Tuesday, 24 December 2013

"Deep greens and blues are the colours I choose ..."

but that is James Taylor's choice.  Picking a set of watercolours to take out on location never used to bother me, I just took the lot, you know, just in case ... Then one fine day, my mum gave me her W&N field box and I thought it was about time I gave some serious thought to what I should specifically be taking out.  But what will cover most eventualities? What shall I use? It was quite simple really; the colours I use, are the colours I use.

So for those of you who like to know what other people do; here you are. 

Subject to change without prior notice.

Monday, 25 November 2013

City Cranes

 Cranes over Bank
 A Pair of Cranes over Blackfriars
St Mary le Bow with a Crane

On a chilly Sunday afternoon heading down Threadneedle Street and ending in the Tate Modern. For people who like cranes (small boys/grown men) and those who like to draw them (me) the City has got to have the most per square inch in the country. Stationary cranes afford the chance to study them in reasonable detail but when they get moving, thats when the excitement really kicks in. The flight patterns over the corner of Lombard Street were nothing short of orchestral.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Rising Sun over Carter Lane

The Rising Sun over Carter Lane.

I went out to paint from Blackfriars Bridge this afternoon but spotted this cosy little group before I got there. Bright and rather cold but I know I wouldn't have survived very long over  the Thames today. Alright, it wasn't that bad ... I shouldn't be so weedy.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Why I watch The Hotel Inspector

Tube drawing, St Paul's to South Woodford. Pencil 210 x 149 mm

The Hotel Inspector is brilliant. A 'rags to riches' style tale of hoteliers who have no idea of how to get themselves out of financial despondency and low occupancy rates. Sometimes they listen, often they don't but it all gets very exciting when Alex sees a glimmer of hope and then gets the decorators in! The advice is always the same, which good advice always is. Play to your strengths and push what you are good at. And in the business of art, I think a return to your first love will always confirm why you are here in the first place.  

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Distant Tertiaries

        NE from George Lane Viaduct. Watercolour 148 x 105 mm 

I meant to do a large painting today, well A4 at any rate. But the vantage points I spotted yesterday weren't as good as I remembered so I dug out a suitable spot to get this view down. There drawback was that the area was totally devoid of flatish surfaces so I had to hold my WN field box, complete with water pot in the same hand as the paper. Then the wind got up, so I thought, "Quit while you're ahead."

Monday, 23 September 2013

No Man's Land

Somewhere between George Lane and Woodford Bridge

I've often looked out over these vague non places which float around the periphery of built up areas. The grey strip in the foreground is the M25 on its run up to Charlie Brown's Roundabout. Behind it, the sprawling mass of undefined bushes and trees, masquerading as a backdrop for some Eastern European fairy tale. In your dreams.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

"Nothin' gonna break my stride"

 Fashion Illustration Shoreditch

I went back to Paper Dress Vintage last night; I hadn't been for about five months. The top two took less than a minute, and the last was posed for two minutes. I want to prove the point that intense, prolonged concentration doing observational drawing, regardless of the subject and the medium, has an incredible knock on effect across the board. Having spent three weeks of the summer recording in ink the urban chaos that is Arequipa, another pay off showed when using a pencil for figure work. Quicker, better line quality, and getting proportion right without having to measure it out. Simples!

Monday, 16 September 2013

The famous building of Cleveland Mews

The Post Office Tower. Fineliner 210 x 149 mm

I've wanted to have a go at this for ages, because it looks weird, is part of the '60's and I have a jig-saw puzzle of it.
Getting a good close up view without having to crick ones neck is another matter. But securing a window  table in the fourth floor cafe of John Lewis' was relatively simple.

The two dots on the second section denote the position of the BT logo, which I didn't put in because the Post Office had this built, and name changing in the board room doesn't change historical fact.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Yes, Mr Klimt!

         Grove Hill, Sunday Afternoon. Fineliner 148 x 210 mm 

For all his patterns, shapes and an inordinate amount of gilt, he was right about this. "Art is a line around your thoughts" Some may argue that he means art in whatever form one chooses but I would argue that when he says 'line' he means line. Not colour, mass or shape but line. Why? Because line has an edge, line gives form, and line defines.  

Saturday, 17 August 2013

It's what the moon does

              Punta Sal line study. pencil 105 x 148 mm 

          Punta Sal watercolour & pencil study. 150 x 300 mm 

            Punta Sal early morning. Pencil 148 x 210 mm 

... make waves that is, and in the South Pacific, it does it very well. As I was having a beach holiday, I needed to do some work.  The longer we stand there observing and committing to paper, the better our thoughts and feelings will look. You just have to go with the flow.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Cable Everything

           Corner of Pierola and Santo Domingo, Arequipa. 

