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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: sketchbook, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Inspired by the Sketch Dailies topic today, and how much I loved...

Inspired by the Sketch Dailies topic today, and how much I loved using ink yesterday I created this! I know how nice it is to snuggle with your best friend, especially if it is sort of smelly, but happy with a tail.

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2. Meerkat Love



It has already been a year since I feverishly put my portfolio together for the 2013 SCBWI L.A. Summer Conference and this was the art I used for my promo postcard. And here we are, the 2014 starts next week! Where does the dang time go?

I won’t be making the conference this year, but I am really jealous happy for all y ‘all that are attending this year! Yessss, so, so very happy (clenches jaw.)

But seriously! I’m thrilled for you, especially the folks who haven’t ever attended before. You’re going to love it and get so much out of it!

I’ll be waiting with baited breath for photos and to hear all about it!


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3. Did Somebody Call a Doctor?

I vowed it would never happen, but I ended up getting sucked into "Dr. Who." Oh well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, so here's the Tenth Doctor. Allons-y!

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4. Sneaking a Day Off in the Sunshine

It's been so glorious lately. It's been very hard to work at the computer, with the blinds down, knowing all that sunshine is out there, beckoning... It's okay for all you folks in sunny lands, but we Brits never know if this might be the last bit of nice weather!

So anyway, that's my justification for taking the day off yesterday. We wanted somewhere where we could chill outside all day, but where there would be plenty of shade, as it really is hot at the moment - it's getting me in the mood for Brazil!

We drove to Rufford Abbey, about an hour away, but worth the travel. The abbey itself is mostly a ruin, but there is one bit intact. 

I sat on some steps in the rose garden and did a drawing. I was using one of the sketchbooks I made, ages ago. Lovely watercolour paper (shame about the dodgy perspective):

They had some birds of prey. People were paying to fly hawks and owls. I wanted to sketch the biggest owl really, but couldn't get near enough. This Harris Hawk was easier, but as soon as I began, he turned his back on me!

We strolled around the park, exploring the lake, then sat in the dappled shade under a tree for a while. Did I miss my computer? What do you think?

This is one of those sketches I got annoyed with: undergrowth is always tricky and easily overworked. I rescued it with watercolour pencil, but didn't really capture the heat:

There were lots of waterfowl at one part of the lake. We sat on a step right by the water's edge where geese and swans were wandering about. One swan immediately got very interested and thought we were going to feed him. They really are HUGE when you are sat at ground level and they are right in your face! He tried pecking my book then my paints.

It was lovely to be up so close. They were all so used to people, they carried on, right at our feet.

They all started grooming themselves, so I got some interesting poses. Then the swan settled down for a sleep: very cute with his beak tucked into his wing:

We had to head for home then. I didn't want to go. I wanted to curl up in the sunshine with the swans. A lovely day. Back to work now though.

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5. Elegant Elephant, Arrogant?

elephant450 2


… although a  repeat performance may depend quite heavily on the tightrope’s tensile strength.


The Illustration Friday theme of the week is “repeat.”


You know.


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6. 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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7. Invisible Man: My Sketching People Book in Progress

Things are going pretty well on the new book, although the garden studio is officially closed now (sigh). I would SO much rather be outside in all this glorious weather than sat at my computer, with the blinds drawn against the sunshine. Hey ho.

The sample spreads I am producing ready for the Frankfurt presentation are going to be:

Sketching on trains (2 spreads)
How to sketch with colour first, then line (2 spreads)
Drawing eyes (1 spread)

These were decided on by the publisher. They know what the US co-edition publishers will be looking for. My art director has done sample designs for me to approve (which I'm afraid I don't think I can show you yet) and I have written all the text. 

I have chosen all the sketches for these sections too. Unfortunately, all my sketches are scanned at low-res for general sharing, so the ones for the book all have to be re-scanned at 300ppi. I have set John onto that task and he has done the lion's share now.

One of the train sketches had to be redone, because I tinted it digitally, originally at low res (duh). I was experimenting with digital tinting in 2010. Above is the original pencil drawing, done in a 3B: my tool of choice back then. I used a very basic drawing tool in Photoshop and a limited palette to re-created the coloured version I did at the time. Below is the final tinted version.

The weird image at the top of this post is the coloured layer, separated out, which I thought looked rather fun and funky, but also helped you to see how the digital version was created.

Right - enough chatting to you guys: it's back to work for me!

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8. Watercolour: Painted Flowers

I am going to have to apologise in advance as blogging is going to be a bit erratic in the next couple of months, as I'm dashing around clearing things up and packing. Yes, packing. More on that later ... Meanwhile, here's a little paint doodle I did a few months ago that I've finally cleaned up and created a pattern with:




And here's the original sketch:




I left all the painted imperfections in this time. I normally photoshop them out, but I liked them here, it's oddly childlike and simple but sweet. Well, that's my opinion ... what do you think?

