Tag Archives: NYC

Stages Of A Drawing

11 Aug

Alan 7

Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop, working with one of our regular models, an older man. I worked large, into an A2 sized brown paper sketchbook that I picked up really cheap a few years ago in New York City. Ooooh get me! I built the drawing up with chalk to start with and then made more committed lines with white conté crayon.

Alan 7b

Look. My friend brought me a set of conté crayons back from Cornellisens in London, white, sanguine and black.

Alan 7c

Then I started in with the black conté. I’ll put up the final stages of the drawing tomorrow. I’m off to bed now. Goodnight.


By the way, since February, I have been travelling across South Wales with Rhondda-born archaeologist Dewi Bowen and Swansea film maker Melvyn Williams; cold and stormy, hot and humid, up mountains, through slurry, mud and bog, in all weathers accompanied by my portable drawing board, portfolio of Fabriano paper and a bag full of assorted artist’s materials.  Dewi is researching his latest book on Neolithic monuments and Melvyn is making a documentary film of our literary and artistic adventures.

I’ve done around 50 drawings now and these will be exhibited in my solo show in The Worker’s Gallery in the Rhondda Valley in September. Please click here to find out more about it.

And if you want to see some of my other artwork, please click on the image below.


I’ll Scribble Anywhere, Me.

28 Jan

Sketchbook drawing: queueing at the Empire State.

I know I bang on about artists getting out in public and be seen doing art, but that’s because I feel really strongly about it. The visual arts have been getting a bad press in recent years. They’re seen, often justifiably, as elitist and obscure and this is because a small number of artists who are very good at self-promotion hog the media limelight while too many of the rest of us work our alchemy behind closed doors. I think that artists should be out there in the world, showing people how we work and de-mystifying what we do. I was terribly embarrassed when I first started sketching in public, which was only 5 years ago. I felt like I was standing in the street in nothing but a skimpy bikini – I couldn’t have felt more exposed. But once I started concentrating on the sketching, I stopped noticing what was going on around me and relaxed into it. Most people are really chuffed to see me working and are respectfully interested.

Husb and I were visiting NYC are standing in an enormous queue at the Empire State Building, estimated an hour long. Time to sketch I thought. I did quite a few drawings in that queue – here’s one above. Afterwards, we strolled over to the Chelsea area. We’re of an age to remember The Chelsea Hotel as a cultural icon and we wanted to look in the art galleries in the district. We saw this homeless man sleeping on a park bench. It was late morning and it was FREEZING! I hadn’t ever been so cold and didn’t experience cold like that until I went to Berlin in Winter a couple of years later. It was very sad. His belongings were in black bin bags underneath the bench.  It was so cold my fingers hardly worked, but I wanted to record this moment to remind me how fortunate I am and how people can easily fall on hard times even in wealthy, developed countries.

Sketchbook drawing: man in Chelsea Park.

Posing at Grand Central Station

25 Jan

Sketchbook drawing. Posing at Grand Central.


I take my sketchbook travelling with me. I haven’t always done so, I used to take photos but I ended up with loads of images that I never looked at, especially after I started using a digital camera. Sketching takes me longer than snapping so I have to stop and immerse myself in the moment. It’s more of a communion with what’s going on around me than taking a photograph, which I’ve always found to be a bit detached.I also get a more rounded and vivid memory when I look at my travel sketches; the act of remembrance is much more intense and I often get memories of smells and sounds and action as well.

I’ve been to New York City a few times and Grand Central Station is one of my favourite place – it’s in the film Madagascar which I love! My husb took some terrific black and white photos of this scene while I scribbled it – very film noir – and I noticed a woman posing in the foreground. I don’t know if she spotted us but it seemed so. It’s a very quick sketch, just a couple of minutes, but I spent quite a lot of time sitting in the dining concourse, which is beautiful,  sketching people at length.


Nice nibbles and a nice cat in NYC.

26 Oct

Ink drawing: The auctioneer at Bloomsbury, NYC.


