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1. On the Pavement outside St Pancras Station...


Actually, to get the best view (and still be on the sunny side of the street), I was sitting on the pavement outside the neighbouring Kings Cross Station, but it was St Pancras I was interested in. I've been desperate to have a go at sketching it for ages, but I am so rarely in London any more and, when I am, I'm normally rushing around, trying to fit loads in.



To be honest, my recent trip to my publisher was no exception. I thought I'd sketch it after work, but we carried in until quite late and, by the time I had got back to my hotel, it was already 7.30 and I realised I was exhausted (and hungry for dinner). So, I got up good and early the next morning. 

Luckily, I was staying at the Kings Cross Travel Lodge, just across the road. I gobbled my breakfast, got packed up, checked out of the hotel and was on the pavement ready to start at 8.30am. I didn't have time to tackle the whole building - it's huge - so set up where I had a nice view of the clock tower at one end.


I was fortunate that I wasn't needed at Quarto until 10.00, so had an hour to spare before I had to be on my way. I decided on my 'watercolour first' technique, as it's nice and speedy. Then I worked into it with watercolour pencils and, finally, white chalk for occasional highlights.

Kings Cross is very busy. There were lots of tourists but also lots of people rushing past me on the way to work. Several stopped to have a look, one or two stopped briefly to chat. I just about managed to get done in time, though as usual I chopped the top off! 


And then suddenly it was time to go. I shoved everything into my bag and scurried off with my wheely suitcase to join the other commuters and get the bus to Quarto's offices: 


Next time I'm in London, if I can steal another hour, I'll tackle the front entrance of St Pancras I think.

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2. Firefly Hollow development part 2: Curiosities.



This is part two of a short series of posts about the development of my most recent book, Firefly Hollow written by Alison McGhee. See my post from June 26th to read part one.

Putting a story together, or rather discovering one and unearthing it, is tricky business. Steven King describes it this way:

“Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth.” 

What parts of my story did I have? Not much. I had a few sketches that were resonating and some notes about the characters, but still no real sense of the story yet.
I tried asking myself questions about the characters: Who is this vole? Where does he live? I caught a few glimmers of things but any sort of narrative remained elusive.

So, I did what many illustrators do when they are stuck: Research. 

I started collecting images of voles, crickets and paintings of water that I really loved. I looked up rafts and boats, grabbing  anything that caught my eye. Some of the images I already had in a folder that is constantly updated called "curiosities".  In his book on creativity "Catching the Big Fish", David Lynch calls these collections "firewood". I love the term, and it is perfect the way he describes it, but I shied away from naming my folder likewise. I didn't want to burn through my material too quickly! I started putting things up and soon I had a wall of the shed covered in images. 
Writing is hard work, I happen to think that it is MUCH harder than illustrating though many of my writer friends disagree with me. Writing good picture books is particularly difficult, you will know this if you have ever tried. Trying, as I was, to write something like the final manuscript of Firefly Hollow Firefly...was....lets just say that it is like showing at Wimbledon and trying to compete because you beat everyone in your family at badminton. Nevertheless, I tried to write the picture book version of my story-numerous times. They were terrible; really, really bad. 

As an illustrator, I respond to a text and then begin to add my own voice. Ultimately, I try to create a corresponding visual narrative that enhances and supports the written word-basically creating a parallel emotional narrative. That is a summarization, and I don't think about it that way when I am working, but its the closest I can come to describing the process. I had nothing to respond to so I continued on with what I felt right...the pictures. I sketched little visual "notes" about things that I thought would be fun to paint. 
I was still on hold for the project in my desk so I scanned a few of the sketches and painted them up in Photoshop (just for the fun of it) as a color studies. 

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3. Urban Sketchers Yorkshire meet Henry Moore


There are always a few of Henry Moore's sculptures nestling in the gardens of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park but, this summer, these have been joined by many more. 



As well several new monster pieces outside, the Underground Gallery is stuffed with drawings, prints and lots more sculptures. I visited a few weeks ago to plan a SketchCrawl and one look set me buzzing with inspiration. I couldn't wait to get back with my art gear.

Urban Sketchers Yorkshire did last Sunday's SketchCrawl in cahoots with the YSP, so we had lots of new people, as well as plenty of regulars. We started in the Moore gallery, as I thought that seeing how he tackled drawing monumental pieces might give people ideas. As you can see, his technique certainly inspired me:


I was pleased to have already seen the work once. With so much to see and only an hour to choose something to sketch, it was even then quite a challenge.


