Archive | October, 2011

Skeletons I Have Known [2] SKULL ATTACK!

31 Oct

Chalk, pen and charcoal drawing: Skull Attack #1.

Keeping to the seasonal Halloween theme, I’ve been doing a series of pieces based on the human skull that includes sketches, pastel drawings, cyanotypes and blockprints. These two small drawings were done in chalk, compressed charcoal and Faber Castell Pitt pens into a brown paper sketchbook.

I’m going to call the series Skull Attack, which is a potent local South Wales beer made by a brewer called Brains. The SA beer, which stands for Special Ale, has been nicknamed ‘Brains Skull Attack’ because it’s very strong and that’s what it feels like if you’ve had too much of it.


Happy Halloween



Chalk, pen and charcoal drawing: Skull Attack #2.

Skeletons I Have Known [1].

30 Oct

Pastel anatomical drawing: Hand and knee.


People who’ve read my blog before will know that I share my studio with a skeleton, a lady called Felicity. But I’ve drawn other skeletons too. This one, nicknamed Fred Skelly, was the subject of many drawings during a life drawing course at Gorseinon College. He was once a man – smaller pelvis, shorter neck – and we often removed his head to get a better look. I did a series of fairly large drawings of bits of him in soft chalky pastels in ochre and olive with a bit of graphite block into a cream, bound Somerset A3 sketchbook. I like drawing from skeletons. It isn’t just about practicing anatomy to get a better understanding of how the human body works to inform my life drawings. I also think the human skeleton is a thing of beauty in it’s own right. I’ve made prints and mixed media work incorporating bits of skeleton and I like having them on my walls. Spooks some people out though!

Pastel drawing: Skeletal knees and feet.

All Day at the Print Studio.

29 Oct

Full colour monotype.


Very busy day today at the printmaking studio in Swansea. Made two full-colour monotypes, plus two ‘ghosts’. Have been on my feet for 7.5 hours and I’m shattered, but reasonably happy with the results. I based the monotypes on drawings made from life with a professional model. The prints are made in oil-based pigment in the three process colours, mixed with medium plate oil in a 60:40 ratio and printed onto BFK Rives 250gsm paper from a perspex matrix.

Got to go to a Halloween party now. I think I’m going to sleep in the corner :).

Steampunkery at Mozarts

28 Oct

Ink drawing: A lady in her finery.

It was the first anniversary of the Swansea Steampunk Association Meet this week and there was much jollity with lashings of Earl Grey tea and home-made cake at Mozarts, a faded Victorian club of slightly shabby grandeur. Behind the classical façade is a large entrance hall with a magnificent patterned tiled floor leading to some rather shady backrooms with high ornate ceilings and a mirrored and panelled bar, a carved Victorian fireplace with a large mirror perched on top of it and old winebottles stuffed with dripping candles all over the place.

The eclectic mix of strange Steampunk music was reflected in the diversity of costumes, from authentic Victorian and Edwardian dress to sci-fi steampunkery at it’s most outlandish. I wasn’t able to stay long so just did a few very scribbled drawings. This lady in her finery is bathed in candlelight reflected in the mirror above the fireplace and looks for all the world like she is sitting in some Parisian bar in the late 1800’s, being sketched by the likes of Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas or Manet, not that I would ever compare my scribbles to such awesome artists!

The drawing is in Faber Castell Pitt pen [size S] into a tiny leather-bound sketchbook.


Scribbling the Scribblers.

27 Oct

Drawing in ink and conte crayon.


Sometimes at life drawing group I get a bit bored drawing the model and I take a look at the rest of the room and draw the drawers. They’re usually as still as the model, deep in concentration which maked them relatively easy to draw. This is done in Faber Castell Pitt ink pens and conte crayon in black and sanguine into an A3 Somerset cream sketchbook. I often incorporate notes into my drawings and occasionally into my final pieces as well. That’s my hand on the far left.

Nice nibbles and a nice cat in NYC.

26 Oct

Ink drawing: The auctioneer at Bloomsbury, NYC.


I was at a benefit auction of prints for Manhattan Graphics Studio in Bloomsbury’s auction house, NYC. It was good fun and I was bidding for a lovely piece by Carol Wax. It was at the end of a very long and hard day at the International Print Fair and I was shattered and managed to get a seat at the front, but there was only the auctioneer in front of me so I drew him and he carried on regardless – a real pro!Very up-market nibbles here and the auction raised loads of money, but I was outbid. The drawing is in Faber Castell Pitt pens into my Tate Postcard sketchbook.

