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1. A Ghostly Presence amongst the Fire Engines..?



On Sunday, we had another Urban Sketchers Yorkshire day out. This time we spent it in a slightly spooky building which was once Sheffield's Victorian Police and Fire Station, although these days it's the National Emergency Services Museum


Apparently it's the largest volunteer-run museum in the UK. Fancy that. I also didn't realise that it has several resident ghosts. 


I'm not surprised, to be honest: those Victorian police cells in particular really looked the part. While I was sitting sketching, I kept waiting for a ghostly tap on the shoulder, but the spirits in question are obviously not art-lovers.


The upstairs rooms of museum are stuffed with all sorts of paraphernalia, big and small, but I found myself mostly drawn to the vintage vehicles downstairs. I don't know why: I am rubbish at drawing cars. I had two cracks at the American fire engine below, but got a bit frustrated with my inability to judge the various wheel ellipses. My problem is that I don't like to do pencil prelims - I just want to go for it. I think it's the challenge of that which excites me.  Except, there are some things which are totally unforgiving of errors - tyres amongst them!


During the first couple of hours at the museum, sketchers arrived from different places in dribs and drabs, until we were about 20. The only drawback to that is that, as each person arrived, they came to say hello, so I ended up doing a lot more talking than sketching before lunch. It was very sociable though. 


I was most pleased with my last sketch of the day: the one at the top. I squeezed it in, right at the end of the afternoon. I went out into the yard and decided that was the cutest of the old fire-engines. I just finished it off in time and had to hold my sketchbook open all the way to the pub, to wait for the paint to dry off.



As usual, it was fun looking through the sketchbooks. Not everyone made it to the pub, but we still had to pull two tables together to fit us all round. Then I stood on a chair to attempt a panorama shot, to fit all the books in. Not 100% successful to coordinate, but the source of much amusement.

Gold star to Andrea Joseph, for being the only person STILL sketching:



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2. the ghosts of night, the dreams of day

Had a lovely day yesterday, drawing for the love of drawing rather than for work. I always love catching up with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire, my sketchcrawling buddies, too. We spent the day at the National Emergency Vehicles Museum in Sheffield. It was right up my tree. Loved the subject matter. I could spend another day, or ten, there. And, maybe even a night; apparently there are many ghosts in this former police and fire station. If you believe in that sort of thing, of course. I don't but I'm willing to have my mind changed.

 There was a very specific colour scheme too. Reds, blacks and a little yellow were the colours of the day. I managed to not take seventeen pencils cases, which is an achievement for me, and narrowed it down to just the three sketchbooks. I always try to take some tools that I wouldn't normally draw with at home. I try and play a bit more on sketchcrawls. It feels like the right place to do that as you often encounter subject matter you wouldn't normally choose to draw. The red Bingo dabber was an inspired choice of pens.

 Here's something I've noticed during October, as I'm participating in Go Sober For October, I do a lot more with my weekends. It's much easier when you're not factoring in a 'big night' or a hangover. That's just another benefit to being sober; doing more stuff with your time. Just look at how my blogging has increased in the last month!

 The museum holds a vast range of fire service related memorabilia that had previously been sitting in attics and local fire stations all over the county and amongst the exhibits were prisoner files from the last century. I found these the most fascinating of all, and below are my drawings of some of the mugshots from around the 1940s. It's funny how just by drawing somebody, spending that time studying someone, you can feel a real connection with them. I don't just want to now more about the faces I drew, I feel an empathy, sympathy, for them. Protective towards them even, like I knew them. I guess what I'm trying to say was that I was touched by them. Maybe I do believe in ghosts.




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3. Trip to Romania Part 2: The Carpathian Mountains and Piatra Neamt

Sketch of the Museum of History and Archaeology in the city of Piatra Neamt.
More from the Romania trip!

Piatra Neamt: We loved this city so much, we stayed for 2 nights at the Grand Hotel Ceahlau and took a lot of time to sketch. They have the cutest gondola up to the top of the mountain.

Recently restored fortress that was much more vertical than the sketch suggests in order to defend from the Turks.
Sketch of the Carpathian mountains before a hike on September 7th.

