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Monday, March 23, 2015

Trees and sketchbooks


















There are some lovely trees in my area and I've been meaning to sketch them for ages. The one above is a huge plane tree on the corner of the road outside the local mairie's office. Across the road there are some handy benches to sit and sketch but it's so enormous and my sketchbook very small so I just focussed on the trunk.


Another favourite tree, this one I can see from my kitchen window. It's incredibly tall and somehow manages to look even bigger from the window. I love the shape of the trunk and there is another tree on my bus route with the same 'tuning fork' trunk. I'm not sure what it is but it could be a Stone pine. I added the little building behind for scale, a bit of cloud and the glimpse of the Jura mountains you can see from this angle.

I don't normally draw trees or landscapes but these were really enjoyable. It may be because of the size limitation - with a larger sketchbook it would be too intimidating, too overwhelming, I think.






Now there is only one page left in this sketchbook. I was in Green & Stone last week and picked up another couple but I noticed they have changed the paper from a soft off-white to bright white. I don't mind the white but I really liked the old fashioned feel of the original. I still have a couple to use and this has taken years to fill so I won't miss them just yet!

















Here are the Green & Stone books I use at the moment. The lovely little pocket sketchbook with the canvas cover, stud fastener and pencil holder. And the black square format sketchbooks - one I call my 'random' sketchbook and one is for doodles. I have a million other types but these are the ones I use most just now. Keeping things small has helped get over a very long and persistent 'writer's block'.

Also, in Green & Stone I discovered Conte pencils. These are not the charcoal pencils I've tried before but more like very black graphite. They may have been around forever but I've never seen them before and these are a really exciting find!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Great British Sewing Bee


















Another 'Great British' show I enjoy (I previously sketched from The Great British Bake Off). I seem to have jinxed them though as after two weeks the two ladies are now out!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Noisy little visitors


















I had to draw some Long-tailed tits since they have now started visiting our little kitchen patio. They only stay for a few seconds and I'd probably miss them if it wasn't for all their squeaking and chattering. Not that I'm complaining. It's lovely to hear birds singing again in the mornings. Spring can't be far off.

The sketches looked very boring in pencil and didn't capture them very well so I went over them in colour pencil and splashed a bit of watercolour around them to give them a bit more interest.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rhinos and random ramblings
















 A very quick sketch from the TV in my little 'random sketches' Green & Stone sketchbook. (I have to give it that name to stop me from worrying about what to put in it!) I wasn't quite sure what was going on with the nostrils and what I normally do is Google some images to get a better understanding of the things I draw. There is a surprising thing that happens when you draw something you've seen a thousand times and think you know - you really haven't seen it until you draw it. I had no that idea rhinos faces are as unique and varied as our own.

Rhinos are such odd looking creatures, you feel you are looking at a very primitive design, like a present day dinosaur. Googling images of rhinos is a very sobering thing though. It's tragic to see these lovely animals suffering for our ignorance.

Since I closed my other blog where I kept my quicker sketches (you would think I'd keep my sketches on the blog with sketches in the title...) I thought I'd post a few of the pages from this sketchbook here. These are in a little sketchbook about 6"x6" and depending on the side, some surfaces are smooth and some rough. It annoys me slightly as I don't like paper that is too rough but I've found that I've come to like it for certain things - like the rhino above where the surface actually helped create the texture of the skin.


First page, I started a quick sketch of a mackerel and then realised it would look good as a repeating pattern. Even though it didn't work as I hadn't placed the first one well, it's something I want to play with again. 




















Ziggy, my old cat.

Comfy platforms!






My migraine tablets. Since I drew these, I'm now almost free of the dreaded things since I've suffered from severe migraines since I was 14. One of the benefits of getting older!

A couple of old brooches my mother had in a jewelry box. I never saw her wearing them and by the time I asked her she couldn't remember anything about them. They're very tiny and so detailed.


Two faces from magazines that I put together. On the rough side of the page but it helped with the texture.


I loved the way the feathers looked like a spiral on this turkey.


Sketching faces from TV on the day of Margaret Thatcher's funeral. Loved the profile of the man in the crowd and loved drawing the face of Lady Mary Russell on the right. Some drawings are like books you don't want to end - loved the soft texture of her skin.


More drawings from the TV on various days - TV reviewers and a face in the crowd again at the top. Oscar Pistorius, middle right, and journalists queueing outside the courtroom. Hugh Dennis below, left.



