Tag Archives: pen and ink

Working on my drawing skills

I’ve decided that I need to improve my basic drawing skills. To that end I am starting to do a lot of small copies of exemplars, starting with Leonardo da Vinci (may as well start high). It is also something I can do in the evening, perched on a sofa. Most painting requires and easel and all the other technology. Drawing just needs paper and pen.

I love drawing in ink. You are stuck with every line, whereas with pencil you can keep fiddling with it. I love charcoal too, but on a larger scale than this. Not suitable to sofas.

Views of Dorset

I managed to get down to my boat in Poole harbour at last a couple of weeks ago, coinciding with hot, sunny weather. A very rare coincidence this year. I also managed to do some simple pen sketches from the boat and whilst out walking over the heathland. I have tried turning a few of these into small acrylic paintings, with varying success.


This very simple sketch was quite tricky, as the boat was at anchor and swinging around in the breeze. What I wanted to show in the painting is that the sandy peninsula was caught in bright evening sunlight, whilst the background was quite shadowed. Only partly achieved.

wp-1471009380720.jpgA sketch of a chalk stack called Old Harry’s Wife. (Old Harry himself is far bigger and just out of sight around the corner). Very bouncy anchorage, with the Isle of wight on the horizon. The painting is on a very smooth art board, which I didn’t like all that much. The paint tended to drag off too easily.


The ink sketch was from the same anchorage as Old Harry’s Wife, looking towards Studland village. I coloured the ink sketch in at home, and then produced the acrylic based on that. More an impression rather than an accurate representation.


A quick sketch on Studland beach, which I worked up a couple of weeks later.I find the sea and sand really hard to paint. Once I had the basic layout laid down, I realised I had my viewpoint far too high, so I added the dune in the foreground to make it look balanced. There were far more people on the beach than I show, and I left off all the little tents and windbreaks as I think they are just ugly. It is a most beautiful beach, especially on a hot sunny day.

Our’s is a nice house, our’s is…


We painted a cottage scene last week in our watercolour class, which I quite liked, but thought I could have done better. So as it was a sunny weekend I decided to have a go at painting our own house, which is a classic cotswold cottage with roses round the door. It was very pleasant way to spend a couple of sunny hours, even if daughter-in-law’s puppy wanted to help most of the time.

I started with a complete pen drawing, trying to get the textures of various plants. Neither easy nor quick. You get cramp in your fingers from scribbling after a while.


Then I added the colour over a couple of days up in my studio.


I think the paint may be a little dense, but that’s better than being thin and wishy-washy, as far too many watercolours are. On the whole, quite pleased with the result, which is back up at the top.

Austrian landscape


Brandalm near Ramsau in Steirmark. Based on a sketch I had made 12 years ago. I was just walking back from going up the Dachstein and stopped at this little Jausestation for essential sustenance. I had walked miles that day, having completely misjudged the scale of the map (and I was teaching that sort of thing at the time). This little stop was like paradise. I sketched the view in ink there and added the colour back at the hotel. Finally, after more than a decade, I have produced the planned painting.

(A scribbled note on the side of the sketch says “endless bloody pine trees”. I was very footsie at the time.)

Watercolour Cottages

We worked form a photograph this week, which is not my favourite, but we were really exploring technique rather than subject..

A simple ink drawing based on carefully spaced pencilled dots and dashes


Then wetting the paper where the sky will be and dotting on blue colour, blowing it around and tilting and shaking the board to get it to spread


Next, more water on the paper and yellow and a bit of red again dotted and splashed around where trees might be.


The buildings now painted. This time the paper is dry, but roofs, walls and hedges just painted on with single strokes, followed by slight touches of contrasting colours.


Finally, the foreground, whatever it is, is splashed on. First wetting the paper in streaks and then touching on yellow. This is allowed to dry to give a bright background. Water again applied and blues and reds touched over the area. The wet paint is blown and tipped and shaken t get it to move around the surface before it dries.


Removing the masking tape reveals and frames the finished result in all its glory, or not.


Tuesday night life class

One long pose again, but this time I moved around to get two views. Other people are surprised by how fast I draw. I in turn am always surprised by how slow most others are. I would get bored. It  doesn’t take that long to cover a sheet of paper with marks, which is all that is really happening. The tricky bit is getting the right marks in the right place. Extra time doesn’t help.


This was the first. Outlined in light pencil and then gone over with charcoal, with a lot of rubbing and rubbing out. Just a little colour here and there. Generally I’m pleased but I am not that keen on smooth finishes, which rubbed charcoal tends to give.


The second sketch, from behind, was sketched in lightly with blue pencil Then I went over it with a Pentel brush pen. I have never used one before so I am not too displeased with the first go. A long way from Matisse or Rembrandt, but one can dream.