Today I reverted to type; well, wires, cables, posts, lights, and all strung up with a 0.3 fineliner on an A6 postcard. Wish you were here.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Trans Continental Drift

               From the roof looking West, Arequipa, Peru. 210 x 297 mm

For line drawing, Arequipa is brilliant. A huge mass of masts, poles, pipes, water towers, cables and bill board supports. But the colours are just too good to ignore too. So having packed my paints and forgotten to bring my brushes, I had to buy some more; and then make use of them. Apologies for the dark photo.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

It all stacks up

  South Woodford, from the westbound platform. Fineliner 149 x 210 mm

    Whitechapel, from the station bridge. Fineliner 149 x 210 mm

Two more very hot days looking at chimneys and the like. Those stacks that have been around a while, with crumbling mortar in the brickwork, mismatched pots and a variety of aerials gesticulating madly into the sky, are really just an extension of the people who live beneath them. 

The Revenge of the Serpentine

From 'Diana's Dresses' drawn from the telly 

Brilliant programme. Emotional but certainly not sentimental. It's still strange she's not here anymore though. I always loved this dress and even though it was known as 'the revenge dress' I never saw any spite it in. To me it was an amazing piece of couture, and like a description by P L Traver's in Mary Poppins, "looked liked she had just torn a piece from the sky and wrapped herself in it." 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Animator and Urban Myth

Nathan Brenville, drawing in Leather Lane today outside the wonderfully presented Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs. Excellent landscape exhibition going on inside 14-16 Leather Lane, EC1

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Events Management

Drawing children is a whole new ball game. Some stay still, some don't. Getting a good likeness within a tight deadline is not for the faint hearted. And it was boiling hot. Fortunately, I made it to the end of the day.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Camomile Street, London EC3

Camomile Street. Fineliner 149 x 210 mm 

When I drew this, I thought the land in front was just going to get built on and this building would disappear behind it. Not so. Today I went down there to see what the buildings were like further along and saw they'd gone. I asked one of the site guys if the white ones were coming down too; he said yes. I guess by the weekend that will be it. 

A man has admitted to being himself

Central Line, at Liverpool Street.

He was here again, same seat, same carriage

Yay! Someone's owned up! Admittedly, I did give him my card but even so. Thank you very much Barry:) 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Extra! read all about it!

Camomile Street. Fineliner. 

Got some more done today. This is the closest I've got to drawing the cheese grater. The sheer wall of glass, with its coloured metal inserts, looms up behind this rather old, solid mass of brick, with its mismatched windows, drainpipes, extractor fans and fire escapes. All the real things life is made of. And yes, I do have a soft spot for it.

Monday, 17 June 2013

100 Bishopsgate, London

From Camomile Street, EC2. Fineliner 

Today I started drawing three buildings which sooner or later will be obscured by a new address called 100 Bishopsgate. The back view of these blocks are covered in a zillion windows; not glass walls, and the ordinary stuff that life is made of, fire escapes, drainpipes, random cables and the odd chimney pot. These are working buildings, not just a building to work in.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Going for management

Manager of Costa, Great Marlborough Street, London W1

Today, I though I would turn my attention to the staff as the customers were not very accessible for drawing. Fortunately, the guy making the coffees was, so i settled in for the long haul with a medium latte and a croissant. I don't usually show my 'sitters' but when I did, one of the other baristas said "You've made him look more beautiful than he is ;)" As for someone who likes to think I tell it how it is, I thought "umm ... yeah, i can go with that."

Monday, 27 May 2013

Space Rocket in EC3

St Dunstan in the East

 Central Line, South Woodford
Have now drawn 32 spires. There are 52 Wren churches hanging around in London but they don't all meet my criteria of being interesting enough or more importantly, coming to a single point at the top. I'm not interested in towers as such, they don't appeal to my sense of aesthetics. Spires, steeples, and domes soar, towers just sit there.

Random tube travelers and coffee shop dwellers continue to populate my site. Not that I just draw anybody, practical considerations aside, like, can i see them well enough or worse, can they see me; it's whether there are enough edges to be able to draw a clearly defined form in a short space of time. Once they've gone, they've gone.

Monday, 13 May 2013

This is what I do

St Giles in the Fields           Costa, New Oxford Street

Just the other day, i was thinking, "I draw people and I draw buildings, why?" I could say that one is an antidote for the other or that drawing in pen keeps me very focused on the job in hand and that drawing people gives my urban work a touch of humanity. But the reality is, there is always a coffee shop close to a church.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Forgiving St Boltoph

         St Boltoph without Aldgate. Fineliner 139 x 88 mm

Got the bulk of it done yesterday then went back this morning to give it a little more stability at the base. Four visible sides and two with curves is what made this such a headache. I am now a world authority on Houndsditch, Bevis Marks and Camomile Street. But it's all over now. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Some Churches!

           All Hallows on the Wall. Fineliner 139 x 88 mm.

