Life class

I’ve stopped going to the life classes at New Brewery Arts in Cirencester this year. I had become tired of the lack of variety in the models. We kept getting the same ones again and again. I’ve been compensating by going to the Saturday afternoon drop in life sessions at the Centre for Arts And sciences in Stroud, run by Keith Simmons. He seems to get an endless stream of new models every week. The most recent was an excellent young woman from Argentina, who was modelling for, I think, the first time, in place of her boy friend. He was the planned model, but had a rotten cold so was sitting the session out as one of the drawers. These images cover a few sessions over the last few weeks.

New sketchbook

Back at Ardington School of Craft a few weeks ago to learn how to make a half leather bound sketchbook. I find book binding a very satisfying craft, and I love to make my own sketchbooks. I haven’t bought one for a couple of years now. This one looks almost professional.

Drawn to drawing classes

I have let this site lie for a while, so will try and update some aspects of my work. I have been attending drawing workshops run by Susan Kester at the Victoria Works Studios near Stroud for some time. Generally these involve still life works, so that we are drawing from life rather than photos. These are just a few examples since the summer.

Graphite drawing of bits of things. I really enjoyed this, creating a grid and then drawing in a detail of just about anything. I couldn’t finish it, so some of these are just random shadings-in. I liked the overall effect, to the extent that I drew a similar grid as a “Self portrait” in the front of my new leather bound sketch book, of which more anon.

Another graphite drawing, this time of a range of complex textiles draped over a chair. I find textiles a real challenge, although I think I am getting there, but not really knowing how.

Change of medium. This is a black ballpoint pen sketch of hazel nuts. I really like the feel of ballpoint as you draw, but it has to be a Bic Biro. Nothing else feels quite as soft.

Colour at last. This is Faber-Castell polychromos coloured pencils on Arches HP watercolour paper. A beautiful combination. The only difficulty is getting a really good depth of colour. The carrot is from our garden, but has been eaten for dinner I’m afraid.

White line woodblock

Another new technique for me. I went to a one day workshop at Ardington School of Craft run by Beth Jenkins on the American technique of white line woodblock printing. It was intended to be a simplified form of Japanese woodblock, requiring just one block for the whole image, using watercolour and gouache as the print medium. It is really also closely related to mosaic and stained glass techniques.

Each area of colour is outlined by a gouged groove, the white lines, and then the area flooded with watercolour and the image transferred to thin paper by hand burnishing. Only a small area can be done at one time, so the paper and block need to be kept in register the whole time. Only one print at a time can be produced, and all will be different in colour. You can have indefinite print runs.

My first block, based on a photo I took off razor bills at St Abbs Head. The block itself is beautiful at the end.

I’m working on a second print in my studio. A roosting kittiwake I sketched at Dunbar. Still working out the best colour scheme.

Back to printing

I haven’t printed for a while, so decided to have a go at creating a print from one of the sketches I did out on the Bass Rock.

I redrew the selected part of the sketch, adding a bit here and there. Then transferred this in reverse to a lime wood block and started carving a basic key block drawing. I’ve had this lime for years and wanted to use it. Lovely to work in, but a tendency for unintended bits to chip out.

I took a couple of proofs onto cartridge paper, and coloured it up to get an idea of the finished work. I decided to cut out the hatched shading. Not sure now that was the best idea.

I cut two more blocks for head and pebble colours and shading. I used lino simply because I didn’t have any more lime. I’ve proofed the three blocks onto Somerset paper. Quite pleased with the outcome, but the are several tweaks to the carving needed before I do a final edition. I think I’ll run off about 10.

Summer days

I’ve found a beautiful corner of the cotswold water park, where I can indulge my pleasure in skinny dipping in the sunshine. Very few people go there, although a chap got a surprise when I climbed out today. I made this water colour and coloured pencil sketch of the view whilst keeping very still. I had a beautiful, tiny blue beetle hiking across my big toe, and I didn’t want to disturb him (or her).