Unbuttoned

I’m not sure what happened with this picture – it was supposed to be quite free and fairly large scale, but it turned into a mediocre ink painting. With nothing to lose, I decided to have a play on top with some bigger outlines using a very fine nibbed dip pen, but this was my first try on watercolour paper, and being a leftie it turned out quite scratchy. Never mind. It’s just an experiment, after all.

Daffs or Narcissus?

Who knows? But they are always a cheery sign that Spring is well under way.

I started with a torn paper background from an old bag, then added fineliner and white gel pen for highlights.

A simple, quick, image of hopefulness.

The Dome

Not too long ago my son and I had a day out in London together. I had packed a few Tombows, my fineliner and my funsize sketchbook, but to be honest I didn’t think I’d really have a chance for any sketching as our schedule was quite packed.

However, after we’d spent time at the Science Museum (the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition was on), and also looked at the oriental swords in the V&A next door, we headed out to Docklands to rendez-vous with my husband who was going to pick us up in the car.

We arrived ahead of schedule at the ‘O2’, which used to be called the Millennium Dome, but now has become a commercial enterprise. As luck would have it, there was a Country music weekend happening – possibly my least favourite genre of all. The place was packed with folks in stetsons and cowboy boots, fringed garments and Daisy Duke shorts. We shuddered, and found a spot in the sunshine outside. The boy plugged in to the iPod, while I whipped out the sketchbook.

The Dome itself really is quite an extraordinary sight. I wouldn’t call it attractive, but it is distinctive. You may recall seeing it in The World is Not Enough, where James Bond slides down its sides. We didn’t do that.

Funsize O2

Anyway, when it came to sketching, there was a lot to look at, from the white plastic dome itself to the many guy-ropes holding it up, and the giant yellow antennae. The geometry was certainly a bit of a challenge, especially working so small. I used a sepia fineliner, a sepia brush tip pen and a selection of Tombows. On this occasion I chose to omit the throngs of Country-lovers. Maybe they’ll feature another time…

Big Bird

Dawdling and doodling at Girona Airport; it’s one of the most picturesque runway views you could wish to find, thanks to its mountain backdrop. This little funsize sketch was a challenge, particularly due to the foreshortening of the plane, and the irregular oval shape of the jet housings. Normally in my funsize (3x3in) sketchbook I go straight in with the ink, but caution got the better of me this time, as I could see that boarding was about to commence and I knew I had limited time to get this sketch down. So, I broke my own rules and used a few quick pencil guidelines first to make sure the form was approximately right. Then it was on with the fineliner and a little shading using a black Tombow and water pen. Happy landings!

Funsize Girona Airport

It’s Behind You!

This little ‘funsize’ sketch (3x3ins) was made on a visit to the ancient and very pretty Spanish hill town of Besalu, with its impressive medieval bridge. The weather was fine, so two of our party sat down at river level to draw the bridge; however, I didn’t think the tiny format of this sketchbook would cope very well with the bridge from our vantage point.

Fortunately, just looking in the other direction offered a  rather picturesque view of the buildings clustered on the side of the hill, in the shadow of a mountain, and this is what I chose.

Funsize Besalu

This little sketch is made in black fineliner and shaded with a black Tombow watercolour marker and waterpen to blur the paint. I was pleased with the effect and depth I achieved here, despite a fairly minimalist approach to materials.

Did You Ever?

I popped into King’s Lynn museum today in the hopes of finding something interesting to sketch, and was not disappointed. When I arrived, the museum was full of four-year-olds on a school trip; there was a certain buzz and hubbub as you can imagine. Luckily, my arrival coincided with their preparations to leave, so I did end up with a more tranquil sketching session. And it was easy to find something to draw today, as this oddity caught my eye. I plonked myself down on the floor and took its strangeness in.

Funsize skate ink

Did you ever see anything like it?

This pair of ‘Road Roller’ skates dates from about 1920 and featured in a display about recreation. I only had time to draw one, and to me it looks like the love-child of an ice-skate and a bicycle. Obviously, the design didn’t catch on in the way that the more traditional roller skate did – they do look terribly precarious and also rather fragile in comparison. The wearer not only had to strap him or herself into the boots, but then to tie the wooden lats to their leg as extra bracing. The wheels have solid rubber tyres, and are very narrow compared to a standard roller skate wheel. I imagine the first few minutes on these was a pretty terrifying experience!

