Saturday 21 March 2015

Partial Eclipse of the mist

 Yesterday, Britain experienced a partial eclipse of the sun. Well, I say "experienced", but it was something of a damp squib, really, where I was.

I went up onto the hills, thinking that - should the mist clear - it might be a good vew point. It was... for sketching hills shrouded in mist...

I only knew when the partial eclipse was happening because I looked at my watch. There weren't any other signs that I was aware of)..

Tuesday 17 March 2015

The Guildhall Steps

As lunchtime approaches, the steps of Portsmouth's Guildhall seem to get more popular. These people didn't sit as still as Charlie, but they were a sight easier to capture than the brisk, busy, pedestrians and riders of mobility scooters who were gone almost before I'd scribbled a head or a leg...
The first three sketches were done with the Rotring ArtPen. I then retreated to the car (parked by the Guildhall) and switched to mechanical pencil for this slightly larger sketch:


Statue of Charles Dickens outside Portsmouth Guildhall. The author was born in the city. My drawing: Rotring ArtPen in A6 book.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Portmouth Historic Dockyards

HMS Warrior with the Spinnaker tower hinted at behind it
I took my children to Portsmouth today, and we visited the Historic Dockyards. There was a great deal to see, learn, and sketch there - I am delighted that our ticket is valid for a whole year!

All sketches are ~A6 and are done in ink, usng either the Rotring ArtPen (black ink) or the Japanese calligraphy pen (indigo ink).

I did a lot of speed sketching, especially on the Harbour tour (by catamaran), which had the advantage, on this chilly day, of being undercover and warm...

The following is a selection from my sketchbook.

The "Lipstick", sketched during the boat's stop at Gunwharf Quays

Three small sketches of leisure craft in Portsmouth Harbour, from the Harbour Tour boat

Children cannot resist the lure of the screen... in the Mary Rose museum

Some of the Mary Rose's preserved timbers

Some of the Mary Rose's visitors, near the end of the route through the museum

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Preparatory Sketch - Clasp

This sketch is an idea for a painting. I have, in fact, started work on the painting, which is to be an acrylic on 40 x 40 cm box canvas.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Back so soon? The Devil's Den and Fyfield Down, in company

The Den, in Conté, on orange paper
Wiltshire was calling me, and I paid it heed...

Today, I went back to the Devil's  Den, this time with my friend, Rose.The weather was much kinder today, and we both got quite a few sketches made. We started at the Den itself, and then walked around and through the "Grey Wethers" sarsen fields.

The Den, from the same position, in Indigo ink
My first two sketches were made while I sat on the ground. I wanted a low viewpoint to emphasise the drama of the monument against the sky. By the time that I had completed two sketches, my legs were going to sleep, so I thought it best to stand up and find another viewpoint:
The Den, from the side, in oil pastel
Early sightings of the sarsen field were impressive:

 Fyfield Down, Conté
... as were the rolling downs themselves.

Line drawing (walk-and-draw), Uniball

Wednesday 4 March 2015

The Devil's Den, Fyfield Down, Wiltshire

The weather was very changeable on Fyfield Down yesterday. One moment the sky was blue and the light was sharply unreal; the next, it was dull and raining. Or hailing.

It might not have been ideal conditions for paper, let alone the preponderance of watersoluble media that I had with me... the first sketch (top left), in Graphitint (tinted water-soluble graphite pencils) was effectively rained-off. I went to shelter in the lee of the dolmen, and drew the second sketch from there, also in Graphitint. I added ink lines to both sketches from the shelter of the stones.

Then the weather cleared and I thought I would try a watercolour. It rained. The results (including the effect of closing the front cover of the book on the soggy painting) are shown below left.

I added more watercolour and acrylic ink at home (above right), but I'm not really all that happy with it - not least because of the "more watercolour" bit. Watercolour is a medium in which less is more, and overworking it is generally a recipe for disaster!

I did try watercolour again today, from a photograph that I took yesterday.

Edit (April 2018) -
See also:

Sunday 1 March 2015

What Takes a Sketch? - Expeditions

The minimal kit and the little extras are the sort of thing that get carried around on a day-to-day basis, just in case an opportunity arises. This post looks at the equipment that I might take on a sketching expedition, with an emphasis on how it's carried.

In general, I wouldn't use an easel for the sort of sketching I tend to do outdoors. Setting up the easel (for all it's called a sketching easel) just seems too long-winded and too much like doing a proper painting. So I don't go much bigger than A3 - which is close to the limit of what I can hold in my arms.


The Pencil Bag

This is a dedicated piece of luggage, sold for the purpose of carrying lots of pencils - and a few other bits and pieces - by Derwent. Because the pencils are held in elastic loops on organiser panels within the bag, it is easier to locate the pencil you want than it would be if they were all loose in a standard pencil case.

It's not big enough for an A4 book, but A5 fits with space to spare. A 12 x 9" pad fits beautifully; I have a watercolour pad in there at the moment. I often pop my little watercolour set into the body of the bag; it hasn't fallen out and got lost yet.

As to the pencils - well, I have quite a variety in there. There's the full range of Derwent Drawing colours; a selection of Coloursoft; some tinted charcoal and some pastel pencils; a collection of watercolour pencils and a few random extras.

The A4 satchel

This is a bag that I bought in the sale from Sports Direct. It is just big enough for an A4 sketchbook and has a number of useful pockets. It's nice to have a shoulder bag that you can dip into to pluck out sketching materials as required.
And what sketching materials might I take out in this bag? Whatever fits - the "little extras" often go in.

Big Sketching

Big sketches need big sketch pads need big bags. I tend to use a rucksack; the bulk is then safely out of the way when I'm  not drawing. The "little extras" often get employed here, too.

Note: The drawings in this post were mainly drawn from memory and/or imagination (apart from the boots). They were all drawn in liquid ink rollerball on squared paper.

Predictable Use of Highlighter

These drawings were made on the move - walking, not cycling! - during a short family walk/cycle. They are mainly done (in my current A6 book) using liquid ink rollerball pens; the orange of my son's hi-vis vest was added at home with a highlighter.

The sketch opposite my cycling son is a fairly impressionistic version of the "tree-tunnel" footpath that we were following at one point.