Tag Archives: drawing

At The Folk Club

5 Aug

folk club 1

Husb sings in a small community choir and they did a few songs at Loughor Folk Club, so I went along. Of course, I had to have a scribble. It’s held at the local yacht club which is why there are boaty things on the wall.

The Labyrinth

4 Aug

labyrinth

Today, Husb and I went to help with the annual maintenance at the labyrinth in Rosehill Quarry, installed back in 1987 by Bob Shaw and Dewi Bowen. It’s based on an ancient Cretan design and is cut into the grass, the incised path filled with crushed cockle shells that are a by-product of the local seafood industry. It’s an important place for Husb and me because this is where we met back in the 1980’s. Britain was in the middle of a recession, there was mass unemployment, especially affecting young people and graduates. Husb and I were both out of work and ended up involved in a job creation programme that paid unemployed people to work part-time on community projects.

Local residents had started a group to reclaim this amazing inner-city wild space and turn it into one of the first urban wildlife refuges in the country. The Cretan labyrinth is a lasting legacy of their vision and foresight and a subsequent generation of residents have been active in keeping Rosehill Quarry maintained and open for all to enjoy.
labyrinth 1

Here I am a while back sketching the labyrinth in chalk, charcoal and soft pastels.

 

 

Reinventing An Icon: Part 2

1 Aug

roughs

 

I did some research on medieval clothing to try and picture Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd for the flag design I was working on.   Unmarried women wore their hair in elaborate braids but as soon as they married, they adopted a veil-like headdress.

Medieval Clothing

Gwenllian was married at 16 so I tried out a few ideas based on a typical headdress of the early 1100s. It didn’t do it for me. I think the medieval clothing erects a barrier between her and us. Heroes and legends are constantly changed, updated, made relevant for each age and I wanted people here and now in the 21st century to identify with her.

 

veiled

The medieval Gwenllian…. graphite on paper

Norman Invaders

I wanted to know what she would be like if I could go back in time to meet her. I tried to get to know her, what she was like in real life. She was a woman in her mid-30s when she was murdered by the Norman invaders and a mother of 5. She was great Lady of a castle and an educated and gracious diplomat.

Lived as an Outlaw

She fought for her people and her nation and lived as an outlaw. Although she was recognised as a beauty, she wasn’t young; she was a mature, strong woman with a lot of confidence, someone accessible to modern people, someone we would respond to if we saw her on the street – not someone from the distant and unfamiliar past.

Back to the drawing board ……

 

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Gwenllian was suggested by Christine Moore of the YesCymru Bridgend group as the subject of a fourth flag to be carried on the Independence march in Caernarfon on July 27th organised by AUOB Cymru, a non-party political, non-partisan organisation. The flags and banner have been donated by Charles Ashburner of Grŵp Baner Cymru.

 

Grwp Baner Cymru

Photo from Grŵp Baner Cymru

 

And he’s now producing Gwenllian flags….

 

 

Reinventing An Icon: Part 1

31 Jul

A couple of weeks ago, local flagmaker Charles Ashburner sent me an email asking if I’d like to get involved in the creation of a new flag. We had met last year when I was working on a commission for the SkyArts TV channel, creating a new artwork – a new flag for Britain that I called “Here Be Dragons“.

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd

He asked me to develop an image of the historical Welsh heroine, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, for the AUOB Cymru (All Under One Banner Wales) march in Caernarfon on July 27th. That wasn’t a lot of time and I nearly said no. But it’s a cause I support so I took a deep breath and said yes and started to research our Welsh warrior princess.

graphite small
Gwenllian in graphite, one of my original sketches

Zena Warrior Princess

So where to start? I found a very interesting little book by Laurel Rockerfeller which gave me the outline of her life but thinking about how to portray her visually was challenging as there are no contemporary drawings and I didn’t want to go down the “Zena Warrior Princess” route (although I love Zena).

Hugh Williams

And although I liked the painting by Hugh Williams from 1909 that’s associated with her, I didn’t want to reproduce that because it has a very Edwardian sensibility and style. I realised that I had to bring her out of the middle ages and rescue her from early 20th century Art Nouveau and bring her bang up to date into the 21st century.

