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


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Blue and gold

Five more sketches on pre-coloured paper, with blue and golden yellow backgrounds this time, the idea being to approximate skies and Bath stone, ish. I used the same process of drawing with the juicy fude pen, and then adding the greys and whites to build tone and contrast (as with the other ones I’ve posted recently). I’ve also used a bit of blue/golden yellow watercolour to extend the colour field out, or to add sky/buildings/lights into the sketches (and hot pink for the sitar case!). The overall effect can be a bit extreme but is fun to explore…

All the locations are in Bath; from the top there’s Walcot House cafe, then Kingsmead Square, a sitar busker by the Abbey, a general view of ‘Abbey Churchyard’, and finally looking down Stall Street.arnos vale (84)arnos vale_0006 (12)arnos vale_0001 (49)arnos vale_0005 (13)arnos vale_0002 (27)

Posted in Bath, buskers, cafe, coloured paper, Duke Confucius, fude pen, monochrome, sketchbooks, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday in beautiful autumn light at Bath Cenotaph this morning. The band playing, a vicar leading the service, wreaths being presented and the salute being taken; a distant dog barking and a toddler laughing during the two minutes silence. “Stay and remember those who died…” I managed to get a great spot to view the scene, with a policeman just below on the right.DSC_0198

Some previous Remembrance Sundays…

Posted in Bath, coloured paper, Duke Confucius, fude pen, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Monochrome set

Four more experiments sketching on pre-stained paper, this time using a homemade sepia ink for the stain, leaving a white border. From the top there’s a quiet moment in The Waterstones cafe, two busy scenes near Kingsmead Square, and finally the Roman Baths steaming on a cold autumn afternoon, all drawn with the fabulously juicy and variable Confucius Fude pen. It’s fun using various ‘whiteners’ to adjust the tone, alongside the usual dilute grey ink brush. Each whitener has its own qualities:

  • White gouache/titanium white watercolour is good for large areas and subtle changes, but always dries darker than it looks when painted (and looks a bit odd for skin-tones, see the zombies sat in the cafe in the second sketch).
  • A white pencil adds a textured effect, but once it’s on the paper it can’t be shifted or painted/inked on… I used it for the fur collar in the middle sketch, highlights on the right side in the third sketch, and for the flames and mist in the last one. This is the best one I’ve found, the Staedtler Lumocolor Glascrom, rich in pigment.
  • And for maximum opacity a correction pen is super-bright. I’ve used it to bring the white border of the paper into the pre-stained areas and for ultra-highlights, but it can unbalance the overall tonal balance as it’s so light. The best I’ve found is this one, the Uniball CLP-305, as it has a roller ball so is much smoother to use, but it’s harder to find (I’ve stopped using the popular white Gelly Rolls as they’re just not opaque enough).arnos vale (82)arnos vale_0003 (24)arnos vale_0004 (17)arnos vale (83)
Posted in Bath, brush pen, cafe, coloured paper, monochrome, street scene, urban, urban sketching, white pen | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments