Drawing 1: Part IV: Figure Drawing: The Moving Figure: sitting and waiting / fleeting moments / research

Project: The Moving Figure

Exercise : Sitting and waiting OCA p121



The sketches that follow are a mixed bunch which have mostly been taken from life as I’ve been out and about.

The characters on the right are drawn in pencil, graphite and ink.  I drew these quick sketches in a park to try to get a feel for the shapes and postures.

They are all on an A5 format.











Above: Fishing off the pier (pencil).  I liked the lines of the rods and the man seated on the back of the bench.  Also the receding coastline in the background.  I often forget to put in the backgrounds!  It’s good that fishermen stay still for so long.

Right (5 format – soft pencil and charcoal) is a man sitting on the beach waiting for a game of volleyball to start.  This was quite difficult as he kept moving.




Left are two boys sitting in an outdoor cafe.  I found the angles of the bench set really difficult but got there in the end. Graphite on A6.

The girl below was standing around with her drink.  I drew her in squiggly lines in ink for an experiment.













Left and below are people waiting in queues.  The figure on the left is split into two halves.  She was so ‘neat’ I wanted to get all of her in



The lady on the right was beautifully rounded – head, body and even her hair bun.





We are also urged to draw from magazines, newspapers, photographs and TV.  Here is a selection of my drawings from these media:
































These were really good extra practice, epecially in proportions, stance, gesture and the other elements we are trying to achieve in this course.  All were drawn in A6 format.




Exercise : Fleeting moments : OCA p122

There are several quick sketches below showing fleeting moments; from a chap on a bike to my husband cooking, hanging washing or cleaning the oven.  I have tried to capture the essence of the moment.   The sketches are in my little A6 notebook.  I was especially pleased with capturing the odd angle of the head in the lower picture 142/7







sketch # 135/7




























The little boys below were frolicking in the sea.  I took a quick snap so I could get the proportions and stance right as they didn’t stay still for even a second.









Whilst sitting in an outdoor cafe I saw this man with the pram was playing finger games with his child and on the same page I drew a little girl with her bag who was walking toward me briefly and there’s a Mum with a baby in a front sling







Exercise: Research point: people watching : OCA p123


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Drawing 1: Part IV: Figure Drawing: Gesture: stance / energy

 Project – Gesture 

Exercise : Stance : OCA p 113

This exercise asked that I do draw quick poses, showing the centre of gravity and types of stance.  My first attempts were 2 minute outlines of a male model on A3, drawn with pen.  I enjoyed this exercise as it brought home to me the necessity to have the figure balanced and not feeling as if it is falling over:

Fig 1 : #181
Fig 1 : #181/6
Fig 2.  Ink drawings of female model. 2 minutes each on A3 cartridge paper.  I am

Fig 1 : # 177/2

Fig 2 : # 177/2

beginning to get a better feel for quick drawings though some of the poses were challenging.

Fig 2 : #178

Fig 3 : #178

Fig 3 (above).  These are 3 minute drawings.  The long hair in the centre sketch looks strange as the model had a hat on.  Not great proportionally, but an early attempt.  These were drawn in graphite.

Fig 4 : #179

Fig 4 : #179

Fig 4:  Drawn in conte crayon on cartridge A3, these took 5 minutes each.  I used the square crayon to achieve a softer line.

Fig : #

Fig 5: #191/3






Fig 5 (right) also took 5 minutes.  It is executed in charcoal in A5 format.

A couple of the poses above are sitting, kneeling or leaning but it was still interesting to think about where the centre of gravity might be.

Exercise : Energy : OCA p 114

The exercise calls for 5 minute poses in dynamic positions.  I warmed up with 30 second poses since my elderly model could not manage 5 minutes with arms raised or other dynamism.

Fig 6: sketch #s 182 – 185/6

These sketches are on A4.  The first, in pencil, tried to capture the dynamism without any detail at all.  The next two (top right and bottom left) did the same but in tombow ink which is extremely unforgiving and the bottom right sketch was executed in graphite.

I drew many other sketches in my notebooks. They were all 30 sec to 2 mins but are not shown here.

Below are my 3 x 5 minute poses, all drawn in my A4 sketchpad.


Fig 7 : #192/6


Fig 7, left, is drawn in a soft pencil.

Fig 8 : #

Fig 8 : #193/6



Fig 8 (right) I really struggled with because of the foreshortening of the right lower leg and the extending of the right arm – poor man looks like an ape.

Fig 9: #

Fig 9: # 194/6



Fig 9 uses conte crayon which makes a soft line.  I liked the contours of the back.


I was interested to note how little time 5 minutes is when I’m sketching.  It takes much longer than I think to produce a drawing.



Check and Log:

  • I think I have captured the pose in terms of the viewer’s understanding of what was going on but I would love to deliver more energy to my drawing but don’t yet have the skill
  • I think my figures are balanced.  None seem to be falling over but the proportions are not all they should be.
  • I tried to convey energy through the form rather than any other tricks or techniques.
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Drawing 1: Part IV: Figure Drawing: Form – essential shapes / essential elements

Exercise:  Essential Shapes : OCA p 110

For this 1-hour long exercise I did some warm up sketches to practice quick angled poses.  My model did not feel he could sustain these positions for long so I waited to complete the longer pose until I had a professional model to draw.

Fig 1: twisted pose : sketch #

Fig 1: twisted pose : sketch # 160/3

Fig 1 above was my first twisted pose with both the torso and legs making interesting angles.  It took about 7 minutes to draw in ink using a quick proportion tool (my pencil).

Below (fig 2) the back arm is foreshortened and I did find that difficult; even now it looks wrong but I worked with the negative space around the arm to make sure it was in the right place.  I made the thighs too short but then lengthened them.  I must have forgotten to check the proportions on them or they would not have been so far out.

fig 2 : #161/3

fig 2 : #161/3

Fig 3 : #

Fig 3 : # 168/6

Fig 3 above – another attempt at a twisted pose with the arm and leg twisting in the same direction away from the hips.

Fig 4 below took me a few minutes.  I think this came out quite well and it was especially difficult due to the foreshortening of the thighs.  In this pose the left leg and right arm fold over in opposition to one another.

Fig 4 : #164/3

Fig 4 : #164/3

Fig 5 : sketch # 170/6

Fig 5 : sketch # 170/6


Fig 5 shows a 5 minute twisted pose with a new model.  This is executed in graphite on A4.




Having completed the above practice sketches I had the opportunity to draw another nude model for a much longer sitting.  I used tinted paper and darkened areas with charcoal and highlighted with chalk.


Fig 6: #173/L/A3 tinted

Figure 6.  The model is almost facing me with her frame twisted to her left and her right arm leaning on the arm frame.  The frame she is sitting on was covered in cloth but there was no more time for detail work (This probably took me about half an hour anyway).  The thighs are foreshortened in this pose which, again, I found difficult.





