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1. i am still right here

For everyone feeling like shit today.
A new range of products, lotions and potions that I may, or may not, be bringing out in the future.
Probably not coming to my Etsy shop very soon.

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2. COMING SOON!

Coming soon, to my Etsy shop, limited edition, Wonderful Women Book Bags. Starting with, Nora, the original tattooed lady.

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3. and it all comes back to you

Drawing by Jeeda Barford
Phew! I've just wrapped up my time teaching at Sketchbook Skool for this semester. Thanks to everyone whose taken part in my classes - and been so kind about them! And, hello to everyone who has found my work via the Skool. Plus, a HUGE thanks for all the orders, of books and zines, from my shop. I am wading through them all. Please bear with me, I sign, wrap, package them all myself. And, wasn't expecting quite as many.

Here, in this drawing you can see a) the generosity shown to me by the students and b) some of the things that I talked about on my course, like, drawing room plans, making an illustrated letter and handwriting exercises. 

Big thanks to Jeeda for this lovely drawing. I feel a little embarrassed, and certainly overwhelmed, by the attention. It's quite surreal.

Thank you for having me Sketchbook Skool. It's been a blast!
And, if you'd like to enrol on my course, next time it comes around, you can do so HERE.

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4. have you ever had it blue?

Damn, I'm going to miss this place this year. These are drawings of Clermont Ferrand. They're a kind of mixture of realism and imagination, fact and fiction. I like that place in between both. I have an idea for a small series of these drawings. So, if I will not get to physically visit this year, I will travel there through drawing.

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5. now it's closing time, the music's fading out

Photography by Rod Walton
Now, if you visit this blog regularly, you'll be aware that I do bang on about Dr Sketchy every now and again. Well, not only am I hooked on the whole concept of these alternative life-drawing events, but, I also co-run the Dr Sketchy Sheffield branch, with my partner in crime, Lara Gothique, so, you know, a little banging on is allowed, right? And, to be honest, when we create these kind of amazing events I think we have every right to bang on. They're great!

Drawing by me
The photo, at the top of this post, is of me in action - or, more to the point, is of Tallulah in action. The drawing, above, is the end result. We are so lucky to have a couple of great venues to hold our shows. This one, the Old Clubhouse, Buxton, is a former Victorian genlteman's club. To say that it worked beautifully, as the saloon bar, in our Wild West themed evening last Wednesday, would be an understatement.
Photography by Eric Murphy
I have to say that seeing these images makes me hugely proud of what we achieve; the whole Dr Sketchy Sheffield team, that is. The models, the guys who volunteer their services - in the way of music and photography - just everyone. So, we don't make a penny out of it. But who cares? Success can't always be measured by money, right again??
Drawing by me
Which brings me on to our sketchers. Not only are the photos stunning, but the artwork produced on our evenings is insanely good and so varied too. You can see what I mean in our Facebook Group HERE. Plus, when all the sketchers leave saying they had a great time then that's how you measure success, I reckon.

Photography by Rod Walton
Oh, and making scenes like this, above, happen to.

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6. well my time went so quickly, i went lickety-splickly

 I've just made these really quick sketches whilst watching a series of interviews with Bette Davies. They took a couple of minutes each. It's by doing these fast and furious portraits, from the tv, that I've become comfortable with drawing faces and people. I've made hundreds and hundreds of them over the past few years. They're not amazing. They're not going to set the world alight. But that's not the point. I've learnt so much from doing them, and more than that I really enjoy creating them.

There's another blog post HERE, from two-ish years ago. Back then, it seems, I was still not confident drawing 'real life people'. Which just goes to show how quickly you can build your confidence through practice. Jeez, I'll draw anyone and everyone now - from the big screen to the real life.

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7. cabbages! two for a pound!!

 Books for sale! Books for sale! Andrea's book for sale!!

Excuse me for peddling my wares, but you know, being a freelancer in the creative industry really is as reliable, financially, as it sounds and sometimes you just got to shout about what you do. Usually, when you've just got a couple of big bills in.