Wishing you wonderful days of sunshine and all things good. Cheers.


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9. Some sketches

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10. 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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11. The Final Sketchbook!!!

I was out of the studio yesterday, visiting a local secondary school, but I'm back today, working on my urban sketching book. John and I have at last gone through all 80 sketchbooks. What a marathon! This was the last one:

In the meantime, my publisher has told me which spreads I need to concentrate on first. We have to mock up about 5 spreads for the Frankfurt International Book Fair, where my UK publisher will be presenting the book to American publishers, hoping to get a co-edition signed up. That's vital, as the market for Urban Sketching books is mainly in the USA. 

The first couple of spreads we are working on are, naturally, about sketching on trains. My art director sent me draft layouts, to give me an idea of the designs she has in mind and the word count which will fit. She included image suggestions, taken from my on-line sketchbooks. I mostly really like the ones she has picked out, which I'm taking as a very good sign, since it shows we are on the same wavelength.

Today I have been back in my garden studio with the laptop, writing the text to match the images.

After that, the real fun begins - the scanning!! Thank goodness for my handy assistant. At least we only have to scan the ones for the presentation spreads at this stage.

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12. My Sketching Book Synopsis Gets the Go-Ahead!

Remember my latest project, my book on sketching peopleWell, I set-to on it straight away and, within a few days, submitted a synopsis to my editor, laying out exactly what I wanted to talk about.

It was an interesting process, trying to marshal my thoughts. It's hard when you have been doing something for a long time: so much becomes instinctive. I had to remind myself of all the different things I know, think about what other people might need help with, and then try and organise everything logically into chapters. The synopsis ran to 6 pages!

The good news is, I have had the thumbs-up on the plan. My editor has made a few suggestions, and has an extra chapter she wants me to add, but basically she says it is thorough and nicely structured. So I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. 

The next step has been to go through all my sketchbooks, matching drawings to topics. There are around 80 sketchbooks, so goodness knows how many sketches. We decided to try a colour-coded system of bookmarks. I pulled out 16 main themes from the synopsis which we needed to illustrate. Each theme has a colour. We then went through the books, popping colour-coded bookmarks in all the pages I might want to scan for the book.

At least there's no shortage, but it's a bit overwhelming. We have luckily had some gorgeous weather, so at the start we were able to work outside in the garden, which was glorious:

Until John started to sneeze. He's never had hayfever before. His nose was literally running like a tap! Even an anti-histamine had no effect. 

So, the following day, we moved base-camp to the courtyard, away from most the flowering plants and that seemed to sort it out. He's definitely alergic to something specific as, the moment he went up the top to try and mow the lawn, it happened again (very convenient that).

Anyway, the idea of the bookmarks is that I will take one theme at a time and select the best few images from the ones we marked as possible contenders. Then John will start scanning, while I begin the next stage of writing. 

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13. 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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14. Being Sick and Sketching in the Park (Luckily, not Simultaneously)

So far this weekend, John and I have mostly been in bed. No, I know what you are thinking... nothing saucy (far from it). On Thursday night, during the private view of The Great Sheffield Art Show, I suddenly had to rush to the loo to be violently sick. Not, I hasten to add, an effect of the artwork, but of a very nasty tummy virus. I had my head in the loo once an hour, all night long. Lovely. John wasn't actually sick, but felt awful (at least that's what he said... or was he malingering?). Anyway, we both slept all of Friday and still felt decidedly delicate yesterday. 

Thank goodness it was this weekend though, and I was fit and well last weekend, as that was the weekend of my Broomhill Festival eventFor the last three years, the festival have asked me to run a SketchCrawl in the Botanical Gardens. 

Often the people who come are less experienced sketchers than at the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire SketchCrawls I run each month and my role is more to offer help and inspiration than to actually sketch. In previous years, we have had a fairly modest turn-out though, so I have done quite a bit of drawing too. This year, we had a lovely big group, so I only grabbed 10 minutes at the end to do the quickie above.

It was glorious weather and a really lovely group of people, so we all had a good time. They worked really hard too and several of them have now signed up for my regular SketchCrawls, because they want to try it again - result!

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15. SketchCrawl on July 19th - Mark Your Diary!

Urban Sketchers Yorkshire's day out in Buxton was great fun and so was the Broomhill Festival SketchCrawl last weekend in Sheffield's Botanical Gardens. Next time round we are going to spend the day in Manchester, so if you like sketching, do join us.

