daily dog

Daily sketches of our six months old/young Schnoodle puppy Mo; it took a while to be able to see the key contour lines of her body within the fluffy coat! Here she’s mostly dozing, with additional horses, camels, loyal servants, passers-by and a vulture for variety…  All sketched in a small Muji book, using grey Document ink in a Sailor 40 degree fude pen.

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Brief catch up…

Four recent urban sketches, all in Bath, all in bamboo dip-pen, and all from the big square sketchbook; George Street in the rain, double-page spread in the Forum cafe, Remembrance day in Victoria Park, and Christmas shoppers in Milsom Street. Then a fude pen portrait of our neighbour Denis, done at his request for his wife who’s recently moved into a care home.



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Sorry for the absence… Here are some sketches from a trip to Southern France in various media with watercolour washes. A sunny morning at Girona airport (drawn in brush-pen), pure watercolour studies of a mountain in the Eastern Pyrenees, looking towards Canigou over the rooftops of Perpignan (more brush-pen drawing), a VeloSolex 800 in Sharpie, and a baking hot afternoon in Collioure (bamboo dip-pen). And now back in soggy grey Bath (more dip-pen)….

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Small sketch notes

I love using the big square wood-bound sketch-book with bamboo dip-pen, but it doesn’t work for an everyday carry. So I’ve been carrying a much much smaller notebook  (£1 from Muji) for daily sketches. It’s shirt-pocket sized and works really well with a fude pen and tiny watercolour kit. The paper buckles a bit with paint, but the drawings are looser as they’re so small and brief. It also allows me to sketch very discreetly, catching more of the passing human parade! Here’s a selection of recent gleanings from around town, including a hot-air balloon take-off, a baby on a bus and several sleepy commuters…


Posted in Bath, fude pen, kit, line drawing, people watching, sketchbooks, street scene, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

“…through the square window”

Apologies for the lack of recent blog posts; we’ve welcomed a Schnoodle puppy into our home and posting on Facebook better suits my sleep-deprived attention span… But I have managed to make a new batch of sketchbooks; they’re still bound in super-light plywood, and are even bigger than previous versions (they don’t fit on the scanner, hence the oddly lit sketches below…), and they’re now square. Instagram abandoned the square a couple of years ago but I’m enjoying working inside this new shape after years of using the usual rectangle. The square echoes Polaroids, and my first experience of photography using a Kodak Instamatic; it also means one less choice to resolve before getting down to sketching (landscape? portrait? nope). I’m finding the square a more ‘democratic’ shape for composition, it encourages me to use the full frame, and also seems to lead to wider angle vision. But I was leaning towards these approaches anyway,  and maybe the increased size of the page is what matters, so who knows?! Here’s a set of recent square sketches, all in bamboo dip-pen (another decision already made before I settle to drawing); let me know if you spot any patterns. They’re certainly easier to arrange in a grid…

I’ve also been looking for discussions about the reasons for choices between landscape/portrait/square formats in drawing/sketching/art and couldn’t find much. There were a few articles related to the ‘golden section’, and some on photography, focussing (ho ho) on sensor shapes etc. These led to interesting descriptions of the human visual field and how we perceive the space around us. Plenty to ponder…

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Compare and contrast…

I love the way urban sketching explicitly celebrates the different ways we respond to a location. Here’s an example from Monday when I had the opportunity to sketch in Bath with Gary Yeung (a member of the USK Hong Kong group who’s visiting the UK), and local sketcher Jim (who shares his artistic explorations and discoveries here). It was raining, again, so we sheltered in the Abbey and settled to sketch for an hour in our various ways…

I sat right at the back and focussed on drawing the many visitors, who were draped over, leaning on, and sitting in the pews. I was using a bamboo dip-pen in a large sketchbook, looking for the key expressive lines that described the figures as simply and speedily as possible. I added the colour when I got home, and the overall effect is ‘cartoony’; Jim thought so too and later added some speech bubbles…


Jim also drew figures, but used pencil in a small Moleskine. He worked on capturing tone alongside the more subtle shapes and structural lines. Jim’s sketches are careful studies that also carry enough information to inform future works; I think they reflect the time he has spent researching and experimenting with technical aspects of drawing and painting.abbey-sketching-20170731 (1)Gary focussed on the building, capturing the height and light of the interior space. He used very light pencil to plan the composition, then worked confidently in watercolour, followed by black pen to build and focus the darker elements of the sketch; the complete opposite to my usual sequence (ink lines, then paint). Figures appear as outlines framing white space, giving scale but allowing the building to speak for itself.20476148_1106238929477515_2309508500798312584_n

I love seeing how other people sketch the world, and hope I can continue to learn by enjoying the diverse results, both online and in person. Thanks to Gary and Jim for a great afternoon!20597957_10155762890440676_1146073588_o-1

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‘Busy busy world’

Reaping the benefits of good weather by indulging in my default sketching mode: people watching.  Bath is blessed by a huge variety of visitors from around the world adding to the interest. I’ve been trying to focus on crowds, groups and collections of people interacting as they seem to be a key part of the urban experience, looking for ways to merge their forms when possible. But some individuals are too interesting too ignore! So here are 27 sketches in all the usual media, mostly posted on Facebook over recent weeks; click on the image and you can see the full uncropped version…

Posted in bamboo dip pen, Bath, collections, figures, people watching, street scene, urban, urban sketching | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments