Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Jumbo Start

"Jumbo" Ink in A4 sketchbook. ©Sue Pownall 2015
Recently, Sarah from The Connection Magazine and I started a new urban sketching group the Essex & Suffolk Sketchers, with the aim to become an official chapter of the UrbanSketchers.
Lunchtime show & tell

We decided to start big, drawing at Colchester's old water tower, locally called Jumbo, and the first meeting was last Sunday. It was a lovely sunny day, albeit cold in the shade, and we had a great turn out.

We spent the first part of the day sketching around Jumbo and the Mercury Theatre, then after a lunch break moved onto the grounds of the Colchester Art Centre. It was a lovely day and everyone seemed enthusiastic about sketching again soon.

Below are my sketches (photos from the day are here). I'd love to hear what you think in a comment below. Thanks.

My 1st sketch, Balkerne Gate.
A sketch from the 2nd location.
I stopped for a cuppa, which came in a glass cup & had to be sketched.
 Essex & Suffolk sketchers. Find and like us on facebook:

Next meeting is June 20th, 12noon St Mary's Church, Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 8LL

Monday, May 18, 2015


Silo D, watercolour in A4 sketchbook.
Just over a week ago, I was fortunate enough to be one of eight London Urbansketchers invited to draw at the Silvertown redevelopment site. I didn't realise there were still areas of London Docklands, which were not all sparkly and new. However, Silvertown is a huge wasteland, with remnants of the recent London Olympics, the huge Millennium Mill (previous millennium not this one), a grade 2 listed grain silo, lots of rubble, street art, and wildlife.
You can read about the mills redevelopment here on the BBC.

We were not allowed into the mill as there is currently a massive operation to remove asbestos, but we decked out in hi-vis vests and allowed to spread out throughout the site.
It's not often you need a hi-vis jacket as part of your sketching kit, is it?
Silo D detail. ©Sue Pownall
 With a Payne's Grey sky and a bitterly cold wind, I wandered around to find a place to start. The mill itself was too daunting for a first sketch, so instead I ended up sat up a grassy bank, part of the old Olympic London Pleasure Gardens, to sketch the silo. With it's predominantly white facade, I started with the Payne's Grey, with a touch of indigo, sky to outline its bulk. 

The wind was so cold, despite my layers of fleece, I seriously considered leaving, but opportunities like this are rare, so I continued until it was time for lunch, where we all huddled in a patch of sun behind a corrugated fence for shelter.

With patches of sunshine, it was time to tackle the mill... I was drawn (excuse the pun) to the street art and decided to try and capture a snippet of that along with the large painted advert on one face of the mill. 

I started loosely in pencil, to try not to get to caught up in details, then added watercolour. I'm not sure how successful it was. What do you think?

 Finally, I wanted to capture a little of the current work, sketching the scaffolding and sign, but I was cold and not concentrating by that point, and so it remains hidden in my sketchbook.

Urbansketchers and photographers have been invited to record the redevelopment of the site as it progresses over the years, which is why we were there, and I hope I am one of the ones who gets to go back again. Finally, a big thank you to James Hobbs who organised the day. Check out his report and amazing Silvertown sketches here: Silvertown's Dereliction.
Millennium Mills, finally in sunshine, seen from the bridge to Custom House at Excel as I left.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Barcelona boats, bars, ballerinas...

Fleca Els Angels, Carrer D'Elisabets

 ... & some tennis.

Before last Saturday's Barcelona sketchcrawl, see my previous post here, I had spent a couple of days in the city. 

On Thursday, I went to the Barcelona Open, and got to realise a dream - to watch Rafael Nadal play in Spain whilst sat among a Spanish crowd. Mostly I was too busy watching the tennis to sketch, but I did manage the one below between matches.
Stadium at Real Club de Tenis Barcelona
Thursday was also Saint George's Day and everywhere people were handing out red roses. I was offered one first thing, but didn't accept as I was heading into the tennis stadium. I tried to sketch some in the Ramblas, but the crowds were massive and frequently obscured my view. The sketch is the best I achieved.
Las rosas di San Jordi.

The next day, I took an early morning walk and ended up at a café, where I'd had breakfast before the Urban Sketchers 2013 Symposium and had meant to sketch, so I did. (top).

Then it was on to the Maritime Museum where I sketched a traditional Catalan fishing boat.
Barca Catalana - Jean et Marie
Late afternoon, I headed off to join the group Inky Fingers, Barcelona who had arranged to draw the contemporary dance company Las Carmelas. 
Sketching Las Carmelas with Inky Fingers.

It was a real challenge trying to capture their movements as they danced. Thankfully they also did some short poses. I used a pad of tonal pastel paper and a multi-coloured single lead pencil. I can't wait to draw with this group again.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

47th WWSketchCrawl in Barcelona

Tramvia Blau, Tibidado. ©Sue Pownall 2015
Yesterday was Worldwide Sketchcrawl day and I was fortunate enough to be in Barcelona and able to join their sketchcrawl. I missed the start due to having a lovely catch-up breakfast with a friend, so I took the tourist tramvia blau up to Plaça Dr. Andreu arriving shortly before the other sketchers. My first sketch of the day had to be the tram, but as it only stayed a short while, the sketch became a composite of the trams.
Montse & I sketching the Funicular de Tibidabo.
 Whilst trying to capture the tram, I started my second drawing, this time the building for the Funicular de Tibidabo. Despite an underdrawing it fell off the page, which is a problem that keeps occuring.