Essential Elements : OCA p 111

6 different poses lasting 10 minutes each with the light shining on one side of the figure:

Fig 7 : Nude male lying on soft bed.  Pencil drawing on A4.

Fig 7: #168/6

Fig 7: #168/6

Clothed male figure (Fig 8 below) – very poor proportions on the legs.  I do struggle with proportions when I only have a few minutes.  I guess that will come with practice.  Charcoal drawing in A5 sketchbook

Fig 8 : sketch #165/3

Fig 8 : sketch #165/3

Fig 9: Nude female on covered box. Charcoal pencil on A5 cartridge paper.

Fig 9: #169/6

Fig 9: #169/6








Fig 10: #171/6

Fig 10: #171/6


Fig 10: Nude female on cushions – charcoal rubbed into background; form made with an eraser and shaded in afterwards.  Tried to get light and shade more prominently in this drawing.






Fig 11 : #166/3

Fig 11 : #166/3




Fig 11: charcoal pencil drawing of seated clothed female.  I think this is the best one so far and I checked proportions as thoroughly as I could in the time available though I went over time somewhat.  I’m pleased to see a slight improvement over these drawings.



Fig 11 :  #172/L/A3

Fig 12 : #172/L/A3



In Fig 12 I have used tinted brown paper and created the tonal values with charcoal and chalk as the lightest and darkest and the tint of the paper for the middle range.  I would have liked to have had more time for more detail. Oh dear, forgot to keep track of time – I got so involved in it.



Check and log:

  • I tried to maintain the correct proportions at the same time as creating a sense of weight and three dimensional form but I need lots more practice.
  • Figure 10 above gives the best sense of the pose because it is clear she is sitting on a chair.
  • In the ‘essential shapes’ exercise above (figs 1-5) there are various movements away from the central axis.  These were, at times, difficult to convey due to foreshortening and also my own struggles with proportion.
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Drawing 1 : Part IV : Figure Drawing : Proportion : quick poses / the longer pose

Quick Poses : OCA p108 : 2 minute sketches / warm up

This exercise starts off with 5 x 2 minute sketches of my model in a comfortable position.  It asks that particular attention is paid to proportions but in 2 minutes I did find that very hard.  I must admit that the time gradually grew to 4-5 minutes as I tried to get it right. These are my efforts in graphite and charcoal, using my pencil as my guide to proportions.

Fig 1 : #

Fig 1 : #139/7

Fig 1:  I tried the envelope method for the above drawing.  I did not find it helped!

Fig 2

Fig 2 #153/5


Fig 2:  For this drawing I used pencil on a square format.  There are faint lines showing proportions but they have not shown up in the photo.






Below in figure 3 I have used charcoal on the same square format sketchbook.

Fig 3

Fig 3: 155/5

Fig 4: #141/7

Fig 4: #141/7


In fig 4 (left) I started by drawing in the axis of the shoulders and body.  This in an A6 notebook and I have used charcoal.  I have spent a little more time on grounding the figure onto the cushions but left the detail of the head.




Fig 5 : #140/7

Fig 5 : #140/7

This sketch (fig 5 – right) took a little longer again as I measured more carefully, but it does how a little improvement.  This drawing is in my A6 sketchbook and is in charcoal.





2 x 10 minute drawings of the same pose:

Fig : sketch #

Fig 6: sketch #173/5

Fig 6 above shows my first 10 minute post in charcoal where I have included some of the background and tried very hard with the proportions.  This is in a square format sketchbook.

In Fig 7 below. I have taken more time over the outline, shading, proportions, face and hands and

Fig 7 : #174/5

Fig 7 : #174/5

therefore kept to the top half of the body in my 10 minute slot.  I used graphite for this sketch.  I notice I am beginning to see more and more of the figure, noticing little details and where the reality doesn’t match my expectations.  Interesting.

More drawings of same pose from different angles:

Fig X: sketch # 156/5

Fig 8: sketch # 156/5

Fig 8 above:  This took me about 10 minutes and I have looked at the proportions and made notes on each latitudinal line as I went along.  Pencil in square format sketchbook.

Fig 9: #195/3

Fig 9: #195/3



Fig 9 shows a different angle again.  This one is in my A5 sketchbook and is in ink.  The problem with ink or felt-tip is that we can’t erase errors!


Fig 10: #196/3

Fig 10: #196/3




Fig 10 uses pencil in my A5 sketchbook.  I have again given the body more solidity by shading in the cushions. I kept the sketch to 10 minutes or so.  I was pleased with the facial/head area and the angles of the body but the right arm and hand at the back was a bit of a dead loss as my model kept moving it despite nagging!


The Longer pose : OCA p 109

In this exercise my model had to sit for an hour whilst I checked measurements and drew him in charcoal.  I was quite pleased with my effort, given the level I was at at the beginning of this module.

Fig 11 : The longer pose :sketch # 157/2

Fig 11: The longer pose :sketch # 157/2

Shading the body gives it more depth and solidity and having more time for the furniture and background create a more complete picture of the event.

Check and log

  • I believe I have managed to make a complete statement in my hour-long drawing.  My main problems were:  how much to draw in the background, getting the proportions right and getting more contrast in the picture.
  • I believe I have captured the relaxed feel of this pose, the slight lean of the body and the sense of gazing out over the balcony.
  • The proportions look good to me but I’m sure I will get a better ‘eye’ in months and years to come.



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Drawing 1 : Part III : ASSIGNMENT

Assignment III

Assignment III asks us to select a view from a window or open door and demonstrate the skills learned in this landscape module.

My first practice was with general views from windows, such as those below:

DSC_0001DSC_0003DSC_0007 (2)








My assignment drawing is from a visit to the St Fagan’s museum which houses many old buildings that have been brought from around Wales brick-by-brick and stone-by-stone to be faithfully rebuilt at St Fagans.

From the windows and doors of each building others may be viewed, as it the case here.

Fig 1. initial sketch of area

Fig 1. initial sketch of area


Fig 2: looking at perspective

My preliminary sketches are, as ever, light-weight.  I work best when I don’t overdo the initial sketching as I then become disillusioned with my choices very quickly. Here you see my initial sketch on site (fig 1) and another which concentrates on the perspective (fig 2).  I have another drawing which is too faint to photograph focusing on where I chose to stand to create the most interesting view.

I knew I would use coloured pencils for this exercise because I missed out on using them  in an earlier exercise, so I’m not allowing myself a choice.  Here is my final drawing (Fig 3)

The criteria asks me to use natural and man made forms and to show perspective.  I have achieved this criteria in some respects but I am not at all enamoured of this drawing.  It is prosaic.  I think this is because I am still drawing more photographically than imaginatively and some of my earlier works and sketches are looser and have more life.  Assignment work seems to bring the worst out in me.

Fig X : Assignment III : sketch #

Fig 3 : Assignment III : sketch #133/L/A3

I must admit to hating coloured pencils as well!  My natural style would be quick and sketchy and I haven’t mastered this medium in a way that suits me at all.  I shall do some sketching in my notebook and use coloured pencils in a looser way to practice this art. All the videos on You Tube seem to show layering and very careful pencil techniques so I shall need to think outside the box.  I am not pleased with myself.

