Foiled Again!

Chocolate; it’s one of my favourite things. I thought this (partially eaten) bar in bright silver foil and dark card would be a good subject for an ink drawing with my brushpen. Working in ‘binary’ is very interesting and throws up all sorts of problems with how to depict contours when you don’t have the opportunity to put in mid-tones. It’s a little like making a print.

Because I rather overdid the darks in some areas, I felt the whole picture was in danger of becoming flat, and the foil becoming confused with the chocolate. Tombows to the rescue! I quite like the feeling of restricted colour which has resulted.

Chocolate ink

So, although I’m very late to the Doodlwash Dinner, and didn’t have time to prepare a dish, I did have a rummage around in my handbag and found this… a piece of chocolate, anyone?

Standing Right There

Yesterday I managed to rock up to Saturday music school complete with drawing materials and a sketchpad of appropriate size, which felt like a triumph after last week’s forgetfulness. I did, fortunately, remember my instrument and music too, although these are fast becoming a side-event at what I’m starting to see as my ‘weekend sketch session’.

Music stand tombows2This time it wasn’t easy to draw the brass group participants – they’d arranged themselves so that I’d have to be very conspicuous to get a decent look at them; being of a relatively retiring nature when sketching, and not wanting to make anyone nervous while they were playing, I opted for an alternative subject.

I was attracted by the negative spaces and interplay of lines and intersections created by this group of music stands, which were waiting in one corner for the next ensemble to seize them. Their shiny metal frames were thrown into high contrast against the stacks of bright blue plastic chairs behind.

I made my initial sketch in sepia fineliner, and it made a reasonable drawing, but I decided to be fearless (or maybe reckless) and add some strong background colour. I was anxious as I did it, thinking that the sepia sketch might be a bit too fiddly and confusing to stand with a bold background; I’m still uncertain as to whether or not I like the result. It might have been more effective if I’d been able to achieve more white space, effectively giving a silhouette of the stands (rather than this more line-y, sketchy appearance). I also don’t really like the streakiness of the background. Still, it was a very absorbing way to spend 25 minutes, and another blank page filled.


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…

Band Substance

It’s Saturday again, so I’m back at the music school, listening to the brass group rehearse. This time I took my Tombow pens with me, and had fun jotting some quick sketches of a couple of players and the conductor (again).

Brass group tombowsI’m finding the motion of the players, and particularly their conductor, really very challenging, but it’s definitely good practice at trying to convey quickly a sense of the person. I haven’t really spent any time before sketching people, so I’m enjoying getting my teeth into these. It’s not often you find a captive, relatively stationary, group of people who are almost oblivious to your sketching – I recommend it!

There will almost certainly be more sketches like this one to come as I try to get to grips with capturing fleeting stances and expressions.

Bird Brains

We’ve recently extended our family to the tune of 5 chickens and a cockerel; it seems fitting that the first day I’ve tried to draw them is today, Laura’s ‘Draw a Bird Day’. Lucky for me!

I’ve done a lot of looking at these guys since they arrived with us a week ago. Their dinosaur heritage is clear to see, particularly in the long-legged cockerel. And I love the way the girls’ skirts billow out as they run towards you in the hopes of food. The birds are full of character, and each has his or her little ways. One’s bossy, another’s sly, this one is timid and easily led and that one is bold beyond wisdom… perhaps just like people?

Chickens brown paper tombowAnyway, out came the brown paper sketchbook for a first go. I thought I was just going to do this in black fineliner and white Conte crayon, but once I got stuck in it seemed that colour was called for, so the Tombows came into the mix too. Because the paper’s so thin, you don’t get much of a watercolour effect from the pens, more of a felt-tip feel. But still, it was fun to get some colour onto the paper.

For those who are interested in chickens, the two fat red hens are bog-standard hybrid layers, the multi-coloured cockerel is an Old English Game bird, and the little black hen is a Silver Sussex. So there you go. I think it’s likely that there will be more chicken-related posts coming up, as we get used to each other.

Fruit, Figurative

The figs are ripe on the tree, and the birds are starting to feast on them; we’ve picked a bowlful I’m not sure how to use – jam maybe? I usually make fig pie, but there’s only so much of that a body can eat. Anyway, a stray couple of figs made their way to my desk to be converted into a Tombow picture.

Figs TombowsAs you can see, I got totally carried away with the purples, making the centre of the fruit way too dark. However, I was happy to be able to mix a brown and a blue to get the interesting shadow colour, which I rather like, and which came courtesy of a shadow-making suggestion from fellow blogger Lance at Weisser Watercolours. I’m sure if I’d used the correct blue and brown it would have been even better, but the pens don’t have colour names, just numbers, so I had to guess what to use!