A loon - a lovely long elegant face. It's eyes are red.





Sheep from a magazine. Drawing this I realised I don't know my sheep from my goats because often they look very similar! The one below is definitely a goat...I think.



Friday, January 16, 2015

I don't want to set the world on fire...




I thought I'd start off doing some quick sketches to get back into the swing of things but somehow ended up with another portrait. Again, it was faces on Mastermind that tempted me. It must be something to do with those interesting profiles and the way the camera pans in very slowly. I'd love to say this was easy but I'd forgotten just how much effort goes into a drawing - and this is graphite which I'm most comfortable with so coloured pencil and watercolour are going to be a challenge! This is Andy Bell (of Erasure) one of the greatest voices of the 80's. It's great to see he's still going strong like many other talents from that time. I've been listening to quite a lot of 80's music recently and it still sounds good today.

A tiny sketch in my little Green & Stone book. I said in the last post I hadn't sketched for two years but I was looking through some sketchbooks and I realised that that's not quite true. There were a few small ones, like this one, drawn while flying to Copenhagen last year. I love the unusual angle of the face on the right.

Strange that I had forgotten because we are always told that when we draw we take everything in and never forget the moment. True, I do remember those particular faces but I have a dreadful memory and I also think when we get so caught up with sketching and recording, ironically it can make us a bit detached (certainly from those we are with) and actually not very present in the moment. It's been very good for me to stop blogging, zone out from the noise that was distracting me and reconnect with what I find pleasurable. Maybe that's a side effect, or the down side, of having grown up in the pre-Internet era!






Thursday, January 08, 2015

Je suis Charlie

















An old drawing but one I felt moved to post again after the tragic and senseless events in Paris yesterday. I had started drawing tentatively again last week after a two year break but I listened to cartoonist Loic Secheresse speaking on the news this morning about the importance of picking up a pen and pencil again and really felt inspired to keep going. He said 'with drawing you feel alive'. How true that is.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Richard III






















An attempt at drawing Richard III from the facial reconstruction but with a few changes, allowing for how I think the stresses in his life (and probable pain from scoliosis) might affect his face. I'm a little fed up with my scanner making all my drawings look ghostly grey so I've gone to work on Photoshop with this one to make it more like the original.

It's been so interesting reading around the life of Richard III and trying to get a better idea of who he was and the times he lived in. It's very frustrating trying to piece it all together from wildly subjective reports, rumour and sketchy, misleading information though. At first it seemed there was very little available but slowly, digging away, small and very surprising details emerge. All I know for sure is that they were brutal times, but that only makes the positive things Richard did all the more surprising and admirable. Sadly, it seems his sense of fairness led to his downfall. It was kill or be killed back then.

I came across some examples of his signature and I really liked this one. It was his last, as it turns out, dated 1485.

2H, H, 2B  Faber Castell pencils on Winsor & Newton paper.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Great British Bake Off



















Sketching from a hugely enjoyable show called The Great British Bake Off.  I came across this 8"x8" sketchbook in London recently (made by 'Seawhite of Brighton') and it's exactly the same as the little 6"x6" ones I've been trying to fill with random sketches and doodles so straight away it doesn't have a 'precious' feel to it. The smaller size was feeling a bit cramped so it's nice to have that bit of extra space to get more faces in or play with composition.

H, HB and B pencil.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Trigger happy















I'm not even going to think about why inspiration suddenly strikes or suddenly dries up because it seems to make no sense at all! Months of having no urge to draw abruptly ended when I saw the woman with the receding chin (middle) and had to draw her. I drew the man on the left, sitting in Geneva airport before we got on the plane to Stockholm last week, still not really feeling it. I'm sure that was the trigger but maybe the seed was sown when I was in the Royal Palace and saw the most beautiful crowns and jewels and noticed a sign that said 'no photography and no sketching allowed'? What? I wasn't even thinking of sketching until I saw that!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The last drawing in the little sketchbook was this one, drawn on a flight from Dublin in April. Profiles are so fascinating and this man (the two on the left) had a very flat face. I think I managed to capture him well but I couldn't get a decent likeness at all with the man behind. Luck of the draw!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