Our 2nd hour was spent sketching the Moores outside in the formal gardens. 



They work so incredibly well in the setting. The contrasts and colours are perfect. My friend Kerry sketched me sketching the watercolour at the top:



We had a spot of lunch, then headed down the hill to the Anthony Caro pieces. Most of the new Caros are a bit hard to sketch. They are big, fairly featureless pieces of red metal: interesting as a contrast with the soft landscape, but not much to get your pencil into. There was one though which had a bit more to offer:




It was quite a giant and I suddenly realised I had left my big sketchbook back at the lunch room. Disaster! A sketch-buddy came to my rescue and let me use her spare book (which was gorgeous 300gsm watercolour paper and much, much nicer than my scanky cartridge). Thank you Jo.



Our last stop was the bizarre field of Dennis Oppenheims: tubular steel trees growing from the long grass and sprouting mostly toilets and sinks.



It was tricky to know what to do with it, but I like the way the steel branches cut across the trees and sky. I sploshed in the background tones and colours then went in with more paint and watercolour pencil line. I was pleased that it seemed quite whimsical:



It seemed a shame to stop, as the sun was shining, but it was time to do the sharing. We headed up to the Hay Loft - a room the YSP had set aside for us. 

When I got there people were already in full swing: 



We passed then book round the table and had great fun looking at what everybody had done. There was some gorgeous work and, as usual, everyone tackled things differently.



Another fantastic day, made all the better by some lovely weather. Thanks to the team at the YSP, and especially Janette, for helping arrange things and giving us so much support on the day. We'll be back...

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4. Thank you, teachers and librarians!! We love you!

Thank you, 
teachers and librarians and others who put books in kids' hands.

We appreciate you.


Taken from my sketchbook, this is me greeting Travis Jonker 
at Nerd Camp 2015. (He's not really that much taller than I am, I don't think...)

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5. what a difference a day makes

 What a difference a day makes up here in these hills. Or Peaks to be specific. I made these two drawings over a weekend. I was participating in the Buxton Art Trail weekend - where artists take over the town. with their creativity, and use shops and cafes and homes to exhibit, and hopefully sell, their work.
 I was upstairs in the Old Clubhouse pub. A venue we use for our Dr Sketchy events. It has the best view in the town, looking right out at the beautiful Buxton Opera House. The Saturday was bright, blue skies, sunny and very quiet.
 The Sunday was throwing it down. A very wet and chilly Buxton in July. I'm not sure whether people just wanted to get out of the rain or see my work, but I don't mind either way. I had the loveliest afternoon and met loads of really nice people. Hello if you're one of them.
You never know how these events are going to go. But after doing my fair share of them, I've learnt it's never about how much work you sell. Of course, that's great, it's the best, but it's also about lots of other things you get out of them; meeting new people, sharing your work, talking about your work. Plus, I signed up two fabulous new models for my alternative life drawing sessions and got two sketches of the Opera House. And who knows what else may come.

Get yourself out there.

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6. Printable: Change Your World

Change-Your-World-by-Floating-Lemons

 

"Change Your Thoughts and you'll Change Your World" -- Buddha

I've always believed that it's we decide our own futures. Our thoughts dictate our attitudes, choices, interests, and that in turn decides our lives and the paths we choose to take upon our journeys through it. It just makes complete sense to me.

In the last couple of years I've been reading books and watching videos by certain spiritually and/or positively motivated individuals, some of whom have become my mentors as far as this approach to life is concerned. I'm going to share a few of these in case anyone else out there is interested, so just click on the links below ...

Apart from all this refreshing philosophising and thought meandering, I've been at work on my new project whenever I have the time, and will be launching a new blog all about it soon. Meanwhile, have been sketching more elephants, and here they are:

 

Elephants-1-by-Floating-Lemons

Elephants-2-by-Floating-Lemons

 

If you've been following me on my facebook page you'll have seen some of these already, and I'll keep posting more there as soon as they sneak themselves into the sketchbook.

Cheers.

 

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7. Elephant Sketches and New Projects

I've been hugely busy, and at the moment my life has been turned upside-down while I explore new horizons that lie before me, but I'm also slowly getting back into my work routine ... with exciting projects coming up that I'm already in love with.