Picture on location from the porch at our little pension. I sketched during breakfast.
Just call me Indiana Wald! Hiking over a safe but rickety looking bridge in the Carpathians

I was sad not to see any brown bears in the mountains. We did see their scat though…

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4. Memory-Walk in the Rother Valley


Yesterday, John and I took part in a charity walk, in aid of Alzheimer's, the horrible disease which stole my dad from me, almost exactly a year ago (and John's too, a few years back).


The forecast was iffy (it's Sheffield after all), so we carried rain gear and big coats, but in the end it was a gloriously sunny day. Maybe that's why an extra 1000 people turned up, so that over 3000 of us set off together, not to mention a varied assortment of kids and dogs (some dogs also wore the T-shirts: very funny, wish I'd got a picture).



The Rother Valley Country Park is a series of lakes, old gravel pits I think, now alive with ducks and swans and geese, so it was a really pretty walk. I took my sketchbook of course. Because we were so many, we were walking pretty slowly at the beginning, so I was able to draw while I was still on the go. Look what was posted to my Facebook page that evening:


Hee hee! Here is the sketch. I managed to add the watercolour while I was walking too, though I confess that I copped out and did the text afterwards:


This shows you what I was trying to capture:



It took a two and a half hours to complete the circuit. When we crossed the finishing line, John and I took a selfie to celebrate:


There was a memory tree, where you could post a message about the person you were dedicating your walk to:


I have managed to raise a little over £400 so far. My goal was £500, so I am doing pretty well, but if anyone would like to help me reach the £500, it's not too late and any donations would be absolutely lovely! Just click here. Thank you so much to everybody who has already supported me - I really appreciate it. 

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5. A Peek into the Sketchbook: Mail Art & Birds

I can't believe that it's been less than two months since I moved to the UK ... so much has been squeezed into that small amount of time that I'm still in a bit of a daze. But the good news is, of course, that I'm finally back on the internet.

Have tons of catching up to do but it will have to fit into the cracks between my college artwork. And I haven't been completely idle creatively either, despite 'real life' competing for my attention lately. Here's a glimpse into what I've been doing - tons of research and a few sketches for an upcoming class project. First though, here's the art-space I've set up for myself in our new, temporary home:

 

Sketchbook-1-by-Floating-Lemons

 

And a glimpse into the pages of a new sketchbook:

 

 

Sketchbook-2-by-Floating-Lemons
Sketchbook-3-by-Floating-Lemons
Sketchbook-4-by-Floating-Lemons
Sketchbook-5-by-Floating-Lemons

Sketchbook-6-by-Floating-Lemons

 

Different mediums, styles, cutting, collaging - lots of lovely experimentation going on. Birds (I'm developing a particular fascination with ravens and crows) and mail art. I've also been pinning for inspiration so if you'd like to have a look, check out my Pinterest Boards, Art: Mail Art, Art: Crows & Ravens, and Art: Birds. Have fun.

Wishing you a week full of flights of fancy. Cheers.

 

 

 

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6. and i say, it's alright

I always think that as long as I come away from a day trip or sketchcrawl or Dr Sketchy or any sort of drawing event or opportunity with one 'good' drawing, or, at least, one drawing that I like, then I'm happy with that. That's all I ask for. Just a memento of the day.
 By the time I was leaving London last week I still had nothing, apart from a few prosaic, pretty average drawings of people on the train there, and it was getting dark. I'd gone to the city with a drawing in mind. There's a sculpture I wanted to see and I'd packed the yellow and orange pens especially for it. But, our time there went so quickly that I didn't even get to see or draw it. But, that's okay, that's another trip
 .I didn't want to leave though, not without something, a souvenir, to take home. So, just before I caught my train back, I dived into a café on the corner of Tottenham Court Road for a cuppa and a draw.
 I missed my next train home. So, I had an extra hour to spend drawing the souvenir shop on the opposite corner. I got another cuppa.
 Is it a 'good' drawing? Do I like it? Not really. It's alright. Ish. But, I feel like that about a lot of my work. I need to close the book and put it away for a while. I almost always feel differently with time between it. Who knows, I might even like my souvenir from London in a few months time. Right now I doubt it, but you never know.
 And here's a couple of prosaic, pretty average sketches of people on the train...

