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

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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…

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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!

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City evenings

Sorry for the lack of recent posts; there’s no particular excuse, just the usual Christmas busy-ness and all the rest. I was still out sketching though, so here are four evening scenes in central Bath. Winter’s a busy time for Bath with a very popular Christmas shed chalet market attracting thousands of extra visitors. In the first two I slightly tilted the scene to be able to show more of the people and the streets stretching away into the distance. The third was from an upstairs cafe, so no tilting needed! (The first’s drawn with a fude fountain pen, the second in pencil, and the last two with bamboo dip-pen)

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39 more analogue selfies…

…all done late evening to keep up the daily drawing habit/obsession, and all drawn with bent-nib fude pens, great for both strong blocks of shady ink and fine lines for hatching… (Many of these have been posted to this fun group of fellow self-sketchers)




…and 168 others from the past few years!



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Analogue and digital in London

Sketches from a trip to London, including trying out a new entry level iPad with Apple Pencil for drawing (I’m using Paper by 53 as the sketching app; it’s very basic in options so not too distracting with choices, but responsive enough to be expressive).

The view on the train to London. Resisting the urge to ‘undo’ is tricky with the iPad. Years of sketching in ink helps, but…


Looking down from the stairs that wrap around the central rotunda in the British Museum (sketched with the Confucius fude pen). The totem poles were being carved in 1850, around the time the museum was being built.arnos vale (66)

The view looking South from Parliament Hill sketched on the iPad. It looks a bit washed out, and I’ve been using black for my lines since then.Paper.Sketches.2

(Here’s the same view sketched in bamboo dip-pen with watercolour last summer…)P1280075 (2)

A few individuals seen about town, sketched on the iPad.

My reflection in the window opposite, on a rattling and swaying tube train from Oxford Circus to Paddington, on the way home (Sailor fude pen).arnos vale (15)

And finally fellow passengers and pigeon waiting in Paddington station (sketched with the trusty fude pen)…


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Guns, drawn

Two original pistols from World War One. They could have faced each other in combat on a battlefield, now meeting in peacetime(ish) one hundred years later on a table in Shropshire, while I drew them with a bamboo dip-pen. A German officer’s Luger automatic, and an English officer’s Webley  revolver. Very different guns to handle; the Luger is mechanically sophisticated, light, well balanced, while the Webley’s basic, heavy, and tips forward. But both lethal, and now out off action.

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Other guns drawn over the years in various museums and collections…

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Ubiquitous, invisible

A while ago I became fascinated by the strings of cars I passed as I moved around the city; always there, curling round the city’s contours, but rarely noticed… The mania passed, but it was good practise! (All done when I was using Lexington grey ink in a trusty Lamy Safari, and before I became equally obsessed with drawing people, so the streets look oddly empty…)


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Sequentialistical (Sequentialicious?)

Various attempts to sketch sequences of time passing, in most of my favourite media…

  1. Preparing a hot-air balloon for launch in Bath’s Victoria Park. The passengers help with the spreading out of the balloon, and help to hold it open while it is inflated by the large fan. They’re having the safety briefing in the second to last picture. This take-off failed due to high winds and the balloon never launched (bamboo dip-pen, watercolour).P1280443P1280444
  2. Another hot-air balloon launch in Vicky Park, this one was speedy and took off! (pencil and dilute gouache).arnos vale_0003 (19)
  3. The view from our backdoor over eleven hours. When I started this sequence I thought I’d be capturing ever changing clouds and skies; it then settled in to a day of unbroken overcast grey, enlivened only by the sunset… (just gouache)arnos vale_0002 (20)arnos vale_0001 (36)
  4. And finally the view at 60mph on the M4 heading East, to say farewell to a nephew who’s heading far West (to live in Canada), sketched every ten minutes or so; stunningly monotonous! (Duke Confucius Fude ink pen and light gouache)arnos vale (64)
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Twenty seven mile view

Looking many many miles West from the top of Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral; across the city centre and docks, across the Mersey to Birkenhead, right across the top of the Wirral peninsula, then across the Dee estuary, past an offshore wind farm and out along the North Wales coast. The cathedral’s the biggest in Europe, the fifth largest in the world, the longest in the world (!), and has the tallest tower in the UK at 101metres. The tower’s so tall I could see for miles in all directions, but I chose this view to sketch as it covered the the iconic Liver Building, the Wirral (where I grew up), the building where my father worked for many years, and two buildings he designed, which was nice.

P1280576 (1)(De Atramentis ink in Duke Confucius Fude pen, and watercolour)

Here’s a rough idea of the area and distance covered… (according to this site the horizon/limit of a view from 100m/330ft up is about 22miles. The cathedral is on a hill, making the total height above sea-level 154m/500ft, and the horizon 27 miles away!)

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Some previous urban panoramas (South of France, Manchester and Stockholm)…


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