Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sneak peak

Section of Al Minsefah doorway ©Sue Pownall 2013
I'm currently working towards my solo exhibition, which is on from 7th December here in Muscat. 

This is a sneak peak at the first new work that I've produced. If you want to see the whole thing, you'll have to wait until the exhibition.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Beach House

The Beach House, 35x25cm Ink. ©Sue Pownall 2013
Having finally completed and delivered a long-over due commission piece, I can now share it here.
Watercolour sketch
I started by visiting the building, taking photos and sketching it in situ. It is a complex building being in 3 parts due to extensions, and this first step was necessary to understand it. Then, I got my lovely client to approve a view and started work.
The approved rough.
Due to the situation with mum and dad, it got horribly delayed as I found it impossible to concentrate. Plus I have Degas who takes up far too much time and attention. However, this week, 2 months late, I delivered it.
Handing it over to my lovely, patient client.

If you would like to commission me to draw your home, please use the contact form on this site.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jack's London

Blind beggar pub & Whitechapel Bell Foundry ©Sue Pownall
I was really disappointed in January when I couldn't join the London Urban Sketchers due to snow. Luckily, 2 days after leaving Barcelona I got another opportunity as Pete Scully had arranged a sketchcrawl around Jack the Ripper's London. I caught a train up after visiting mum in hospital on a surprisingly hot summer's day .
An East London pub. ©Sue Pownall
  We met at Whitechapel tube and it was lovely to see Pete and Alissa again, having just seen them in Barcelona. Pete supplied us all with route maps and mini-sketchbooks he'd made and then we divided to capture the Ripper's World. I went with Alissa, Lola, and Simon to The Blind Beggar pub. The pub is infamous for its connection to the Krays and may have been used by the Ripper. Unfortunately, due to the heat (a miracle for a summer in London) it was too hot standing on the pavement, so moved on to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Chasing shade, I was attracted to the hoist at the side of the building. A lovely foundry worker offered me a chair then told me that the hoist was the only one in the country where the operator couldn't see the hook. Apparently, he had to rely on someone to lean out of a window and shout directions back at him. It was last used in the 1980s when a delivery of bells were brought from an old church. This lovely man told fascinating stories and I stayed talking so long I lost the others.
Linking the past ©Sue Pownall

Wandering around I loved the mix of old and new buildings in this area and next drew an old bell (foundry influence?) I saw on the renovated warehouses in Devonshire Square. I wasn't too pleased with my drawing so wandered on. I love this area of London and used to walk around it after work sometimes, usually when trains were delayed or cancelled out of Liverpool Street. (I worked in London as a graphic designer). I found the pub in a building that was from the Ripper's era and some estate agents were kind enough to let me sit on their doorstep to draw. For all my sketchcrawl pictures, I continued to experiment with non-waterproof ink, and I am especially pleased with it on this one as it suggests the grime of old London.
A gruesome end? ©Sue Pownall
Needing to find the others, I headed to the finishing point at Christchurch in Spitalfields. The group had increased since our 3pm start, so after having a look at some sketchbooks and chatting a little, I drew some of the gravestones. I linked the bell rope and the edge of the stone in order to get continuity of the area, but I'm not sure it was very successful. Then, I filled the mini-sketchbook with portraits, reverting to my normal Staedtlar pens, before a final sketch of the Ten Bells pub. The pub is one of the key haunts and "Ripper literature shows that two victims visited the Ten Bells before they were murdered" (Source: With this drawing I used James Richards' technique for drawing people, which I learnt on his Barcelona workshop.
2 portraits in my mini-Ripper sketchbook.
 If you want to see other work from this great day, James Hobbs posted here , and Pete Scully here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Continuing the momentum

La Sagrada Familia, ©Sue Pownall
 Several of us wanted to see the Sketching Barcelona exhibition (by Miguel Herranz, Lapin, Sagar Fornies, Òscar Julve, and others) and to sketch in Bari Gòtic or El Born and so met up the next morning. After the exhibition, which was amazing and inspiring, we went to Granja Dulcinea a xocolateria. Shantele and her partner ordered churros with their chocolate. Kindly they didn't eat them whilst I drew them. I couldn't draw my chocolate as I drank it. I was very impressed as Shantele didn't have her sketchbook with her but soon adopted the suggestion of drawing on a serviette.
Churros. A5 sketchbook ink & watercolour
The above photo was taken by Chris, the only non-sketcher whilst he was waiting to eat the churros. It shows Alissa, Chris H, Shantele with napkin, myself, Dave Black, & Yvonne sketching.
Reflections. Watercolour moleskin ©Sue Pownall
 Afterwards, Chris, Alissa & I walked into El Born district looking for subjects. I left Alissa sketching a door and Chris found an alley she wanted to do. I wandered around a while longer before I saw a distinctive window in a plaza. Luckily, there was a bench across the way and I took out my new watercolour moleskin (given on Virginia Hein's workshop) and tried to capture it. I'm quite pleased with the results and it is not as wonky as the scan implies - my bad photoshop stitching is partially to blame. I can't believe I tackled something so challenging; I think it's partially due to confidence gained from the symposium and a big improvement on how I felt at La Sagrada at the beginning of the trip. Unfortunately, intimidation reset-in later in the day when a lot of us met at CCCB'd cafe and everyone was drawing everyone else. It did make me smile when I asked to see the amazing Luis Ruiz's sketchbook and he said "it's only workshop drawings", just like I had done moments earlier to someone else.
Tapas. A5 sketchbook. Ink & watercolour
When I finished the window it was lunchtime, so I went to a tapas bar I have visited before. It's slightly expensive but very tasty. I sat at the counter and ate a tapas whilst drawing another. Not liking stuffed peppers, I was able to draw that from the plate near me.
La Sagrada Familia moleskin sketchbook.
The next day, before checking out of my hotel, I went back to La Sagrada Familia. As it was only 9am, there were very few people about and I found a bench with a great view. There's a very heavy influence from Norberto Dorantes as I experimented more with non-waterproof ink. It's also inspired by the work of others on the symposium. I am very pleased with this sketch, so it was a good way to end. All too soon, it was time to head to the airport for a week in UK, and to start planning my return to Barcelona.