I have also noticed that I prefer natural forms and, although I’m dreading the figure drawing module, perhaps it will give me a chance to get away from straight lines and into finding the character of each piece.

Regrettably I’ve also had bouts of severe arthritis which haven’t helped my process and my work has been broken up with weeks between starting and finishing a drawing.  That’s no way to keep up the motivation and has not given me time for extra sketching.  Never mind.  Onward and upward.



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Drawing 1 : Part III : Drawing Trees

Exercise : Sketching an individual Tree : OCA p 98

I decided to try sketching several trees so that I would get a feel for their different shapes and characteristics and that would enable me to decide what type of tree to draw for the exercise.

Here are some of my initial sketches:

Practicing mark-making

Fig 1 : #93/3 Practicing mark-making


Fig 2 : #109/4.  A large tree in the park









Fig 4 : 100/3.  This tree looked very dead but its skeleton was so gnarled and lovely, I thought it worth drawing




Fig 3 : 110/4 Another large tree with its structure on display as the leaves are barely showing


Fig 5 : #99/3. This little cherry tree was just breaking into leaf and was reflected in a pond

Fig 5: more trees by the water

Fig 6: more trees in the park










I used charcoal pencil, graphite, ink and soft charcoal for the various images above then I did my 4 preliminary sketches, ready for my final drawing:

Larger study of a Tree : OCA p 99

Fig 6 : sketch 115/L/A4

Fig 7 : sketch 115/L/A4

Fig 7 : My 4-part sketch shows firstly the outline of the tree, secondly which branches I could see through the leaf cloud, thirdly the tonal areas and finally the bark on a branch and trunk.  These all helped me in the final drawing by familiarising me with the tree before I started.

Fig 7 : 116/L/A4

Fig 8 : 116/L/A4


Fig  : A weeping birch in a graveyard in Denmark is the tree I chose for this sketch.  I’ve used pencil (4B and 6B) and I have tried to be faithful to the light and shade within the branches.  The sun was high and just behind the tree.  I added the bushes where they contrasted (and I enjoyed the mark-making for them) but faded the picture out where the box hedges around the gravestones were, not to detract from the main focus of attention.

Study of Several Trees : OCA p 100

The image below (Fig 9) was completed in chalk pastels on coloured sugar paper.  I chose that medium because I felt it would best show off the autumn leaves.   I’m pleased with the outcome though I realise in hindsight I have used pastels a couple of times before and perhaps a different medium would have shown a variety of skills.

Fig 9:  Study of several trees

Fig 9: #127/L/A3 : Study of several trees

The trees looked dramatic against the pale sky and I have highlighted this.  They almost seem alive and about to pounce.  On the whole I was pleased with this study.

Check and Log

  • I’ve drawn more than eleven tree types
  • I used various marks, thicknesses of pen / pencil / charcoal to distinguish each type, concentrating on the ‘feel’ of the tree
  • foliage masses have been created with various marks, shapes and density
  • I handled light in the trees by creating heavier masses in the darker areas to leave white paper showing through for light
  • I have certainly selected each tree from a landscape of other trees and kept them simple by not over-detailing.  Mostly I’m happy with my efforts but perhaps I have over-simplified by not creating a landscape behind the tree.




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Extra curricular activities Pt III

Non OCA work

Here are a few paintings which were not completed for the OCA but which relate to the subject of landscape

fig 1 : initial momoprint

Fig 1: Initial monoprint

Fig 2 : Painted monoprint

Fig 2 : Painted monoprint

Figures 1 and 2 were completed at a monoprint workshop.  We could choose whatever subject we wanted and drew out our design on the paper, having inked our tables.

When I got home I decided to colour in the monoprint using acrylic paint.



The pictures and paintings below show other paintings of outdoor scenes that I’ve completed over the past few months:

Prunus Tai Haku

Above is ‘Prunus Tai Haku’ painted in acrylics and inks on canvas and below is ‘Light in the Forest’ painted in acrylics on paper

light in the forest

This painting below is on canvas and I used acrylics and inks once more:

Castell Coch web

And, just for a change, here is a silk painting:

repeats (1)

Exhibitions & Galleries

When I was in Spain for several weeks I visited several galleries and exhibitions.

One of my favourite is the Ralli Museum which I visit whenever I am in this area.  This art space shows a collection of contemporary Latin-American and European art and international sculptures.

In March we visited two galleries in Cardiff, Wales.  The Glamorgan Street Gallery is run by an art collective ~ 9 artists who can hold an exhibition once a year each and use the rooms as their studios.  A great idea for professional artists.  Many of them have another career but Art is their passion.

Holly Davey: "Nothing is What it is because Everything is What is Isn't"

Holly Davey: “Nothing is What it is because Everything is What is Isn’t”

Summer found me in the National Gallery of Wales looking at the Wildlife Photographer of the year entries which were of outstanding quality, and the Pop and Contemporary Art Exhibition.

The photo on the left is of an installation by Holly Davey who took her own photographs of the stairwell and landing and digitally altered them to create a space that is reformed, repeated and replayed within the original architecture.

We also spent time in Denmark and visited some lovely galleries, including two where the artists were in their 80s and selling really well.  This gives me massive hope for the future!

And the highlight of my trips was to The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London where we saw hundreds of paintings from ‘the general public’ as well as those from more famous artists.  It was a real mixed bag; some inspiring and some surprisingly poor, given the thousands that went through the decision making process.

I had seen a programme on TV prior to my visit which showed how the pictures came past the judges on a production line and the decisions were based on about 3 seconds of viewing so they had to stand out from the crowd.  There were some wonderful etchings and lithographs; some Barbara Rae (one of my favourites); Quentin Blake and a local artist, Terry Setch.  Also brightly coloured canvases which appealed to me from John Bellany.

What a shame we were not allowed to take photographs.

How I started

How I started

Workshops / Lectures

I went to two art classes in Spain but the third was cancelled so I didn’t finish my painting. Left you can see how I began the structure.  To the right is where I got up to.  We were doing our own version of a famous still life by Cezanne.  Regrettably it was too costly to have the painting sent home for completion.

Half way through but never finished

Half way through but never finished


"Retirement" by Bee Lilli

“Retirement” by Bee Lilli






The picture on the left is called “Retirement”.  I painted it from a photograph I took at a dock in Scotland.  I used acrylics on canvas board and the picture is framed.  The method was palette knife.  I was really pleased with the paint effects on the body of the boat but was not pleased with my ‘prissy’ land around it!


Unfortunately, I’m having muscular and arthritic problems which are preventing me from progressing much right now.

