Local Sketches

The weekend often provides more opportunities to go out and do some urban sketching, here is a quick 10 minute sketch I did from the bus stop in town.

2015-08-15 14.24.09-1

Finally got the nerve to start sketching in my Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook.  Oh this paper is simply wonderful, it works with watercolour beautifully and the colours stay so bright and fresh.  My first page is a sketch of my current travel palette.

2015-08-16 09.01.46-1

Then in the evening we took a walk in our village and I sketched one of the cottages from a sunny bench.

2015-08-16 19.41.31-1

Two Local Landscapes

Yesterday I worked on doing a couple of local landscapes.  What we lack in urban architecture around here we make up for in sheer natural beauty.

2015-08-08 10.29.35-1

Pen and Daniel Smith watercolours in HandBook Journal

This is the view of the hills from our bedroom window, it’s hard to get sick of this view which is always changing throughout the year.  The heather and bracken can go from purple, brown, yellow and green depending on the season.

2015-08-08 20.14.06

Pen and St. Petersberg Watercolours in Derwent Cachet

At the childrens’ request we went to the nearby beach which is hidden gem for these parts, at the bottom of some interesting cliffs which the twisted strata is clearly visible.  This was an amazing sketching experience as I was knee deep in sea water, drawing while the children splashed.  The sea gets so warm in this particular spot, like a bath.  I added colour after we got home.

Though neither of these are perfect I feel like I’ve made a bit of progress with my landscapes, despite not working on them for a while.  I did do little value sketches before working on the bigger sketch which I think helped a lot.  Looking forward to doing more of these in the future.

Urban Sketching Pirate Ships

Yesterday I took the children to a very small local zoo.  It doesn’t have much to boast in terms of animals but it does have a fantastic full sized pirate ship to play on surrounded by sand.  This gave me the rare opportunity to do some urban sketching while my children happily played.

2015-07-30 13.00.07 2015-07-30 14.11.14

The pirate ship was a huge challenge in perspective.  I was sitting fairly close to it from two different angles and it was hard to make it look convincingly three dimensional.  There were a lot of decorative details on the ship that I didn’t have time to include.  I used my Lamy Safari F nib and Pentel brush pen for the shadows.

2015-07-30 12.59.01

This morning I sketched this old bike near the village shop.  I don’t often draw mechanical things but this was a pleasant challenge.  And my husband even could recognise the model so I consider it a success.

Easter Weekend

I want to thank you to you all for your kind comments and good wishes when I was poorly last week, having your support helped such a lot to get back onto my feet this Easter weekend.  I can only hope you had as wonderful time as us, the weather was absolutely perfect: sunny and hot enough to make you think it was May or June.  I spent virtually every minute possible in the garden soaking it up, and even managed to squeeze in some sketching time too.  Here are some that I did over the weekend.

2015-04-07 07.09.17A little painting of two of my favourite visitors to the bird feeder, coal tit and blue tit.

2015-04-05 13.53.43Did some pages in my garden journal documenting what I saw in bloom or coming into leaf.  Forsythia has the most vivid yellow flowers on red stems.

2015-04-05 14.59.24

Taking this shot with the shield bug on the paper was not easy, he kept crawling away before I snapped this.

2015-04-06 19.36.57

A really super quick (10 minute) sketch of our local church in my moleskine.  I keep it in the bag that I take everywhere with me in case I get a moment or two to sketch.  I was with the children so it had to be fast!

2015-04-04 21.47.39

Something is rather mesmerising about drawing popcorn.  Maybe it’s all those nooks and crannies?  Fun to eat too.

Hope you all had a happy Easter wherever you are in the world and had a chance to do some art too (or take a break if you needed it).

Deciding what to Draw

I’m sure a lot of us would love to sketch so much of what we see if only we had the time (or ability), but in reality we always have to make decisions about what we draw.  I always find this interesting because these decisions often unconsciously define who we are, if only for that moment.

The other day I had a few minutes at the playground with the children.  There were so many things I could have sketched; the playground equipment, the trees in the area, the houses and buildings, but instead I sat down and drew my shoe.

2015-03-16 13.12.32

It’s hard to explain why I decided to draw this instead of all of the other options.  I liked the challenge of the foreshortened view and often find my favourite sketches are the simple “everyday” things in life.  Stuff in your bag, what you ate, your desk… These details can say such a lot about a person and maybe that’s why I find them so fun to do.

