Tag Archives: sketchbook

An organisation of oyster catchers? 

Well, what is the collective noun? 

These are beautiful birds, especially in flight. I’ve never seen one catch an oyster. Worm eater would be more accurate, but less romantic. One is in a strong evening sidelight, very hard to show convincingly. I’ll have to try drawing from life, which is not easy. 

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Another new sketchbook

I like making them more than using them at the moment. This one incorporates ideas from the first two. The covering paper is some wonderful wrapping paper from the Bodelian library. Linings are two lino cut prints I had lying around. There is now room for a pen. It is bound with proper book tape from the wonderful Vintage Paper Company in Orkney. Where you can also get unsold watercolour paper made in the early 20th century.

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.

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

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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.