TV and books

I dip in and out of books on drawing and painting.  My latest purchases were “Painting the Landscape in Pastels” and a book about David Hockney Paintings.  I’m working my way through “Drawing Now – Eight propositions”

I’ve just watched a wonderful TV programme called “What do artists do all day”.  The episode I caught was about Jack Vettriano.  Excellent insight into his life, work and thoughts about his lack of recognition by the art world.  His work had been dubbed “painting by numbers” and I understood why since he takes photographs of his subjects, modeled on location; transfers the exact shapes the the canvas and fills them in with paint. They may not have any amazing brush-work or texture but they do have one thing all desirable art needs – an emotional charge.  His paintings tell a story, create nostalgia and are extremely popular because of this.  I also think he has a good eye for colour.

Also watching Lili Cole’s Art Matters.  I’ve so far caught the Antony Gormley episode which was wonderful.  It helped me understand that his work is intended to be interactive; to include the viewer and also that he creates many of his art works with the help of local communities and local people.  Very interesting.

Reichstag by Christo

Reichstag by Christo

Also in the same series I watched a programme about Christo.  I really don’t know how I missed his work before since it is on the largest scale possible with projects such as the ‘wrapping’ of the Reichstag building in Berlin.

Not only is his work stunning, exciting and ultra-creative but it was interesting to hear that these projects often take many, many years to come to fruition; cost millions of pounds on environmental surveys, planning and execution and that Christo funds all this from the sale of his smaller art works.


Back from our time abroad in February I managed to attend my first Art Talk of the year at Porthcawl Pavilion.  Ellie Frost who graduated only two years ago showed us her “one hour portraits” project and talked about her desire to work quickly and the joy she gets from capturing the essence of the sitter in such a short time, even though her Father, who was an artist, persistently encouraged her to “work them up” for several more hours.

Lloyd Rowe : Rockpool

Lloyd Rowe : Rockpool

On April 16th I went back to the Pavilion to hear Lloyd Rowe who has spent his life and professional career making marks.  He has always loved to draw and takes his inspiration from the rockpools and beaches near his home.

In June we attended again.  A great talk by Leslie Dearn and a discussion on how the average artist makes any money at all!  My thoughts were “can we feed our families AND our soul”.  Often ‘popular art’ is not necessarily that good.  Some artists who follow their passion regardless of whether they earn or not do succeed but most go broke unless they have another job.  Is there a formula I wonder?




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Drawing 1 : Part III : Townscapes and statues

Project : Townscapes

Exercise : Study of a townscape using line : OCA p92

For my study of a townscape using line, I sat in a coffee shop on the first floor and drew the

Fig 1 : initial sketch and notes

Fig 1 : initial sketch and notes #118/3

opposite side of the street.  The weather was hazy sunshine and the atmosphere was very relaxed.



I stayed until I had achieved an initial sketch and notes and on into the  major lines and shapes of my final sketch.

Several cups of coffee later, I left with a feel for the place, the beginnings of my final drawing and some photographs from my eyrie.

Fig 1 : sketch # 118/3

Fig 2 : sketch #131/L/A3

Fig 2: Final drawing.  I chose to put the flowers along the lower 1/3rds line, so the rest of the composition revolved around them.  The people I photographed and then put in the most suitable position to lead the eye around the picture and not interfere with the flowers – I felt it would have been too busy.

I did not want to put too much detail in the two buildings to the sides to keep the focus in the centre but I did want the pub to have value.

The picture has worked as I intended though it is less expressionist than I would like.  I made a real effort to look at the tonal values in my photographs and the dark windows certainly stand out against the cream walls of the buildings.

I altered the colour of the building to the right hand side as it was a dirty grey and I felt the pale green suited the piece better by echoing the building on the opposite side.

Exercise : A sketchbook of townscape drawings : OCA p93

Fig 2 :  sketch # 108/4

Fig 3 : sketch # 108/4

I took this sketchbook idea literally so I carried my notebook wherever I went and just drew buildings and structures to get me into the feel for this exercise.

Fig 3 : A pencil sketch of the view from our apartment window in Denmark.

Fig  :  # 103/3

Fig 4 : # 103/3





This sketch was completed with a medium drawing pen.  My attempts at drawing people need lots of practice.


Fig 4 :  sketch # 102/3

Fig 5: sketch # 102/3



fig 5 : I was up in a tower when I drew this.  I really loved the challenge of drawing from that height but I had to balance my sketchbook in one hand whilst drawing with the other so it wasn’t easy.

Completed in a fine drawing pen which seems to work well for this type of view.  I haven’t put in any shadows or further detail, such as colour, because my time up there was very restricted.  Regrettably I didn’t have a camera to assist my memory though I’m pleased with this little sketch.

Fig 5 : sketch # 119/3

Fig 6 : sketch # 119/3


This practice sketch was from a trip to a beach-town near my home.  I painted it in watercolours.  Again, I was balancing my sketchbook on my knee whilst I drew and I went straight to ink (as Figs 4 and 5 did) with no prep so it isn’t as straight as it might be.  However, I like the quirkiness of drawing freehand in this way.


Fig 5 : initial sketch for exercise

Fig 7 : initial sketch for exercise



Fig 8 : Cropping ideas

Eventually I did the actual exercise required.  I started with some rough sketches to get me used to the lines and forms, plus another to decide exactly which part of the picture I wanted to reproduce.


The angle that I wanted to use was clear from the start as I liked all the signs I could see from there.

Fig 8 : I decided to crop the picture to take out unnecessary parts of the building and I also left out other obstructions and diversions.


Fig 9 : For my final drawing I used chalk pastels on pastel paper. I decided on this colour to allow the shadows of the stone-work to show up whereas the red brickwork is smooth and I have left no dark paper showing.

DSC_0002 (2)

Fig 8 : Final drawing in chalk pastels #125/L/A4

The weather was cloudy so there were no dramatic shadows but I noticed the front of the building was lighter than the side and some windows were blacker than others.

The story of the sign “Jack’s Corner” is that the owner of the pub had a dog called Jack, long since passed away, who used to sit on this corner all day.  When he died, the sign was erected.

Exercise : A limited pallette study from your sketches : OCA p 95

I visited an open air museum near Cardiff and drew sketches and took photographs for this exercise and for my assignment.  Fig 9 shows a preliminary sketch and Fig 10 is the final drawing.  Though this is not a building it has very strong architectural value with the stone wall, arch and iron-work ‘something’ (rather like a large decorated tank) in the foreground.

Fig 9: #122/4 St Fagans Arch preliminary sketch

Fig 9: #122/4 St Fagans Arch preliminary sketch









Fig 10: No 126/L/A3 Limited palette study

Fig 10: No 126/L/A3 Limited palette study #126/L/A3


In writing up this blog I have re-read that coloured pencil was suggested for this exercise and I have used mixed media:  pastel, charcoal pencil and some coloured pencil.  The paper is A3 rough acrylic.

I’m practicing looking for the darkest / lightest areas which does give a little more depth and perspective than my previous work.



