Stream of Consciousness

On a recent trip to Yorkshire we ventured out with friends to trek Gordale Scar gulley and Malham Cove limestone pavement. It was a brilliant walk, with much to see, including Peregrine Falcons circling and swooping on the rising air.

Malham bridge tombow

Towards the end of the walk we had a little time in Malham village, just enough to be able to quickly, and slightly uncomfortably, sit on a stone wall to sketch the old bridge over the peaceful little river. A flirty Dipper paid a visit too, perched on a stone and ducking into the clear water to catch its meal.

My favourite black Tombow, water brush and fineliner once again did the honours on my A5 W&N sketchbook (I’m gradually getting used to the ridiculously smooth paper). Happy days.


Lucky Rabbit

A friend moving job – a good luck card needed. An idea overnight, an early morning painting snippet. Ta da!

This is the first non-realistic bit of painting I’ve done in ages, and I think it’s my first ever ‘cutesie’ picture. But I really enjoyed doing it. Humour me, and let’s pretend that four-leafed clovers are bigger than baby rabbits.

I was working small (about 3 ins square) which I don’t think I’ve ever done in watercolour. It was a complete revelation. I sketched the outline in pencil, and then got out my paints. The colour went on so easily, some of the ‘leftover’ colour in my palette being perfect for rabbit’s fur, and it graduated nicely too.

Lucky bunny watercolour

Doing this was so much fun and so satisfyingly and inexplicably simple that I’m actually slightly afraid to try again. 🙂

Blackcurrant tea

We made a sketching tea-stop during a recent visit to the genteel grandeur of Leeds Corn Exchange. These days the building has been re-invented as a venue for small independent boutiques, quirky coffee shops and pop-up events.

My focus was my friend Suzie’s choice; I was smitten by the beautiful purple of her blackcurrant tea, the stark contrast between the liquid, the white cup and the black cast-iron teapot, beautifully set on a wooden board.

I only had my monochrome sketch kit to hand, so did my best to convey the contrast with fineliner, black Tombow and waterbrush. Suzie was very considerate in her slow consumption of the tea!

Blackcurrant tea tombow

It was definitely a lot less daunting than drawing the surroundings, which were full of complex geometry, ellipses and perspective abounding. Suzie’s husband and mine made a great job of their architectural sketches, but I decided to leave that view for another time…maybe. Perhaps you can see why?

Some days…

Some days everything goes right. Then there’s the other sort of day. You know, when you’re just not feeling it. This was one of the latter.

The big white cross was supposed to be the dividing spars of a sash window. I was hoping they’d split the picture up into uneven quadrants, adding a bit of interest and intrigue. I wanted some reflection to be visible in the window panes, but with interior darkness providing a foil for the stark white flowers. But no.

And let’s not even talk about those horrible washes. I gave up. I don’t even want to go back and meddle with it to see if it can be improved. Moving swiftly on…

Poor orchid. Maybe next time.

Orchid window watercolour

Red Lights

My husband suggested a sketching trip to the local railway station. Why not? It’s a little rural station still with a few of its Edwardian features amidst the slightly less antiquated railway paraphernalia. We found our pitches, mine selected for its view of the converging lines of perspective and the overhead cables.

Uncharacteristically, I sketched this one out in pencil first, A5 size. I was rather worried about making a mess of the perspective and the eraser came in very handy. Once I’d got the basics in I firmed up the lines in fineliner, and added the shading using my trusty Tombow and water brush.

Downham Station tombow

Taking a leaf out of Hugo Costa‘s sketchbook, I added a couple of hints of colour (and the lamp-posts really were red) to enliven the picture a little – rather a departure for me, and I enjoyed what felt like the riskiness of the addition. It’s not the tidiest sketch I’ve ever made, but an interesting composition.

Strange Bird

What is it? Who knows? But I can tell you how it was done. Quickly, and drawing with a pipette loaded with acrylic ink – an experimental technique currently being enjoyed by my painting pal Andy.

The bird was far more vibrantly coloured until the inks ran together (boo), but it’s all down to experience. I was very excited by the way the leaves turned out though. I can definitely see me having another go at this, the dribbly randomness of the line is liberating.

Fantasy bird ink

Mark Making

Sunday afternoon, sketching in the garden. Husband (Mark) drawing vine leaves, me drawing him. I chose pencil this time, feeling somewhat obliged to put my money where my mouth was after giving him a long diatribe on why it’s important to be able to use pencil for shading, because of the subtlety of grades it offers the user. I have a nasty suspicion that I spent less time drawing this than telling him why he needs to get over the ‘messiness’ of graphite and accept its many merits.

This in mind, it’s rather ironic then that I didn’t really smooth out the shades or get a particularly wide variety of tones…but you know, the sun was very bright and the contrast high. That’s my excuse, for what it’s worth, and I’m sticking to it. Anyway it made a nice, comfortable change to get stuck in with the old 4B for a few minutes.

Mark sketching pencil