Airport Reportage

Luton Airport isn’t the most inspiring place, generally speaking. But it is a good place for people-watching, even if you can’t guarantee they will stay still for long.

Waiting for our flights to France, I was able to pass a few quick minutes sketching fellow passengers – good practice for fast sketching. I have realised that it pays dividends to have a really good look at the person, then try to imagine what their face would look like from other angles, before setting pencil to paper. This gives a bit of an advantage when they move (which they surely will).

I probably spent about 10 minutes each on these small sketches, and am fairly happy with what I learned. Working fast is de rigueur, and pencil is ideal. I definitely need to do more of this (although I wouldn’t go so far as to make the airport my destination)!


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

Hard Lines

Not so long ago friends came to visit for the weekend, and since they enjoy sketching and photography, and because the weather was truly awful, with leaden skies and driving rain, we paid a visit to Ely Cathedral, that (relatively) warm, dry staple.

The cathedral was fairly busy that day, so we dispersed, each to their own dark corner to create a picture from whatever appealed. This was my second sketching visit to the cathedral (here’s the first), and it took a while for me to find a view. In the end the decision was largely dictated by the availability of a small wall to sit on, with some gentle lighting above – very necessary for a sketcher in the dark cathedral interior.

I’d travelled light, deciding to work in pencil for a change. I work much faster in graphite than paint, so I hoped my choice would mean I wouldn’t be the last to finish and holding everyone up. In fact I really enjoyed making the pencils work for me, trying to achieve some good darks and lights to show up the intricate stonework of the cathedral interior, and the contrast with the array of flags. Using graphite always feels rather comfortable and familiar, especially if it’s been a while since I drew with it. And there was enough technicality in this scene to mean I was very grateful not to have to wrestle with the materials as well as the daunting and complicated perspective. Those medieval cathedral designers knew a trick or two…





I thought yesterday was going to slip away without me getting a chance to make a sketch, but just before my son went to bed I managed to scribble a fast little one of him playing patience and listening to Harry Potter on his headphones.

Ted patience graphite

I had to scrabble around a bit first to find a soft pencil, it’s been so long since I’ve drawn in graphite in earnest. I do think my practice at drawing in ink is paying off, as I managed only to use the eraser for a little tidying up, and although there are some issues with his anatomy, as a very quick ‘live’ sketch I’m encouraged. Maybe patience is being rewarded?