Exercise : Drawing Statues : OCA p 96



Fig     This statue is about 120cm high and made of a medium-dark wood.  I found him in the corridor of a Church in Denmark.

The light was very low but a pale shadow struck the wall and made the folds of his clothing stand out more prominently.

I used graphite for this image.





Fig   A stone bear drinks from a water trough.  I tried to show his stone fur.  The ridges at his neckline seem too prominent – they are prominent on the real statue but they look better there.  This sketch was in fine-point drawing pen.

The light was very dull and overcast so there is just a little reflection in the water but no shadow.



# 111/4


Fig  .  A granite statue in the street.   I was pleased with this image.  I had to think about the mark making to create the granite where it was both rough and smooth.

Also the shadows are important to get the feel of the shaping carved into it.




Check and log:

  • I created a sense of depth in the limited colour pallette by using the white of the paper and black crayon in the darkest areas; trying to grade the tones to match my subject along the way.  This enabled me to draw less detail than I would have otherwise and made me really look.
  • My preliminary sketches were helpful in a way I had not realised before.  I’m beginning to appreciate that the more preliminary sketches I do, the more information I’ve taken in, making the finished article more convincing whilst at the same time, taking away some of the worry.
  • I will definitely do preliminary sketches in future.  My lack of confidence in picking up a pen / pencil has held me back too long.  I would definitely consider drawing some of my pieces again (if there were time) and creating the same scene in a completely different style or medium.  I believe this approach would lead me to be a better artist.
  • Scale is interesting.  I try very hard to cross-reference parts of a building to create the correct scale but where I’ve drawn a quick sketch out of doors it has gone a bit askew.  I do like the more relaxed feel of those sketches (fig 5 and 6 for instance) and I seem to have imbued more character into the work that way.
  • Capturing the colour and atmosphere:  The limited palette drawing does have the atmosphere whereas fig 8 (the pub) has all the colour.  Fig 2 has both the atmosphere and colour of the scene but my favourites for capturing atmosphere, in monochrome and colour, are figs 5 and 6 which I find more expressive, even if not exact replicas.
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Drawing Skills 1 : Part III. Perspective

Exercise : Parallel perspective : interior : OCA p88

For this exercise I practised 3 different views through various doors at my home.  The first shows the view up two steps from my art studio into my kitchen.  The tile floor and the rug in the studio gave me lines to follow, plus the skirting board.  My pencil perspective lines show that I was off-course to the left and lower than eye level and the gold lines show the reality.

Fig 2

Fig 1 : sketch #94/3

My second drawing shows a timber floor and then a rug with parallel lines of dots, plus a coffee table.  There is a rug in the foreground and a skirting board which have been considered also.  The red lines show where my original drawing led to the horizon line and the gold lines show the real deal.  I have improved a little from the last attempt.

Fig 2

Fig 2 : sketch #95/3

Next I drew the view into the kitchen from the hall.  This was decided because we can see 3 rugs on a terazzo tile floor, so lots of receding lines.  I have drawn red broken lines in very lightly to find the eye level and this time I seem to be even closer so was much happier.

Fig 3

Fig 3 : sketch #96/3

Exercise : Angular perspective : OCA p 89

My first practice sketches were at the library and from the balcony of a church

Fig 4: sketch # 107/4

Fig 4: sketch # 107/4

Fig 5 : sketch 106/4

Fig 5 : sketch 106/4









Fig 6: sketch #114/L/A3

Fig 6: sketch #114/L/A3

I then chose this lovely little building in Denmark to try out angular perspective.

Precisely because I find oil pastels so hard to use, I coloured it in with them and used a blending stick to spread the colour and some coloured crayon to sharpen up the edges.  I loved the bright red of the house in the lazy square with a yellow house to its left and blue behind.  The buildings in Denmark was beautifully colourful.

It was a conscious decision to make the house my main focus and have the surroundings washed out at the edges but still there to put the house in context.

There was a little sunshine on this tranquil scene with the sky a hazy blue.

The drawing is on A3 but the perspective was checked against a much larger piece of paper and was very close to where it should be.

Rome drawing : OCA p 90

Here is my simplified version with perspective lines showing:

Fig X : Sketch X

Fig X : Sketch X




Check and Log : OCA p 90

Problems with perspective:  None really.  Once I got the hang of it I seemed to have a fair eye if I use it!  Arial perspective is another matter, however, and I have a long way to go before I achieve that look of distance in a picture.

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Drawing Skills 1, Pt III : Drawing Outdoors / landscape / research / sketchbook walk / 360 studies / clouds / plotting space / perspective

Landscape Drawing : Research point OCA p 77

I’ve looked at the work of several landscape artists throughout the ages and have chosen three to mention in my blog because of the vast differences in their style.

These two classical pictures by Claude Lorrain below show a little of his versatility.  The simple shapes of the pines drawn in pen and brown ink give a sense of peace and tranquillity.  The background has been barely sketched in to focus all one’s attention on the trees.  He has captured the way the branches are almost bear underneath and thicker toward the top.  The little house and small tree to the right take the attention around the scene and supply just the right amount of extra interest.  I wonder if this was a finished piece or whether it was a practice sketch for a more detailed piece or for inclusion in other pictures.  He was one of the first painters of pine trees, beginning to include them in his oil paintings in the mid 1630’s (1)

Claude Lorraine "Pines"

Claude Lorraine “Pines”

The second work by Claude Lorrain (real name Claude Gellee) includes more detail, hard landscape, animals and human form.  Is the rider on the bridge heading for the castle or passing it by?  The sky is full of cloud but the sun is poking through and Lorraine has used a clear circle for the sun itself and fine ink lines to depict the rays in an almost naive way.  The light under the bridge is highlighted by the darkness of the shadow of the bridge supports.  Light glances off the backs of the sheep going down the bank to drink.  The composition places the main focal points to the centre and right of the drawing but the secondary interest moves our attention round it.  Personally, I don’t think this is one of his more accomplished pieces but it is called an “idealised” view so perhaps that explains my feelings about it (2)

Landscape with Rider and Idealised View of Tivoli

Landscape with Rider and Idealised View of Tivoli

Above:  Claude Lorrain, Landscape with a Rider and an Idealized View of Tivoli, 1642, Pen and brown ink with dark brown wash on white paper, British Museum

Lowry:  The Fever Van

Lowry: The Fever Van

Lawrence Stephen Lowry was an English artist who frequently painted scenes from his locale, Pendlebury, Lancashire where he lived and worked for 40 years.

They appear childlike and simplistic and yet have great charm and movement.  They form a wonderful depiction of industrial and social history.  I’ve included 2 pictures below; one drawing and one painting.

“The Fever Van” shows the busy street with the Church and factory in the background; very important institutions in their day.  I’m not sure what the van is selling at all or why ‘fever’ unless that describes the rush to buy its wares.  It may be wartime rationing in operation.