Monday, August 5, 2013

All over far too fast

Arc de Triomf. Pen & watercolour ©Sue Pownall
Waking up on Saturday morning, I couldn't believe it was the last day of the symposium already. After the panel, I gathered for my 5th and final workshop, Barcelona Perspectives with the architects Florian Afflerbach and Arno Hartmann. The group caught the metro out to the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion, where, after a demonstration by Arno & with help from Florian, Alissa and I very carefully drew 4 lines in 25 minutes. 

Proud of my 4 lines!
I studied and used perspective back in college and still apply it to some drawings, BUT never with my urban sketches. It was enlightening! Alissa and I did get the basic 2-point perspective finished and I for one felt I'd achieved a lot.

Bottom: mine Above: Florian's 2 minute demo :)
Next, we moved into the building to draw it with 1-point perspective. This was new to me, or completely forgotten, and ended up as my favourite workshop drawing from the whole symposium. It was also the best workshop I attended and left me buzzing to try more. Thank you both Florian & Arno.
1-point perspective of Mies Van der Rohe's pavillion. ©Sue Pownall
 Back at CCCB, I attended Fred Lynch's fantastic talk, then headed for the metro to join WWSketchcrawl #40 and the end of the symposium. I have never seen so many sketchers in one place - it was amazing! The symposium participants and organisers were joined by the off-symposium attendies, and local sketchers. Numbers vary but the paper said there were 500 sketchers!
Urban sketcher Awesomeness! El Periódico 14 Julio
I couldn't wait to start drawing, so once the photos were taken, I attempted the Arc de Triomf itself. Thanks to James Richards, the crowds weren't daubting to draw and I am very pleased with my result (top). There was some great music nearby, so several of us drew the buskers as we enjoyed it. When we gave them some change as thanks (great subject & music), they asked to see our sketchbooks and clapped us as we had clapped them.
Gadjo playing at the Arc de Triomf.
Finally, we headed back to CCCB for the closing ceremony sniff sniff. I'd managed to get a copy of Nina Johansson's book and she kindly signed it for me, which is a fabulous souvenir of both the symposium and last year's trip. Another fabulous souvenir was Florian's drawing of the Mie's Pavilion, drawn whilst I was sat next to him, which I got in the silent auction.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

and then the rain came...

From Panaramas in light and shade.
In the afternoon of the 1st day, I attended the workshop of an illustrator I admire, Melanie Reim. Sitting in CCB's patio she talked about Picasso making marks as an introduction to Channelling Picasso; the theme of the workshop. Then the heavens opened and we took shelter under the umbrellas of CCCB's cafe and continued the workshop there.
Melanie talks about Picasso as we shelter from the rain. 11th July
The rain didn't abate all afternoon, and disappointingly for me we stayed at the café drawing each other in various Picasso like ways (or not as mine seem). I'd been looking forward to sketching in Pla de la Boqueria on the Rambla as I spend a lot of time drawing in cafés here in Oman due to the prohibitive heat.

One of my workshop spreads.
 I have to confess I felt disappointed with my drawings from this workshop, but as lovely Liz Steel said at the drink and draw, we don't know what we get from a workshop until we apply it at a later date.
Still feeling a bit out of my depth, despite the successful morning, I didn't do any sketches at the drink and draw, but chatted to a few people before heading off for dinner. On my way to the metro, I heard/saw a great capoeira troup and cheered myself up with a non directed sketch, my-style.
Me sketching in Plaça Catalunya 12 July
The following morning, after the panel discussion, it was off to Plaça Catalunya for James Richards' Life between the buildings workshop. This was a workshop I instantly recognised new information that I could use in my sketching, and did on subsequent days. The actual drawings I produced for the workshop aren't good, but I learnt so much that it doesn't matter!
My 1st sketch in Plaça Catalunya
After lunch I attended a talk by Miguel Gallardo, someone I had not heard about beforehand, but he left me in awe, inspired, and emotional afterwards. Then it was on to Virginia Hein's workshop Panoramas in light and shade. It was held down pass Colom at the Maremàgnum, an area I've not seen before. After the workshop, I went to the drink and draw and was immortalised by Pete Scully, which was flattering.
Kumi & I by Pete Scully

To be continued...