Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Garden pARTy

 I issued an invitation to some of my friends to a little art event at my home. Although it was a garden party, as this year is incredibly hot already, we were inside.
   My lovely friend Elena is a choreographer and former ballerina and I asked her if she would model for us. Over the afternoon we sketched a series of short poses 1, 5 and 10 minutes, which really made us focus.
 My assistant was very keen to help and checked drawings, equipment, stopped Elena getting bored, (photos on facebook page) and even did some modeling. Unfortunately she couldn't hold a pose for more than 5 seconds.
Quick pose from Elena & Degas (5 seconds)
Quick pose 2 (2 seconds)
I used Inktense pencils in an A4 Daler Ebony sketchbook and Elena is so flexible that some poses she struck seemed impossible, and looked very strange in the drawings, even when accurate.
Elena with disconnected arm.
My fundraiser in aid of UNICEF's #childrenofsyria appeal is this Saturday!
Full details are here: SketchMuscatforCharity

See you there or you can donate here on my UNICEF Fundraiser page:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A week's sketches

Pencil & watercolour in A5 Stillman & Birn
Some of my friends not only sketch daily, but produce numerous sketches at a sitting. I'm not like that. I find a hundred things to keep me and my sketchbook apart, from the numerous daily walks with Degas, to social media, checking blogs, tv, reading... blah blah blah.  If I do sketch, then scanning is another issue. However, like this morning, when I do scan I don't always like the results and so snap a photo, as I have with the two watercolours. I have found that when my laptop is already in my studio then scanning is easier - so there's my excuse to buy a tablet and leave it there. Now, how to schedule more sketching time??? I've signed up for the Urban Sketchers' Symposium in August, so there's a start.
A5 sketchbook. ink & watercolour
First up in my sketchbook was last Saturday's sketch. Whilst waiting for my friend to arrive, so we could visit the Royal Academy's Sensing Spaces exhibition, I sketched the people enjoying the spring sunshine.

Next, having not seen daffodils for many years (I don't count those in florists) and inspired by Jean Haines' watercolours, I decide to paint some I picked from mum & dad's garden.
Watercolour with no predrawing
Lastly, I sketched the fluffy bone I gave Degas as her present for being good whilst I was away. I gave it to her yesterday, so she unstuffed and desqueeked one end, then I drew it.
How often do you sketch? Why not tell me here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chewed stuff 1 - for Jana

In January, I read that Jana of JanasJournal had rescued a 5 month old pup. Since then she's been posting regularly on the things Millie chews, both allowed and not, and I have been sharing Degas stories in my comments. The other day she wrote "(it) would definitely be fun to see Degas’ finds, destructed bits and favorite chews as sketched by you".
So last night, I started to sketch Degas' purple Teddy. She has several as I bought them cheaply in the local supermarket. She always chews off the eyes and noses before either eating an ear or leg. Unfortunately, Degas came and took it away before I finished and had a quick chew at it, which is when I took this photo (I think the flash was on, so bleached it). Later, I went into the incomplete sketch with a waterbrush (top).

More use of inktense pencils, but I'm not sure about this Stillman & Birn sketchbook. I have been hearing and seeing many rave reviews of it, but the grain surprised me yesterday. I am used to sketching on smooth surfaces. Obviously as this is only page 2 of 124, I will have many times to either get used to it and/or find a way to work on this surface.

Previous drawn chewed items include Degas' blue teddy from the December post Catch up: A month of sketches.
This box is from the September post Boxes Beware.
 Finally, a teabag from May, in the post Snow in Oman (check out the post for why there was snow.)
Degas favourite things to chew are the plants in the garden. I haven't drawn any as I usually just evict them from the house, where Degas has brought them in through her dogflap.
Degas' favourite chew things are my plants.
Degas came into my life on April 1st 2013. The year has been fraught at times as she has grown large (and is still growing) and is both boisterous and wilful. I have replaced all my bedding as it's got holed through chewing. Degas continues to steal clothing: last night alone she has chewed through the straps of a T-shirt and has been chased this morning for a dropped item of laundry (although these events are rarer now). Despite training, she chooses when to return to me on walks and tows me down the beach to see her friends.
However, for every little negative she has enriched my life a hundredfold. I return from work to big greetings and cuddles, and regardless of my day all problems are forgotten as we step onto the beach. I may find it hard to work on my drawings as she gets bored and demands attention, but she is also inspiration for sketches from these chewed things to her beautiful face. I have watched her grow from a timid pup on the street, into a beautiful young dog who likes nothing better than running down the beach.
 I am truly blessed she chose to come home with me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The end

Another strange shell. Inktense 21/3/14

Of another sketchbook.