I'll elaborate on those projects (that will be incorporated into my coursework for next year as well) a bit later on, but here's a hint:

 

Illustrating-for-Children

 

I'll just add that it's something I've wanted to do for years but never quite had the confidence to tackle before ... It's going to be a lot of fun!

With that in mind, I enrolled in a couple of online classes as refreshers and also to learn something about the practical side of illustrating children's books. I've just started on the first one, Picture Book Illustration: Animal Characters by Eric Johnson, on Craftsy, and have been sketching elephants for the first class. Still need to do more drawings and still need to learn a lot more about them, but here's a bit of a start:

 

Elephants-by-Floating-Lemons

 

I'm also being reminded of how grounding and therapeutic just having a pen, pencil, or brush in my hand is. I've missed it these last few weeks. As it is, I shall be moving house very soon so things will get slightly chaotic once more, but I'm sticking to my art therapy - I need it.

Cheers.

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8. Urban Sketching People - No More Scanning!


I think (think...) I have now done the last of the scanning for the urban sketching people book (hurrah!). We lost one drawing completely though. This boy was going into a new section I added last month, on things to look out for when drawing people of different ages. 


Because he was a last-minute addition, he didn't get sorted out with a reference number when we tagged everything, to remind me which sketchbook he was in. John and I scoured the pile several times (now nearly 100 books). We had a clue - we could tell from when I originally uploaded the sketch to my website sketch-space that it was done in 2012, which narrowed the field at least. We couldn't find it anywhere though. Total mystery. 


In the end we gave up and I substituted this one instead, which is a nice sketch, but not as clear for demonstrating the teaching-point: how children's lower lips are often set back, so the upper lip protrudes slightly. Hey-ho.

I don't have many drawings of children, because they are generally such a pain to sketch. Babies are even scarcer in my sketchbooks. Luckily I did find this page, done on a plane:



The montage system is definitely the easiest way to deal with the constant motion of babies and it was great for the book, as all the different angles gave me loads of observations to talk about. 

Things might be a bit thin on the ground for younger ones, but I have plenty of examples at the other end of the scale - I just love drawing older faces. So much character. As we age we get more and more individual. 



Fortunately, there are some constants to watch for when you're drawing older people, like the tiny, vertical creases we women get above our top lip, the deepening shadow between eye and nose, the loose neck... oh goodness, I've got to stop - it's all too depressing!!


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9. Summer Sketched


This and that in my sketchbook. It's been awhile since I've drawn purely for fun, so yesterday called for coffee out and some time to doodle. I have all sorts of ideas I want to tackle in the next few weeks, now that my deadlines have eased up. Topping that list, paradoxically, is taking some time to recharge my batteries, in the interest of introspection and experimentation. And in keeping with that, I'm hoping to update this space more frequently while the time allows. Huzzah for Summer!

And speaking of Summer, if you'd like a way to keep track of your warm weather reads, I made this handy printable book list last year.



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10. Artist-in-Residence: the 'Atmospheres' Conference


I am sorry for my uncharacteristic absence of late. After my last post, everything suddenly stopped here, because John got rushed to hospital and has been very poorly. He had a big operation and is now into about 3 months of recuperation, but the very good news is that we now know he is going to be fine. It's been quite a roller-coaster though.


I went back to work at the end of last week, because I was booked to spend two days drawing at Manchester University, recording the fascinating 'Atmospheres' conference for the Morgan Centre team. It's a precursor to my residency, which kicks off in October, and I really, really didn't want to miss it.

Various friends and neighbours volunteered to step into my shoes at home and keep an eye on the poor old invalid, so I packed my sketching gear and hopped on a train, a little nervous, but mostly very excited. I have once before done a similar job, on that occasion for the library service, and it was good fun. My pencil finger was itching to begin!


The idea was that I should sketch as much as possible, recording the various speakers and capturing something of the atmosphere of the conference since, after all, the theme was 'atmospheres'. 


Apart from the fun I had meeting the sketch-challenge, the conference itself was fascinating. It covered a huge range of sociological issues around the theme. I particularly enjoyed a paper on shared atmospheres at heavy metal concerts and the rules of audience 'moshing' (jumping up and down, crashing into one-another in an apparent frenzy). There was a paper on snobbery, another on beer festivals, one about the weather, one on taste, another on Goths... it was extremely varied and totally accessible to a layman.


I was working in the concertina books I made. I scribbled away the whole time and filled 6 metres of paper! 


Near the end, I gave a 15 minute presentation about urban sketching and then used a visualiser to show everyone the drawings I had been doing over the two days. This was one of the reasons that I was a little nervous... 

Thankfully it all went fine and, as far as I could tell, everyone seemed to approve of my drawings of them. Then, straight after my presentation, I co-delivered a paper with Professor Heath, the director of the Morgan Centre, talking about the upcoming residency and what we hoped to achieve from the year. 


The final key-note was the wonderful Simon Armitage, who talked on 'The Language of Where we Live' and read us some of his spellbinding poetry. When it came to questions, there was an embarressing moment: the first questioner apologised to Simon and then addressed their question to me instead! It was a good question, about the parallels between my way of recording detail through images and Simon's gathering of detail through language. It sparked some good discussion, but I did want to floor to open up at first, when all eyes, including Simon's, shot to me, brush in hand, mouth open in surprise. 


And then suddenly it was all over. I decided that, since I had recorded part of my journey there, I would carry on working and record my journey home. The train was packed so I was very lucky to get a seat. I was tucked tight against the window, so it was quite a challenge, frantically scribbling impressions of the passing landscape with my concertina paper unfolding all over the place and the man next to me being terribly British and pretending it wasn't happening!


Unfortunately, extrapolating from my output at the conference, it looks like I am going to need to wrestle with another roll of watercolour paper before the residency, as I will need approximately twice as many sketchbooks as I have already made. Rats.

A big thank you to the team at the Morgan Centre for hosting a really interesting event and for looking after me so well. An even bigger thank you to Sue Heath for commissioning me to take part in such a fun project. Can't wait for the next bit...

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11. The beginnings of Firefly Hollow. A fortunate delay, a change of venue, the kindness of neighbors, and finally...taking my own advice


The fortunate delay.


It was one of those rare times in publishing where there was a lull in the constant demand of my production schedule.
I was waiting for feedback from a publisher on a final round of sketches for a picture book.
In the past, I would have begun feverishly scratching away at the waiting heap of work for the next book. But there was no heap of work. I had been turning down projects-waiting for and wanting something that I felt a particular type connection with. This could have been a bit nerve-wracking for any self employed artist.  Fortunately, I had other things that were demanding my attention.


A change of venue.


At the time, my studio space was located in a revolutionary era merchant building. While it was charming, the roof had begun to leak and late nights of driving from Providence back to our little bay-side town were getting tiresome. Given my usual level of exhaustion, it was actually getting dangerous.
It was time to go.


The kindness of neighbors. 


Anika (see posts relating to Anika Denise) and I decided that it was time to to renovate our dilapidated garage.
But that process would take several months to complete so where was I to work?

This is the magical part, the part where the greatest gifts come out of the ether unannounced and without fanfare.

I asked for help.

I asked my friend and next door neighbor Doc Pete (he is really a doctor) to help me move some of the larger items out of the way so I could begin evaluating the task of rebuilding the garage.
Two minutes later I was looking at my new temporary studio, Pete's shed.
Doc Pete's shed was an eight foot by ten foot structure. It had a door, two windows, and electricity. Rent free. We cleared it out, opened the windows, and I could hear and smell the waves on the bay.
I was in heaven.


Taking my own advice...finally.


I taught at Rhode Island School of design for a few years.
Part of the job was handing out lots of unsolicited advice.
One of my favorite tidbits for aspiring illustrators was to use any "down time" they might have to create personal projects.
I had given that advice enough and now it was time to follow it. I quickly realized that this was quite a bit harder than I imagined.

But I had been given the gift of time, the gift of change, and a quiet place to accept those gifts.

I began to sketch and wrote this above my drawing.."Cricket and Vole"
This is what they looked like.



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12. Free eBook — Thank You Wisconsin: The Punk Farm Sketchbooks

A free eBook in honor of Punk Farm's 10th anniversary and next month's paperback release of Punk Farm on Tour!

It will be a trip down memory lane as you dig through my archives.

Best viewed on a tablet.