Lowry: Agecroft Regatta 1948

Lowry: Agecroft Regatta 1948

However simplistically they are painted, Lowry’s works do give us a lovely insight into the habits, work and play of the local population and are fun to stydy.  As an example, my second choice is “Agecroft Regatta” (1948).  Again, the inevitable factory is still there in the background but the people are having some summer fun.  Lowry has an eloquence to his work that speaks volumes.

Although I’ve studied many other landscape artists works for this research I’ve chosen to feature Barbara Rae, a Scottish artist who still works at Edinburgh School of Art where she studied in the 1960s.

Barbara Rae : Mayo Coast 2008

Barbara Rae : Mayo Coast 2008

Barbara Rae : Dhun Padraig

Barbara Rae : Dhun Padraig

I love the vibrant colours and layers of pigment.  I enjoy working out for myself what the picture is all about.  There is movement but little or no detail of form.  I find these landscape paintings energising and uplifting and, although these are not drawings, I wanted to include them here as a foil for the other works covered in this research.

(1)  http://lelorrain.louvre.fr/en/html/ll06.html

(2)  http://www.berkshirefinearts.com

Exercise : A Sketchbook Walk : OCA p 78

My first ever foray out of doors with a sketchbook.  It was a bit daunting but fun.  I completed this task whilst on holiday in Spain in February so the weather was better than it would have been at home.  It was mild and cloudless for the most part.

The walk I took a few times was along a stretch of beach away from our apartment.

Fig 1: sketch #80

Fig 1: sketch #80

Fig 1 shows my first sketch of a look-out tower which has now been included in part of a private garden, hence it has stone walls and plaster balustrade above a bank of yucca-type plants.  The beach curves around the wall.  This sketch is on A4 watercolour paper and was drawn in pencil.

I have tried to give an impression of foreground grasses and the slope up to the walls and the way the soft light cast few shadows.  There were various opportunities for mark making with the lines of the gate; the soft concrete of the sloping wall against the stonework of the other walls; the spiky yucca, grasses and smooth columns.

Fig 2 shows a stretch of beach further along where a lone sunshade sits gazing out at an

Fig 2: #81

Fig 2: #81

old lighthouse; long since defunct.  Birds sunbathe on the rocks.  I found the sand particularly difficult to capture; also the edge of the sea where the gentle waves lapped.

I like the fact that a sense of distance is created with the foreground sunshade, middle-ground rocks and distant clouds.  There was also an opportunity for tonal values with the rocks and darker shades of ocean on the horizon.

Nearby we come to a clump of trees Fig 3 that grow right on the edge of the shore.  I

Fig 3: #82

Fig 3: #82

enjoyed drawing the knots and patterns on these trees.  They are executed in soft pencil and graphite.  It is interesting drawing in monotone as the colour often tells us more about what we are looking at so I had to work harder and think about how to depict my scene.

As the sea was a uniform mid-blue and the sand cream, I have simply shaded for the sea and marked the unevenness of the sand with little heel-marks.

I added some colour with oil pastels (not my favourite) to Fig 4 which depicts two fishermen untangling their nets at the end of their day with the village in the background.

Fig 4: #83

Fig 4: #83

When I drew this in ink, the rooftops were too dark and therefore didn’t look as if they were further away so I hatched over them in a white charcoal to soften them.

The passing ship in the background also gives some sense of depth and adds a little interest to the composition.

There were many opportunities for mark making with the fence, the curvy roof tiles, the interesting chimneys and the net.

Exercise:  360 degree studies : OCA p 79

Having read the instructions today, I notice that these drawings should have been completed in 15 minutes.  Because of their complexity, they took me longer and I sketched out some outlines and worked them up in our Spanish apartment via photographs.

We had driven into the mountains to find somewhere where there was some sort of view in 4 directions, eventually finding a cafe with balconies and a car-park that afforded the opportunities I needed.

Fig 5: #84

Fig 5: #84


My view North (fig 5) is from my high vantage point on the balcony of the cafe and shows the hills covered in crops.  The sky was grey at this point so there were no shadows.  I really enjoyed studying the shapes in this picture and the opportunities for mark making.

Fig 6: #85

Fig 6: #85

To the East of the car-park the ground rises somewhat (fig 6) .  There was a low white painted wall with a large stone and an urn blocking the entrance.  The palm tree on the left gave the work an extra lift and is balanced by the fields on the right.  The little house brings the eye to the centre of the drawing and the sloping shapes take one round in a loop.

I am struggling still to get good photos of my work for the web so the image isn’t quite as clear as it should be.

Facing South (fig 7) This farm is at the same height as the cafe and car park, just the other side of the road.  The sun came out more strongly and the shadows of the trees on a grassy bank help this picture to have some contrast, particularly the silhouettes of the trunks and branches.

Fig 7 : #86

Fig 7 : #86

Using a viewfinder (as with all the pictures here) I created my composition to flow from left to right.  The olive trees make lovely shapes in the sky, almost spelling out a hidden message.

I wonder if I should have put some clouds in my West facing picture (fig 8), though there were none.  The top looks a bit bland.  The road and the ground have dropped away from the farm and we are beginning to look down on the scene which adjoins Fig 5 above, making a full circle.

I wanted to capture the featheriness of the very long grasses in the foreground and used the dark cedar tree on the right as a contrast to the whole piece.  There are a few shadows from the sunshine – the trunks of the trees forming little dashes on the grass of the olive orchards but something darker was grown in the top field beneath the olives, though I have no idea what it might have been.

Fig 8 : #87

Fig 8 : #87 L A4


Fig 8(a) : sketch 87/L/A4


Having completed this exercise I chose Fig 8 to colour.  I photocopied the image onto watercolour paper and then used chalk pastels to shade it.  I chose this particular picture because there were more colour contrasts in the scene.  I loved the pinky lavender colour of the grasses.

I do feel the tree now ruins the composition though!  What a shame.

Research Point : OCA p 79

What challenges did Monet, Pissarro or Cezanne face when painting in series and how did they tackle them?

I have looked at all three artists because I found it interesting that all three painted some scenes many, many times; all three faced differing challenges and all three overcame them in their own ways.

Between 1867 and 1893 there were many severe winters in France and Monet painted dozens of landscapes illustrating the natural effect of snow.  This was certainly a novel way of overcoming poor weather as an artist.

Monet - Rouen Cathedral

Monet – Rouen Cathedral

He was used to painting a subject many times over because he noticed the changing light, atmosphere and weather conditions altered, even though the scene in all practical ways stayed the same.  The main composition was provided by the objects but the interest and emotion was provided by the different times of day, shadows, reflections and different weather conditions.

Monet worked on many series, not just his famous garden at Giverney but “Haystacks”, “The Houses of Parliament”, “Rouen Cathedral” and “Poplars”, amongst others.    When working on his cathedral paintings he rented a room opposite and kept many canvasses ‘on the go’ so that he could move from one to the other as the light changed.

In 1923 Monet had two cateract operations.  These may have affected the way he saw colour and he even repainted some of his water-lilies to become bluer after the operations.




