Archive | January, 2012

It’s Saturday – Here’s A Kitteh!

21 Jan

Woodcut editioned print: cat up curtains!

It’s Saturday evening and husb and I have a dreaded lurgi. Nothing serious, just one of those nasty bugs that make you feel achey and miserable. I spent most of the day at the Print Workshop, proof printing a couple of blockprints I’m working on [I posted a bit about them a couple of days ago]. It went reasonably well; one of the blocks is fine and doesn’t need any more cutting, but the other needs a bit of tidying up. What I really wanted to find out though is if the concept worked and I’m pleased with it, so next week I’ll cut another 13 blocks. They’re quite small, only 15x15cms so it shouldn’t take too long.

Anyway, because it’s been a long day at the printshop and I’m feeling yucky with the lurgi, I’m cheering myself up by posting one of my blockprints of my psychokitteh, Sparta. When she was a kitten she used to run up our voile curtains. One day I grabbed a digital camera and took a load of photos. Some of them captured her throwing some weird shapes, so I made drawings from them and cut a series of 5 woodblocks, which I editioned. This is one of the series. It really emphasises the flexibility that cats have. She’s stopped running up curtains now because she’s too BIG. Because she’s found pensioners to exploit and she’s getting quite tubby.

Woodcut printed in Intaglio Printmaker litho/relief ink onto Zercoll 145gsm paper.

One Hand Can Dancing

20 Jan

Ink drawing: dancing at the Green Man festival.


I wandered round the Green Man festival near Crickhowell with my sketchbook a couple of years ago. It’s a great situation for drawing because most people are so engrossed in music or dancing that they don’t notice you and are perfectly natural. These two guys were dancing away for ages – a specific dance that involved keeping hold of their beer cans and not spilling a drop – the One Hand Can Dance. It’s sort of like Dad’s Dancing, butwith a beer can and outside in a field 😉

The man on the right had his little girl on his shoulders for hours. She was dancing away too which probably wasn’t comfortable for him but he didn’t put her down. That’s dedicated parenting. I really liked the Green Man – it was big enough to feel like a festival and small enough to be friendly and intimate.

Drawn in Faber Castell Pitt pens into an A5 bound Daler Rowney sketchbook.

Spying Scribbling Cutting Printing

19 Jan

I often think of artists as voyeurs, spying on and recording what’s around us. We had a lovely sunny day in the middle of last week and I opened one of the big windows in my new studio and looked down at the pavement three floors below. Suddenly, someone walked past beneath me and I noticed what an odd shape they made. Then a couple of people stood almost directly below me. Again, really odd shapes. I grabbed my digital camera and snapped away for the next 15 minutes or so and downloaded the photos onto my laptop. Nobody noticed me snapping them – my camera is quiet and people rarely look up for no good reason.

drawing, tracing, redrawing....

I spent a bit of time over the next few days converting the images to black and white and simplifying them by cranking up the contrast [in Adobe Photoshop] then I drew a series of them onto tracing paper using some good quality Derwent pencils in B, 2B and 4B. I cut some 15 x 15 cm blocks from an offcut of polycarbonate [signwriters] foam. I turned the drawings over and placed each onto a piece of foamblock. Using a 4H sharpened pencil, I drew over the lines, transferring the drawing onto the surface of the block. Then I picked around the outline with a small sable brush and black Indian ink. Finally I worked into the image with Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens [sizes S and F] and a little grey inkwash. I still have some more drawing to do on this image. Once I’m satisfied, the next stage will be to cut it and then, hopefully this Saturday, I’ll print it down at Swansea Print Workshop. There’s a lot to printmaking!





Gig Scribbles

18 Jan

Ink sketch at a gig.

I like sketching in public. I think it’s good for people to see artists at work and it’s a good technical exercise to just get on with it wherever you are. It’s too easy to get precious about art and try too hard to get perfect studio conditions instead of just doing it. I like sketching at gigs because it’s dark. Yeah that’s right. I like drawing in the dark. Partly because the people you’re drawing don’t notice like they would in broad daylight, so they don’t get self-conscious and also because it’s a challenge to draw when your vision is restricted. I did these two sketches at the local Monkey cafe/bar a couple of years ago. I couldn’t get a good view of the band so I drew people in the audience. The young woman was a photographer who came with the band. The young man next to her was bored enough to keep texting throughout the evening. I went to Madrid last year to see Roger Waters perform ‘The Wall’ in a stadium. It was incredible but there was a guy a couple of rows in front who spent most of the performance texting. Apart from missing one of the greatest music / theatre performances of all time, the tickets cost an arm and a leg so was he just some rich idiot showing off?

Another ink sketch at a gig.

Drawn in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens into a spiral-bound A6 Cotman watercolour sketchbook.

The Model With The Dragon Kimono

17 Jan

Ink drawing: The Dragon Kimono.


Here’s a sketch I did quite a while ago in one of the weekly life drawing sessions at Swansea Print Workshop. The model is a retired biology teacher and very colourful character who has beautiful and unusual clothes and jewellery. She came to this session with a magnificent embroidered kimono with dragons all over it. We asked her to pose with it on as it was so lovely and it’s also nice to get a chance to draw the models clothed occasionally. The technique I used is mostly continuous line, constantly checking the figure against what’s going on in the background. I used Faber Castell Pitt pens and drew into an A3 spiral bound Cotman watercolour sketchbook. There was a special offer at our local arts and crafts store and I bought up a load very cheaply. I still have a couple of tiny ones left – they’ve lasted me about 4 years. I really like the boots the artist in the background is wearing.

Snatched Sketch And Exercises In Anatomy

16 Jan

Sketch in biro.