Anyway, you can get my book HERE. It is full of drawings, thoughts, sketchbook pages and what have you, from the last eight years of my obsessional drawing.

I'll shut up now. Fangyou very much.

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8. days that used to be

Back to the bookbench. So, after spending all that time doing all the work on the front (a lot more work than I'd anticipated as it just seemed to grow and grow and grow) I had to do it all again on the back.
Now, because I'm terrible at updating (or not updating?) projects, I just leaving them hanging midway like some cliff-hanger and annoyingly you never get to see the final episode, I thought I'd post the end result of my bookbench. Well, this isn't quite the end result, this the penultimate stage. So there's still scope for me to leave him hanging off that cliff.
These two photos, above and below, are a couple of moments that I like. Apologies for the quality of the photos. I took them all on my iPhone and have still not got to grips with the camera.
The drawing on the back of my bookbench was the tidier version of the one at the top of this post. Our girl has interrupted her reading to tidy up - by shoving everything under or behind the sofa.
And so, my bench also came with instructions (below). All the objects that you could see on the front of the bench can been found on the back, tucked under cushions, etc. You've got to search for them. Yes, I really did draw it ALL again. I like to bring that interactive element to drawings. It was what rocked my world, about books and illustrations, when I was a kid.
My bench is now actually out on display, with the 49 others, in London. There is a trail and map so you can go and see them all. Mine is on the Greenwich part of the trail in this churchyard. I've been told that the church backs onto a couple of schools, and they have already planned school visits to the bench. I hope the kids have fun finding all of the objects and stuff and nonsense.
I'll post the final stage soon; which was adding a little colour, and then the most nerve-racking bit of all adding the varnish. Until that point I had no idea how the marker pens would react to hard core varnish/resin. Would all that work bleed once the varnish hit it? Would the whole drawing be ruined? 
DUN DUN DUNNNNN!!!!
 
PS, if anyone is in London, and visits the bookbench, please take a photo of yourself there. I'd love to see it. Send it to me.

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9. i've been waiting for you

Okay, so these may not be the greatest sketchbook pages. They're not going to set the world alight, but, I just needed to shout about the fact that I went to see Neil Young on Sunday!!! Damn, I love that man. He's the most inspirational artist to me. So, we may work in very different fields but how he continues moving on and changing creatively is so very inspiring. I wish I were that brave.

 Above is the inner cover of the little Moleskine sketchbook that I took with me. I drew it as the arena was filling up. And, I drew it over the page where I created THIS VIDEO (the one that shows you how to write your name!). I cannot leave a blank space alone. I just can't stop fiddling.

 I'm often asked about what I do if a page in a sketchbook 'goes wrong'. My answer is usually 'collage', but it's also where a good quote or lyric comes in handy. The page above didn't so much 'go wrong' but the girl I was drawing moved away, just as I got my pens going, so I was left with just a few squiggles. You can see them behind these Neil Young lyrics; behind the top two lines on the right hand page.

 Anyway, you know what? Not every sketchbook page should set the world alight or be all singing and dancing. In my opinion. To me the unremarkable, quiet little pages act as a comma or a pause in a book. Some time for a brief reflection. A page to get your breathe back before you dive back in.

And, the lyrics and quotes; a great place to practice your handwriting. Or better still, make up a whole new kinda handwriting.

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10. Ask Andrea

I am currently beavering away, creating my fourth zine in the 'How To Draw' series. This one is, again, about drawing with the ballpoint pen and I'll be taking a closer look at the colour ballpoint. For the first time, I'll also be including a 'problem page'!

So, if you have any questions about drawing with ballpoint pens please ask away. I'll choose a few that I'll endeavour to answer in the new zine - available at the beginning of August.

I'd better get my socks on!

Previous zines available HERE.