The drawing went into my funsize sketchbook (3x3in) with a Pitt sepia pen – two items which live happily in my handbag ‘on the offchance’, and which were perfect for today.

Haring About

Today I found myself in King’s Lynn once again, waiting for the car to pass its MOT test, which normally takes around an hour and a half. The town’s not very big, and so once I’d had a scone, and done some small errands, I was free to find a good place to sketch. There are many lovely buildings in the town, if you’re of a mind for architectural drawing, but since I’d only packed my funsize (3x3in) sketchbook, I felt that would be a bit ambitious. Instead, I took myself over to Lynn Museum.

The Museum’s housed in an old Victorian church, and holds a small but very varied collection charting human activity from prehistoric times up to the early 20th Century. There’s a big exhibit relating to Seahenge, a large wooden ceremonial circle found on one of the Norfolk beaches (and subsequently dug up, preserved and on display), but that wasn’t what I was looking for today. I was initially drawn to the collections of smaller objects, ranging from Egyptian shabti to Roman brooches, and I very nearly set pen to paper…however, on turning around and looking for a chair, I saw this chap.

Hare ink and tombowI knew this was the subject for me. The brown hare is a common sight in the North Norfolk fields; in fact, their phenomenal breeding success recently has meant that measures have had to be taken to reduce populations. I still find it a joy to see the hares (we call them ‘turbo bunnies’) racing effortlessly across farmland, their long legs and ears looking impossibly large and yet streamlined.

This particular taxidermy subject was not wearing his years especially lightly. His ears were perhaps rather more crinkly than nature intended, and the fur on his legs was thinning and looked just a little saggy in places. However, I was grateful for the chance to get a really good look at his dimensions; I had never realised quite how long the forelegs are, or how far back on the body they appear when the hare is at rest. Even his whiskers are angled backwards – super-streamlining. Once I had taken these details in, this animal’s ability to cover wide spaces very fast made total sense.

I sketched out the drawing in my sepia fineliner, and added shading and colour using the Tombow markers and waterbrush. The museum was extremely quiet, so I had no interruptions and was able to get back to the garage on time, happy that I’d done something positive with the morning.

Waiting

Despite my best intentions today, I left the house with my Tombow pens and waterbrush, but without my A5 watercolour sketchbook. When we arrived at the Saturday music school I realised that this was going to necessitate a change of plan. A hopeful rummage around in my (very large) handbag produced my 3×3 inch ‘funsize’ cartridge sketchbook (and sepia fineliner), so at least I had something on which to draw.

Funsize Drum kitI didn’t feel that the confines of this tiny sketchbook would let me sketch people comfortably. So, as I was whiling away the half-hour during my son’s brass group, I settled instead on drawing the compact drum kit standing ready in the middle of the rehearsal room, which, like me, was waiting for the next session. If ever there was a subject to offer practice at drawing elipses, this is it!

At the outset I thought I was going to restrict this sketch to fineliner only, but changed my mind and added in some highlights with the watercolour pens at the last minute. This was a little nerve-wracking, as I wasn’t sure how the cartridge paper would cope with the water. In fact, it proved quite resilient, and I’m pleased with the effect. Another memory duly logged in ink…

Saturday Band

For us, Saturday morning means Saturday Band at the West Norfolk Music Centre. Adults and children alike are welcome, and join together in a sometimes harmonious ensemble.

Music centre watercolourToday was the first day for my son joining in the brass group, so I had time to sketch while they played for half an hour. I had packed light – just a watercolour sketchbook and a sepia fineliner pen. However, when I came to start I didn’t fancy using the sepia, so I dug around in my handbag and found a ballpoint, which answered my need much better. It wasn’t too bad sketching out the players and conductor, as they kept relatively still while they were actually playing, entirely focused on the music.

I noted down the colours and completed these with watercolours when I got home. I really enjoyed this sketching session, and think that I might try to use these spare moments (complete with captive, oblivious models) more often on a Saturday. It’s not bad, drawing with a live soundtrack!

Funsize Sketch – Espresso

Funsize EspressoIt just doesn’t seem right to visit Italy and not have an espresso. But I don’t like coffee. At all. Fortunately, my friends and loved ones do, so here’s my record of an espresso in Venice, kindly drunk for me by my husband at a cafe at the water’s edge, bathed in morning sunshine.

A very quick sketch, 3ins square, drawn with a sepia fineliner. It’s a rather dodgy execution in parts, but hey, another good memory recorded.