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


Posted in blind drawing, daily drawing, faces, line drawing, pencil, self-portrait | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Wonky, skew-whiff, bockety, odd

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

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.

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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…

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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…)


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