Tag Archives: sketchbook

Mixed media seed heads 

I was at my last mixed media class today. I have decided to give them a rest, at least until the autumn. We were looking at doing first a large and then a small drawing based on an array of seed heads. I chose some dried Chinese lanterns, as I liked the warm colours. The large drawing is in pastels predominantly, with some over-working with charcoal and conte crayon. 

Then I focused on one lantern and drew it just with a very fine fineliner. I did this in a curious little sketchbook I bought in Tamil Nadu over ten years ago. Made in the Auroville ashram in Pondicherry, a place that did not impress me favourably when I visited it a couple of years later. 

The paper has a beautiful, almost basketweave texture. Made by survivors of the 2001 tsunami, allegedly. I must use it more. It is hinged at one corner, which is unusual. 

Dorset landscape 2, the Agglestone Rock

This is another little landscape which has taken up a lot of time. I’m not sure even now  if it is finished. The Agglestone rock is a crumbling sandstone outcrop above Studland heath in Dorset. I hiked out to it on a hot morning in August. I took a photo of what is a beautiful scene. There is something irresistible about isolated ancient rocks. 

I sketched the view with the intention of painting it, so there are some colour notes scattered about. 

The first painting was on the wrong shaped board and I was never that happy with it. 

I stated all over again on a long, narrow canvas. This has been repainted at least four times. I’m still not sure about the skyline to the right of the rock. The heather colour is very difficult to achieve but this looks the most convincing so far. I wanted a feeling of a deep landscape, and I think that works.  I shall leave it for now, and possibly for good. 

Historic sketching

I have started posting sketches on the Urban Sketchers Facebook group, and this lead me to look back through old sketch books. This is quite a job, as I have a whole shelf of small sketchbooks stretching back to the 1970s.


Not to mention another shelf length of large sketchbooks going back to the 1990s.


In amongst them all, I found this sketch from 1972,  which I think is the earliest sketch of a real building I ever did, or at least saved. It is the second Villa Wagner, in the outskirts of Vienna. A beautiful building which I hope I might see again this summer.

And this little life sketch, which I think was the first life drawing I ever made. We had an opportunity to go to life classes when I was an architecture student. I think this dates from about 1975. All things considered, I think it’s isn’t too bad. Probably the first time I had ever dared look at a naked woman closely.

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.

Miniature drawing board

I bought a pack of A5 sized sheets of Indian khadi handmade paper and wondered how I would actually handle it when outside. I decided that a little drawing board with some bulldog clips might do. A piece of marine plywood made a light but strong back, but the clips got in the way. I replaced them with a couple of loops of elastic.

That worked, but the knots in the elastic got in the way, so I drilled the boards, ran the elastic through the holes and stapled the ends to the ply. That worked well.

I made a cover out of a sheet of a different, irregular Indian paper, which I painted with several coats of acrylic paint and medium on both sides. This makes it into an almost leather like material. It all slips into a bag, and I spent an afternoon sitting in the garden sketching various bits. The beauty is I can put any type of paper I like into it, so far more versatile than a sketchbook.