Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tiptree Heath: a work in progress

Walking Nelson the other day, I loved the colours of the heather on the Heath with it's various shades of purples & violets. Unfortunately, my acrylics are in Italy, so I'm trying to capture it in watercolour. I've started wet-on-wet on unstretched 185gm2 Canson's watercolour paper. The trees that line the heather are too strong, but I intend to work up the front later.

BTW I'd love to see how Marian Fortunati would paint this as she does fantastic oil paintings. Check out her work at

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Paycocke's House

Pen & watercolour in A3 sketchbook.
It's a bank holiday weekend here in UK (a long weekend) and surprisingly the sun is out. This morning I went over to the National Trust property of Paycocke's House, which is celebrating it's 500th anniversary with a Tudor weekend. Henry VIIIth advised me to start in the garden as there were rain clouds on the horizon. I took a walk around and then sat to do the sketch above of the dancers. The costumes were amazing and with the sun still out the garden was a great setting for the Tudor dances.
Tudor dancing.
The proof I painted on site.
BTW (B**ch alert) My confidence improved on seeing the resident's artist's watercolour work, very mediocre and tonally flat, and his dreadfully reproduced cards (looked like colour photocopies on card). I really must get some finished work done instead of only sketching.

BTW2. All pictures at the moment are low resolution as connection is bad and I can't upload bigger files. Sorry.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Tempest

On a stormy evening, I went to a brilliant performance of the Tempest held, luckily, inside at Cressing Temple Barns. A benefit of going alone was that I got a seat in the front row alongside the reserved guest seats, and so I sketched and painted the barn behind the scenery before the performance started. As is normal with a Shakespeare performance I  got a little confused in a few places, but the terrific acting made up for it. It was performed by the professional touring group: The Festival Players Theatre Company. The beautiful setting added to the fantastic performance, so did the musical elements.
I sketched a few of the actors in the first half (adding the colour later), but found the performance too engaging to do much and put my sketchbook away in the interval. I may add a figure into the stage setting later, as that is what I planned when I drew it.

The sketchbook pages.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dog sitting studies #5

Nelson is spoilt by my parents and he has a free run of their house. Last night, I was getting ready for bed and he went to sleep horizontally across my bed. He is a fidget even when asleep, constantly shifting position, so I quickly grabbed a sheet of paper and 2 pens out of the pot. After I sketched him, I pushed him off the bed as I got in and he went to sulk in the hallway.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dog sitting studies #1-4

As I'm dog sitting Nelson while mum and dad are on holiday, I thought I would do a series of studies. Here are the ones from the first few days.
 The sketches of Nelson lying down are in sepia, but the colour won't correct on the scans. He is a dreadful fidget even when asleep giving me seconds to try to capture a pose.

Dinner time.
Finally, a couple of photos from a walk...
Nelson's favourite paddling place.
Shaking dry - in the water.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Five miles from anywhere

Sat in the garden, I painted the approaching storm and river.
Yesterday, I met Anita and Joan at the Five Miles Inn, which is in the Fens. They are both talented artists and I've add links for their work at the end of this post, so please check them out after reading this.
My warm-up drawing sat riverside.
Arriving early, I sat by the river and did an ink sketch whilst waiting  (above). When Anita & Joan arrived, as it was very grey and quite cool outside we started off sketching inside over coffee  and we continued there through lunch. It is amazing to sit with 2 other artists, at the same table, and see how we all chose different subjects. I painted the narrow boat below, Anita a teapot, and Joan started with a man sat outside with his pint.
Narrow boat, painted from inside the pub.
After lunch, we went outside just as the sun came out. The photo shows Anita with her fan-club on the left, whilst Joan on the right continued on drawing.

Anita hated that I only use right-hand pages of my sketchbooks, unless doing a single large spread. I think this is left over from when I used to sketch in pencil and the opposite page was left for the inevitable smudges. Also, I've occasionally taken a sketch out for framing, which I couldn't do if there was something else on the other side. As it was such a lovely day and I didn't want to offend, I did my two paintings in a double page spread (below).

Anita Davies' work is here.
Joan Sandford-Cook is here.
The Five Miles Inn is here.
A rare double page spread.
Update 23rd August: Anita just posted about the day here.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Harwich lighthouse
I took my parents to Harwich this afternoon for them to embark on their cruise ship, where they are spending the next 10 days sailing around. Surprisingly, it was a lovely afternoon, so I headed from the docks into Harwich town. Sitting at an outside café I sketched the Harwich lighthouse in the time it took to drink my cup of tea.  The owner then suggested I went to adjacent Dovercourt to see the twin lighthouses there. It was low tide showing the causeway which is normally covered by the tide. I may add colour to this sketch later as I took some great photo references with the blue sky contrasting against the usual grey sea.
Dovercourt Lighthouses at low tide.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Xmas Torch 2010

Four months to go and we get to do it all over again with another so deserving 630 children! We are getting better at this all thanks to you and your continued support.

So here is how to do this:

We have a NEW website!

Take a look at our orphanages:

Then make your donation! There are many options:

This is a fantastic charity, which gives so much directly to those children who need it, so please see what you can do to help.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bear on a chair

Mum & dad are off on holiday on Friday and the gathering of things together to take has begun. Walking into mum's room this morning I noticed her bear looked to be trying to either carry or get in her handbag, so I just had to draw it.

EDM 138 is draw something soft, I think this counts.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fabulous day in London

Yesterday I went to London to meet some old-friends from Plymouth College of Art & Design. The 4 of us last met 25 years ago... I feel so old! We had a fabulous, albeit slight boozy afternoon, both catching up and talking about our distant past. The sketchbook stayed firmly in the bag apart to complain about the moly's paper. However, I had been busy in the morning.

