Tag Archives: illustration

Swansea: On the Map: An Artist’s Walk

9 May

This is a map I made with fellow artist Melanie Ezra showing our quirky walk around the ugly, lovely, bonkers city of Swansea.


Swansea: On the Map: An Artist’s Walk.

Dead Lilies And Xmas Cards

30 Dec

Ink sketch: dead lilies on the table.


I’m aching all over – husb and I finished moving all my stuff from the old to the new studio – down a long corridor and down one floor at one end, across the road and up two floors and along another long corridor at the other. I’ve been moving smaller items over the past week or so, but today was the big stuff. I hurt in places I didn’t know I had [though I should as I study anatomy!!!]. Anyway, move completed although there’s a lot of filling, painting and sorting before I can do any work. Shall spend all of next week at it and post a photo of my new space. It’s lush.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with the hectic holidays to get through and poorly relatives to visit and I hadn’t gotten round to clearing away a jug of wilting lilies that had been composting away, well past their display-by date. When I went to consign them to the compost bin, I noticed how interesting they were and how rarely I see flowers in this state, because I normally get rid of them when they begin to wilt. So instead of throwing them away, I sat down and sketched them. Sometimes I wonder if my sketching is just a little bit OCD 🙂 . Husb thinks I should add a touch of colour, but all my watercolours are down at my studio and I’m not going out on this cold, rainy, windy, dark night, so I’ll do it some other time. This is done in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, sizes S, F and M into my Artbox A6 recycled leather-bound sketchbook.

Just occurred to me what kind of weirdo finds rotten flowers ‘interesting’? No wonder my family thinks I’m bonkers lol.

A Ghost In Charcoal.

20 Dec

Charcoal reduction drawing.

Just came back from another Xmas curry. What is it about Xmas and curry houses? I’m going to be barrel-shaped at the end of the holidays at this rate 🙂

I’ve been clearing out my studio because I’m moving to a new, bigger studio over the road and I’m finding loads of work I’d forgotten about lurking at the bottom of my plans chest. This one is a large, A0, charcoal reduction drawing. I started by covering the paper with a layer of compressed charcoal [I had the paper on top of a slightly textured board]. Working directly from life, I’drew’ the highlights by removing the charcoal with a putty rubber [Blu Tack works just as well] The end result is ghostly and ethereal. It helps me technically to focus on the high- and low-lights which is quite a good exercise to do.

Sheep Staring At Me!

18 Dec

Continuous line drawing: Elan Valley Sheep.


Someone asked me today what ‘continuous line drawing’ is. I use the technique a lot. What you do is draw with a good quality pen or pencil, one that gives a nice flowing line, and you try not to:

a) lift your pen off the surface of the paper and

b) look at your drawing too often.

The idea is to keep looking at the subject and ‘feel’ your way quickly around the paper with the point of your pen. You look at the drawing occasionally to stop yourself from going completely off, but resist the temptation to keep checking it and trust yourself!

If you keep your pen on the paper, you’ll achieve a flowing line and you’ll often have to go back over bits to get to other parts of the drawing, but that’s all right because you’ll end up with very lively, vibrant lines. You can have a few breaks but try to keep these to a minimum.

This method gives lots of life to your drawings and also helps with accuracy as you’re constantly observing the subject and you’re also drawing the surroundings as well as the subject. I hope that explains it. Feel free to question me if you want 🙂

Hiding Behind A Hand

7 Dec

Ink drawing: Hand and Face.

Portraits are so often a way of the wealthy and powerful showing off their wealth and power and so they usually show the entire face of the person paying, hopefully, a great big wad of cash to the artist. Egon Schiele did a lot of drawings and paintings of hands covering faces and I like the way that the presence of a hand alters the whole image, from one of confidence in a full facial portrait to an image that is far less confident and assured. The hand gives an impression of guardedness and uncertainty. I also like the way that the digits sink into the flesh and distort it. This sketch took me 25 minutes in Faber Castell Pitt pens into a spiral bound sketchbook. The hand took loads of time – they always do, but also the way the thumb sinks into the cheek is unfamiliar and took a lot of cross-checking.

In the life drawing studio.

6 Dec

Ink drawing: In the life drawing studio.


Sometimes during life drawing it’s nice to focus on what’s around the model and we have a terrific old bentwood chair that we use as a prop and it’s good to draw as well. The drawing studio has large mirrors on one wall and this gives a lot more depth and perspective. What I did here was draw the chair as it is in reality and the model and another scribbler as they appeared in the mirror. I used Faber Castell Pitt pens into a strange bamboo-covered sketchbook filled with paper made from banana skins which gives it a mottled yellow appearance.

The Dreadlock Lecture!

27 Nov

Ink sketch: The Dreadlock Lecture.


Sometimes I get to hear about art lectures at the local university and friends smuggle me in. I went to one a couple of months ago, a lecture on drawing, given by Professor Deanna Petherbridge. I often draw when I make notes, especially when the subject is something arty. I started out drawing the Professor but then I got fascinated by the dreadlocks on the head of the chap in front of me. Don’t see many dreadlocks, especially greying blonde ones and I couldn’t resist getting absorbed into drawing his hair. And the curly-headed woman in front. Here’s a close up.

Ink sketch: middle-aged dreadlocks.


It was great doing all that patterning. I’m not a photo-realist so I can let rip and draw what I want. Faber Castell Pitt pens into an A6 silk-bound, recycled sari sketchbook. The paper had an unusual woven texture. I assume it’s because it’s made from sari material.

Drawing Through A Window Darkly

26 Nov

Sketch in ink and conte crayon.

I always carry a sketchbook and I’m ready to take any opportunity for a quick sketch. I was sitting in a restaurant in Berlin with a group of artists a couple of winters back. It was freezing – literally 20C, and we were eating, drinking and chatting. Jane was gazing out the window into the darkness with her brown handbag on the sill. It’s always a challenge to draw the dark, especially through the reflections of a window, but Jane was deep in thought and stayed still until I finished.

Faber Castell Pitt pens and sanguine conte crayon into a spiral bound A6 sketchbook.

Where Do You Start With A Crowd?!

23 Nov

Ink sketch: festival crowd.


Drawing a life model who sits still for ages is one thing, sketching a crowd at a festival is much more of a challenge. People move – they dance! They get up and go off. How inconsiderate. Anyway, got this lot mid-afternoon at the Green Man Festival a couple of years ago [fabulous little folk/rock/psychedelic/arty festival on the Welsh borders if you fancy going]. The weather was uncharacteristically warm and dry and sunny for a British August and everone was chilling out so there wasn’t too much movement going on.

I find it hard to know where to start a crowd drawing but this one was easier than usual because I was at the top of a slope looking down which gave an exaggerated perspective that I really like. I couldn’t be bothered to put in lots of little dots and circles to represent the crowd down the bottom, the sunshine and ambience got to me and I shut my sketchbook and chilled out. That sounds like a good idea – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


oh yes – Faber Castell Pitt pens size S, F and B into an A5 bound Daler Rowney sketchbook.

A Life Lived Fully

9 Nov

Ink drawing: my dear aunt.


I’ve been sitting with my dear aunt in her nursing home and spending the time drawing her. She mostly doesn’t recognise anyone and stares into space or dozes quietly, but now and again she’ll look directly at me, smile and give me a broad wink before slipping back into quiet isolation. It’s a hard decision to blog this drawing because I worried that it might be intrusive and maybe voyeuristic, but I aso feel strongly that we shouldn’t hide our elders away. They’ve given us everything and this generation, my aunt is in her ’80’s, fought a World War for us and then built a new society with free education, healthcare, the redbrick universities, good housing …. they didn’t want us to suffer the awful poverty they endured during their own youth and they wanted their children and grandchildren to have the opportunities they never had. And they succeeded. Big time!

We’re a society unhealthily obsessed with youth and celebrity. Well in my opinion, young skin is rather bland and uninteresting, whereas our elders glow with the beauty of a lifetime of living etched into their faces and bodies. I remember my aunt as a strong, gutsy woman who lived every day like it was her last. She inspired me and loved me. She jived to The Andrew’s Sisters at my wedding when she was well into her 70’s and boy, could she jive! And now she’s tiny and frail and quietly living through her last few days, she is still lovely and I won’t pander to our unfortunate cultural stereotypes which dictate that we only see young plasticised people and that pictures of older people must have the wrinkles Photoshopped off them! Here she is at the end of a life lived fully and she is beautiful.



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