I am REALLY hoping for dry, warm weather (it is mid summer after all!) so we can draw outside, because we are visiting some beautiful buildings: Manchester's old Town Hall, the magnificent John Ryland's Library and then finishing the day with the gloriously unconventional Royal Exchange Theatre.

Anyway, the details are below if you would like to take part. Everyone is welcome, whether you are a beginner, a professional or anything in between. It is totally free. You can even bring your children, as long as they bring a sketchbook and draw alongside you.

1st stop and meeting place: outside Manchester Town Hall, Albert Sq at 9.20am
(sketching for 1hr 40mins, until approx 11.00)
(indoor meeting alternative if it's wet: Central Library foyer – access via Peter St)

2nd stop: John Rylands Library, Deansgate at 11.10am
(sketching for 2hrs until approx 1.15 – inside if wet)

1.15 - 2.00: lunch – both venues have a café, or bring a packed lunch if you want to picnic.
3rd stop: the Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Sq, at 2pm
(sketching for 2hrs until approx 4pm – inside if wet)

As usual, we will go somewhere nearby to share our work at the end of the day: either a cafe or a bar. We will be winding up about 4.45 I imagine. 

I will be catching the 8.04 train from Sheffield, if you want to join me, getting into Piccadilly just after 9am (it’s not the nearest station, but cheaper, as you can buy cheap singles). Meet me by 7.55 at Ritazza cafe on the station forecourt. If that’s too early, feel free to join us later.

If you can't make July 19th, but would like to hear about future SketchCrawls, just email me

Power to your pencil!

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16. St. John's Eve

I'm in the midst of final art right now, but sticking my head in to say howdy.

And here's a sketchbook snippet from this week.

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17. Sketch Workshop in Chicago

I am finally posting all of my sketches from Chicago. I have been buried since my return in work. (I have some amazing projects on my plate at the moment.)

But, it was wonderful to have a weekend devoted to just sketching and hanging out with wonderful friends.

You can see photos from the seminar here: http://chicagosketchseminar2014.wordpress.com/
and some of the Cincinnati group's photos and sketches here: http://cincyillustrators.blogspot.com/2014/06/urban-sketching-seminar-in-chicago.html

See Vanessa's sketches here: http://nessydesigns.blogspot.com/2014/06/urban-sketchers-chicago-2014.html

My favorite sketch from the weekend. This is the Holy Name Cathedral where Roger Ebert's funeral was held
and her incredible photos here: http://nessydesigns.blogspot.com/2014/06/chiacgo-urban-sketchers-trip-photos.html

Another church on the church architecture tour

Porsche at what the locals called 'Viagra Triangle' which is a good description
Big statue next to the hotel
A bit of sketching between bites of Garrett popcorn
Detail of the facade
Part of the Newberry Library

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18. Happy Father’s Day, y’all

bunny daddy 450

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19. Drawing Live Music - Ireby Festival 2014

I absolutely love drawing live music. There something special about twinning the two activities. I generally bob about while I am drawing and, the more into it and mobile I am, the more alive the drawings become. I find this kind of sketching makes me feel at one with the music, in the same way that dancing does. It's pretty intense, but great fun!

John and I have friends up in the north of Cumbria and every year at this time, we pack our warm jumpers and my sketching kit and drive up to stay the weekend and go to the lovely Ireby Music Festival with our friends.

The whole thing takes place in the tiny village of Ireby. They use the village hall, the church and the tiny (and very old) chapel in the middle of a field, but they also create a main stage inside a big marque on the hill above the village, overlooking some pretty dramatic scenery (although this year we could mostly see rain and cloud).

I hate not being close enough to make out the detail, so I often go up to the front and sit on the floor right by the stage. Luckily Ireby is the sort of place you can do that. I often get to share my spot with young children, which is fun, because they are of course very interested in what I'm up to.

While I was working on these three of 'Stark', a little boy kept telling me the bits I had missed. He had to lean in and shout into my ear every time, so I could hear him above the music ('Aren't you going to put the star on?'... 'Don't forget his tatoo'... 'What about his earpiece?'...). Very cute, if a bit distracting.

To do these, I had to kneel in a narrow gap at the feet of the front row of the audience (fortunately I had my little camper's mat for my knees). 

I was okay for a while, but by the time the next set got underway, I discovered I had lost all feeling in my feet and of course my legs were locked into position.  Somebody took pity on me and found me a seat on the front row, although standing up to manoeuvre myself into it was interesting!

The Hut People were slightly bonkers. One played percussion from around the world, while the other played the accordion and demonstrated French Canadian foot percussion - a cross between very fast tap dancing and Irish dancing, complete with the high-kicks.