Download Thank You, Wisconsin: The Punk Farm Sketchbooks here:

http://www.studiojjk.com/Thank_You_Wisconsin_The_Punk_Farm_Sketchbooks_by_Jarrett_J_Krosoczka.pdf

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13. The Man Who Was Thursday

 
I'm in the middle of The Man Who Was Thursday at the moment and couldn't resist a quick sketch of Lucian Gregory and Professor de Worms (shudder).
 

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14. Rediscovering the Archive


One of the very pleasing by-products of the drudgery of all the scanning I have to do at the moment, is that I am getting to look back over all my favourite sketches of past years - well, the ones of people anyway. It's been an interesting journey. Every image is imbued with memories. Some are a record of an important or touching occasion, like the day I came across this little girl and her brother fishing for their dinner in Kerala and ended up in their home, singing carols with their family:


Some are interesting because I tend not to work in the same techniques any more. Some are just old favourites that make me feel good about myself. It's never a bad thing to look back at work you are proud of: it's great for the confidence, which is in turn good for feeding back into new creativity.


It's rather ironic but, since I have been working on this book, I seem to have been drawing people far less. I don't know if you have noticed, but I have got rather into architecture this last year and have been far less prolific on train journeys than I was in 2013/14. I'm not sure why. Anyway, looking back through the archive has inspired me to get back to it. 


I need to get some people-practise in to be honest. I have a 2-day job coming up next month, as Artist-in-Residence at a conference, at Manchester University. There'll be nothing but people to draw and I have volunteered to do a short presentation of my work at the end, to show the delegates what I have been up to. No pressure... 



It's a good job that I am a show-off! 

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15. WARNING: freaky ventriliquist dummy alert

If you follow my blog you may well know
that I draw anywhere and everywhere.
But where better than somewhere that combines your other interests. And I bloody love stuff. Old stuff. Which is why I love the antique auctions.
Which is why I love an antique auction house. Today I was at Adam Partridge's auction house in
Where else can you sit on an antique chair and draw surrounded  by spooky ventriloquist dummies and tiny chaise longue? 
 
And then there's the vast array of fabulous and insane subject matter. It's everything I love in one afternoon.
 And if I'm drawing I'm not bidding.
Although, I always end up bidding too. Not on the spooky dummy though. Not this time anyway.

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16. High-Res Scanning - Grappling a Monster


Yes, it's definitely a bit of a monster, scanning all the artwork which I have selected from my archive of sketchbooks. I haven't counted how many individual sketches I have picked out to go into my urban sketching people book, but it's quite enough to keep John and I busy.

Originally, we had thought that John would do all the scanning for me, but I am working on the computer so much at the moment that he's having trouble getting sufficient time on the scanner. 



So we tried a bit of teamwork this week, which really speeded things up. I found the low res version of each of the images on the computer, which was tagged with a reference number to remind me which sketchbook it was in, then John ferreted through the sketchbook piles to find the right book...



...then he flicked through the book to find the sketch. We had marked the possibles with post-its right back at the beginning of the project, so that helped too:



John held the sketchbook down flat on the scanner bed for me, while I set the scan parameters, then saved and filed the final file, while he was trying to find the next one in the sketchbook piles. All very dull, but it's got to be done (and over 400 times...).

Then of course, I still had to spend a while on each of the images later, correcting the tonal balance and touching up anomalies, like unwanted marks which had transferred from the opposite page or other sketches showing through from the reverse. I also have to get rid of unwanted text  - my publisher is keen to remove any text that is not essential, so it doesn't create problems with co-editions.



We've made a fair old hole in the job now and I feel much better for it. I was originally going to wait until all the layouts were back, so I would know for certain that all the sketches I have chosen are in fact going into the book. It's possible that, by doing the scanning early, we have scanned some artwork unnecessarily, but I was getting a bit concerned, as time is passing and the deadline is looming. It's one of those tasks - very hard to know if you've allowed enough time for it, because it's impossible to judge how long you'll need. At least this way, hopefully I won't get caught out!

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17. Creative Play

It is always so inspiring when I get to step out of the studio and work in the field with sketchbook in hand. My most recent painting trip was in France.

Bicycling

My goal was to gather ideas for a book I am just starting that is set in France, but even more importantly, to take some time away from the intense studio work and create an atmosphere of creative play and exploration. I want to see and record as much as I can when I am working in a sketchbook. But I also want to stretch myself as an artist, try new methods, experiment with new surfaces, tackle paintings I would never do in the studio, basically just climb out on a limb and PAINT. On this trip I painted in gardens and on street corners, I painted rooftops and sculptures, I even painted self portraits of myself because I wanted to record how happy I was while exploring. I worked in ink and watercolor, fountain pen and pencil. I had fun collecting bags from Paris shops and experimented with watercolor on toned surfaces. The warm brown paper bags made a wonderful surface to bounce the blue skies and dazzling light of Paris. Sketch trips are always a wonderful time to really push yourself to see new things and play with ideas on how to capture them in paint. I always feel thankful after painting trips and even a little reluctant to give up the freedom I find in the field as apposed to the studio. But journeys with sketchbooks always recharge me and fuel my ideas for stories. They make the work I create in the studio all the more meaningful because the work was started during such joyful adventures.

Here are a few of the sketches from this last trip.

Amboise 2015

Amboise, France

Amboise, France

Amboise, France

Amboise, France

Amboise, France

Degas bather, Musee d'Orsay

Degas bather, Musee d'Orsay

Gates of Hell, Musee d'Orsay

Rodin, Gates of Hell, Musee d'Orsay

Iranian pot, Louvre

Iranian pot, Louvre

Mesopotamian Stone, Louvre

Mesopotamian Stone, Louvre

Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

Paris

Paris, night scene

Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame, Paris

The Burghers of Calais, Rodin Museum

The Burghers of Calais, Rodin Museum

Tours, France

Tours, France

Villandry, Loire

Villandry, Loire

Villandry, Loire

Villandry, Loire

The post Creative Play appeared first on Lita Judge.

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18. I'm walking down your street again

Right, once again I haven't posted here in too long. So, here's a mega post. I won't bore you with words. I'll just show you in drawings and photos some of the things I've been doing (drawing) in all the gaps between posts.
I've been drawing in bars
and in antique showrooms
drawing bikes in galleries
and skeletons in museums,
drawing the guy at the bar of the brasserie
and the girl at the café,
the chip van
and at lunch with my niece
at the cricket with friends
more bones at another museum
whilst working at the gallery
at another bar
on the high street
at a transport museum
and another bike
at another pub
with a sharply dressed man
at a bus station
at a flea market
and at another museum.
Which all tells me that I like old things and spend a lot of time eating out in bars and cafes. Yep, I think that pretty much sums it up.

Have you signed up to Sketchbook Skool yet? The course I teach on starts today. You too may end up drawing your life too if you do. Enrol on 'Seeing' HERE.

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19. Scribble, scribble, scratch

 

That moment when you realize your top knot needs its own postal code...

And, two bits of nice news:

*If you're in the Netherlands, I have a bit of lettering in this issue of Flow Weekly.

*Some of my embroidered postcards are in the newest issue of Hoop-la magazine.

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20. the fear of a people sketcher


Yesterday I went back to Gallery Oldham where I'd previously done research for the Museum job that I've talked about in my last posts. This time though I returned for a little mini sketch meet up with some friends.
When I was there last time I made this sketch, below, of the guy who worked in the gallery's lovely Naked Bean cafe. It was a sneaky sketch, I didn't show him but I did post the sketch on Twitter and the cafe saw it. They said that he loved it - even though i'd made him look pretty grumpy in it. Which he wasn't. He was the opposite to grumpy. 
Anyway, yesterday, when I returned and with the knowledge he was happy with the sketch I took the opportunity to get a photo of him with it. He said "I've never been drawn before. It made my day. I put it on Facebook and everything".
think the fear for all of us that sketch people is their response to it. Will they be offended? Will they hate it? I know it's my fear which is why I don't often show them. But his response made my day. This time it paid off.

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21. Sketchbook-in-Progress: A Peek

I'm back from a last-minute holiday, jetlag, and then general panic as I try to catch up on my artwork for college. So here's a peek at what I've been working on, just a couple of the many ideas and sketches that I've been scribbling out so that I have a better idea of what my final project will be. Which is due far too soon for my liking ...

 

 

Sketchbook-bird-by-Floating-Lemons

Sketchbook-page-by-Floating-Lemons

 

The bird probably won't make it to the final piece, but the drippy dots might, in a slightly different form. I'm very tempted to place them, as is, on some clothing over at my PAOM store though ... if I have the time. Will keep you posted.