I got to London early in order to visit the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery. Whilst I appreciate the technical brilliance of producing a portrait that looks like a photo, I can't really see the point, and there were several of the entries in a photographic style. The winner's portrait reminded me of Lucian Freud with the colour palette she used, but I found the subject matter rather grim (her dead mother). Nevertheless, I loved the exhibition and as the NPG is one of my favourite galleries I'd recommend it to anyone visiting London.
Café in the Crypt
Prior to entering, I had breakfast in one of my favourite cafés, Café in the Crypt, which is below St Martins in the Field church. Whilst drinking my tea and eating a pastry I did the 2 sketches at the top of this post, abandonning the first one of the column when I realised I'd copied the date too far to the right. The second sketch is of one of the many tombstones that line the floor: my legs were crossed as I hate to stand on them. One day I'd like to attempt to draw the whole vaulted ceiling.
Viewing Turners
After a quick wander around the contemporary rooms of the NPG, I went next door to the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing to see the exhibition Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries, which was interesting, but had a lot to read with all the copies of x-rays and things next to the paintings, along with explanations of what had been altered etc. Moving into the main gallery, I stopped on a comfy couch and sketched the people viewing the Turners'.

Our mini-reunion was taking place in a pub near Baker Street, so I headed over early and wandered into Regent's Park. I am totally flower obsessed this summer, so took lots of photos. I then sat on a bench to sketch the Canadian geese, but it started to rain, so I found another bench under a tree and drew the trunk of a magnificent Chestnut tree. Do you like the inquisitive passer by?
Why aren't you drawing me?
Flowers in Regent's Park

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blind contour Friday 2

One attempt only to draw my big red handbag and I didn't cheat at all!

Check out the host of blind contour here and click the links for other participants too.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hair-raising self portrait

This morning, whilst in the hairdressers getting my hair coloured, I drew my first self-portrait in... forever. I was stuck under this heat thing, hair in cornrows of colour, I couldn't put my glasses on to read (due to colour & heat), so I squinted and drew myself. I was doing alright until my hairdresser's mother spotted me, asked what I was drawing, exclaimed loudly, her client looked, my hairdresser came over to see, and I went scarlet but not from the heat thing. Sketching where you can be observed is soooooo embarrassing at times, but I persevered once I'd got the embarrassment under control. I think being a member of Urban Sketchers helps as I know I'm not the only one who gets embarrassed and I am encouraged to work through it

Sunday, August 8, 2010

EDM 285 - Draw something(s) that love(s) the sun

Drawing in my dad's garden this morning, all of these fruit and vegetables love & need the sun.

L - R cucumber flower (I just loved the way the flower was poking through the amazing leaf shape); apples; & mild pepper plant. All with pen, a micron 0.05), and watercolour.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blind Contour Friday

Peggy is hosting Blind Contour Fridays over at her site here.

Blind contact drawing is:
... a favourite with drawing teachers to develop hand-eye communication. Contour drawing is essentially outline drawing, and blind contour drawing means drawing the outline of the subject without looking at the paper. The end result doesn't matter - what is important is carefully observing the subject. (source: By , Guide)
I've just seen the invitation to join in, and as I need to improve my basic skills, and even though it's a day late, this is my contribution this week. I think I need more practice. Below is a 3 minute line drawing to show what it should look like.

BTW it was very difficult not to look at the paper with my peripheral vision. Am I a natural cheat?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Colourful Calabria & Campania

I have just returned from 2 weeks in southern Italy and judging by the number of watercolours, it appears I wanted some colour in my life. Top is the morning view from my lounge: the light on the greenery was just perfect and cried out to be painted.
1: hanging 2: tucked between tiles & poles 3: top of wall by window
Hopefully, the roof over the future study/studio/second bedroom is being replaced next month, so I did a few sketches of the bones that currently abode there.

Then back to colour with a watercolour of the church on the hill, which overlooks the road into the village, shortly before a storm. The pre-drawing was hopeless, badly out of scale and the perspective is wrong - I could only see a small part of the roof, and I only just had enough paper on the left. Even so I like the finished result.
The blobs on the roof are large boulders to keep it secure in a wind.
I'm not a beach lover, and alone it is tedium itself, so I sat under the brolly and sketched the centro storico of Scalea stretching up behind the beach.
Colour added with brush pen, as this is the dreaded watercolour-resistant moleskin.
More colour, painted whilst sat on the kitchen steps of the evening light hitting the rooftops.
On my way to Naples airport in December I broke the journey in Roman Pompeii, this time I stopped at the fabulous Ancient Greek site of Paestum. Where, with limited time, and feeling very self-conscious, I painted the temple of Ceres or Athena (500BC).

A bit of history:
Paestum, or Poseidonia as it was originally known, was founded by Greeks from Sybaris in the 6th century BC. The Greeks built three great temples - the first dedicated to Hera and two more of uncertain dedications - between about 550 and 450 BC.
The city was colonized by the Romans in 273 BC, who Latinised its name to Paestum Christians and added the usual Roman infrastructure of roads, forum and theatres. moved in around the 5th century AD, converting at least one temple into a church and building a new church nearby.
By the 9th century AD, the land had become swampy and a combination of malaria and Saracen raids had decimated the population. The city and its great temples were abandoned and gradually overtaken by the forest, where it remained hidden until its discovery in the 18th century during the building of a road. Source: Sacred Destinations
The proof I drew on site!
 That brings me up to date and back in England again.