On Friday night and Saturday night everyone packs into the marque. I was on the floor at the front once again for The Bills, the final act of the festival. They were fabulous: a fusion of all sorts. I had a wonderful time, scribbling away and jiggling around like a thing possessed, but had to give up drawing at the end and join the boppers, before I got trampled. To be honest, I am just as happy jumping about, so that was the perfect end. 

If you would like to see the rest of the drawings I did at the festival, as well as other sketches of music events, check out my new Live Music Sketchbook on the website.

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20. Sketching Chickens and Swans

Mabel has a spa day
I have a backlog of sketches. I did the above sketch at Amy's house in Amberly Village in my new, beautiful sketchbook made by Vanessa and the other at Miami Whitewater during the long Memorial Day weekend.

I am heading to Chicago this weekend for an urban sketching workshop. Expect many posts soon!

The swan paddle boats at Miami Whitewater. I so want to ride one!

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21. Hey, Hey

Messing around in my sketchbook with some pencils and watercolor. And sorry it's been rather quiet here. I'm in the middle of working on this book and things are busy and full at the moment.

Happy Weekend!

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22. I'm Writing a Book on Sketching People!

It's an idea that's been rolling around in my head, which I have been thinking of pitching to a publisher for a while. I never seem to get around to getting on with the groundwork though, as there is always so much else on (you know how it is). 

So, imagine my delight when Quarto Books emailed me out of the blue, asking if I would like to write one for them! It's going to be 128 pages, in the same series as Thor's book, which is a more general guide to Urban Sketching.

I have to write 25,000 words and there will be around 400 illustrations. The scanning in alone is going to be quite a task! The first stage is putting together a detailed synopsis, planning out the content chapter by chapter. So, last Friday, when it was uncharacteristically hot and sunny, I was able to sit out in the garden to work, rather than being cooped up in the studio. Lovely!

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23. 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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24. USk Yorkshire Go SketchCrawling in Buxton

The forecast for Saturday was appalling: heavy rain from early morning through until the end of the day, with thunder and lightning a possibility. Perfect SketchCrawling weather, so I didn't really expect many people to turn out. Saturday was intended as a day of drawing outdoors too, capturing some of the beautiful architecture, but that was clearly not going to happen. 

There was already a small group huddled outside the Opera House when I arrived and, over the next 10 minutes, they kept coming until I counted 23. It was starting to spit already, so we went inside to our first 'Plan B' venue: the Pavilion Arts Cafe. 

From the upstairs, which we had all to ourselves, there were great views out over the Pavilion Gardens, but I was most tempted by the way you could peer down over a balcony in the centre and spy on people sipping tea on the ground floor. 

I stood up, leaning over the railing for my first sketch above, but kept worrying that I would lose the grip on my sketchbook and it would go flying down and hit somebody on the head, so I sat down for sketch two, which is probably why it is more controlled (and arguably less exciting). I was snapped half way through - don't you just love the sketcher's double-chin? So flattering. 

We stayed there until midday, when we got our brollies out and headed across town for lunch. By this time, a few more people had joined us. We were such a big group that I had to book out half The Cheshire Cheese pub. Thank goodness they could fit us in at short notice.

It took a while for them to serve us all though, so I did this sketch: 

I was so intent on what I was doing, I didn't even noticed my sneeky neighbour snapping me in action once again:

It was nice to have a long, lazy lunch actually - it gave us lots of extra time to chat, especially good for the new faces. We had quite a few first-timers. Ours is a very sociable group. I think it's a really important part of the day.

Once we were all fed and watered, we headed to the Cavendish Arcade: a lovely, tiled arcade, with a beautiful glass ceiling. I don't feel I did it any justice:

The last sketch-stop was The Dome - part of the University of Derby. It had actually stopped raining, so I spent my final 45 minutes in the car park outside, crammed into a corner against a grit-bin, where I was able to get this view:

We had booked the upstairs room of The Old Clubhouse pub for our sharing session. We pushed loads of table's together, but still struggled to get everyone round. 

As usual it was lovely looking through all the books. It was especially interesting because of all the fresh faces. Lots of holding up of sketches, and: 'Wow - who did this!' kind of thing.

After about an hour, everyone went their separate ways, but I had to hang around, as John was coming to pick me up. Because the day was over, the sun was now out and it was really warm. I sat on the wall outside the pub and managed this sketch before he arrived:

Thanks to everyone who took part on Saturday, especially for turning out (and sticking with it) on such a miserable day. Next month we are thinking of visiting Manchester again, this time for the John Rylands Library and the Royal Exchange. They are both beautiful outside as well as in, so I'm crossing fingers that we might actually get a proper summer's day, no umbrellas needed!

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25. 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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