We went into the new studio over the weekend and completely re-arranged the space because I wasn’t comfortable working in it last week. Today was so much better. I finally settled back into some drawing after the Xmas break and the studio move. Husb came over at lunchtime and brought some meatball and melted cheese sandwiches, home made in the lovely little café opposite with their own chilli sauce – HOT! He had a catnap in the chair and so I grabbed my sketchbook – never miss an opportunity. Great chance to get a rare up-the-nose angle. The sketch is in biro, which I’m really getting into at the moment, into my recycled, leather-bound A6 Artbox sketchbook.

Chalk and charcoal drawing: dark man.

I spent the rest of my time there working through some exercises from Sarah Simlett’s book, ‘Anatomy for the Artist’. I’m planning to do a small series of editioned block prints, probably lino, over the next few weeks – bit tired of monotypes at the moment- and I needed some inspiration. I find it often comes if I do some technical studies and after a couple of pages of hand studies, I started drawing one of the figures into my black A5 Paperchase, spiral-bound sketchbook. I restricted myself to white chalk and black compressed charcoal, which gives a different black to the background paper and I minimised the detail, emphasising the outline. I think I’m heading in the right direction; it needs to be a pared-down design for a block print.



Tattoo Tattoo Tattoo

15 Jan

Ink drawing: Tattooed lady.

One of my favourite models at the life drawing group in the print workshop is a retired biology teacher who has had her body covered in tattoos representing the food chain. Lizards scramble across her body chasing ants and flies into carnivorous plants. She’s not easy to draw because it’s a balance between drawing her tattoos or the detail of her face and body.

I’ve posted her today because I’ve been listening to Van Halen’s single, Tattoo, on Planet Rock radio all week. I like having rock on in the background when I’m working in the studio and I’m chuffed that they’ve reformed with their original singer, David Lee Roth. Here’s a link to the single Tattoo – I can’t wait for the album. Of course, Van Halen geeks will know that the original bassist, Michael Anthony, has formed supergroup Chickenfoot with their second singer Sammy Hagar – also an excellent band – and that Michael’s place has been taken by Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang.

Anyway, enough of rock – this is supposed to be an arty blog. This is one of a series of drawings I did on one page of an A3 spiral bound Cotman watercolour pad in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens with just a bit of graphite block in there as well.

I’m hoping that Van Halen will be doing a British tour this year – I will KILL for tickets 🙂



A Page Of Pigeons

14 Jan

Ink sketch: local pigeons.


There’s a nice cafe in an old cinema that’s been converted to a Waterstones bookshop in the cuty centre. Sometimes I sit in the large Victorian bow window, drinking tea and wathcing what’s going on outside and sketching. When I first started, there was a Woolworth’s store opposite which had large signage that stuck out a few inches from the wall. While it was doing well, the signage was lit up – a bright orange – but when the chain went bankrupt, the store was empty for a couple of years and because the signage was no longer lit up, it was no longer too hot for the pigeons, who colonised it almost immediately. They were almost directly opposite me so I began to draw them during my visits.

I don’t usually draw animals and had never attempted birds before and they were really hard to draw, they don’t sit still, always fidgeting. It was quite a challenge artistically so I ended up concentrating on capturing the ‘spirit’ of the birds instead of trying and failing to get a detailed likeness. That’s what taxidermy is for. I prefer to draw animals alive. The ‘H’ shows one of the letters with it’s cover off, probably blown away in a storm, and all the electrical gubbins inside. The shop has now been taken over by The Pound Store and their signage is flat, so the pigeons have nowhere to stay and I can no longer sit and sip tea and draw them.

Drawin in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, various sizes, into a Daler Rowney bound A5 sketchbook.

One Head, Three Drawings.

13 Jan

Three drawings.

I often do technical exercises for practice and during one life drawing session I tried out three techniques during the same pose. The drawing on the left was done in Faber Castell Pitt brushpen using my left hand [I’m righthanded]; the middle one in FCP pen size Small using my normal hand and the drawing on the right was done with compressed charcoal, again with my normal hand. I naturally favour the central one because I prefer to draw in pen, but the charcoal drawing is very lively and I think it’s more expressive. The one done with my left hand is probably the most analytical, even though it’s the least satisfactory to me.

Beefy Cobbler And Cat Sick Pie

12 Jan

Ink sketches.


Been babysitting a seven year old relative who has very definite ideas on what he will and won’t eat. I’m old school – he’ll eat a balanced meal and that’s that. I bought some very cheap braising steak and cooked it very slowly in a low oven with loads of onions and some good beef stock until it was delicious, soft and tender, mixed it with peas and grated carrot and put it into the oven with a cheesy scone topping, a traditional dish called a ‘cobbler’ in Britain. He looked at it just before I put the topping on.

“Yuk. That looks like cat sick. I’m not going to eat cat sick!”

“Yeah, of course, I cook cat sick all the time for small children!’

“Well I’m not going to eat it!”

“Wanna bet?”

I served it up at teatime. He wolfed it down and told me it was delicious. He said he wouldn’t mind having cat sick pie again.

Drawing children is hard – they have alien features. They’re all squished and their faces and heads are abnormal. Adults are so much easier. I generally don’t like to work from photographs because to my mind the work doesn’t have much life to it, so it’s good to find a way of keeping sprogs still enough to draw them. Apparently it’s frowned upon to tie them to a chair but it’s OK to stick them in front of a computer or DVD / TV. Here’s the sprog absorbed in a computer game. It’s not quite an accurate portrait of him but not bad for a first attempt; even with the computer on, he still wriggled an awful lot. I used an HB pencil and 9B graphite block into my A6 recycled paper and leather Artbox sketchbook. The drawing on the left I did a few nights ago, standing over my husb as he was reading. It’s a very odd angle and I found it very difficult to draw.


%d bloggers like this: