Tag Archives: illustration

Heavy Man, Little Women and Huge Corset.

7 Nov

Ink drawing: City ranger and corset!


A load of artists got together in the centre of the city last Saturday to do two hours of disruptive art events, a mostly humourous approach to involving the public in some off-beat art and completely independent of any funding bodies and their agendas.Although the organisers had cleared the event with police and local authority, the ‘City Rangers’ a group of uniformed non-police, obviously felt very threatened by all these anti-social, dangerous artists and did their very best to get some of us off the street. I worry about the range of people employed as uniformed street security. Police officers were walking around and joining in with the spirit of the thing, but these guys seemed to enjoy strutting around trying to be intimidating and impose their own brand of censorship on the whole thing.

This very large ‘Ranger’ didn’t like the women putting the giant corset across ‘his’ street. He gave them hassle. They were half his size and mostly a good generation or so older than him. They carried on. He really tried to intimidate them and move them on – they were having none of it and loads of people got involved, all ages, all walks of life. People were invited to write their thoughts about women and the role of women onto strips of material and then pin it to the corset. By the end of the session, it was jampacked with cotton writings fluttering like bunting. Some very insightful and moving stuff, some not but there you are. The great thing about recording through drawing instead of photography or film is that you have to stay put for quite a while and you get really absorbed in what’s going on and people interact in a different way than thye generally would with a photographer.

Cat On A Rucksack On A Blanket On A Footstool

4 Nov

Ink drawing: Cat on a rucksack.

This drawing had to be done! Little one-eyed Ming the Merciless, our fluffy Tortoiseshell [Calico] cat, doing her ‘Princess and the Pea’ stuff again earlier today, dossing on top of a large packed rucksack that had been left on top of a large, well-stuffed leather pouffee that was covered with a thick fleecy blanket. Any one of those would have been comfortable enough for most creatures, but not a cat – oh no! She would probably have liked it better if I’d have draped a newspaper over it all as well. When I ever-so-gingerly moved her to unpack the rucksack, she did one of those stiff-legged storming-off-in-a-huff stomps out of the room, like as if I’d put Smartie tubes on her legs lol.


Drawing in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, sizes S and M into an Artbox recycled leather bound sketchbook.

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 🙂


On The Other Hand….

9 Oct

Charcoal and pastel: Left Hand Drawing.

I draw everyday. It underpins my professional practice. Sometimes I go on courses to be shaken out of my complacency because it’s too easy to stay in your comfort zone and not take any risks. This means that you don’t develop. I’ve been working with a very good drawing teacher at a local college and she encourages artists to regularly draw with the ‘other’ hand, in my case it’s the left. I’ve produced some drawings I’ve been very pleased with using this method. It’s a bit weird. For a start, your ‘normal’ hand and arm are used to the exercise you’re giving them; your other hand isn’t and it’s pretty tough at first when you realise just how much effort drawing at an easel is and how much strain it puts on unfamiliar muscles.

You’re also using the ‘other’ side of your brain so the way you observe and interpret what you’re seeing is different. I find it easier to set the model within the space when I’m drawing with my ‘other’ hand, although the line is more wobbly because I don’t have such a good level of muscle control. I guess I’m using the side of my brain that governs spatial things – that’s about the limit of my scientific knowledge!

This is a large easel drawing in charcoal and chalky pastels onto sugar paper. I found it much easier than normal to get the proportions right and to do tricky bits like the hand.



Sometimes Less Is More

7 Oct

Pastel drawing: female figure.


One of the hardest things in creating a work of art is knowing when to stop. It’s too easy to keep on going and overwork something which then loses its spontaneity and liveliness. I find it useful to do formal drawing exercises to try and overcome this; things like speed sketching, drawing with a twig and ink [really frustrating], drawing with your ‘other’ hand.

This drawing was done in seconds using a square section chalky pastel into a hardbound A4 sketchbook. I used the pastel on it’s side rather than the sharp point so that I wouldn’t be able to get any fine detail, which freed me up to concentrate on getting a flowing motion across the paper and blocking in the main areas and proportions. It’s very free and simple but I think it is also very clearly a female figure. Whenever I find myself struggling with a major piece of artwork and fretting about whether it needs more detail, I do a few simple exercises like this one and it sorts of reboots me and helps me look at my work with fresh eyes.

The Alien in My Right Foot

6 Oct

Today I saw the chiropodist about the verrucae in my right foot and was transfixed for half an hour by his scientific lecture on the phenomenon of veruccae and viral infections. Turned out he did his dissertation on verrucae, luckily for me. I’ve had two on my right foot for some weeks now and my beast of an immune system has been fighting off the viral infection that causes them and giving me quite a bit of gyp along the way. It’s one of the many variants of the human papilloma virus. Apparently viruses are not strictly speaking living organisms as they only have four out of the seven criteria that denote life and the strain that causes verrucae are very clever at hiding themselves from adult immune systems so my own system has done well to seek them out and attempt to destroy them.