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11. every dune that we fell into left a mark upon us too

Where did June go? Did anyone see where it went? I'm sure it didn't happen this year. It must have been cancelled.
Guys, I'm currently slap bang in the middle of a couple of amazing projects that are happening NOW. Like, right now. Firstly, that fine figure of a man, above, is none other than Danny Gregory. One of my drawing heroes. The guy who created Everyday Matters - which is where I my drawing journey began way back when, eight or nine years ago. I'm rubbish at dates. But anyway, anyway, I can tell you it was quite a moment for me to be asked by Danny to become a teacher at Sketchbook Skool. It felt like coming home.
The new semester starts TODAY! You can see the fabulous new website, and get your place on the course, HERE. I'll see you in class. Make sure you're on your best behaviour!
Then, as if that isn't enough, as if that isn't crazy enough, a couple of days ago my bookbench hit the streets of London. Yes, she has left home, flown the nest, and gone to the big Smoke to try and make her fortune. I just hope she doesn't end up living on a park bench. Oh.
You can see another spanking new website with the whole story about this Books About London project HERE and read all about my bench HERE.
If anyone should visit my bench (it's in Greenwich from July-September) please take a photo of yourself at the bench and send it to me. I'd love to put a little album of them together.
I will be back with actual drawings soon. I do have new stuff to post. I just need the time.
June? Anyone?

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12. the maker makes

A bit of retro here. This is an oldie. It's actually six years old - where did that go?
Anyway, I'm having a clear out of all my old cassettes, so, this too is up for sale.
You can get your hands on it HERE.

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13. inside the artist's head

I found this drawing recently. Well, I found half of this drawing actually. I then finished it off with some added text and added nonsense.
 
It's for sale HERE.

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14. it's a dogs life

Here's a little sketchbook drawing - the likes of which I rarely get the time to make these days.
Sometimes I long for those days when I was just drawing and blogging for fun. But then I remember that I'm making a living (just about) (ish) at it these days and what could be better than that?

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15. How To Write Your Name


Lots of people tell me that when they buy a new sketchbook (especially something like a Moleskine) they get new sketchbook nerves; the fear of the blank sketchbook. I'm quite the opposite. I can hardly wait to get it home before unwrapping it and laying my pen on the paper - that is why I have a hundred unfinished sketchbooks, though.
So, with those of you in mind, and for all of you guys who are starting the new semester of Sketchbook Skool and getting your school bags ready, here's a little video that'll take away the fear. See starting your sketchbook as an exercise too. Hope this helps!

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16. comes a time...

 ...when you just have to stop pissing around, avoiding what needs doing, and buckle down to it.
 This girl, and bench, will be leaving for London VERY soon.
As usual, I've left ALL the work until the last minute, but there's nothing like a deadline to get things moving.
 Anyway, just thought I'd give you a little update on how this project is looking (excuse the poor quality photos).
And the poor quality words too. I've lost the power of speech. Still, just a week of sleepless nights ahead of me and then I'll be back to normal. Whatever that may be.

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17. get out of town, think i'll get out of town

 Here are the two sketchbook spreads that I mentioned in my last post. Both were made whilst in Amsterdam filming for Sketchbook Skool and both were finished when I got back home.

The top drawing is a drawing that I wanted to make when I went to Amsterdam. I guess I wanted to make it before I went out there. I knew that I wanted to get at least one drawing of those old Dutch tall, thin houses along the canal banks. But, that's not all. When I saw this drawing in my mind, this is the style and these are the lines I wanted to achieve. And, that doesn't always happen. Sometimes, I have no idea where the pen will take me.

The second is a sketch I made at Erasmuspark in Amsterdam. I just added colour pencil at home. I shouldn't have bothered with the lettering though.


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18. tulips (drawings) from Amsterdam