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7. inky

I'm working on a couple of things these days, but warming up in my sketchbook has become a good habit. I have a 30 min painting a day booklet, and a different one where I've been experimenting with wash and line for "Inktober".
Here are a couple of my favorites. If you want to see more daily sketches, you can follow me on Instagram


Have a nice weekend friends, I'm off to clean up my studio and frost a cake, my parents are coming to town!

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8. Checkerberry Tea

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9. it's just everything i do, we did together

Today's journal. I'm glad I didn't discuss my love of typography, but, got down to the nitty-gritty instead. I think it's important that I did that:

'I started this drawing on day one of my Go Sober For October challenge and did a bit more last night (day two). I had originally intended to discuss why 'd kept these specific wine bottles and my love of typography, fonts and lettering especially French stuff and the Art Nouveau period. But, I'm finishing this drawing on day three of my sobriety, which also happens to be a Friday night. And, twice I've had a wobble. The first time was around tea time, approaching wine-time, when all I wanted to do was drive up to Lil'Sainsburys (the same old routine) and get some wine. I didn't. And again, now. Again, I'm having a wobble. It's a Friday night. I should be drunk. My friend's are drunk. People on Facebook are drunk. And I'm not. And, I'm not going to lie, I'm not only jealous, I'm angry. I'm annoyed.'

Please sponsor my sobriety here; https://www.gosober.org.uk/profile/andreajoseph

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10. Island-Hopping with a Sketchbook




Okay, I promise, I'll stop banging on about Brazil soon. But, the thing is, I haven't even mentioned the boat trip (what on earth is going on with my knees below..?):


It was Brenda's idea - she's the kind of person who gets things done. She organised us all, then pep-talked us into it again, when we saw the cloudy weather that morning and started to dither. Here she is, in the red, as we make our way to the pier and the little boat we hired. Well done Brenda!


Because it was a wonderful idea. Despite the lack of sunshine, it was still warm enough to sit up on the top of the boat and sketch together, as beautiful scenery glided by. 


The sea was peppered with pointy islands. It was incredibly restful. 


We anchored just a small way from a tropical island and the more gung-ho members of the party jumped off the boat. A few of us swum all the way to the island. Then our captain rowed the others across to join us. We saw blue butterflies the size of your hand and bright red crabs scuttling on the rocks. A spotty fish came to investigate my toes... Bliss.


The next island we visited had a little bar cum cafe - we didn't swim to this one, but were ferried in shifts in the dingy, so I was able to take a sketchbook. 


I had an odd but delicious sandwich, deep-fried (!), then sat next to my mate from New York, Mark Leibowitz, drawing the view with the boat, above.


The sandwich lady had two little dogs which sat doe-eyed beside each of us in turn (you can see Mark studiously ignoring their pleas). I think it was Brenda who turned out to be the soft-touch (I gobbled mine down - no sharing!). 


We started back shortly after that, because the weather was getting worse. Instead of idling along, we picked up the pace, so it started to get chilly. 

Undeterred we sketched on: 


We piled on what little clothes we had with us (which is why, once again, I donned my fetching bag-lady look):


I was sketching in two different books, both home-made. One from ages ago, my first foray into sketchbook binding, but also one of the concertina books I made not long ago. It was perfect for folding out so I could draw bigger (although I had to hang on to it tight, once the boat really got going):


We made it back to shore before it rained and, as soon as we were stationary, it wasn't even that cold.


We found time on our walk back to do a quick throw-down of the sketchbooks, to get a proper look at what everyone had done:


I hope you appreciate how brave I am being in putting up that photo - what DO I look like? The pink T-shirt was meant for swimming, in case the sun was out: even I wouldn't deliberately match pink and orange!

We had a lovely time and, just like in Rio, it was great to spend several hours with a small group of friends, sketching together, getting to know one-another better and sharing a special experience. Thanks again Brenda. Good one.

