Tag Archives: homeless

The End Of The Road

27 Jan

11 tea cosy

It was a sad day in our city. A local man who was well known to many of us has died. I blogged about him a couple of years ago but didn’t say too much about him because he didn’t like a lot of attention. Tea Cosy Pete was a gentleman of the road, a man with a lifestyle that would be too eccentric for most of us, but for many decades he lived on the city streets, politely turning down offers of housing. Today the harsh lifestyle caught up with him and he died from a stroke, in his mid 60s. Peter was well liked, respected and accepted in a way that might not have been possible in larger cities. There has been a huge outpouring of grief across social media and the local press, with many tributes and  people telling their own Tea Cosy stories.

I often saw him standing and sitting around Swansea, but I only did one drawing as I felt uncomfortable about intruding into his privacy. It’s not something that normally bothers me, I think that artists are by our very nature, voyeurs, spying and scribbling. But it wasn’t the right thing to do with Tea Cosy Pete. May he rest in peace.

Street Sleep

10 Dec

10 street sleep

I had an early start today and walked across the city to do some shopping to make cakes for the exhibition opening tomorrow and on my way back I spotted these two men asleep on the pavement down a side street. It was about 9.15 am and I was quite shocked. There’s one regular street person who tucks himself down every evening; he’s been doing it for decades and refuses offers of housing, preferring to live on the streets. But I’ve never seen anyone else out in the open like this. There are all sorts of reasons why people might be in this situation, but really, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it isn’t right. Why haven’t we cracked this problem yet?

On a lighter note, I’ve just finished the lemon butterream cake for tomorrow’s opening party for the group exhibition I’m in – the chocolate brownies can wait until tomorrow. I’ll post photos in tomorrow’s blog 🙂


His Life On A Trolley.

18 Mar

18 homeless

This is the last of my scribbles from London. It was a bitterly cold evening and as we were waiting at Paddington train station to come home, I saw this homeless man sitting in front of us, his life packed onto a supermarket trolley, including a walking stick. One of his legs was in plaster and he wore a comedy fake-fur tiger hat. He was a nice man, chatting companiably to people nearby, sometimes dozing and thankfully he wasn’t hassled to move on by station personnel. I don’t know what his story is, but no doubt our present government would say it’s his own fault for being poor.

Street Life

4 Oct

Sometimes when it isn’t raining (that’s not often round here) I leave the studio a bit earlier and wander into the city centre to do some quick scribbles. I saw these three ladies chatting on the street corner and just a few yards away, huddled in a doorway, one of the street drinkers who hang out on the fringes, so sad.

Life On His Own Terms

12 Jun

Sitting on a public bench in the city centre at the end of a long day, waiting to meet Husb to walk home and watching other workers doing last-minute shopping and heading for buses and cars, I spotted a local character standing opposite, so of course I grabbed my sketchbook and had a scribble.

I won’t name him because he’s a gentle man who doesn’t like attracting attention, but I have seen him on the city’s streets now since I was a schoolgirl, when he was a young man who had chosen to give up a conventional lifestyle and live as a ‘tramp’ on the streets. It’s four decades on and he still chooses to live the same lifestyle. He’s very unkempt and he drags a large sack of his belongings wherever he goes, but he’s always seemed healthy enough and he’s friendly and well-spoken  in his quiet way and has never been known to harm anyone. Once he found a bag with £10,000 in it and took it straight to the police station, every penny, and even refused a generous reward from the money’s astonished owner.

I’ve noticed recently that he’s now very grey and looking a bit frail. It’s quite worrying but he shows no sign of wanting to come off the streets. He’s had offers of accommodation and the caring services have certainly been keeping an eye out for him, but he carries on with his chosen lifestyle.

He’s very well known and well-regarded locally, no-one seems to mind that he’s lived so unconventionally for so many years. Visitors to the city are sometimes shocked, because he does look a bit of a state, but those that chat to him quickly realise that he’s living life on his own terms. I’m glad I live in a place where such eccentricity is accepted and I hope he is able to continue with his chosen lifestyle for as long as he wants.

People Watching in Grand Central Station

16 Oct

Ink sketches: Heads in Grand Central Station.

When we visited New York City a couple of years ago we often went to Grand Central Station because it was easy to find our way there and it’s a fabulously beautiful building. It also has a very good dining concourse with little stalls selling food of all nationalities around the edge with loads of tables and chairs in the middle so everyone takes their food into the dining area to sit and eat and there’s an eclectic mix of travellers, sightseers and homeless people taking refuge from the freezing weather outside.

I often just sat and drew the people around me, a good opportunity for studying faces. This is one of the pages I did in Faber Castell Pitt pens into an A6 watercolour sketchbook. The young man was impeccably dressed and carried a very expensive briefcase, obviously wealthy and he sat very quiet and still and read while he drank his coffee and waited for his train. The smartly dressed older man seemed deep in thought and ate very, very slowly, chewing each mouthful very methodically. The elderly man in the hat was homeless and needed somewhere to doze. He kept falling asleep but security personnel woke him up whenever they spotted him. They didn’t move him along, just shook him awake and asked him politely not to sleep. The woman in the hat was extremely grumpy, complaining to her companion who didn’t get a word in edgeways. She had the biggest burger I have ever seen and didn’t once stop talking while she ate it – so much for not talking with your mouth full!


The Pavement People

12 Oct

Ink drawing: Pavement People.


Working from photographs can be controversial for many artists and causes a lot of lively discussion in our local Life Drawing group. I take a pragmatic view – I do whatever needs to be done to get the image I want and that sometimes means using a photograph as my starting point. This ink drawing started life as a digital photograph taken outside our local ‘soup kitchen’ where the Pavement People gather around 8.30 am for breakfast. I wanted an image to incorporate into a much larger mixed-media piece. I used Adobe Photoshop to turn the colour image to black and white, then I passed it through an Artistic Filter, the Cutout one. This reduced the amount of grey tones and gave a slightly abstract edge to the figures. The process also blurred some of the faces, which I like because the Pavement People tend to slip into the background and become faceless members of society.

I printed it out and drew a grid over it, scaling it up onto a sheet of tracing parchment in pencil. I then drew it it ink, using mainly Faber Castell Pitt pens and Indian ink and brush. I emphasised the blurred, faceless quality of the figures. The next stage is to rub out the grid marks and transfer the image to a photographic silkscreen to print over the mixed media piece I’m currently working on. I might also print it up as part of a series I’m planning, using a number of photos I have of the Pavement People,  along the lines of William Hogarth’s serial engravings.

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