I was able to study Rembrandt’s ‘Young Woman Sleeping’ up close; it’s a miraculous speedy sketch made up of about 40 brushstrokes. With my nose pressed against the glass, eyeballing it from about foot away, I had a go at recreating some sections, discovering even more details in the process. Taking the occasional break to sketch other visitors to the gallery…)arnos vale (92)

In the wonderful new Islamic gallery I copied faces from a huge 1950s linocut, fascinated by the different ways Zenderoudi made up eyes, noses, mouths etc…arnos vale_0014 (4)

Then some quick sketches of netsuke in the Japanese gallery…arnos vale_0005 (17)

And finally some more of the 6 million or so annual fellow visitors.IMG_1116

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London calling #1

The first of three posts collecting sketches from a recent trip to London, all drawn with a Duke Confucius Fude pen, some onto pre-stained pages, with various washes/colours etc

Fellow passengers waiting on the opposite station platform…arnos vale (93)Myself in the window as the train sped through the evening…arnos vale_0021 (4)

Cafe customers…arnos vale (91)

My host (deepest apologies to Adrian for this shocking libel)…arnos vale_0004 (22)

And finally Londoners out and about in the city, mostly sketched from the top deck of a bus (a few in another cafe).arnos vale_0003 (28)

Posted in coloured paper, Duke Confucius, fude pen, London, people watching, trains, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Longer views

Looking across the Somerset Levels from the top of Cheddar Gorge, clouds back-lit by the sun. There were boats sailing on Cheddar’s circular reservoir on the right, too tiny to draw! Sketched using a water brush dipped into grey ink, wet into wet for the clouds, allowing me to tweak and fine-tune the tones/values. I love the patterns of hedges, trees, roads and buildings stitched out across a landscape, hazy patchwork calligraphy under huge soft clouds. Older examples of cloudy/hedgy views below, including more of the Levels…

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Wonky, skew-whiff, bockety, odd

Last week I accidentally wandered into cubism through blind-drawn continuous-line selfies… I recommend having a go, they only take a minute and the results are so strange that you can’t make any ‘mistakes’. Hold a pencil ready to draw on a page, look into the mirror and draw your face in one continuous line without looking down at the paper. Let your eyes move around the contours and features of your face and trace the same movement with the pencil. It becomes a magical mystery tour as you attempt to keep track of where you are on the page and try not to fall off the edges. Then enjoy the reveal when you look down! Some of them look like reflections in moving water, some like I’ve been badly beaten, and some are just odd. As I look at them I can recognise some of the lines/shapes I habitually use when drawing selfies, but it’s as if they’ve been drawn by someone else; most peculiar!


Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Posted in blind drawing, daily drawing, faces, line drawing, pencil, self-portrait | Tagged , , , ,