Pissarro fell in love with the streets of Paris.  He wrote:

“I have always loved the immense streets of Paris, shimmering in the sun, the crowds of all colours, those beautiful linear and aerial perspectives, those eccentric fashions, etc. But how to do it? To install oneself in the middle of the street is impossible in Paris.”

His friend, Piette, solved the problem by suggesting “elevation” so, from his hotel window Pissarro painted 16 views looking along the Boulevard Montmartre and toward the Boulevard des Italiens often with so few changes to the pedestrians positioning that it seemed as if he had painted them in quick succession.

Pissarro "Boulevard Mortmartre at Night 1897"

Pissarro “Boulevard Mortmartre at Night 1897”

He painted these same scenes in sun, cloud, mist and rain and all times of day and night to capture the beauty and excitement of the city.


Cezanne faced a different challenge completely.  Maybe he suffered with an obsessional disorder.  In a letter to his son in 1906 he wrote:

Cezanne technique

Cezanne technique

The same subject seen from a different angle offers subject for study of the most powerful interest and so varied that I think I could occupy myself for months without changing place, by turning now more to the right, now more to the left.” 

In his landscape pictures of his native Aix he was challenged by the creation of depth in his pictures and devised a system of layers to construct a series of horizontal planes intended to draw the viewer into the landscape (example right)


Exercise:  Drawing Cloud Formations : OCA p80

The sketch below (fig 9)  is created with charcoal, a blending stick and a putty eraser to create the wispy clouds above the sea.  I’m quite pleased with this as it looked quite like the sky I was trying to create.  The almost imperceptible cloud wisps in the background and the nearer and more solid ones.

Fig 9 : sketch #88Fig 9 : sketch #88

In Fig 10 below I used another charcoal technique.  It does look somewhat contrived as I knew I didn’t have time to draw all the multitude of clouds on a stormy day and would never get the complexity as it was ever changing.  The rays of the sun popped through from time to time so I have marked these out with a pencil (shaped) rubber.

Fig 10 : #88

Fig 10 : #89







Fig 11 : 90

Fig 11 : 90

In Fig 11 (right) I have used pastels to create my blue sky with fluffy white clouds.  As the light is coming from above and right, there were shadows on the heavier clouds.

I think the paper could have been better as I found it hard to do white clouds once I had laid down my blue base.

Fig 12 : sketch #91

Fig 12 : sketch #91

Fig 12 shows the sky outside my living room window.  This was the first sky I attempted and it drawn with 4B pencil, blending stump and eraser.

I didn’t feel I had captured the featheriness of the clouds as well as I could have and I certainly preferred working with charcoal and pastel.


This exercise was good practice and I need to try and try again before I can achieve really lovely skies but it was very interesting and certainly a first for me.

Exercise : Plotting space through composition and structure : OCA p81

Fig 13 : initial sketch

Fig 13 : initial sketch

Fig 13 : sketch 113/2

Fig 14 : sketch 113/2

For this exercise I chose a photograph I

had taken locally with distant trees, a middle ground of a farm and a foreground tree, broken fence and hedge.

My initial rough sketch helped me decide what to keep in and leave out and where to focus on the darks and lights.

Fig 14:  I have used a charcoal pencil for the tree in the foreground with pencil at the edges where the fine haze of twigs and buds were.

The rest of the drawing is in different grades of pencil to achieve the distance.  I really enjoyed this exercise and looking back on the drawings I did for the 360 degree sketches, I realise this element of the feeling of distance is missing.

Research Point : OCA p83

Looking at the work of Claude Lorrain and Turner there’s a lot to learn about perspective in the landscape.

Claud Lorrain

Claud Lorrain

This example by Claude Lorrain shows the foreground trees in the darkest of shades framing the tower in the distance.  The space between is clear because of the lighter shades.  The white ribbon of river highlights the piece and breaks it up; preventing it from being too dull.  Hills or mountains also show distance, both from the foreground and from one another with the furthest peaks in the palest colour, fading into the background.



To the right is a Turner showing a canal scene and the lovely low sunlight which causes all sorts of shadows and highlights. The foreground shows dark shadows to the left and sun shining on the building on the right.  There is a dark tree to the right in the middle distance but the darkness doesn’t mean it looks too near to the foreground, just that the beautiful light is shining on the back.

Directly behind it another building is in a softer and lighter shade, depicting more distance and there are almost indistinguishable shapes on the horizon.

There is activity on the left-front which is much more sharply depicted than anything going on behind, again making the distance clear.

Check and log

I simplified my studies by leaving out some of the details that were there in real life but added nothing to the composition.

In my earlier sketches in this module I created a sense of distance by making objects in the background smaller than those in the foreground.  In my latest piece I also used lighter shades further back and more detail toward the front.

My light and shade isn’t yet as good as I’d like it.  I feel I’m getting better at noticing shadows and tones though, as I progress but I have a long way to go before I really get the hang of it.

For the larger study I had a photograph blown up to A4 size and studied it to decide that to keep and leave out.  I drew a rough sketch, making notes on where to keep detail and where to fade the line or form out.  Maybe I could have made another more detailed drawing first but I’m not sure this would have produced a better result.



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Assignment Two

Assignment Two

This assignment has asked me to show my ability to understand the use of colour, the most appropriate choice of medium, ability to set up an interesting composition, variety in mark-making, depth, contrast and tone and accuracy of form.

It is clear to me that I’ve progressed from my initial efforts in assignment one and that I have learned much and also clear that I have a long way to go in creating a picture with impact.

In figs 1 and 2 are my initial sketches though I moved other objects in and out and changed the arrangement often before I was happy enough to try out a sketch.

Fig 1 : initial sketches : sketch #75

Fig 1 : initial sketches : sketch #77

Fig 2: initial sketches : #76

Fig 2: initial sketches : #78








What I decided to create was a picture full of colour.  I wasn’t looking for subtlety but a real eye-catcher so my eventual objects were chosen to reflect this.

I decided on a portrait orientation because I felt that the colours worked best that way and the shapes lent themselves to sitting fairly close to one another.

Final assitnment piece (fig 3).

I have tried to create contrast, depth and tone with the shadows and highlights on the fruit and bottles but I still feel that making them more prominent would have increased the impact.

Fig 3 : Assignment 2 : #77

Fig 3 : Assignment 2 : #79

I chose pastels for their zingy colours and tried to create different textures such as the loose weave linen on the table cloth and the soft wooly fabric of the drape behind.  The bottle shines in the light and the physalis flowers are soft and somewhat transluscent.

What could I have done better:  contrast: particularly the shine on the fruit could be improved and perhaps I could have increased the light source.  This piece was set up in front of a window and we didn’t have any sunshine when I was drawing so some lamps need to be drafted in another time to fake it.


