Sketching while walking

I recommend drawing while walking as one way to encourage looser, simpler ‘right side of the brain’ sketching. You’re so busy not falling over/wandering into people, while balancing sketchbook/pencil etc, and trying not to be too conspicuous/creepy that the drawing becomes almost automatic! You have to be fast, and make every line count. Pencil seems easiest to use, and having a double ended one gives you a couple of colours to play with (see photo at end for my current favourite kit modification). I can’t manage the watercolour wash while walking, yet, so add this when I get home. Walking’s a fairly receptive action so if you don’t catch the angle of the foot-fall first time, just wait a moment and catch it the next. From the top here’s Jim holding his daughter Anna’s hand, two strangers with dog, late night winter shoppers, three old friends, my mum and dad, and extended family. The only problem (?) is that you’re limited to rear views, unless you can watch them approaching from a fair distance…

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Domestic dip-pen

Indoor bamboo dip-pen sketches of Sally reading and Jim having a go with another dip-pen, both in glorious multi-coloured De Atramentis ink, with a light watercolour wash.

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Bath time!

Some recent sketches of the Roman Baths in bamboo dip-pen and pencil, with watercolour washes. The Baths are a great winter sketching location; outdoors but warmed by the thermal springs, and with lots of passing people to add interest and life. The hot water that’s bubbling up fell as rain on the nearby Mendip hills around 10,000 years ago; since then it’s filtered down through rock to a depth of two miles (hence the heat) and travelled fifteen miles cross-country!

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Hospital view

Apologies for the recent blog neglect; I’ve had some major elective surgery to prevent recurrence of the diverticulitis that laid me low in July (these are my hospital sketches from that visit) and am now recuperating well. So here’s a view of the hospital carpark, done during one of my more lucid moments when the medication/rest balance was just right! I’d opened the window a little, and the fresh air and sounds from the outside world were bliss, almost as good as the cup of tea… I’ve managed to keep up my daily drawing throughout, so now have lots of biro drawings of bedside ephemera, and strange attempts to capture the faces I could see in some of the winter branches outside…


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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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