Saturday, August 30, 2014

Where's the time gone?

It seems like we've just registered,  but it'll be the last day tomorrow.

So far, I've met new friends and old, while sketching all over Paraty. I have had to jump up and down for warmth in Liz Steel's workshop and run inside from the rain in Paul Heaston's. Composition has been improved or distorted like a wide angle lens, whilst the high tides have flooded the streets and left us sketchers marooned until they recede.

I don't have many sketches (so far) that I wish to share due to the nature of the workshops I've attended, but I am over flowing with ideas and inspiration. For example, this afternoon I wished Gabi's talk could've gone on longer and can't wait to try Ivonesyo's lamp painting technique.

The organisers have done a great job, the sponsors generous (I especially love my #super5 pen) and the urbansketchers is such a great community that it's with mixed feelings that I prepare for tomorrow: sadness it's over for another year, but fortunate to participate.

Ps I'll upload photos when I'm on a computer and not my phone or you can checkout or my flickr where there are some.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Wren's St Mary Abchurch 2 August 2014
A while ago I received an email from Monologue asking if I would like to review their sketchbooks. Naturally I said yes and a little while later a courier delivered this lovely parcel.
They are designed to be used with a variety of mediums listed on the wrap: charcoal, chalk, graphite, pencil, pastel, oil pastel, wax crayon, red chalk, acrylic, collage, oil, marker, spray, tempera... Everything except ink, my prefered medium. As I am part way through the A5 Seawhite sketchbook, I decide I would test drive the soft cover A4, with holding elastic.  It has a handy niche on the edge keeping it both in place and away from the pages - neat!

Wren's Monument to the Great Fire of London
Pete Scully had arranged a sketchcrawl of Wren's buildings,  so I thought that was a good time to testdrive the sketchbook.  Aren't new ones scary? At the meeting point lots of peeps were busy sketching the buildings or craning their necks to draw the top of Monument. Eek. I drew 2 construction workers on their break at the bottom.  The sketchbook liked my pen, so that was a relief.
St Magnus the Martyr
Getting my map of locations,  & sticker for my sketchbook,  I drew the church clock and spire of St. Magnus the Martyr listening to the chimes of the bells. I added the watercolour,  which the page handled well  I am very lazy,  mixing colours direct on the drawing with quite a bit of water. It crinkled a little but not much at all.

Next it was St Marys Abchurch and I loved its poor green, damp covered, neglected side. I spent a long time on this sketch as I built up the watercolour glazes to emulate what I saw. I'm pleased with the result and the way the Monologue sketchbook took the paint. 

I'm not so pleased with my last sketch of St Mary le Bow Church as the church is soooo vast, my initial marks were way off. The café shot is the best way to view it. I then had to head home to walk my lovely assistant and missed the final meet up at St Paul's.

I had a lovely day, thanks to Pete's planning,  and look forward to using the sketchbook more as so far I think it's really good. I must try some other mediums for a thorough test. 

Sketching St Mary Abchurch rear entrance
St Mary le Bow
Monologue's facebook page is:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Parks, flowers & Shakespeare

Ink & watercolour. ©Sue Pownall
To continue my blog catch up...
The other week I ran away to Barcelona, just for a night, leaving Degas with a dog sitter. It's my favourite city, and I really want to move there. Unfortunately, circumstances are conspiring against me, for now.

I stayed in a hotel with a fantastic view of the Arc de Triomf, but chose to relax in the shade rather than sketch the view. My batteries are in desperate need of recharging.
Parc de l'Estació del Nord. Watercolour in A5 sketchbook.
That evening, I had arranged to meet friends and fellow sketchers Cesar and Miguel at a performance by Parking Shakespeare who were performing Much Ado About Nothing in Catalan (Molt Sorroll Per Res).
I can only understand a few words, but love Parking Shakespeare's outdoor performance, and first saw them in 2012. You can see the previous sketches here. Having wandered around the area and arrived at the park early, I sat down to paint the amazing mosaic mountain as I love the intense blue.I think the painting is tonally flat, but I enjoyed painting it. Then it was time for the Shakespeare and a similar drawing to last time. Again, I got caught up with the action (even with very limited understanding) and stopped drawing to watch. If you are ever in Barcelona in the summer, I would thoroughly recommend going to one of the shows: lovely setting, great acting, and it's free.
Molt Sorroll Per Res. Blue Micron in A5 sketchbook.
 The next day, I started the day with a sketch over breakfast (top). I'd spotted the building whilst heading for dinner the night before. It took me 2 cups of tea and almost an hour, which is looonnngg for me as I have the focus of a gnat. The rest of the day was spent wandering around and going to MACBA before heading back to the airport.

