Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The return of St Boltoph

St Boltoph without Aldgate

A couple of summers ago, I sat on a traffic island drawing this church with a fine liner, no pencil. Six attempts later I had something which was half decent but boring. Eventually it was removed from my 'Point me to the skies' set. Somewhat annoyed that I had been beaten by a dead saint, I went back, took up a more symmetrical viewpoint and got out the pencil. As I have said before, "Sometimes, you just have to"

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Going back

Natalie Galustian, 22 Cecil Court

After several months of absence I suddenly had a feeling of unfinished business. As I had done six of these shops, pretty much on the trot, I felt enough was enough and so went off to find somewhere else to play. 

It was good leaning against the walls again, noticing the way the owners display their books, the typefaces of the signage and the reflections in the windows of the shops opposite. To know if it really is over, you have to walk away first.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

People drawing without looking

Electric Double Bass, The Wheezards

Alto Sax, The Wheezards

Drawing jazz players in cafes might be seen as a cliche but nonetheless is very good for drawing without looking - at your paper that is. I must say that drawing by this method takes determination and will result in a lot of crap marks before arriving at something you are half happy with. Eventually you do have to get your eyes down but not until you have replicated the life before you onto a sheet of A5 (or whatever you use). 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Are we nearly there yet?

 South Woodford Station. Pencil 105 x 149 mm
The learning process is part of the making. Learning is time consuming, and the more time spent doing that, is what really counts. I feel that in education today, particularly in schools, the emphasis is on producing 'something at the end of the lesson'. The 'outcome' often equates more with a ticked 'to do' list, than with any developed ability in the child concerned.
It doesn't matter if your instrument is a sax or a paint brush, whether you dance, write or even cook; 
"... the most important thing is to be able to command your        instrument to the point it becomes a natural extension of you. That takes time. But take the time to focus on your sound. Make each note beautiful. ... Remember that audiences don't hear notes, they hear music. They don't hear individual letters or words, they hear a story."   Andre 'Saxman' Brown, on Facebook 

Monday, 1 September 2014

" ... the profundities of still life."

The Preacher's Chair

I know this isn't strictly what Proust was talking about but this does show the point that a still life can be found anywhere. There are several reasons for drawing a still life arrangement; because one loves the objects, the collection of pieces is about something, a showing of technique or just about composition. On the other hand, there is the 'found' still life, the one that just silently sits there, waiting to be noticed.

"I tried to find beauty there where I had never imagined before that it could exist, in the most ordinary things, in the profundities of "still life." 
- Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Changing Scale

The Bloom Bar & Martyn's Launderette, High Road E18

I have paid three visits to this group of buildings just for the sake of trying to get a few angles right. Not as easy as I thought it was going to be, hence the return trips. Originally it was supposed to be a much smaller drawing so I could get the sweep of the whole 'Parade' in, though as usual I let my distance from the view dictate the scale. Because of that, this ended up as an architectural features study and not as I intended,the inclusive view of everything up to Woodford Office Furniture Ltd.

Monday, 28 July 2014

In with the old

Elizabeth Tower, Ink and watercolour 210 x 149 mm

Ridiculously hot on Saturday afternoon but I'd started so I finished. I thought I'd continue with indian ink and a dip pen. Indian ink because it wont bleed with a wash, and a dip pen because of its variations in line. I went to a seminar once where Tony Ross was speaking, and he buys old used nibs from junk shops. I have a couple that were previously owned, and having formed their own characteristics, they add their personal history to my drawing.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

More is less

Portobello Road. Pencil and watercolour 210 x 149 mm

This drawing was a bit of a breakthrough, believe it or not. Not because I want to do all my work like this but that once you have said what you want to say; shut up. Or as Ecclesiastes 6 : 11 puts it, "The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?"

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Just paint it

OK, so there is a bit of pencil on the top one but that was put in after the paint went on. Working like this is very quick but does present other issues. Like working in pen, everything has to be got right first time. I was still using the brush as a line tool though, as can be seen, especially on the hem of the grey skirt. So, a decision needs to be made; is this an illustrative  style or a mass painting that hasn't quite worked?

Sunday, 18 May 2014

OCD ...

Today I laid to rest, albeit briefly, the idea that I have to do at least four of everything; and all in the same format. 

Some scenes work in portrait, in pencil, and some don't. Just because I had drawn two, didn't mean to say that the other views from the same place, were going to give the same vibe or the same look as the previous ones. I was after a good focal point, a bit of distant horizon, and different levels of cranes and buildings. An obsessive compulsion is good; when it becomes disordered; walk away.

