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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: sketching, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 363
1. Zoot Suit Newt

Zoot Suit Newt 2 450

A snazzy, jazzy daddy and no grander salamander than Zoot Suit Newt!


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2. I'm in Brazil!!! (I Hope)



Yes, if everything has gone to plan (pleeeease...), I arrived in Sao Paulo on Monday, in the early morning, where I met up with a handful of other sketchers and we took a bus together, down the coast to the lovely, historic city of Paraty. It's a long way and takes several hours, so much better with company.


Don't be confused by these sketches btw: your instincts are right - they are not Brazil. All will be explained...


Anyway, today I will be chilling in Paraty, trying to get over my jet-lag before the symposium starts tomorrow afternoon. I suspect I will already have started SketchCrawling though, with the others who have arrived early. There are lots of drawing events arranged around the edges of the symposium this year, so as many people as possible can take part. 


If I can work out how to do it from my phone, I will share some photos and sketches with you via the hotel's wi-fi, but I am not great at phone stuff, so no promises. If you are into such things, I think people will be sharing their work this year through a new app: PEN.UP, as they are one of the sponsors of this year's symposium (if it turns out to be user-friendly that is, otherwise it'll be Instagram).


In the meantime, these are sketches done earlier this month, on our wedding anniversary, when we took off to the east coast for a couple of days. It's one of our favourite places, especially Robin Hood's Bay, where we went for our first weekend away together (around 22 years ago!), which was why we chose it as the venue to get engaged and also stayed there for the first night of our honeymoon. 


Aren't we soppy? 

Have you spotted the helicopter by the way?

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3. Drawing the Summer - Festival Fun!



Sheffield Museums have had funding for an exciting new festival this year, called Drawing the Summer. It's all about getting people to draw: everyone and anyone, especially encouraging those who don't normally do it, to have a go.

It's such a great idea - there are so many people out there who secretly want to draw, but who lack the confidence, or just the time in their busy lives, to get out some paper and 
just try.

As well as lots of practical hands-on events, there are also some great exhibitions on, to tie in with the festival: the Recording Britain Now show in the Millennium Gallery is wonderful - really exciting and varied new work by artists shortlisted for the 2014 Ruskin prize. There is also an excellent series of lithographs from 1916 by Joseph Pennell at The Graves. They bowled me over!

© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

Anyway, one of many activities taking place for the festival involved Yours Truly on Monday. Museums Sheffield commissioned me to host an urban sketching session in the centre of Sheffield. 


© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

Our Drawing the Summer base-camp was a big table set up with drawing boards and stools, pencils, A3 paper and a big box of coloured pencils. We strung a washing-line up too, so we could peg up drawings. We had two lovely big banners, but it was so windy, we couldn't use them. Hence all the multiple pegs above!


© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

We grabbed any passers-by, to ask if they fancied stopping and doing a sketch. There was plenty to draw: as well as all the extremely varied architecture, Tudor Square has a couple of table-tennis tables set up for the summer months so, to get the ball rolling, I had a go at sketching some of the different people who stopped for a while, to play:



We clocked 80 people during the 2.5 hours we were set up, but my favourite was this man, who said he had never drawn before, but who sat for about an hour, very carefully drawing a complex view of the buildings, which turned out really well. I think he was astonished at what he'd achieved.


© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

Many people took their work home, some gave it to us to peg up on the line. Some people asked for help and advice, which was where I came in, but mostly they just got stuck in. I obviously had my sketch gear too, so when I wasn't needed, I drew alongside them, hoping to attract attention and perhaps to inspire. This was one view from our table: 



The older kids were lovely to watch: we had various families with children, often around 8 - 11 years old.  In an age of short attention-spans, it was interesting to see how well the act of drawing focussed them. They sat, totally absorbed, for around an hour at a time and created drawings which were strong and confident.


© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

One very interesting thing I noticed: the Crucible and The Old Monk pub in Tudor square have prominent lettering. Adults always started by drawing the shapes of the buildings and then added in the typography afterwards, so invariably ran out of space for the letters. The children all started by drawing the lettering, then created the building shapes around the words, so that everything fitted. A curious difference.


© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

There are still lots of events to go, between now and September 10th, in fact there is another very similar event tomorrow (Sunday 24th) at Weston Park, so you too could have a go. Whether you are an experienced sketcher or a complete beginner, it'll be fun. And if you really don't want to draw yourself, there are still some excellent talks and demonstrations you will enjoy. Check out the Events Guide and look for the yellow pencil icon.



© Catherine Mailhac for Museums Sheffield

In the meantime, if you want to see more photos from my Tudor Square event on Monday, take a look here.






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4. Floaty Boy

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FRANKY IS VERY ATTACHED TO HIS POOL FLOATY.

Revisiting a character from last year, based on my grand-neffy.

Feeling the need to make time for playing with personal projects again.


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5. Usk Symposium Workshop: Creating my Handouts


I don't know about you, but when I am bombarded with new ideas and things to remember, I tend to boggle-over (technical term). If past years are anything to go by, the Urban Sketchers symposium in Paraty will be amazingly stimulating for all concerned, but for those taking all the workshops and going to all the lectures and demos, there's going to be a lot for the head to hold.


So, it's good practice for instructors to create a handout to go with their workshops. It makes things easier to take in on the day (especially for all those for whom English is a 2nd language), but it's also really handy for taking home as a record, to try again later.

Last year I printed them myself at home, but it took forever and cost a fortune in ink and special thick paper (so I could print images on both sides without it showing through). So this year I thought I would pay to have them properly printed. Of course, it still took me ages to design them: I am too much of a perfectionist and wanted them to be a lovely keepsake as well as an instructional leaflet.

Each hand-out goes through the three exercises we are going to do in detail, with examples of my sketches, to demonstrate what I'm talking about. I waited until after my dry-run to create my handouts, so I could tweak things if necessary but, in the end, I didn't change much at all.


They came back from the printers a couple of days ago and they have done a grand job. They look great! They also weigh quite a lot, because there are 50 copies, each one consisting of 2 folded A4 sheets. But I (as usual) had tons to say and show, so wanted to give myself 8 sides to do it. At least I won't be bringing them back, which means the weight can be replaced by all the lovely, freebie sketchbooks we always get from our sponsors (yippee).

This year we are getting a slinky concertina book from Loloran, which looks similar to the one I used in Manchester recently:


...and a Strathmore book, like the one we got last year, which I LOVE:


I have really enjoyed the tinted paper, which alters the way you approach things. 

We are getting all sorts of other bits too. It's really fun - like being a kid again, with a lucky-dip! I notice Moleskin is a sponsor, so cross-fingers we'll be getting a Moleskin watercolour book... 

A big thank you to all the sponsors :-)

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6. Urban Sketchers Yorkshire: Derbyshire Sketch-Walk


Last Saturday was Urban Sketchers Yorkshire's August SketchCrawl day. This time we were out in Derbyshire, doing a sketch-walk between village pubs.

I can't take any credit for the success of the day, as it was organised by Andrea and Paul, members who live in Derbyshire. It was nice for a change for me to be able to relax and follow orders, rather than be the boss.


We met up at the Pride of the Peaks pub in New Mills, where those of us who'd had an early start to get there, treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast (yum). Well, we needed to build up the strength in our drawing-arms, didn't we?

We then went out into the sunshine to do our first sketch of the day, while we waited for all the idlers, who couldn't quite drag themselves out of bed, to join us. There are some great views in that area, because of the depth of the valley and the old, disused mill buildings:


I was peering over a wall by the bus stop, but it looks as though I was hanging out of a hot-air balloon! The group has been sketching there once before - we did a sketchcrawl in New Mills last summer - and I doubt this is the last time we'll visit either.

We set off from the pub at 11.00, on a beautiful walk down into the valley and along the canal to our next stop, the Soldier Dick pub at Furness Vale. There were some scenic places to sketch along the canal, but many of us treated it as more of a drink stop. 


There were more canal views at the next stop anyway, looking down into Buxworth Canal Basin:


The Navigation Inn at Buxworth was a great lunch stop and the sun was mostly still shining, although it had got really windy and I struggled to hang on to my book while doing the sketch above - the wind kept trying to grab it and throw it into the canal!


My final stop of the day was half an hour further down the valley at White Hough. The Paper Mill pub had gardens at the front and back, with views of the lovely Cracken Edge. I did the painting below and then the one at the top, again peering over a wall.


Unfortunately, we Sheffield-based people had to leave after that, for a final walk to Chinley, to catch our train home, but the locals carried on to another pub at Whaley Bridge, and the more intrepid amongst them climbed up Eccles Pike. I was sad to miss that, but enjoyed the train journey back through the hills with my sketch-buddies, sharing our work.  

A huge thanks to Andrea Joseph and Paul Gent for sorting out all the logistics and herding us between pubs. Another lovely day!

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7. … like a fish needs a bicycle

fish bike newer 450

Folks using the above saying have obviously never met Fiona Dorsal.

Fiona, unlike many of her species, may not NEED but absolutely prefers a bicycle as her main means of transportation.

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

Because of abject laziness I am re-posting this lil gal from way back in 2007. In fact, I’m actually re-re-posting for about the third time.

You know, Fiona has evolved, not in a Darwinian way but as a drawing a few times since then.


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8. How to Use Colour: a Dry-Run of My Workshop


It's less than 2 weeks before I am off to Brazil (yippee), to run some street-sketching workshops in the sunshine, as part of the Urban Sketchers annual symposium



My workshop is called Afraid of Colour?. I've noticed that a lot of sketchers are great in black and white, but totally intimidated by colour. I used to mainly use a 3B pencil myself, but since I got into watercolour and discovered my Inktense pencils, I am having so much more fun. 

With that in mind, I designed my workshop to share some ideas and pointers, to help others make that transition too.



I have 3 identical workshops to run, each of 3.5 hours, which sounds a lot, but there's so much I want to do, it's been a struggle fitting it in. I was a bit worried that things might feel too rushed, so I thought I'd do a dry-run in Sheffield. I did the same thing the very first time I was selected to run a symposium workshop, in Santo Domingo (my speed-sketching workshop Quick-on-the-Draw). It's really useful to test that everything works in advance.



I offered it as a freebie to my Urban Sketchers Yorkshire team and put together a group of a dozen guinea-pig sketchers. I chose a spot in the centre of Sheffield, where there is a grassy area surrounded on all sides by a good variety of architecture. I was a bit nervous about the UK weather though - Sheffield is not quite Brazil - but we were very lucky: it was a perfect day.


John told me that his main worry, when it comes to colour, is the likelihood of ruining a good sketch, so we started with a workshop aimed at getting lots of colour down on the page before we started any drawing. I created the sketch at the top a little while ago, to use as an example. Below is one of the sketches done on the day for this exercise, by Abi Goodman, and the one above was done by Peter Wadsworth. Good eh?



We followed that up with another slightly lateral idea: using coloured line-work. My idea was to make the colour intrinsic to the sketch, rather than just a way of tinting an existing drawing. 



I asked the group to choose 3 different colours for the line, based on the try-out I did a couple of weeks back. This is a sketch done by Lucie Golton:



The final exercise allowed people to start with a standard black and white line-drawing, but I asked them to use expressive methods to colour it up, in a variety of art materials. I did a little demo to give them some tips, using Inktense pencil, watercolour and oil pastels:




To help people further, I had also printed out a selection of my sketches and created a little folder of examples to give them ideas of different ways to tackle the different challenges:


One of the main secrets to success is having the confidence to be bold with both your colour choices and mark-making. Wishy-washy or dingy colours tend to feel safer, but they are not going to light up your sketch.



Between each exercise, we gathered to look at the results, laying the books out on the grass to give each other feedback, then I briefed in the next task. People worked really hard and, as you can see, some exciting sketching was done. It's hard to believe that these were done by people who are uncomfortable using colour. 



At the end we went for a coffee and I asked for feedback. Despite my worries, people seemed quite happy with the timings. Everyone said that they had found it challenging to be pushed so far out of their comfort-zone, but that is had been extremely useful and very interesting. Most importantly, they all enjoyed themselves. Phew. 

A week later, at our Derbyshire SketchCrawl last weekend (more of which later), I noticed that Andrea Josephwho usually works in biro, did a beautiful, loose and joyful watercolour - in full colour: 



Job done. Paraty, here I come... 

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9. How to Draw People: Guest Contributers


As well as using my own work to demonstrate techniques for drawing and painting people, my book will be showcasing other sketchers whose work I admire. 


Once we get the go-ahead (crossing fingers) after the Frankfurt International Book Fair, I will be working with my publisher to select possible contributors and we will then approach individuals, to ask if they would be interested in having sketches in the book.


It's a bit premature to contact most people yet though as, at this stage, all I need is 4 or 5 pieces for the presentation, to make it clear that other sketchers will be featured. I am using the 'colour before line' section to do this. There is one spread featuring examples of my work and my step-by-step demo, but a second spread which features other people's work. 

I used Urban Sketchers on Flickr and the main Urban Sketchers blog to source sketches where I thought people had probably used the colour-first technique and collected them in a Pinterest folder. From there I selected a handful that demonstrated different things of note and sent them to my art director. She created a lovely layout and I then wrote copy for each image.


The images I'm showing here are not ones I've chosen, just examples, although I hope to be able to use both these artists, if they are up for it. The top two sketches are by one of my all-time fave sketchers, Marina Grechanik, who lives in Israel. The one above is by the fantastic Rolf Schroeter from Berlin. 

In the next day or two, my art director and I will be getting in touch with all the contributors I have chosen so far, to ask their permission to present their work in the sample spreads for my book, at Frankfurt. Crossing fingers they want to be a part of the project!

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10. A VERY Interesting Meeting about a VERY Exciting Opportunity...


On Wednesday, I took the train to Manchester again. This time I was headed for Manchester University. I was very excited to meet the Sociology team at the Morgen Centre...

It began with an email a few weeks back, asking if I would give one of the professors there a ring, to chat about an idea. Intrigued, I rang. She explained about a grant she would like to apply for, to fund a year-long project. Guess who would be at the centre of the project? Yep - little me!


They want me to spent the equivalent of 2 days a week over a whole academic year as a fly-on-the-wall, illustrating their world in sketchbooks. How brilliant is that? My first question, well one of the first was: So, what do you do all day for me to draw?

There will be the usual meetings, teaching students, working at the computer of course, but the really exciting thing is, they spend a lot of time out and about, working on research projects. There are 3 projects in particular which they are keen for me to shadow, all of which involve interviewing people in their homes or out in the urban environment. 

One is about the 'rhythms of the city': what we notice, how we feel about the outside environment we pass through every day, how we use public spaces and how we interact, or not, with others.

Another is about our relationship with the things we own: specifically, why we all have objects in our houses which we don't use, maybe don't even really want, but somehow can't bring ourselves to throw away.

The third is about the Brits' relationship with the weather: how it defines what we are and what we do, the way it impacts on how we interact with others and our environment and how different types of weather conditions create an atmosphere which is the backdrop to our lives, effecting how we feel.


As you can probably imagine, I was immediately very interested and have been helping Professor Heath put together a bid for the grant ever since. The meeting this week was to finalise some of that paperwork, to meet some of the team I'd be working with and to find out more detail about each of the projects. 

They all knew about me and are all very keen, but got even more animated when I showed them real life examples of the sketchbooks and talked them through the kit I use. If we get the money, we will be involving the whole department, students and staff, in the project: I will be running workshops to empower everybody to sketch and setting up group sketchbooks that they will work on over the year. Oh, and of course we will have a huge SketchCrawl as a climax at the end of the year!


I am SO desperate to get this job and am crossing everything I have got, hoping that our bid is accepted. I will, of course, keep you posted, though we won't know until around Christmas. How will I survive until then?

These sketches are nothing to do with the meeting but, since I was in Manchester and it WASN'T RAINING, I spent the afternoon sitting on various benches outside the Town Hall with a few Manchester-based sketch-buddies, filling my time the way I know best. 


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11. SketchCrawling in Leeds



Yes, I know we only just had an Urban Sketchers Yorkshire drawing day, in Manchester, but a fellow-sketcher had organised an event last Sunday and, since the sun was shining and John was off doing something else, I jumped on a train and tagged along.


We had a lovely time, strolling round the city centre in the area near the museum, sketching all the gorgeous architecture. At last, I have actually managed to get outside and do a day of drawing buildings! 


I started with the civic hall and managed a couple of views of that from different sketching points. I did the one above before everyone else arrived, when the sun was still shining (my train was a bit early), then we all sat down for coffee at the museum cafe and I did another, while we waited for the rain:


It got really cold and windy (and I was in a skimpy sundress - brrrrrr). We thought it must surely pour down at any second, but somehow the black clouds didn't quite let go of their load and we got away with it. 

There was a church round the corner, with a great rose window I had to have a go at next:  



I fancied a change from my pen and got out my rainbow pencil. I really wished I had brought a bigger sketchbook though. I was struggling all day to fit things in.


There was an odd bit of time left before lunch: just enough for a 20 minute quickie of the museum itself. I grabbed my Inktense pencils. This is so very different to the last sketch I did of it, when I took my group there a couple of years ago.


We walked to the art gallery for lunch in their fabulous tiled hall cafe. That is well worth a sketch too, but we were too busy scoffing. Then it was off to George Street, where there is the most sketchable hospital ever. I loved the Gothic feel and the way it was so decorated:


This is just a tiny bit of it - it's a huge building with several of these towers. Unfortunately, I was sitting on the shady side of the road to get this vantage point and got quite chilly again. All my chums were sitting in a little garden outside the hospital itself, in the sunshine:


I joined them to warm up. It was lovely to sit together for our last sketch of the day too. 

I tried a quickie of our youngest sketcher, little Katie. Unfortunately, like most 3 years olds do, she got up and went to investigate something else, just as I started to draw, but I caught her pose with paint and did the line from memory (a perfect example of the usefulness of the colour-before-line technique):


There was a good view of the Town Hall clock tower from where I was sitting. It was peaking above the roofs:


Unfortunately, those black clouds were never far away and as you can see, by the time I was done and taking the photo, it was looking decidedly dodgy again:


We went to a cafe to share our work as usual and, as usual, we had a great time, nosying through each other's sketchbooks. After that, everyone else went home, but the sun had come out again, so I hung around for one last sketch of the hospital. 

There is a very heavily decorated entrance porch I wanted to try. I was disappointed though, as I overworked it. I should have stuck with a coloured line and kept more white paper in the front section I think:


I didn't really want to end on one I wasn't really happy with, but time was getting on and I was starving, so I headed back to the station and home, ironically, in glorious sunshine with almost entirely blue skies. Buxton all over again! 


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12. August 2014 Desktop Calendar


Firstly, I must send a HAPPY 11th BIRTHDAY shout-out to my awesome (and second oldest) son. YAY!
With August arriving tomorrow, I'm sneaking onto the computer to quickly post my August 2014 desktop calendar, and then it will be time to " Assemble the Trifle!!" My son's favorite dessert. ( *note- this must be hollered in an "assemble the minnions!" Frau Farbissina sort of voice, LOL).

  I have been experimenting with adding mixed media to my Plasticine illustrations, and this month's desktop calendar features an illo that has a fun Steampunk-y flavour. I used a mix of antique-y map papers, watch gears, burlap, metallic paints and polymer clay. Ever since I created the Steampunk-y Infinity Coil medallions for the covers of Marty Chan's YA novel,  The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles, Demon Gate, my head has been swirling with Steampunk inspired ideas. I have been working away on a picture book manuscript, featuring this little guy and his mechanical wings.  It's not quite there yet, but it will be one day...

I've also been working away on the pencil sketches for Gerbil, Uncurled(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Spring 2015), written by Alison Hughes. I love this stage. Well,  I guess I love every stage of illustration :)  The studio is a flurry of papers. I like to hang up the sketches all around me, for easy reference- I am getting very excited to translate these into plasticine. Here's a pic of one wall of my studio at the moment:

(Yes, I've blurred out the images, 
we aren't quite ready to give any sneak peeks just yet. SOON!)



My day was made even more awesome when I saw that the first picture book I illustrated, Skink on the Brink( Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Spring 2013, written by Lisa Dalrymple) received a lovely review in The Deakin Review of Children's Literature. 

 I hope you are all having a wonderful summer so far. To download the desktop calendar simply select a screen resolution and right click " Save to desktop". Enjoy!

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13. Summertime, summertime

This summer I've been writing, sketching, painting, playing, and learning.










And I've been attending Nerdy Chicks Rule Summer School 2014, Building Character. You can check it out here. This online class is chock full of goodness and it's FREE! Kami Kinard and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen have put together a talented faculty and I'm learning so much. Thanks, Ladies :)

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14. Meerkat Love

giraffe450

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE

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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15. 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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16. Elegant Elephant, Arrogant?

elephant450 2

..A PERFORMANCE YOU’LL NEVER FORGET

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

………………………………………………………………………..

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

So.

You know.

This.


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17. 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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18. Guest Appearance...


My copy of Thomas Thorspecken's new Urban Sketching book just arrived in the post. 'Thor', as he's known in the Urban Sketching world, is a fellow Urban Sketchers Correspondent, working in Orlando. 

I haven't had time to have a proper look at Thor's book yet, but it's crammed with gorgeous stuff and looks really interesting:


Thing is, the very next morning, I got an email from fellow-sketcher Richard Bell. He said that he had found me lurking in one of the sketches in his copy of Thor's book. He wondered if I appeared, Hitchcock-like, tucked away in a corner of every sketching book!

Richard wouldn't tell me exactly where he'd seen me: he thought finding myself might make a fun, Where's Wally kind of game. I smiled and thought no more about it for a few hours until John popped his head round the studio door with the book.

There are 128 pages and approx 400 illustrations in Thor's book, but John couldn't resist the challenge and found me (luckily only on page 37):



Turns out it's not one of Thor's sketches but one done by Lapin, during a meal at the Santo Domingo symposium a couple of years back:


Fancy that!

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19. Leap of Faith

bunny fly 450

Sometimes

ya just gotta

take it.


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20. 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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21. 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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22. 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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23. Happy Father’s Day, y’all

bunny daddy 450


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24. Happy 4th of July!


4th of July kitty 450


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25. 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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