The next day I managed a little drawing of our county council building from yet another playground (see a common theme here?)  I loved all those strange angles, though I got the proportions a little wrong I feel like it still reads well as a building.

2015-03-17 15.03.59

And here are the trees and bushes to the right of the buildings.  I love both natural and manmade landscapes, but still struggle to render them in a way that makes me happy.

2015-03-18 12.15.22

How do you decide what to draw?  Do you have a favourite subject that you keep coming back to?  Do you think your choices reflect the kind of person you are?

Village Sketchcrawl

Here in the UK we have Mother’s Day early, so for my special gift I was given the time to go and do some solo sketching.  I think any mother appreciates the gift of “me” time once in a while!  I went down to the village to sketch one of my favourite cottages.

2015-03-15 13.26.21

I don’t know much about the history of our little village in the quantocks, but this cottage strikes me as being one of the originals.  The shape is slightly curved and it has the classic thatched roof that gives it so much character.

2015-03-15 13.24.19

Here’s what I managed in about half an hour.  I did some guidelines in pencil to makes sure to get all those wonky angles correct then drew in with ink.  I wanted to concentrate the focus on the doorway of the cottage so spent more time putting in detail and just suggested the rest of the cottage.  I think the effect works well.  I liked working across the spread, but this particular sketchbook has a very annoying perforated spine so it wasn’t quite as smooth as I wanted it, but for my first village sketchcrawl I am really happy with it.

There are so many more beautiful buildings in our village, I can’t wait to do some more.

Winsor & Newton 5″ x 8″ sketchbook, Lamy Safari F nib, De Artemis Archive Ink.

Cafe Sketching

Yesterday we spent a pleasant family morning at our local cafe and I took the opportunity to do some sketching.

Photo 14-03-2015 13 24 01

Here are some quick sketches of my children and husband while they were reading and waiting for their orders.  I also drew the daffodils and sugar sticks and splashed on some colour.  I haven’t done any portraits in a long time and as you can see they need a bit of work!

Photo 14-03-2015 13 10 10

When my order arrived, smoked salmon and cream cheese on a bagel, I couldn’t resist recording it in my sketchbook.  I used my White Nights palette for this and wished I was able to mix a bit better salmon colour but pretty pleased overall how it turned out.

Pocket Moleskine Sketchbook, White Nights Watercolours, Lamy Safari F nib.

Perspective Practice and The Urban Sketcher

Yesterday afternoon I managed to get in a short sketch of our little village shop.  Places like this are becoming rarer and rarer as people tend to go to large supermarkets for shopping, but ours is a huge part of the local community.  It has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and sells all sorts from local milk and eggs to everything a corner shop would stock (minus the booze and cigs).

2015-03-10 13.28.56

As I was drawing the shop that car rolled up and parked right in front of my view.  I just sketched it in as I saw it.  I’ve never drawn any cars before and was rather pleased at how it turned out.  What I was disappointed with was how off the perspective is on the shop.  I tried drawing some guidelines in pencil before going in with ink but was confused about the process.

That’s where my acquisition The Urban Sketcher by Marc Taro Holmes comes in.  It came yesterday and I have read it cover to cover absolutely riveted.  What I love is how he explains every step of the process from measuring and sighting, making the guidelines, inking and watercolour.  So many fabulous tips.  Of course the fact that Marc’s style is simply amazing and inspirational helps.  But he also points out mistakes he makes and how he corrects it.  Definitely the best resource I have at the moment for urban sketching or drawing in general.

This afternoon I did a bit of practice with sighting and measuring on some garden pots I have on our deck.  I used a lot of angles and measurements so my pencil drawing got extremely messy.  I’m sure it’ll get better with practice.  The ellipses were so hard, I’d draw one and then draw another and then notice the problems with the first and so on.

2015-03-11 15.32.28

Overall I’m pleased with the proportions and perspective, but it’s something I’ll have to work on a lot before it becomes more comfortable for me.  One thing I struggled with was getting my hatching even.  I kept going with my pen but it was giving me a really weak line.  I had only bought this pen, is it broken already?  No!  I opened it up and found it was almost out of ink, problem solved.