Unusually, I've been using a lot of coloured pencils recently. Maybe because they give me the flexibility of graphite but without the option to rub out errors, as with ink.

Next, I am moving out of my normal comfort zone and not starting another Daler Ebony A5, but the A5 Stillman & Birn I got given at last year's Urban Sketchers' Symposium. I'll let you know how I get on.
Mine 14.3.14
Degas' 14.3.14
Have you entered my competition? Check out this post for details:

woo hoo it's back giveaway

Monday, March 10, 2014


Leucocoprinus birnbaumii Watercolour in A5 sketchbook.

What do you do when you find potentially poisonous funghi in the garden? 

Carefully pull them up, then paint them of course.

Have you entered my competition? Check out this post for details:

Friday, March 7, 2014

woo hoo it's back giveaway

To celebrate my website being back up I am going to give away TWO limited edition Fine Art Giclée prints complete with Fine Art Trade Guild logo.

1. You need to sign up to my newsletter on the site:

2. You have to like my facebook page:

The first print will go to the 1000th liker of my page.

To be fair to those who already like my page, a random number generator will draw the 2nd from existing page likers.

BUT to win you must like my page and be signed up for my newsletter.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Degas is a star!

Fishing shed & boat hoist.
This morning, Degas allowed me to sit for 15 minutes on this non-waterproof ink & watercolour sketch on our village's beach. My first urban(ish) sketch with my young dog. 
Below is the photographic proof :)

 Can you sketch with your pets?

Friday, February 28, 2014

A few from February

Inktense pencil in A5 sketchbook
 As well as sketching at the karting event, I have managed to do a few other sketches this month.
First up, some sketches of Pound, who I was dogsitting for the weekend and sits stiller than Degas, but not much. 
Then a rainday watercolour when we had torrential rain here in Oman. I tried to capture the atmosphere in this quick sketch (that took ages to dry). I was helped by Degas with the finishing touches - a muddy nose print. There are some photos at the end of this post.
Rain day.
 Finally, I used Inktense pencils and water, to try to capture the shape of a shell I found on the beach (top). Strangly, it reminds me a seaglass in the way the rest of the shell has been worn away.
Under all this is the road to the beach.
Soggy Degas using her ears as umbrellas
View from the beach
A lull in the storms.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Pencil & watercolour in A4 Daler sketchbook.
Last week, I felt excited at an opportunity to sketch somewhere new and in the day-job's time... a team building karting event.

I was there to support (aka chaperone) the only female trainee at the event.
Steve spectating before his race. Ink & watercolour in A4
The photo proof of sketching trackside :)
Where have you sketched in work's time? Why not tell me in a comment below?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In a hole with London Urban Sketchers

l-r Nathan, Evelyn, myself, & James
What seems like years ago, but was in fact only mid-January, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the London UrbanSketchers for a drink and draw session. James Hobbs, who I met at the Sketching Jack's London event last summer (my blog post's here), chose and arranged for us to meet in The Coal Hole on London's Strand, along with Nathan Brenville and Evelyn Rowland.
James using his trademark large marker.
Due to having traveled up to London straight from seeing dad in hospital, my concentration/will to sketch wasn't too high, though I loved chatting to the others. I sometimes think that's the best part of the sketchy gatherings, that and seeing what equipment the others are using. I drew some portraits as a warm-up then drew this couple standing by the bar. I spotted they had a whole bottle of wine, so guessed they would stay there a while, which they did.
Pen & watercolour in A5 sketchbook