Have a fantastic week. Cheers.

 

 

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22. A Bumper Urban Sketching Week

It was a funny old week, last week. Despite having lots on, I ended up doing almost as much sketching as working. 

It started last Saturday, with an Urban Sketchers Yorkshire outing, because it was the 47th Worldwide SketchCrawl Day. We spent the morning in one of my favourite places: the old General Cemetery. It's stuffed with the massive, crumbling tombs of the steel magnates and other wealthy types from the last 200 years, but it's also a veritable nature reserve and very beautiful, with lots of mature trees and wild flowers.



Luckily I had just about finished the painting above when it started to rain. We sheltered for a bit in the porch of the old church, then someone suggested a cup of coffee. We took a vote for what to do...

The local Wetherspoons proved the perfect venue for an early lunch, as there was space for about 20 of us to pull tables together. Irritatingly, the sunshine poured through the windows all the time we were in there and promptly dipped behind a cloud as soon as we left. Undeterred, we headed for venue no 2: the old Picture Palace on London Road, now a Sainsbury's:



We managed about 45 minutes I think, before it started spitting. We hovered, but it got worse. In the end we abandoned ship and walked to a local pub, the Cremorne. I put the colour into my sketch from memory...


...and then drew out of the pub window. I was fascinated by the density of the signage on the shop-fronts opposite. As I was working in the concertina book I made, I ran my 3 sketches from the day together, letting the view of the shops help join the other two together:


I think I'd better tell you about my other two sketch-outings next time as, after all that time off, I really do have to get on with some work!

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23. Sketch-Day No 2: a Visitor from Manchester



Sheffield's Crucible Theatre is home to the World Snooker Championships. Now, the partner of one of my sketch-buddies, who lives across the Pennines in Manchester, is potty about snooker. He had a ticket to come and watch it, so my friend decided to take the train to Sheffield with him, but to spend the day sketching instead.

Which is how come I ended up taking the day off work (don't tell...)


We met up with 3 other sketchers, who'd also escaped for the day, and had a lovely time, pootling about the city centre, sketching whatever took our fancy. We had fun and games with the weather again though: I left the house in a hail storm! Then we had a couple of hours of alternate brilliant sunshine and heavy showers. 


We sheltered under an overhang for the sketch above, but we were freezing by the time we were done. There was quite a lot of interest from passers-by. I know some people find it annoying when people stop to talk, but I rather like it. It's the random connections with complete strangers that I enjoy.

We needed to warm up, so spotted a wine bar with really big windows upstairs and, because it was on a corner, it afforded great views. Unfortunately, we discovered the upstairs area of the bar was closed. When we looked all forlorn and explained what we'd wanted to do, the waiters let us in anyway. They even brought us up coffee and muffins while we worked - how nice is that? 


Because we had the place to ourselves, I got down onto the floor, sitting virtually under a table to get the best view of the building above. It's been turned into another wine bar / restaurant now, but I fell for the typography craved into the stone, from the days when it belonged to Sheffield Water Works.

After lunch, we decided to stay indoors and keep warm, so went into the Winter Gardens and bought yet more coffee, so we could sit at the cafe's tables: 


My friend from Manchester drew the greenery...


...but I fancied having a go at the view out of the windows again. I seem to be rather into architecture at the moment. Also, given the snooker was on, I thought I ought to take the opportunity to sketch the Crucible Theatre, where it all happens:


We still had over an hour left before the snooker turned out, so we girded our loins and braved the outdoors. We found a sunny spot, sitting on a grassy mound (just to the left of the view above), opposite where a big screen was streaming the snooker from inside the theatre. I drew this man who was watching the play. The view behind him was rather boring, but at least the cast shadow added a bit of interest:


And then it was time for my friend's train home to Manchester, so we all said our goodbyes.

What a lovely chilled and very sociable day. It was still only day number two of my three sketching days last week though. I'll tell you about my visitor from Paris next time.

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24. Sketch Day No.3: My Visitor from Paris



One of the lovely things about the Urban Sketchers group is that we are like a family. If you are travelling, you can always look up any sketchers in the area and they will happily meet up with you for a bit of sketchcrawling.

Yves Damin is a fabulous sketcher. He lives in Paris, but has relatives in Sheffield. Which means that we have twice been lucky enough to have a visit from him. He came this time last year, so Urban Sketchers Yorkshire got together to spend a day sketching with him 
in Sheffield City Centre.  I was absolutely delighted when he told me that he was coming back this year.



We met up with half a dozen other members of Usk Yorkshire after lunch on a Friday afternoon and sketched into the early evening.  We started local to me at Nether Edge crossroads, drawing the shops. This is the sketch Yves did. He has really captured the feel of Nether Edge:


I got a bit cross with mine. I ploughed straight in with paint, the way I do, with no planning, which was a bit unwise with such a complex view, so the drawing underpinning the sketch doesn't bear close inspection. It's not quite as bad in hindsight as I thought at the time (often the way). 



Another sketcher who did a far better job of Nether Edge than me was my friend Sian Hughes, whose work is just gorgeous:



Next, we went to the Abbeydale Picture House: once a grand cinema, music hall and restaurant, now sadly out of action. It's been derelict for years, but is still beautiful. It's pretty enormous too, so this is just a tiny section:



Most people went closer to draw details, but I sat on the opposite side of the road with Yves and Justine. Justine is a fellow illustrator, who has lived round the corner to me for years, but neither of us knew until she came on Saturday's sketchcrawl - I love the way sketchcrawling has linked me up with so many like-minded people from my area (and well beyond). 



We were sitting outside a barber's shop which had a big front window, so the cutters and their customers were watching us in action. The lovely sketch on the wall is the one Yves did - he preferred the view down the street to the Picture House. 

It was a bit cold, so most people headed home at that point, but the three of us kept going. We wandered about for ages, looking for a cafe with a window so we could sketch from indoors, but everywhere was closed, as it was getting late. Eventually, we found a fish and chip shop who let us sit in their window. This was the view:



It was only when I was half way though the drawing that I realised that, by pure coincidence, I was sketching the very barber's shop where we had been sitting earlier:



As I finished off, I glanced at my watch and discovered to my horror that it had somehow become 7pm. I was going out to a dance at 8.00 (I still do my beloved jiving), so had one hour to get home, make and eat some dinner and change into my glad-rags! Yves took this quick photo and I was in such a rush that forgot to take one of him (so sorry Yves - what a rude host!). 



Despite the slightly undignified scurry at the end, it was a really nice afternoon. Yves is such a lovely person as well as being a super-talented sketcher and his visit was a great excuse to get out in my local area with a sketchbook (I almost always end up sketching elsewhere).

Needless to say, the glad-rags and the dance took preference over the dinner: that's what bananas are for :-D


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25. A New Invention: Improving My Sketchbook


I have come up with a new idea that I thought I'd share with you...

At the back of my mind, I am preparing for my up-coming residency with The Morgan Centre in Manchester, thinking about the art materials I will need and how to make things run as smoothly as possible. I have tried out my new concertina sketchbook design and am satisfied that will work well. There is one drawback to concertinas though - in order to make one page flow into another, you often need to open 3 pages at once, which means the paper is wider than the book and you have nothing to rest on. It can all get a bit cack-handed! 

While I was thinking about this, I got a tip from another sketcher about water pots, which I thought might improve upon my hairspray-lid system (which does impinge upon my palette's mixing space). My friend suggested using the little, metal clip-on container that oil painters use for their linseed oil and white spirit. Sounded good, so I bought one. Trouble was, when I tried it out, there was no excess on my sketchbook to clip them to.

As it happens, these two problems have a common solution. I cut up one of those plastic folders you buy in stationers and created a sheet of plastic just over an inch taller than my concertina book and about half as wide again. This provides somewhere to clip the water-containers, while also providing an extended back-board to rest on: 


The plastic is really light and flexible, so won't be a nuisance to carry around, but with the aid of the sketchbook cover, it is still stiff enough to support the water. I'll be able to tuck the plastic into my bag with my sketchbook and clip it on when I am working:


I've yet to give it a test-run, but it feels really comfortable. As you can see, the plastic doesn't extend quite as wide as 3 sections of paper, but doesn't really need to - that width is enough, because the 140lb watercolour paper is sufficiently stiff to support itself for the little bit of overhang. I didn't want to create something that would be too big and awkward to fit in my bag.

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