©Sue Pownall 2015
 Taking the funicular up to the Parc del Tibidado, we gathered for a mid-way point photo. Coincidently, the park mascots wandered past and were coerced into the photo.
Photo by Mar Villarino Chico.
 Unfortunately, the "spectacular views" were hidden behind cloud, so I started drawing the plane, which was one of the original rides from the park's opening in 1928. As with the tram, I had to start a second sketch as I could only capture it as passengers got on and off, hence the sweet cart on the left page. I'm not one for doing spreads, so after sketching the people at a bus stop, I copied Elena's idea of linking them with the old, big wheel. Finally, I added the genuine American hotdog stand.
Spread drawn in Parc del Tibadado
 I'm quite pleased with how the spread came out, what do you think?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pushing Your Sketching Boundaries Workshop Part 1

1st drawing of workshop. ©Sue Pownall 2015
With Degas on the mend, I was able to attend the UrbanSketchers Coventry workshop this week. However, needing to leave her with the dogsitter for as short a period as possible, I arrived almost on time for the start of the first workshop, but missed the night before's drink and draw registration event. I also left before the end on Friday, partially due to Friday/end of Easter week traffic, but also as I wanted to see how she was. In between was a great event, arranged and tutored by Isabel Carmona, Swasky, and Simone Ridyard.
On the wall at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.

With no time to settle, it was straight in with recording the old cathedral in Swasky's workshop on Bending the Floor. The result is above, and I have to confess it's my favourite of the three days. The workshop was ran alongside the Recording Britain exhibition, at the Herbert, and copies of our drawings are there until the end of the month.

The second exercise was more complex, and although I didn't do it correctly, I am also pleased with my representation of the Herbert and adjacent university buildings. (below)  

In the afternoon we drew lots of portraits of each other, which was fun, and Simone took this great photo of us (below).
Exhaused, we retired to the nearby pub for food, drinks, and, of course, more sketching.
Drinking and drawing
Cathedral in evening light. Sorry about the poor photo.
 Parts 2 and 3 will be posted on Tuesday and Thursday. I hope you come back to check them out. Please remember I love receiving your comments.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Manchester sketchcrawl

Sketching the River Irwell sat on Calatrava's Trinity Bridge
 Yesterday,  I joined the Manchester,  Yorkshire,  and Society of Architectural Illustrators (SAI) for a sketchcrawl in Manchester. It was a surprisingly blue skied sunny day, but with an icy wind, which made outdoor sketching a challenge. As you can see from my sketches below, I alternated between outside and inside locations.
River Irwell from Trinity bridge. Sketch 1
I accidently bought a scone when I went for a warm up cuppa. Sketch 2.
Piano practice in Manchester Central Library's music library. Sketch 3.
Shivering and sketching at the end of the day. Sketch 4.
It was lovely to meet so many sketchers from all over (40+ at the interim lunch meeting) and hope to get up to Manchester and sketch again... albeit in a warmer month.
Show and tell social at the end of the day. Photo by Hakym.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Focusing on something different.

Spring greenhouse ©Sue Pownall 2015
It's been a busy couple of weeks. I had a weekend away and my poor assistant has been in Queen's Veterinary School Hospital, Cambridge for surgery on her elbows. She now needs lots of love and cuddles to help her recover.

My assistant is feeling sorry for herself.
I have mainly been creative in a photographic way, apart from a couple of sketches. The above one was drawn at my friend's house in Cheltenham over the course of 2 cups of tea, finishing just in time for breakfast. (sorry the scan has lost some of the watercolour details and turned it pink too). We have had surprisingly clear blue skies, which has made the UK spring look prettier. Here's a few examples... and a fire as the nights are still cold.
Cheltenham ©Sue Pownall 2015
Reflections in yellow, Cambridge. ©Sue Pownall 2015
Bath. ©Sue Pownall 2015
A single stem. ©Sue Pownall 2015
Abingdon. ©Sue Pownall 2015

 What have you done this week?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Print workshop induction

I'm now a member of the print workshop at Cuckoo Farm Studios, Colchester.  Consequently, on Thursday I had my induction to use the workshop unsupervised in the future. Whilst there I took the opportunity to have a 2nd attempt at etching. I used one of my new etching needles, which is quite heavy and a dream to draw with into the hard ground. I redid the oak leaves I'd attempted to etch on my workshop, you can see those results here.

Learning points:
  1. I need to clean the ink off the plates more, as you can see from the print above there is a lot of ink on the background.
  2. I need to pay more attention to the composition. Despite it being an interesting subject (well I think so), as this print doesn't work due to the shape the leaves create... I could use a clean hard ground to work more into this plate, but I'm not sure that will improve a badly thought out compostion.

What printmaking lessons have you learnt?