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11. Bespectacled

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12. Urban Sketchers Do Battle with Sugarloaf Mountain!


I was telling you about my trip to Rio...

The weather forecast for my first full day in the city was really good, so we decided to go up Sugarloaf Mountain and spend the day sketching the views (and goodness gracious - there were views!): 


I worked mostly in the watercolour Moleskin I'd started in Paraty, but thought it might also be fun to record a narrative of the day on the other side of the little A6, Laloran concertina book we were given at the symposium (I used the other side for Richard Alomar's sketch-walk). 

I began as our little group were waiting for the taxi outside our hotel - as you can see, my friend and fellow correspondent Suhita Shirodkar was already sketching. On the way, I recorded the taxi driver and some of the things I saw on the journey, including our first sight of the mountain:


The couple I've sketched far left are correspondent Marc Holmes and his wife Laurel, who we met the cable car, ready to embark on another adventure. Liz Steel is taking the photo here and that's see Shiho Nakaza, another correspondent, next to me and Esther Semmens, a fellow Brit ,far right:


I did my best to draw the unfolding view through with my trusty Sailor fountain pen, as we were travelling up in the cable car. I had to be speedy! Once we had disembarked at the first level, I was able to finish it off, by drawing the bay and adding some quick colour. Then an obliging helicopter took off from right below me:


We all wandered around trying to take in the view and work out what on earth to do with such a lot of information! I found it very challenging: how could I squeeze all those mountains into a tiny Moleskin? Then there was the even trickier issue of how you ‘code’ so many shoulder-to-shoulder high-rises and the sprawling mass of favellas, trailing towards infinity along every valley. One of our group summed it up: ‘It’s like someone spilled their Lego out over everything’.


I did the sketch at the top first, but was unhappy with the way the format flattened out the view, so I experimented with using my book at different angles, to better capture the drama, first diagonally (you're going to have to tilt your head to one side for the one above, I'm afraid), to get in the section of mountain we still had to climb, then turning it vertically, to try and capture the view down to Guanabara Bay, full of little boats. 


The turquoise splatter is deliberate by the way: I was trying to add perspective and pull the front forwards. I'm not sure if it works - I rather like it but John's not keen.

It was truly exhilarating, painting alongside the others, all of us focussed so intensely on this one, very challenging task. It created a shared dynamism, a kind of urgency to get it all down, again and again. Such a buzz!


I recorded us sketching in the concertina book of course. We had been joined by yet another correspondent, Omar Jaramillo. In my sketch below, he's the one in the middle between Shiho and Esther (but you can also spot him in the photo above):


After all that work, we figured we deserved a spot of lunch and I ordered a big glass of gorgeous, fresh watermelon juice to cool down. As we were getting the bill, a little group of marmosets climbed out of the trees and started foraging for scraps at the tables:


Then it was time to take the next cable car, up to the very top. Yahoo! Again, I sketched through the window, this time with my Super5 fountain pen (another lovely freebie from the symposium). As before, when we arrived, I carried the vista on across the book. It was an extraordinary view...


...and again, so vast that I could only capture one small section:


We had time for one more sketch before the weather began to turn. I did the one below. I had been really inspired, watching Liz Steel painting beside me, so did my best in watercolour alone:


Then we took a group photo. That's Omar on far right, Liz Steel below Marc and also Brazilian sketcher, Claudia Jarjoura, far left:


By this point, having sketched in the same place together all day, we felt really bonded as a group: a band of sketchers! 

As you can see, a cloud descended on us shortly after that photo, completely obscuring the view, so it was time to take the cable car back down (love the bag-lady look, don't you?):


We were so lucky to have such a long clear spell to do our sketching. During the next two day that I was in Rio, the weather was never clear and bright like that again. 

It had been a wonderful day. Working with such a close-knit group was truly something special. Thank you guys - you're the best and I miss you all terribly!

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13. push it along push it along

If last month I was spending all of my time drawing in pubs, this month I seem to have been spending it all drawing on trains. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of public transport. Firstly, I love driving, but, more than that, I don't like being stuck in a confined space with the general public. It's one of my 'things'.

But, necessity dictates and, as I've been back and fore to London and Sheffield all month, I've found myself being stuck in confined spaces with the general public. A lot.

It has, however, given me time to draw the general public. It's not the easiest way to draw. And, you have to hope they'll fall asleep - which they usually do - because they don't always tend to like being drawn. But there really is nothing else of interest, subject wise, on trains, I find. I've made a hundred, or more, sketches, over the last month. Mostly of people sleeping. I've actually enjoyed having that time, with nothing else to do but sketch.

Above, is a drawing of a friend who had no hang ups about being drawn. The two below are a couple of my favourite sketches out of a bunch of pretty bland stuff.
 


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14. One Adventure Ends, as Another Begins...


Sadly, the 5th Usk symposium had to come to an end eventually (sigh), but we went out with a bang. After Saturday afternoon's sketchcrawl...


...I had a wash and brush up, ready for the evening's party. It was another really late one for those of us who just didn't want it to end, as well as for the Brazilian organisers, like Eduardo and Fernanda, who were just so relieved that it had all gone so well and could finally relax. We danced the night away!


And then people began drifting off home. So many goodbyes! On Sunday, I felt quite melancholy as I sat alone, painting this picture:


But, I needn't have worried: it was only a pause in the action. 

The next morning, I packed up my gear and left Paraty (although those stones did their level best to stop me):


But I wasn't headed home just yet. I got a bus (an extremely comfortable bus, as it happens) bound for Rio, with my sketch-buddies Liz, Esther and Suhita. It took over 4 hours, but we chatted the time away to nothing.


When we got there, we quickly checked into our hotel and then immediately got ourselves back out, on a mission to meet up with a few more sketches who'd arrived the day before.


The others were already set up and sketching, right in the city centre. There was just enough light left for one street sketch, surrounded by bustle and noise and cars and buses and traffic police... and mosquitoes, who immediately set about my exposed ankles. You can just spot me in the photo below, doing the drawing above, if you look carefully:


Then we hit a very posh cafe lined with MASSIVE mirrors. I copped out a little, by not attempting to capture the reflections of reflections of reflections:


We ate and sketched, until finally even I began to wilt.


But after a night's sleep, we were ready to start all over again. We met up with even more sketchers and embarked on an extraordinary day of sketching high up in the air, on Sugarloaf Mountain. But that's another story...

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15. I visited a children’s book conference in the North of...















I visited a children’s book conference in the North of Michigan this past weekend and spent most of it sketching and listening. I’m not going to review the conference, but I’ve posted a few of the sketches I did (mostly of speakers but some audience members). You can also see the layout of my portfolio things which were on display during the weekend.

I really should mention though, that I did really enjoy painting in a butterfly garden (the watercolour & ink above) and getting to know a few really awesome people. 















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16. Tonight, we eat like kings!

squirrel-football-4501

Autumn! My favorite time of the year!

I’m not exactly what you would call a football fan, although I’m trying this year. And by trying I mean learning what a down is… yeah, I’m that behind.

I am, however, very excited about by the prospect of cooler temps and therefore many forays into the kitchen to attack new recipes.

Oh, and Halloween! Did I mention Halloween?


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17. Tonight, we eat like kings!

squirrel-football-4501

Autumn! My favorite time of the year!

I’m not exactly what you would call a football fan, although I’m trying this year. And by trying I mean learning what a down is… yeah, I’m that behind.

I am, however, very excited by the prospect of cooler temps and therefore many forays into the kitchen to attack new recipes.

Oh, and Halloween! Did I mention Halloween?


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18. Trip to Romania: Part I

Red line shows our itinerary...
I just got back from a 2 week trip to Romania with my friend Ioana who is working on a plant field guide to the country. So much fun touring the country and seeing castles, churches, villages and fortresses.

It was a whirlwind! We were on the road a lot so we could see as much as possible. But, in the short time, it was just tastes of different regions. 

We first went to Romania in 1998 to be in George and Ioana's wedding. The country has done a 180 since then and is growing in leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, the guys could not join us this visit.

We did not get to revisit the seaside town of Constanta or the Dacian ruins, but next time...

Our first stop was Brasov and OF COURSE Castle Bran in Transylvania. We did not see Bran last time since I had to pick one castle to visit and that was Peles. So this time, we made sure to cover it.

Brasov is an amazing town. I hope to go back and sketch more! We only got a little taste of the city.

The Brasov town square

While I sketched this, they were giving a free opera concert. It seemed to cover a lot of the greatest hits and was a bit of a sampler platter of songs.

A peacock is a good image in Brasov. It is a proud and beautiful city.


Did you think I would not sketch it?

Queen Marie's Chapel we thought... Gorgeous with all the moss...
Me, walking up to the castle...
If you are curious and want to know more, watch this amazing series about Romania called Wild Carpathia. They go to a lot of the places Ioana and I went to and talks about how they are trying to conserve the largest areas of virgin forest in Europe.

http://youtu.be/jvDIpOPlWJ8

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19. Ants In My Pants!

ant in pants final 450

EXCUSE ME, BUT I DO BELIEVE AN ANT’S IN MY PANTS!

There is an excellent chance that a situation such as this could cause a wee bit of anxiety and might even make a person feel, ahem, well… darn right antsy.

So one must remember to remain calm. You see, the attention span of an ant is quite short so feigning nonchalance is best. In roughly 10 to 15 minutes the novelty of wearing  your jeans will have warn off. The bored ant will soon run along to find spilt milk or some sugar to walk through.

Possession of your pants and your sanity, regained!

Maybe.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Reworked an old bit of silliness in honor of the ant trails now taking over our home. They might as well be giant, as intrusive as they are.

Oh well, at least the flies (Amityville Horror) are gone.

Bugs, eh? So rude!


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20. Tokyo Sketchbook Part 2

Here are some more pages from my sketchbook in Tokyo this summer. I already posted this selection on Facebook, so apologies to my friends who've already seen them!


 








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21. Hot Chicks!

Hot chicks new2 450So, I think I can safely say that today, I was one hot chick!

Anything over 75 degrees is too hot for me. So let’s just say today’s weather topping off at 109 really ruffled my feathers!

I don’t want to count my chickens before they’re hatched, but IS IT FALL YET?!!


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22. Photo





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23. No Teeth but an Eye for Art


I spent last Sunday painting in Sheffield with my Urban Sketchers Yorkshire chums. I ought to say right up front that, as far as I am aware, they all have plenty of teeth. It was our unexpected companions for the first draw of the day, in Fitzalan Square, who were dentally-challenged. I was warned that the area was wino-land, but I wanted to have a go at sketching the old, disused Post Office building:


To be fair, all three of the men were friendly, possibly too friendly. I was forcefully engaged in a very hands-on critique session with a man with matted dredlocks, beer-breath and, for some reason, wearing a paper hula-garland. I'd just finished the painting of the Post Office and the sketch was very wet. My new friend kept poking it, pointing out places in the sky where I should add in some birds, while I, in typical British style, tried subtly to wrest the sketchbook from him, without seeming rude.


We moved round the corner for sketch number two and left our companions behind. I loved this view from the traffic island, looking across the road to the tram stop. I was surprised though, it being Sunday, how many trams came through. And they stopped for annoyingly long periods, entirely blotting out my view. As soon as one going downhill had moved on, another coming uphill would arrive. I spent an hour doing the painting, but was only actually painting for 30 minutes, gritting my teeth and muttering for the other 30.


It was quite chilly (oh to be back in Brazil...), so we were all grateful for a lunch break at Zooby's cafe in the Winter Gardens. I was looking forward to a nice, hot coffee, but it was then that I discovered I had left my purse at home. There was an outside chance I had remembered it, but had it stolen, so I texted John at home and asked him to check. Being the sweetie that he is, he came all the way into town to bring it for me, so I wouldn't have to go without lunch.

For the next sketch-site we sat outside the Crucible Theatre. I was interested in the jumble of spires over this lovely old building:


It was getting pretty cold though. Various people peeled off. The remaining knot of us decided to go the the pub to draw and walked down to The Sheffield Tap at the station. It's an amazing pub. We've been sketching there before. It has one room with a really high-ceilinged and lovely, Victorian tiles, not to mention the massive mirrors, and the chandeliers, as well as all the shiny, copper, micro-brewing kit on display. You can even watch trains out of the windows - a visual feast.


I was experimenting with paint, trying to keep things wet and loose: lots of water and not too many colours - stuff I learned from sketching alongside people like Liz Steel in Paraty. No pre-drawing, no line at all. Quite a challenge, but I was pleased with the results, which seemed to conjure the atmosphere. 

We stayed quite a while in the pub (only drinking tea, honest...), sketching until nearly 5 o'clock so, when it came to the sharing at the end, we were whittled down to just 4 of us. I think we had at least 12 at lunch.


It was another fun day and actually dry for once. All that concentration takes it out of you though - by the time I got home, I was exhausted. 

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24. Travel Madness

It has been a CRAZY summer! I am REALLY behind on posting here.

I went to Portland in July for ICON the illustration conference and just got back from 2 weeks in Romania. I am now digging out from under a TON of work.

So, enjoy these ICON and Portland sketches.

ICON was a great time. I met a lot of cool artists and got to visit LAIKA studios.

I do wish they had a set up that involved smaller groups rather than a lecture hall for all the presentations one after the other. I know there are a lot of challenges putting up an event like this, but there was an impersonal, lecture hall freshmen 101 feeling to it that would have probably been helped by everyone picking 3 or 4 smaller sessions a day to see.

It would have also been less overwhelming.

The speakers were very good for the most part; there was just a fatigue that set in when you watched so many in a day.

The workshops were set up more in that way and were excellent.

More soon!





Chinese Gardens









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25. Tales from the Lead-Up to the Symposium


Today is my last day in the studio for nearly 2 weeks: I am off on a book-tour trip to Spain. There is so much exciting stuff happening at the moment! I will of course tell you all about that when I get back but, in the meantime, I still have plenty to tell you about my extraordinary time in Brazil.

The historical centre of Paraty, where this year's Usk Symposium was based, was a lovely, calm place and very pretty, so perfect for sketching. 


There was quite a lot of variety to draw too. I had a full day to get my bearings before the symposium, so I decided to use one of the concertina sketchbooks I made recently to record my day and what I could see as I walked around.

 

You can see the first couple of sections more clearly - the sketches of the church and the vultures - in my first symposium post. That was my morning, pottering around, sitting down beside other sketchers, or wherever caught my interest. 

At lunchtime, we found a brilliant little self-service place, where you paid by the weight of food eaten - a rather novel and very handy idea. We ate there almost every day and more and more sketchers joined us each time until, on the last day, you couldn't move for urban sketchers:


In the afternoon, I sat on a doorstep to draw this wonderful church across the Praca da Matriz, half-obscured by trees dripping with vines and covered in epiphytes. Unfortunately for me, the woman in the house behind me was doing her cleaning... 


I was suddenly enveloped in a cloud of dust and muck that she swept through a gap under her front door. Bits in my eyes, bits in my mouth... it also filled my paint palette. And then, just a few minutes later, I was sprayed with water from a passing van's windscreen washer. A rather eventful half hour! 


There were quite a few work-horses in Paraty. Some were pulling carts, but this one was for tourists, with a trap. He was unsure of me, because of the eye-flaps, which meant he could hear and smell me, but not see what I was up to, so I tried to be as quick as I could. 


In the evening we did 'drink and draw' sessions, first in a little bar and then at a restaurant. These are a regular feature at symposiums. We all go out together and draw each other across the table. It's great fun and much better than photos when you are looking back. We often pass the books round, so people can add their names to the drawings of themselves - it's a good way of remembering people's names:


Okay, that's all for now, but I have plenty more, which I will set up to publish while I am away. I still haven't told you about my workshops, the flood (!) or my trip to Rio. Watch this space!

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