Ink and graphite drawing.


The first one died last week. I gave it a tug and out came a – thing – the size of a Jelly Tot. It was awesome. The second one is still in there but it’s on its last legs and should be dead soon. I feel like I’ve been invaded by an alien entity. It’s quite horrible. And it’s stopped me from running; for the first couple of weeks I could barely walk because it was so painful. Anyway, my poor old foot is on the mend so I thought I’d cheer it up by drawing its portrait this morning against the backdrop of my be-socked left foot. It’s all cwtched up with padding and plaster to ease the pain when I walk. It was fun observing how the round spots on the sock are distorted and drawing them accurately.

The drawing is in Faber Castell Pitt pens, sizes S, F, M and B with additional shading in FCP greytone pens and 6B graphite block into a Daler Rowney A6 sketchbook.

A Watercolour Gorefest!

4 Oct



Watercolour sketch: The foetal warrior.

I don’t usually paint, preferring pen and ink, charcoal and chalk. Now and again I bring out the watercolours in life drawing sessions and have a bash. The received wisdom is that watercolour is a gentle, refined medium where you build up layers of pale delicate glazes. Some of the artists in the group do beautifully modulated watercolour studies with exquisitely executed skin tones using gently graduated brushstrokes.

Not me. I wield a brush like Thor’s double-headed axe, chopping at the poor defenceless little blocks of watercolour paint in their tiny little pans and then stabbing the unfortunate brush at the cringing paper. It’s a bit of a gorefest, like the forces of Asgard unleashed on the Frost Giants of Jotunheim via a small sable paint brush.

This is a pen and ink drawing into an A3 180gsm watercolour sketchpad, attacked with lashings of Windsor and Newton Artist’s watercolour.

Small Boy, Big Icecream, A Bee and A Flower

30 Sep

Ink drawing: small boy big icecream.


Today I babysat for my six-year old nephew and as we’re having a glorious Indian summer I took him out, around the local museums and galleries and then to an ice cream parlour for a rest and something to cool down with. He loves mint choc chip so he had a huge cornet, almost as big as his head. When we went back to the house he wanted to play on the computer or the Wii, but call me old-fashioned, I sent him out the garden to play in the rare sunshine and told him to make his own entertainment. Within minutes he was fascinated by the huge spider webs criss crossing the garden like sparkly net curtains – they’re everywhere – it’s been a great year for spiders.  Luckily he isn’t at all afraid of them. Then he noticed that our large and spectacular Sedum flowers were covered with bees, taking advantage of the late summer sunshine and the cornucopia of pollen provided by them. He sat down with a sketchbook and some pencils and drew this lovely little picture of a bee visiting a Sedum. Chip off the old block eh?

Pencil sketch: Owain's Bee Picture.

Spying and Sketching: People Watching.

29 Sep

Ink sketch: Old Man and Child.


I sometimes go for a cup of tea to the café in Waterstones bookshop which is in a beautiful old cinema. The café is on the first floor and I sit in the large bow window overlooking the street below which has some lovely Indian Bean trees and benches and I sketch people. It’s good fun because they don’t usually look up and so they’re completely natural.

This elderly man was cwtching a little boy, maybe his grandson? They were playing together and having loads of fun, tickling each other. They were hard to draw because they were moving about so much but I tried to capture the essence of them, rather than try and get a good likeness. It’s unusual these days to see a man and small child playing together and so wrapped up in each other. Delightful.

Ink sketch: Old man with tight trousers.


This old chap sat straight as a ramrod, possibly an old soldier. He stayed for some time, watching people pass by, so I was able to get a reasonable amount of detail in my drawing. He had the tightest trousers I’d seen in a long time!



Drawing Heads At Speed

26 Sep

Pastel drawing: multiple heads.


I don’t normally do portraits because I think they’re really HARD. I find it much easier to draw the human body, rather than the face, but now and again I have a go. It’s easier when you’ve been drawing the model for a while because you get used to them. The face is not only extremely complex; there’s no room for even the slightest mistake because it means the difference between a likeness and looking like someone else. I’d had some practice with this particular model; I’d drawn her many times before so I had already developed a sort of ‘shorthand’ for her features. The drawings are pastel and chalk onto sugar paper and the poses were between 5 and 10 minutes. I’m pleased with the results; the speed drawing freed me up from worrying too much about being accurate and they ended up being quite good likenesses.

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