Last weekend I had a trip to Amsterdam to film my classes for Sketchbook Skool. I'll be a tutor in the second Semester, which kicks off on July 4th. I was met by the co-founder of the skool Koosje Keone and we spent two full days of filming.
I have to say I was more than a little nervous. I am not a natural in the front of the camera, in fact it's probably one of my biggest fears so if you are signing up to the second semester then please understand!
I really enjoyed the whole project, though. More than I thought I could, which was thanks to Koosje. I think we worked well together and I hope that my videos will be enjoyable, informative and useful, despite my awkwardness.
As well as filming we got to hang out in Koosje's neighbourhood a little. We ate some great food (those guys really know how to eat well) and, of course, we did a little bit of drawing.
I remember, at one point, discussing, with her, some of the other sketchers I'd met over the last few years and saying "some of them are REALLY obsessive, really hardcore sketchers". I then proceeded to make 17 drawings in my short stay! Turns out I might just be a little bit obsessive myself.
Here are thirteen of the sketchbook pages I made. I also did a couple of 'finish at home' jobbies - which I'll post later. And, of course, one drawing that will be revealed at Sketchbook Skool. The other sketch I made was so bad NOBODY will ever be seeing it. Koosje asked what I do if one of my pages goes wrong. I said "collage". Her musician husband, Pascal, said "ah, in music we call it a medley". I liked that quote.
One evening we sat outside a great restaurant, in the sun, where Koosje and Pascal are regulars. I drew the  guy in the cap, below, whom Koosje called 'an old sock' - which is an expression for a young guy person who has an old soul (I guess). Again, I liked that expression and the magpie in me will be flying off with these and storing them for future use.
Koosje also remarked on how quickly I made my sketches. That, again, is something I'd never noticed about my own drawing. And it came as a surprise to hear, as over the past few years I've sat labouring over drawings that take hours and hours and hours. But, she is quite right. It's true.
I've taught myself how to draw really quickly more recently. Yes, I still do my long highly worked up time consuming drawings, but I've also learnt to capture things as they are happening. It's not only a totally new way of drawing for me but it has also opened up a whole new way of seeing the world. I'll tell you how I did that sometime - but that's another film/class/blog post.
So, that was my weekend. I had no idea at the beginning of May that I'd be making this trip so it was an unexpected surprise. I also got an extra day in Amsterdam to wonder around, in the sunshine, drawing whatever took my fancy.
When I look at the drawings I made there it makes me realise how far I have come in the last few years. Just two or three year ago, I'd never have been able to do this stuff. I'd never have drawn people on the plane, in the park, having coffee. But that's what keeping a sketchbook or illustrated journal does. It's not just a place to document your life, but also somewhere to work on your skills and techniques.
 And, just one more observation I made on this trip; if you ever thought that being cabin crew was a glamorous job then you ain't ever been on the weekend stag-party flights from the UK to Amsterdam. Those guys deserve medals.

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19. just saying it could even make it happen

Natalie
Here are a couple of portraits that I made at our last Dr Sketchy Sheffield event 'Get Your Tatts Out'. They are both on A3 paper - which is why it's taken a while to upload them. One day I will get myself an A3 scanner and not have to cart them off to print shops to get them scanned. I'm pretty chuffed with both. I did them very quickly (they were 15 min poses) with marker pens. I did add some extra cross hatching, to Natalie, at home later. But most of the shading was done with a marker pen that's running out of ink - which is currently one of my favourite tools. No decent pencil case should be without a marker pen that's running out of ink! I've told you before; I ain't a pen snob. Anything goes.
Alexis
And, the blog title? Well, to those with discerning taste, you'll know that's a Kate Bush lyric. I've just found out that I'll be going to see her in concert in September! Eeeek, eeek and more eeek. I never believed this would happen; a) she'd ever play live again and b) I'd get tickets.

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20. well, it's so good to be here

Nice of Dexter to come and help paint the bench.