This is a nice church. I spent a very agreeable hour in its company on Saturday afternoon. Things went according to plan. In the morning, however, St Boltoph without Aldgate has developed some personal vendetta against me and refuses to sit nicely and behave. I really don't know why, I have lavished it with five visits and twice as many hours. Fine, I shall go and find other spires who have a much more accommodating disposition. If I do manage to nail it though, I shall of course, be very forgiving.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Spiraling up

    I feel I am developing a love hate relationship with my spires. 
    When i'm not with them, I want to draw them and when I'm standing 
    in front of one, pen poised, again, to start at the top with the 
    cross, dragon, ball, whatever, I start worrying that this time it 
    will all go horribly wrong and that I will have wasted a zone 1-4 
    on my oyster. Which of course, sometimes it does, and I have.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Stand clear of the closing doors ...

      Leytonstone and Leyton Tube stations. Pencil and fineliner 

A little exercise in timed drawing. See what can be accomplished in the time it takes for the doors to open and close. This doesn't necessarily work at all stations though. A blank wall and no people could be lacking on the interest front. I did these with my trusty clutch pencil then inked in later. One day i shall learn to let go completely :) 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Pre-paid Off Peak One Day Oyster

Liverpool Street Mainline Station, London. Pencil 140 x 90 mm 

This was done on the way back from a freezing cold drawing trip in Great St Helen's. I would have stayed out longer and gone on to my next location but as I'd already mucked up one picture (because of the cold, of course) I thought I'd look for something else to do.  I want to do more of people in environments rather than in isolation. I got the figure down first with the fixtures where they relate to the body. Then after he'd moved away I could spend time tweaking the ticket machine. People tend to stay in one position while buying tickets. It's still a bit of a race against the clock but at least I'm not running for a train.

Monday, 25 February 2013

"You either have or you haven't got, style"

       2 & 5 minute poses at 'Fashion Illustration Shoreditch'

Once upon a time, long time ago, I used to think that one developed ones own style by copying and learning other artist's styles. Learning from other artist's work is necessary, it gives depth and credibility but style is another matter. Everyone's work is derivative of someone else's, because afterall 'there is nothing new under the sun'. But how one uses a pencil or a paintbrush is something instinctive. I love Rembrandt's drawings but I don't sit there thinking "WWRD?" 

Friday, 15 February 2013

Consumer Heaven

Pretzel Bar Westfield Stratford London. Pencil 297 x 210 mm

I needed to get back to buildings, weird angles and relative proportions. I started this westfield drawing near the Great Eastern Market sign and worked down to the watch surgery, then up the lower ground floor escalators to the Pretzel Bar. I guess I am always on the lookout for the 'human interest story' and here the girl snipping up the pretzels gave me just that. A drawing starts out as a search; and with this one, the thing that mattered most came at the end.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What do photographers think of Photorealism?

Alan, at Watercolour Club. Pencil 148 x 105 mm

Seriously, what do they think when they see artists getting credit for what they do anyway, especially when using pencil? Do they think that drawing like a photograph from a photograph, degrades their art? As there is no movement, no 'dithering'*, the whole thing becomes a technical exercise in tone and shape, rather than line and form. which is what pencils are for. A photorealism 'portrait' may look 'life like' but I feel the life is squeezed out. The artist brings out the 'life' of the person, in particular when the drawing shows development, a layering of discoveries in the sitter, with the observations and intentions of the artist.
* Harold Speed's term.   

Thursday, 7 February 2013

This is me

After the Haircut. Webcam

I spend a lot of time looking for connections between personality type and artistic approaches to subjects. Having spent a very pleasant time at Satori's in Loughton, the wonderful Donovan commented that I now had "an unstructured fringe" Brilliant! I said, then followed up with "I prefer my hair to look like it had grown like that, rather than been cut like it. I like the appearance of imprecision but to get the likeness in the portrait, the look which says "this is me" in a haircut, one has to be very precise and have the experience and the knowledge to say, enough is enough.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

1st London Urban Sketch of the Year

St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square

On 30th January I deemed it warm enough to stand outside and draw for half an hour. Okay, so I'm weedy like that but it's not as if I haven't been working at anything. This drawing of the top of a church goes well with the one I did of St Alfege's in Greenwich last year. I would also like to draw the church near Spitalfields in the same way. I don't often use a pen but this sort of subject is ideal. I just like picking out the bits that make it special, like the circular windows and the pagoda style of some of the stonework. I like to make accurate reference to time as well, here by getting in some cast shadows. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Dorwiy, at 17

Dorwiy. Pencil 170 x 130 mm 

This is my latest portrait. As any child will tell you, their 'fluffy animals' are alive. Doing a child's cuddly toy is the same as drawing a human. A likeness still has to be found, and of course the more the creature has been hugged and loved, the more of a personality it has. Bit like us really.