We met a lovely cat earlier in the day; the studio cat at Solo Originals gallery – a little chubby Siamese cross, very affectionate. The owner was also very nice and showed us around the studio which had genuine Bavarian litho stones still being used.

Pooped at the Printfair!

25 Oct

Ink sketch: Manhattan at night.


A drawing in my Tate Postcard sketchbook from my trip to NYC to see the International Print Fair a couple of years ago. We had been walking around Manhatten for days, going to exhibitions, talks and demonstrations of printmaking and we were pooped! We holed up in this very modernist cafe near the Bloomsbury Auction Rooms, where we were going to a fundraising auction for the Manhatten Graphics Studio and I drank tea and nibbled cake and did this drawing. It combines two hard things – drawing the night and drawing through reflective glass. I could have chosen something easier to draw, like the cafe interior and its customers!!!!!

However, it gave me a reason to break out my Faber Castell Pitt pen set of 6 greyscale brush tips that I hardly ever use. I enjoyed drawing it and I should do more nightime drawing, but once I’m holed up in my little house, I rarely want to go out again.

I’m A Sucker For A Flying Buttress!

24 Oct

Ink Drawing: Gargoyles at Saint Mary Redcliffe.

I was stuck in Bristol for a couple of hours a few months back, waiting for a train from Temple Meads station, so I went for a wander over to the magnificent Saint Mary Redcliffe church, a beautiful Gothic building started in the twelfth century and finished a couple of hundred years later. It has wonderful flying buttresses and I’m a real sucker for a flying buttress! The very first church on this site was way back in Saxon times and the present church was badly damaged when struck by lightening in 1446. During World War Two, a bombing raid hurled a large piece of tram track into the churchyard where it remains to this day, sticking out of the ground as a reminder of how near the church came to being destroyed.

Queen Elizabeth the First described it as “the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England” and it has close associations with the tragic Thomas Chatterton, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the brilliant artist William Hogarth, who painted a triptych for the church, removed in Victorian times and now stored in St. Nicholas Church in Bristol. I sat in the grounds during Evensong and made this sketch in my ‘origami’ sketchbook, using Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens. The building is festooned with magnificent medieval carvings and there is a huge amount of variation. Grotesque gargoyle heads jostle with the sculpted features of ordinary folk on windows and turrets. I only had time to draw a tiny fraction of the magnificent building but I must go back and take a look at the Gothic interior and track down the Hogarth triptych sometime.


Japanese Barens [artgeeky stuff]

23 Oct

Ink drawing: A demonstration of Japanese woodblock printing.

When I visited the International Print Fair in New York City a couple of years ago, I went to a demonstration of Japanese woodblock printing by the artist Takiyi Hamanake [I hope I spelled that right]. It’s a different way of printing; instead of rollering oil-based ink onto the cut block, you brush glue onto your woodcut and brush water-based pigment over that, then lay a very fine paper on top and rub it very hard with a Japanese baren.  The result is delicate, very different to printing with the old, heavy-duty Victorian Columbian press at Swansea Print Workshop. Takiyi used a modern ball-bearing baren, a type I had never seen before. I have used a traditional bamboo baren with varying results but the ball-bearing one was amazingly quick and easy to use. I’m trying to track one down but I haven’t found a British supplier – yet!

This drawing is in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen in my little Tate Gallery postcard sketchbook. I filled it during my New York visit as a present for my husband. It was scribbled very quickly and I’m afraid it’s not a very flattering portrait of the artist!

An Elder On The New York Subway

22 Oct

Ink drawing: An Elder on the New York Subway.

I went to the New York International Print Fair a couple of years ago and spent the best part of a week travelling around the city to loads of print exhibitions and events. A lot of the time I was on the subway and as I always carry a sketchbook with me it gave me a great opportunity to draw people. I was staying up in East Harlem and saw this elderly man on my way back to the hostel.

The train was packed and I only had a few minutes to sketch people as you never knew when they were going to get off. He was sitting very quietly, deep in thought and concentrating on his prayer beads. A very young man was sitting next to me, looking over my shoulder as I drew. I didn’t mind, he was no bother. When I finished he flashed me a big smile and said ‘Cool’ as he got off the train. Made my day 🙂


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