Pencil selfies

The latest batch of quick late evening mirror selfies from my daily drawing habit. All done using the blackest and least smudgy pencil that I’ve found, the Staedtler Mars Lumograph Black. It’s high carbon and low (no?) graphite so the drawings don’t have a grey graphite sheen to them, but you can smudge the lines when you want some tone. Much more of this type of thing in this friendly Facebook group.

There are 200 more of my analogue selfies in this post…

Posted in daily drawing, pencil, self-portrait | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

All aboard…

Waiting at Bath Spa station (you can just see the ghost of a train I tried to draw that left too soon, its windows running across the centre of the sketch)…arnos vale (80)

..and en route to Shropshire. This fellow passenger was simultaneously (not) watching the rugby on his phone, reading a magazine and listening to music (helped by having two right hands) as the misty Welsh hills scrolled past outside.arnos vale (79)

Both drawn using a Confucius Fude pen dipped in grey and black ink.

Some other train sketches from the last few years…

Posted in Duke Confucius, fude pen, journeys, monochrome, trains, urban, urban sketching, Wales | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Pre-coloured pages

Sorry for the lack of posts since June (!). I accidentally fell out of the social media habit, which I guess is a good thing? Anyway, here are some recent experiments with sketching on pre-inked pages (A4).

I’ve always enjoyed using toned paper, but haven’t found one that can take the amount of ink and wash I’m using these days. So… I’ve been pre-staining pages of watercolour paper (Saunders Waterford High White 90lbs) with diluted waterproof ink washes. It’s given me a much better surface to sketch on, complete control over the background colour and some new techniques to work on (very limited palette, adding white, spots of colour etc). All sketched in Bath using the wonderful  Duke Confucius fude pen; from the top there’s Kingsmead Square, then a busy cafe, a keyboard busker by the Abbey, and finally the Roman Baths.

arnos vale_0001 (47)arnos vale_0002 (25)arnos vale_0003 (22)arnos vale_0004 (15)

Posted in Bath, buskers, coloured paper, Duke Confucius, fude pen, monochrome, street scene, urban, urban sketching, white pen | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments


iPad sketches from a visit to hospital for a check-up. (I use an Apple Pencil and Paper by 53 for the drawing app as it’s fairly simple, not too many options to distract!). Further below some previous sketches of people waiting


Posted in hospital, iPad sketches, people watching, urban, urban sketching, waiting | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

…and then to France

A second batch of sketches from a recent trip South.

First some gouache and pencil sketches on the road over the border, snow-capped Canigou dominating the landscape.arnos vale (76)Then a quiet weekday corner in Villelongue-dels-Monts, sketched in bamboo dip-pen as a gift for our hosts. Spot a prowling rooftop cat, a loud peacock perched on a house, and the bike I used to get there. I had to sit in a doorway to get the view I wanted with the wires and windows, then got chatting to the owner in Franglais about art, visits to UK etc; sketching’s a great way to dissolve barriers! IMG_E0436

The foothills of the Eastern Pyrenees seen from the house we stayed in…arnos vale_0004

…with clouds curling over the peaks.arnos vale_0005

We decided to walk up the nearest peak; here’s the view from the top…arnos vale_0003…and the view as we walked back down.arnos vale_0001 (46)

A finally a day trip to nearby Collioure, historic haunt of artists. Time for a quick coffee and sketch in a cafe wall-papered in paintings…P1290341

…before drawing the harbour front. When I started this one I thought it would be a curved panoramic fish-eye sketch, but then changed my mind, hence the leaning tower and curious sinking sea on the right!P1290342 (2)

Here are some past sketches from the same area…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in bamboo dip pen, clouds, France, people watching, urban, urban sketching, vehicles | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

To Spain…

A fairly long post with the first of two sets of sketches from a recent trip. This is the Spanish batch, with the French ones to follow…

The scene at Bristol airport, drawn from an upper level, the busy crowd helping me complete the ‘100 people in one week’ challenge.P1290344

Fellow travellers boarding a nearby plane…arnos vale_0007

… and a glimpse of the clouds and landscape below while sketching the screen-watchers in the foreground.arnos vale

L’Avenc at Tavertet where we stayed, perched above the cliffs in the amazing Collsacabra landscape near Girona; a view of the old house from the terrace…arnos vale_0001

…morning clouds in the valley below…arnos vale_0002

…the view towards the distant sea from the hills above L’Avenc; spot the car arriving and leaving along the narrow track. (I revisited this view in watercolour the next day)…P1290347

… the lonely tortured artist at work, struggling with his inner demons, and the strong winds snatching at the paper, bamboo dip-pens etc.IMG_1315

Looking down at L’Avenc from a different cliff, Girona way off in the distant plain beyond the hazy hills.P1290346

The artist now grappling with the ineffable majesty of nature, paint, flying insects etc…IMG_1282

…and the resulting watercolour, no ink or bamboo dip-pens in sight. The rain clouds approaching from the left arrived while I was painting, hence the unusual mottled sky effect!P1290343

(We stayed at L’Avenc last summer when I was exploring gouache and coloured pencils and mostly sketched the dramatic cliffs below the house…)


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Posted in airplane, airport, bamboo dip pen, clouds, dip pen, landscape, Spain, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Life outdoors

We had four days of unbroken sunshine for the Easter bank holiday weekend, so parks and public spaces were full of people enjoying themselves; here are some of them, drinking tea and smoking e-cigarettes, having an ice-cream, or just sitting and walking and chatting… Me? I was mostly sketching. (All drawn in bamboo dip-pen, with dilute ink and watercolour washes)P1290340P1290345arnos vale_0008Version 2arnos vale_0009

Posted in bamboo dip pen, Bath, park, people, people watching, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

More inky people…

All sketched in Bath, and all in bamboo dip-pen. From the top there’s Seb Guettier busking by the Baths, then Justin Towell busking by the Abbey, Saturday crowds observed from outside a cafe, and finally sketching amongst the chimneys up on the roof terrace at Hall and Wodehouse with Emily, Gome and Charlotte (pigeons and a helicopter overhead).

There are easier pens to use, but I keep returning to the idiosyncratic quirks and saturated lines of the bamboo dip-pen. I recommend trying one out as they’re very cheap, but make sure you smooth the tip with very fine sandpaper before using a shop-bought one or else scritchy scratchy dismay will result… (see also my modification to improve ink flow).IMG_0400IMG_0379IMG_0383IMG_0381

Posted in bamboo dip pen, Bath, buskers, monochrome, people, street scene, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Inky people

Five recent sketches using a bamboo dip-pen for juicy inky lines (which go grey when you blot them). From the top there’s the Saturday market in Stroud (mmm, delicious Portuguese pastries), Seb Guettier busking by Bath Abbey (apologies for the shrinking legs and violin sized guitar case), Bath rugby supporters queuing for the bus home (they’d won), visitors to the Roman baths enjoying the world through tiny screens, and masked animal rights protesters showing scenes from abattoirs on tablets. All human life is here, well, some of it…

SMF364 St S19031012482SMF364 St S19031012480P1280970P1290021P1280821

Posted in bamboo dip pen, Bath, figures, people watching, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

See-through city

Three attempts to capture the animation of Bath city centre, drawing people as they pass by, near or far, focussing mainly on the faces and posture and not worrying about overlaps. I was sat down, so some of the closer figures loom over the others. I drew the outlines of buildings, signs and pavements first to give me a loose structure to place the pedestrians in, and then just settled into people watching and bamboo dip-penning!

P1280832P1280846SMF364 St S19021219140

Posted in bamboo dip pen, Bath, buildings, people watching, street scene, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments