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)

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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.

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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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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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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