I was at a benefit auction of prints for Manhattan Graphics Studio in Bloomsbury’s auction house, NYC. It was good fun and I was bidding for a lovely piece by Carol Wax. It was at the end of a very long and hard day at the International Print Fair and I was shattered and managed to get a seat at the front, but there was only the auctioneer in front of me so I drew him and he carried on regardless – a real pro!Very up-market nibbles here and the auction raised loads of money, but I was outbid. The drawing is in Faber Castell Pitt pens into my Tate Postcard sketchbook.

We met a lovely cat earlier in the day; the studio cat at Solo Originals gallery – a little chubby Siamese cross, very affectionate. The owner was also very nice and showed us around the studio which had genuine Bavarian litho stones still being used.

Pooped at the Printfair!

25 Oct

Ink sketch: Manhattan at night.


A drawing in my Tate Postcard sketchbook from my trip to NYC to see the International Print Fair a couple of years ago. We had been walking around Manhatten for days, going to exhibitions, talks and demonstrations of printmaking and we were pooped! We holed up in this very modernist cafe near the Bloomsbury Auction Rooms, where we were going to a fundraising auction for the Manhatten Graphics Studio and I drank tea and nibbled cake and did this drawing. It combines two hard things – drawing the night and drawing through reflective glass. I could have chosen something easier to draw, like the cafe interior and its customers!!!!!

However, it gave me a reason to break out my Faber Castell Pitt pen set of 6 greyscale brush tips that I hardly ever use. I enjoyed drawing it and I should do more nightime drawing, but once I’m holed up in my little house, I rarely want to go out again.

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!


Scribbling USA: the Haves and the Have-nots.

9 Sep

Ink drawing: asleep at 34th Penn.

I’ll scribble anywhere and platforms on the tube are great because you can often get crowd scenes and people tend to stay reasonably still. When I went to New York City I sketched on the subway – loads of homeless people sleep down there and you could find them tucked away at all hours and sometimes former homeless subway people collected on the trains for charity. I saw these two young men one day sleeping at 34th Penn station, their bodies adopting the same position.


Ink drawing: Large woman from the NJT.


Trains are good because there are captive subjects and if you’re lucky you can sit down too. I stayed in New Jersey and travelled in to NYC on the New Jersey Transit [NJT], which had these odd seats that you could turn round so they were either seating a twosome or a foursome. I tried speed sketching when we pulled into stations and caught this woman standing on the platform. I don’t often get the chance to draw someone of this size and it was interesting to see how her lower body hung down over her legs. It may seem voyeuristic but I guess that’s something we artists have to come to terms with. I found the difference between the haves and have-nots very pronounced on my USA visits and I think you can see that in these two drawings.

Sketching My Way Round NYC #1…the disabled man in Grand Central.

7 Sep

Ink drawing: homeless disabled man in Grand Central Station.


I’ve been to New York City a few times and it’s a great place for drawing people. One of my favourite places is Grand Central Station. There’s a large Dining Concourse with a beautifully painted ceiling and little stalls around the edge selling all sorts of food – Middle Eastern, Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Indian, American…… and you buy what you want and sit in the middle to eat. It seems to be a great leveller; you’re as likely to sit next to a smartly turned-out executive in an expensive cashmere coat as a homeless person. I loved drawing there as people were really interested and friendly and came to chat.

I went back quite often and there seemed to be a lot of people who stayed there all day, possibly homeless and I drew some of them. They sometimes fell asleep and security officers would wake them up but rarely moved them on. I saw this man several times. He was very clean and tidy but was usually sleeping in his wheelchair and had one leg amputated and wore a very basic prosthetic; the other leg was heavily bandaged and he wore an orthopaedic shoe. I wondered what his story was but I was too shy to ask him. This drawing was done on Easter Sunday and although I’m not religious, I found it even more poignant to see someone in such a sad situation on that day.

I was very shocked at the amount and condition of street people I saw in NYC. I know we have problems here but it seemed to be on a much larger scale and of course, there’s no National Health Service in the USA. We should be grateful for what we have. The drawing is done with Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens into a small Cotman watercolour sketchbook.

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