Gwenllian 1
Gwenllian by Hugh Williams 1909

I wondered what she would be like if I could pop into the Tardis with Doctor Who and travel back in time to meet her …… with my pencil and sketchbook …..

….to be continued ….

Scribbling Yes Cymru

30 Jul

Husb and I endured eleven hours on a coach with the smelliest toilets in the universe on Saturday to get to and from the YES Cymru march in Caernarfon. It was amazing! Over 8,000 people crammed into the tiny cobbled streets and little market square, enjoying the party atmosphere and listening to inspiring speakers. It was a great crowd and of course, I had to have a scribble! Our coach from Swansea picked up the Llanelli / Carmarthen posse that included a bunch of lads who rocked the Welsh costume – here’s one of them in a rather fetching mini-skirted version.

Caernarfon 3

And a few faces in the crowd…..
Caernarfon 2

….including Lloyd-George modelling an ANNIBYNIAETH banner!

Caernarfon 1

And I did a quick sketch of Scottish speaker and supporter Hardeep Singh Kohli as he sat and waited for his turn behind the ever-moving flags and legs. He was hilarious and such a fervent supporter of Scottish … and Welsh … independence.

Caernarfon 4

 

I’m still recovering from the travel sickness. But it was worth it.

 

My Geographic Palette #2 – Bideford Black

22 Jul

 

Bideford 4

So, day 2 of drawing from my geographic palette. This is Bideford Black, an unique oily carbon-based pigment from North Devon, where is sits in the ground next to anthracite coal. It was mined for about 200 years up until the late 1960s but lost out to cheaper competitors and the mines closed. I was sent some by artists based near the geological seams a while back, in exchange for some of my homemade walnut ink. It’s quite greasy to draw with and a bit crumbly, and when used dry it looks a bit like a dense charcoal on paper.

 

 

I put some bits into a pestle and mortar and crushed it – surprisingly tough – into a fine powder and mixed it with water to experiment into an A5 300gsm Waterford sketchbook. I like the result. It’s a dense black – I watered it down quite a bit – and it flows easily. I based the little drawing on a sketch I’d done a few weeks back while I was out on a field trip near the source of the River Tawe with colleagues from the FIRE Lab team from Swansea University. FIRE Lab has a cool website with some great blogs – here’s one on walking the River Tawe path.

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette #1 – Charcoal

21 Jul

charcoal 2

 

This is my first tryout with my geographic palette, a drawing based on a sketch I did en plein air on a field trip with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab a couple of months ago when we went off exploring culverts up in the Brecon Beacons.

 

The charcoal I bought a few years back when I visited John Ruskin’s house, Brantwood, at Coniston Water in the Lake District. At the time they made charcoal from willow grown on the estate, using traditional methods. It’s quite crumbly and benefits from being used with a heavyweight textured paper. I’m using a 300gsm Bockingford here and I’m pleased with the results, lots of tonal variation depending on the pressure I’ve used. It’s only a small drawing, I’m using an A5 size sketchbook, spiral bound from Pink Pig in Barnsley, and I’m abstracting away from the original which is starting to excite me.

 

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette

20 Jul

Geographic Palette small

I’m thinking about how to develop from the sketches I’ve done on a couple of field trips with colleagues in the FIRE Lab team and, as the research project is about ecosystems and environment, I thought I’d try as much as possible to use natural earths, plants and minerals in my artworks, so I’m putting together a geographic palette. I’ve made a pretty good start already, with graphite, lapis lazuli, ochre, charcoal, Bideford Black, some red sandstone and my own home-made walnut ink.

Over the next few days I’ll be researching and writing about them so watch this space …. 🙂

 

 

 

Baggy Waders

18 Jul

Brynmill Stream 3

I did some quick sketches en plein air at Brynmill Stream the other day, where some colleagues from the FIRE Lab were setting up an experiment in the water. I was fascinated by the baggy waders that they were wearing, I’d never seen any close to before.

 

I did a couple of very quick continuous line drawings and then a more detailed one, but as always it’s not easy to draw people in motion.

 

 

En Plein Air

17 Jul

Bath Carny 3

And the final scribbles from Saturday’s carnival in Bath. Drawing moving figures is a challenge but really good practice and I don’t normally get the chance to do it. That’s one of the advantages of drawing en plein air.

 

Bath Carny 4

 

 

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