From One New Change roof terrace. Pencil 210 x 149 mm

Friday, 9 May 2014

Crossing over

Jay Scott & The Find

Corner Savoy


A couple of days ago I had the chance again to do some live gig drawing, an Italian jazz group in Foyle's cafe, Charing Cross Road. After I'd finished, I though about the difference a couple of months had made since drawing Jay Scott & The Find in Hoxton Square. I had drawn Jay Scott's group pretty much in the same way as i had approach my figure drawing, multiple layers trying to get the stances right and trying to turn their faces into a portrait.

For Roundella, I went for the 'get it down with minimum lines' look I had used on Corner Savoy. Moving ways of working across genres is a whizzo idea. I have learnt that more lines doesn't necessarily make for a better piece. You don't always have to show how you got there.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Girl on the til

I am very pleased to announce that this little drawing has won the Cowling & Wilcox 50th Anniversary of the Soho Shop competition. Today has been a good day :)

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Charcoal Grill Shawarma Fried Chicken & Curry

Corner Savoy, Great Eastern Street, EC2. Pencil and watercolour 149 x 210 mm

I started this a week or so ago, popping back to do a bit more. The second bit of popping, however wasn't what I was expecting. The metal pipes attached to the frontage, which I thought were there to hold the building together, were nothing of the sort. Instead, on the main section, we now have a jolly great tarpaulin advert stretched from the top of the windows to the bottom of the arches. Thanks TSB.

The moral being, draw places while one is there. Popping isn't always the way to go. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

"We don't chase men or buses ...

Man with a pipe, Bishopsgate EC2. Pencil 210 x 149 mm

because there'll be another one along in a minute." Every so often, an opportunity presents itself which demands to be taken. He was hanging around near a crossing and I was thinking don't go, please don't go so I kept one eye on him (as if that would ensure he'd stay put) while I rummaged for my paper and pencil. So far so good but when he decided to cross the road, I had to chase up the central reservation so I could still see the profile I'd already started. The adventure ended in Brushfield Street where he conveniently stood in a doorway to light up. Seriously, there are some odd characters out there, and you don't even have to look.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Square mm of suburbia for sale

Just two of nine which are for sale, unframed, £25 each plus p&p, which is dependent on where you live and delivery preferences. All can be viewed on  
Watercolour, painted on location, 148 x 105 mm. email or msg for more info. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The underbelly of Hoxton Square

 California Gypsies. Pencil 210 x 149 mm

 At the Bar. Pencil 149 x 210 mm

Jay Scott and The Find. Pencil 149 x 210 mm

There are a couple of things to be aware of when doing this kind of work. First, speed (as in time, not LSD)is essential, and second, not only will you be dancing in the dark, you'll be drawing in it too. 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Book review!

Urban Sketching
a complete guide
Thomas Thorspecken
Search Press £12.99 Paperback

The title certainly doesn’t lie. A warm, attractive cover invites the reader to join the new breed of artists, those whose work is the sketch, not just the pre requisite for some carefully orchestrated piece later on.

In four chapters, he shows the equipment and materials he uses, how the technical things like perspective and composition work and why it matters, a clear approach to putting in people and animals and finally on choosing subjects with plenty of visual ideas on what can be done.

He has roped in the work of 46 other urban sketchers, so there are loads of ways of working to inspire. If you have little experience of location work, this book is a great read to get fired up.  Alternatively, if you’ve been at it for years, there are loads of insights into the habits of other artists, all of which could confirm your own suspicions or addictions.

His coverage on perspective is excellent. It is a common sense approach, not a tedious course in technical drawing. There are people who prefer to understand before they create, and those who have to create in order to understand. I think Thorspecken has managed to cover both in one hit.

Good sketches don’t appear as if by magic. The book shows what goes on behind the scenes and that with a desire to learn from experience and mistakes, much is achievable.

There is a lot of work in here by some very able people but remember they only got there because they went out and did it.

At the end of the day, you can only draw how you draw. And any artist can only share what they do. As Thorspecken says “Learn what works best for you.”
At 128 pages, it is fat enough to be of use and thin enough not to lose the will to live.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Night Watch

The Night Watch, St Mary Axe EC3

The Aviva reception area. I drew this in the dark, around 7.45 pm. Sometimes it's atmosphere or lack of it, that draws me in. Loneliness in a soulless environment. Lots of glass and reflections; it was difficult to tell the permanent from the transient. I looked round to show Mr Hopper but he'd nipped off to a cafe.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Using people shamelessly

All these lovely guys were drawn in Great Marlborough Street Costa. As I don't tend to populate my scenes (I feel figures ruin the emptiness I like to portray)I haven't bothered with group shots either. Even so, reasons why can often become reasons wont so it was time to move into the group genre. 

The top drawing are of people who were there, totally absorbed and with the environment, conveniently made a good composition.
I drew the guys sharing the headphones because of the 'candid' appeal, trying to draw 2 people together at the same time more than doubles the usual issues.

And lastly, this delightful man, who I drew just because I wanted to.