New blog



















Remember this drawing of my brother Paul?  He's a sculptor working in wood with an amazing eye for detail. He has combined his love of wood with his interest in motorbike racing and makes beautiful and unique pieces, some of which are in the collections of some of the top teams and riders. He's finally been persauded to put his work online so do check out his new blog, Carved Curves, I know he'd be delighted if you paid him a visit!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

January postcard













January was bitterly cold in Geneva, with some record low temperatures, so there was no way I was going to go out walking and collect things for the postcard! I don't think I have ever felt so cold and just going out to get food when I couldn't put it off any longer was a bit of an ordeal! So for this card, sent to Cathy Gatland in South Africa, I raided my little box of treasures collected on walks from previous months. It's lovely that these oak leaves have retained some their green colour so I felt including the acorn was a nod to the past and the future.

I wish I had something more exciting to show but I'm still suffering with 'artist's block'. After I finished the postcard I decided the best thing to do was to just give the watercolours a complete break. I've been putting together some unfinished quilt tops and was surprised to find I have 4 nearly completed single quilts! I do love the piecing but I lose interest once I've put the tops together and it takes years before I quilt and bind them! Next winter... they will definitely be finished and on the beds by next winter!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

September and October postcards


Time for a little update on this poor, neglected blog! This is the postcard I sent Martin in Germany, for the month of September. As it was quite hot at the time, I wasn't doing a lot of walking so it seemed more fitting to paint some things from the garden. We had some fabulous little bugs at the time and they were obviously enjoying our delicious leaves so I wanted to include those too.



This is the October card for Vivien in England and I kept it very simple partly because I wasn't feeling very inspired at the time - it seemed to be a lull between all the summer colours disappearing and the autumn colours taking over but the maples were looking lovely.


I haven't been all that happy with the postcards I've produced but I always enjoy adding little sketches to the back and envelope. I'm always late sending my cards off so the snail has become my trademark! I've just finished reading a lovely and fascinating book called The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. Basically a book about illness (the author is bedridden and given a pot of violets with a snail by one of her visitors!) and snails but it makes you thankful for all the  basic things we take for granted every single day and a respect for the tiny little things, like snails, we share the world with. Definitely a book to read to keep things in perspective.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Postcard


This months postcard went to Liz Steel in Australia. I wanted to do something a little different to the usual watercolours so drew these Linden/Lime tree seeds in pencil and the spritzed them with green and blue watercolours. I really wanted it to be more colourful than this but I should have made the image darker because it looked like it was going to be lost if I did any more. It's a technique I'd like to experiment more with though.



My usual snail on the envelope, but this month he is having to hurry as I was sending it off quite late! A hot chocolate on the back of the card because Liz loves tea rooms and cream teas. The hot chocolate had so much cream it has toppled over - it wasn't just a wonky drawing! That was done with coloured pencils because the surface on the back of the paper (Saunders Waterford HP) doesn't take watercolours very well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Postcard














This month's postcard went to Robyn, of Have Dogs Will Travel, in Tuscany. The aim of the postcard exchange is to get the postcards out around the end of the month for the next. I had no inspiration at all until the month has nearly gone and I spotted these berries. Then I couldn't wait to get started - funny how inspiration comes and goes so dramatically sometimes.

Most of it is painted with watercolours (Sennelier) on 640gsm Saunders Waterford paper and finished off with some touches of coloured pencil. I used coloured pencil for the border and then gave it a splattered background with the green and purple watercolours.

Now, I think, is the right time to take a little break from blogging and the computer and re-charge the batteries. Thanks very much for visiting!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Postcard to Katherine















This month's postcard was posted to Katherine Tyrrell of Making a Mark. Strangely, I didn't find anything on my walks that I liked more than this dried maple twig. I loved the shape and the subtle colours found in it's leaves.

Most of it was completed with watercolours and then touches of coloured pencil were added to emphasis the greens and yellows and add a little definition to the edges of the background. Then the whole thing was lightly splattered with the various colours (purples and greens) to give it a little more interest. In retrospect, I think I should not have copied one of the leaves so closely and changed it's shape but sometimes you don't see things until they are pointed out so I won't point them out here! I tried removing some of the shapes but the colour was staining so I added a couple instead.




















I was actually happier with this quick pencil sketch (of the Jet d'Eau) I put on the envelope. It was fun to do something with just a suggestion of detail and although it was from a photo of mine, I thought this quick technique could be applied to sketching en plein air.