Sketches from a couple of recent visits to the lovely Comins Tea House in Bath, trying out new markers for versatility (Winsor and Newton watercolour markers, and Zig Twins – both are water-soluble allowing blending with a water-brush). The second one, of the ‘gong fu’ tea set up, was done over an unfinished earlier sketch, hence the ghostly figures on the table…


Winsor and Newton watercolour markers – A4 – 15 mins


Zig Graphic Twin pens and watercolour – A5 – 30 mins

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When is a sketch not a sketch? This one from October took almost two hours, which seems to take it beyond ‘sketchiness’, losing some of the looseness and energy along the way… It was done on my third visit to Bristol docks with Urban Sketchers Bristol/South West, where I finally got to use the Manchester Symposium umbrella as the group totem and rallying point (see below). I started with bamboo dip pen coloured ink lines, then watercolour washes, and finally more dark ink and white pen to boost the contrast. Further below a couple of sketchier sketches at the same location on sketch crawls over the last two years…


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Old friends

I’m very fortunate to have three friends that I’ve known since early childhood; it’s wonderful to be able to share such a long perspective on our intertwined lives. We met this weekend to celebrate Si’s 50th birthday with a walk through the Cotswolds, and a few drinks. I sketched in coloured pencil while we walked through the woods, occasionally stumbling over tree roots… (adding the light wash when we stopped) and also at the destination pub with my trusty bamboo dip-pen. Many apologies to all three subjects for the portraits, but especially to Steve for the tiny arms. Many happy returns!


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Sorry for the lack of posts here recently (and thanks to Chris for the reminder!). I’ve got into a habit of posting my urban sketches to the USk Facebook page, leaving just the more domestic ones for the blog. So here are two city panoramas, both drawn in bamboo dip-pen over the summer; the old town in Stockholm seen from Sodermalm, and Manchester from the 10th floor of a hotel on the last day of the USk Symposium (6am, reluctant to leave!). I’m struggling to find a similar viewpoint in Bath (a mix of distant and foreground interest from a great height) but will keep searching. I think the Abbey will be my best bet. hlk1gcgh1

(I recommend joining the USk FB group as it’s full of enthusiasm, support, ideas and inspiration, but FB doesn’t lend itself to the longer posts, multiple images and hyperlinks of a blog, so I need to find a balance between the two. I even gave Instagram a brief go; very brief, far too frenetic!)

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You be illin’

Sketching daily selfies can capture all sorts of things… Here’s six days when I went from the depths of a cough/cold to relative wellness, moving from grey fountain-pen to black/brown marker-pen, gaining colour while apparently shedding a few years in the process!

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Progress and time

A reflective post for the first day of the New Year…

Five years ago, when I started sketching, I tried drawing my daughter. She was so (rightly) appalled by the result (I’d turned her into a wizened elf) that I was effectively banned from drawing her! Over time she relented, and I’ve been able to do the odd sketch when she’s reading or watching TV. The full set of these drawings captures my improvement as a daily sketcher, the various techniques I’ve been using, and her growth over the last five years.

Here’s the original offending drawing, in scratchy scratchy fine liner, and a recent one in juicy dip-pen. (I’ve learned that ‘less is more’ when it comes to sketching faces as the slightest line carries a huge significance, and our brains are experts at filling in the absent details.) She’s sat on the same sofa, but has moved from watching TV to checking her phone…

Here are the other ones from the last few years, in no particular order…


Meanwhile she’s been drawing me… These have been done from life at two-yearly intervals and are even more effective at capturing improvement and progress over time. They’re in chronological order, starting when she was six, and the last one was done this week as a Christmas present for me (this time it was me watching the TV). I think they’re all wonderful, but the latest one is particularly fine, I’m very proud of her!


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Drive by…

Seventeen drivers sketched as we overtook them on the way down the M5 on Boxing Day, heading home after a family Christmas in the North. A few look exhausted, some are fairly relaxed, and a couple are even smiling. I’ve broken a couple of urban sketching rules with this one; I added the colour washes when we got home, and there’s no ‘context’ for the faces as I couldn’t fit seventeen cars on the page! Below is a similar sketch of multiple drivers from last year done in brush-pen, and then some other faces spotted about town.uii2latedec2


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