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21. the ladies of the bench

You know when a project takes over your life? Yeah? Well, that's exactly what has happened here.
Here's an update on the Books About Town / Wild In Art book bench project that I am working on. Last time, I posted about it, I had just received this giant open book that has now become part of the furniture in my living room.
Stage 1 was to prime the bench. I wanted a clean white background for my drawing - so a friend came around to help with that. That friend was not Dexter, despite it looking that way from the photo above. We just got over enthusiastic with the dust sheets.
That was the easy bit. Stage 2 is to transfer my drawings, which I originally made on A4 paper (20 x 30cm ish) onto the bench. It's not just enlarging the drawing, to such a scale, that's difficult. No. It's that the bench is not a flat piece of paper. Working the drawing around all the curves is tricky. But, I've started.
And, I did so whilst watching back to back Columbo over this Easter weekend.
Many people have said that this must be a daunting task. People often talk about the fear of drawing in a new sketchbook. The fear of the blank page. And, this is such a large blank page. But, I've never had the issue. In fact, I'm quite the opposite I love starting a new sketchbook with all the possibilities that brings. Procrastination is my issue.
So, I'm pleased that I've got going, whilst being watched over, and inspired by, my ladies over the bench; the Lady of Shalott; my teenage self; and, of course, Sue Townsend whose recent death has made choosing her Adrian Mole book as my theme for the bench even more poignant.
It also fills me with pride to be honoured to pay tribute to her, and Adrian, in this way.
You can read about how I got involved in this project HERE. I'll see you soon with some drawings, I hope. Although this has taken over my life. And my living room.although

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22. the kiss

Here's a drawing that I made on a pubcrawl sketchcrawl that we, at Sketchcrawl North, did last year. I made it in my large Moleskine - the kind that has an A3 size double page spread. Increasingly, I've found that I really enjoy drawing on a bigger scale. Maybe it's a reaction to all those years of drawing tiny things in tiny books. I don't know. But, this is a biggie for me. Unfortunately, I don't have a scanner that can take this size page which is why it's taken so long to post it.

It's a drawing of a pub in Sheffield, called Fagans (obviously), that has this beautiful, and very British, mural by Sheff's own Pete McKee. I've wanted to draw this for ages and last November I braved the cold and finally did it. Now that I see it on screen I realise that it needs something more. I know exactly what it is it needs, so it may just get a bit more AJ treatment. In fact, it definitely WILL.

So, here's Part One. More to come.

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23. cover me with the thought that i pulled the trigger

Above is a new poster that I've created for the Buxton Fringe Festival. I've had this love of poster art for many a year, and creating my own, for our Dr Sketchys (amongst other events) is just one of my favourite things to do.

Some of the artists I adore the most are those who making posters way back when; Toulouse Lautrec, Mucha are just Gods to me. with that in mind, I had this idea of making a series of posters where I pay homage to these heroes of mine. Obviously there's no improving on their works, but just perhaps, doing my own cover version. So I started with this beauty, below, Le Frou Frou by Lucien Henri Weiluc. Damn, it's gorgeous.


You can see more of my poster artwork HERE.

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24. cupid stunts

On Saturday night I went to sketch a Vaudeville extravaganza in the gorgeous Art Deco Library Theatre in Sheffield, called 'The Velvet Burlesque presents Cupid Stunts'. The show was all down to the sheer hard work and creativity of my Dr Sketchy partner, Burlesque teacher and performer, Lara Gothique.

I sketched the whole show, from beginning to end.
I sketched from before the doors opened...
 To the audience members arriving...
Some of them dressed to the nines...
 I sketched all the amazing acts. From fabulous Burlesque...
to a Victorian strongman.
And, I also sketched all those unexpected moments, that didn't go quite to plan, in between... 
 Plus, I sketched the audience's reaction to those moments...
 
I've wanted to sketch a whole show like this for a while. It's fast furious drawing. These are just a fraction of the sketches I made. Not bad for, basically, drawing in the dark.
 
Next time I'd like to venture backstage and draw the build up to the show too. Really get amongst the sequins and feathers. What do you think, Lara?

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25. fruit tree, fruit tree

So here's another thing I have on this month; I am exhibiting, as part of the Derbyshire Open Arts weekend, on the 24th-26th, at Pear Tree CafĂ© in Whaley Bridge. That's if I have anything to put on the walls. I've never had so much work on. I'm not complaining. I just can't quite keep up.
I'm off to Amsterdam shortly to film my classes for next semester's Sketchbook Skool. And then there's the little issue of the MASSIVE book/bench, in my living room, that I have to start, I mean finish, by the end of this month. That'll then be making it's way down to the streets of London ready for the Books About Town trail which begins in July. 
 I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. Coffee! Please!! Make mine a quadruple espresso.

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