Unfortunately, my quick trip took rather longer than anticipated, as my car broke down on the way home from Heathrow airport. I tried sketching under the streetlights as I sat perched on a bank overlooking the M25 and my sick car, but the motorway was uninspiring. Here's the proof.
 Where is your favourite destination to run away to?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

WWSketchCrawl #44: London

44th WWSketchCrawl. Photo thanks to Isabel Carmona.
 Poor neglected blog. ... Here's the beginning of my attempt to catch up.

 The 12th July was WW SketchCrawl day (more info here) and being in the UK, I traveled up to London for the SketchCrawl arranged jointly by the meetup group Drawing London on Location and the Urban Sketchers from London and the Oxford Workshops.
Train people
 I started my day sketching people on the train using a blue Micron in the SeaWhite sketchbook. Then, at Charlies' Café in Portobello Road, I  met up with some sketchy friends, including some from Barcelona, and leant against the café to sketch from the shade. (Who would expect London to be hot in the summer?!)
Opposite Charlies' Café, Portobello Rd.
Photo thanks to James Hobbs
After a while, James, Nathan, Evelyn and myself, braved the huge mass of tourists in Portobello Road as we searched out both a shady spot and something to draw. The crowds kept blocking our view even as we sat behind the stalls.
I left the others in search of some food and headed off the main road where I met Emily sitting outside Biscuiteers. Ordering a cuppa, I joined her in sketching the Mediterraneo restaurant opposite.
Mediterraneo, Kensington Park Rd.
As it was almost time for the end of the sketchcrawl, I headed to meet the others at the Castle pub, Portobello Road, where we chatted about our day and shared our sketchbooks.
With Spanish sketcher Swasky. Photo J Hobbs
After the group photo of the sketchers who were still around, I headed home and did this final sketch of a man texting.
Did you participate in a sketchcrawl? You are welcome to leave a link to your blog post on it in the comments.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

It's ThrowBackThursday and so here's a pencil sketch drawn on a Greyhound bus in Canada1987. I was urban sketching even then, just didn't know it :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

3 weeks in June: UK sketches

Armed with a new Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, the 1st of June saw me in Muscat International departures. My assistant was also flying with me, but down in the hold, for a 3 month long trip in the UK. Killing time I sketched some of the people in the lounge and recorded this thought about the sketchbook: "I've not tried one before, but so far I'm impressed by how the ink goes on."
 I've been very busy with family stuff, so it was a week later I tried out watercolour in the Seawhite. On Facebook I wrote "I'm loving the Seawhite sketchbook so far. Lots of water and glazes on this, but the page has barely wrinkled. Shame the sketch is overworked."
The following day, Wilkin & Sons Ltd. (THE jam makers) had an open farm day. With so many changes, Degas didn't like being left so I popped there quickly and sketched the people tasting jams. I sat under a tree and added the colour before I dashed home
Next, was a sketch of me NOT watching the opening match of the World Cup football.
The following day, I went to London to attend the artists' evening at The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Having just missed a train, I started to draw the footbridge between platforms. The next train arrived too soon, so on board I added the colour to the unfinished sketch.
At the RA later that day, I sketched the people enjoying the sunshine and drinks in the courtyard.
 The next evening England were playing their match and a neighbour had a pre-match barbeque. Feeling like a peeking Tom, I quickly sketched them from an upstairs window.
 The football theme continued with my next sketch - a slice of an England football cake.
and the next...
In between have been a few attempts to draw Degas, but she is loving the green fields and freedom and barely sits still. Here's a photo instead.
Goldhanger, UK 21 June
 What and where have you sketched this month? Why not tell me in a comment?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

EDiM Part 2

#19 A rope. Ink in A4 sketchbook.©Sue Pownall 2014
It's May 31st and the end of another Everyday in May daily challenge. I've completed 26 out of the 31 prompts. I've struggled with some especially as I've wanted to do locational drawings for some of them, but the daytime temperatures here have soared to a massive 50°C (122°F). 

Day 19, above, is one of my favourites. It is incomplete as I had almost finished this old, unloved, rope tug, when Degas decided it was the ONLY toy she had to play with. Right is Degas chewing HER rope.
This Chinese cloisonné vase came from a weekend in Beijing. The prompt was something bought on a trip, but I didn't actually buy it, as it was a gift at the factory we visited on the way to The Great Wall by a lovely American lady, who said I couldn't leave without it.
#30 Something bought on a trip ©Sue Pownall 2014

Days: 17, 18, 20, 21 attempts 2 & 3, 23, 25, 26, 27, and 31 ©Sue Pownall 2014
Below is day 29's something in my favourite colour. It is easy to guess my favourite colour just by looking at the work over this month. This blue glass is part of a set I received as a secret santa present and is filled with blue & white sea glass collected  from the beach near my house. I had fun with this using Inktense pencils and watercolour.
#29 Something in my favourite colour ©Sue Pownall 2014
Which of my challenge results do you like best? Why not leave a comment below to tell me?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Preparations for the summer

Ghala Industrial Estate, Muscat
With only 8 sleeps until I leave Oman for the summer, I'm busy sorting out my art equipment to pack. I wanted another yellow and have to thank Liz Steel ( for her great advice. Until I can get to a decent art suppliers, I've raided the Van Gogh watercolour set, which was a gift from last year's Urban Sketchers symposium. I want to test drive some colour choices... I prefer to spend time sketching than mixing colours... plus I've evicted the Winsor & Newton Payne's Grey tube squeezed into an empty halfpan (left of photo) to try the Van Gogh version.
I've had this watercolour box since art college.
Having added new colours, I wanted to paint, so took my sketchbook and paints to the day job. During lunch I sketched from an upstairs window. I didn't realise until I sketched this view, that the cement factory is on a different level. That's the beauty of urban sketching, you really see details.

 I discovered that the Van Gogh Paynes Grey's pigment is less blue than the W&N's. I need to do some more paintings to decide on my final pan, but do like the blueness of W&N.
Which do you prefer? W&N, Van Gogh, or someone else's Payne's Grey? Please tell me in a comment.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Everyday in May 2014: part 1

#8 Something with a mirror image
 As I mentioned in my 1st May post, I'm participating in the Everyday in May (EDiM) daily challenge, which I first did in 2010. As we are halfway through, and I've only skipped 3 challenges so far, I thought I'd post the drawings to date.

Day 8, something with a mirror image, is one of my favourite so far. Degas often sits on the bed and plans mischief with her evil twin. Yesterday's mischief included chewing on the palm tree in the garden. Ink & watercolour from photo reference in A5 sketchbook.
#15 Biscuit
  Day 15, painted today, is another personal favourite. The prompt was "cookie", which in British English is biscuit. The only biscuits in my house are Degas' and I am pleased with the looseness of this pen & watercolour sketch.

Although Degas is a terrible scavenger - dead fish, fish bones, and chicken being her favourites - she takes her time eating her biscuits. She has a terrible habit of getting a mouthful, carrying them to the lounge and dropping them on the mat.
I think she prefers to eat in the same room as me, even though she can see me from the kitchen.

Below are my other drawings to date. As you can see, I've have been experimenting with techniques and materials from the very precise to loose with ink, pencils and/or paint.
Days: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 13,14 & 16

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Recording Britain Now

Into the Shadows. Ink. 30 x21 cm. ©Sue Pownall 2014
 This is a drawing that has lurked in my head for a few years. It first emerged as a drawing for Illustration Friday's theme crooked in September 2012 (whole post here there-was-crooked-man). I wrote then
"The stile is actually an element in a idea for a drawing I've been toying with for a couple of years, so maybe now I will start on it."
 Obviously it took a bit longer to get started on that drawing...  not until 1st March 2014 when I thought it would be perfect for the John Ruskin Prize: Recording Britain Now. I submitted the drawing on 2nd April, and heard yesterday that it had not been selected for the shortlist. Knowing 588 artists entered does not stem my disappointment.

This drawing is for sale. Please contact me if you are interested on:
studio (at)