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Drawing Skills Pt II : Animals

OCA p 66 : Drawing Animals : Research

Instruction:  “Look at how Renaissance masters such as Leonardo and Durer depicted animals.  Make notes and try to find some images to include in your learning log”

Albrecht Dürer
Sheet of Studies with Sketches of Animals and Landscapes 1521
Pen and black ink with colored washes (fig 1)

Fig 1 : Durer : sketches

Fig 1 : Durer : sketches

I was fascinated by these drawings for several reasons.  Firstly the mix of animals and landscapes (possible explanation below (1). Then there was the mix of animal species and the delicate way he has of drawing them; the use of soft marks for the Lion’s mane and firm marks for the short fur of the monkey; the attention paid to musculature and bone formation shown particularly in the backbone of the male lion and the rippling muscles of the female in the foreground.

(1)  [Notes (from http://secretgardening.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/the-animals-in-that-country/)

“This drawing was not discovered until 1917, when it was removed from a sixteenth-century engraving to which it had been attached. The animal sketches, which include lions, a lynx, a chamois, and a monkey, were most likely made in 1521, when the artist visited the zoological garden in Brussels. The landscapes on the left half of the sheet were probably added later, after Dürer had returned to Germany.”]

Fig 2 : Durer : Parrot

Fig 2 : Durer : Parrot

My next choice is “Parrot”, Albrecht Dürer,  c. 1500. Pen, with watercolour on paper.

I chose this drawing for its incredible feather marks.  So beautifully and painstakingly accurate and, again, attention to the smaller shapes of muscle in the body, which I never thought of in a bird.


Leonardo Da Vinci

Fig 3 : Da Vinci : Cats and more

Fig 3 : Da Vinci : Cats and more

Fig 3 is Da Vinci’s “Cats and more”.  This is a strange mixture of cats of various types in all sorts of poses but in the bottom right hand quarter is a dragon.  I have not been able to find out any more about how these sketches came to be or why Da Vinci included the dragon.  The marks are clearer and stronger in some ways than Durer’s work; the fur depicts shape and form beautifully.

Fig 4:  Da Vince : Horses legs

Fig 4: Da Vince : Horses legs

Fig 4 : “Horses legs” by Da Vinci really shows the anatomy and the care and detail that went into his drawing habits, leading to great skill and dexterity.

This has been an interesting and informative exercise, if not a little daunting to realise the effort, practice, dedication to detail and accuracy that is needed to be a great artist.



Exercise : Grabbing the Chance : OCA p67

Fig 5 : My daughter's cats

Fig 5 : My daughter’s cats #73

As I don’t have any animals it was really hard to complete this exercise.  I went to my daughter’s house to draw her cats but they were out playing!  I grabbed a few sketches (fig 5) as best I could using pencil, graphite and ink.

Fig 6 : Quick sketches from photographs

Fig 6 : Quick sketches from photographs : #74




When I came home I did some quick sketches from photographs which I’m not at all pleased with (fig 6).  I certainly learned how hard it was for me to capture the essence of an animal so lots of practice needed.



Research Point : George Stubbs

George Stubbs (1724-1806) was an artist who was particularly famous for his paintings of horses.

fig X : Stubbs. First layer of stripping process

fig X : Stubbs. First layer of stripping process

When he was a boy he used to draw left-over animal bones from his Father’s tanning yard.

Later in his career, and with his penchant for accuracy to the smallest degree he actually dissected horses to find out the muscle formations, tendons, bones etc so that he could translate that level of detail into his drawings.  He stripped the horse apart layer by layer with the help of his partner, Mary Spencer, drawing everything he came across on his journey.

Fix X : Stubbs.  Final layer

Fix X : Stubbs. Final layer

The two pictures above and left show the first layer drawing and his final layer with just the bones left.

After many months of this gory research he published a book called “The Anatomy of the Horse” which featured eighteen plates etched by the artist from his drawings.  He also included very specific scientific observations.

All in all George Stubbs was a wonderful artists; an anatomist and a writer.

Sources:  http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1062   &   http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi906.htm

Anatomy of a cat : OCA p 68 Research point

Fig X : bones of a cat

Fig X : bones of a cat


A cat has many similarities to a horse but with a longer tail bone structure.

Cats are much more flexible too and can contort themselves into various yogic positions!

Their vertebrae seem a little further apart than the horse’s which gives them the ability to bend and stretch it in a way a horse cannot.

Fig X : cat anatomy by J Rae

Fig X : cat anatomy by J Rae








Exercise : Fish on a Plate : OCA p 69

Slimy fish!  I didn’t enjoy handling the fish at all but I did enjoy drawing it and colouring it.  As there was only one fish and it was on a plain plate I put it onto a pretty piece of cloth that complemented the colours in the fish skin.

Fig 1 : practice : sketch #

Fig 1 : practice : sketch #75

Firstly I drew the fish a few times in various media to find out how I wanted to progress (fig 1).

I then drew the composition out on A3 paper (There was no Bockingford available locally) and completed the work using coloured pencils, watercolour pencils and inks (fig 2 below).  I used some pearlised ink which does not show on the photograph but one can see it on the original piece when turned to the light.

I enjoyed the task of capturing all the different colours that I would not have noticed without the intensity of study.  I thought the green of the plate and its shape were a good foil for these subtle colours.

My viewpoint was almost directly above to capture the patterning at the top.  Had I placed the fish nearer eye level, I would have only seen its belly or back and then would have missed out on the contrasts between the two.

Fig 2 : Fish on a plate : sketch #

Fig 2 : Fish on a plate : sketch #76

I don’t think I did so well with capturing the light and could have concentrated on creating more contrast perhaps but on the whole I found this was less challenging than drawing animals.

Check and log

  • The main challenges in drawing animals was that I don’t have any availability to any locally.  The next problem is their constant movement and sometimes complete absence from my space!  I don’t feel I made a good fist of it.
  • I enjoyed graphite as it is soft and gives a muted look and I also enjoyed ink for the opposite reason; clear and distinct line and character.
  • I could try a zoo (expensive!) to draw more animals and maybe go to the fields where there will be sheep and cows that stay still for a while.  I haven’t tried drawing a moving animal though all the cats I tried to draw kept moving anyway.
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Drawing Skills Pt II : Drawing Plants and Flowers

Exercise : Negative space in a plant – OCA p 63

Fig 1 : Negative space in a plant

Fig 1 : Negative space in a plant : sketch #69

I used a Peace Plant for this exercise (fig 1) as I like the delicate intricacy of the leaves and emerging flowers. Working with negative space is interesting and absorbing; I thoroughly enjoyed it and also enjoyed putting the wrinkled shading in the negative spaces.  I used pencil (4B) for this exercise and A3 paper.




Exercise : Plants and flowers in coloured pencil : OCA p64

Fig 2 : using coloured pencils : sketch #70

Fig 2 : using coloured pencils : sketch #70

Fig 2 shows my practices with coloured pencil and in Fig 3 you can see my attempt at drawing anemones in coloured pencil.  This exercise took hours and I feel I have little to show for the time spent but I wanted to persevere and I find coloured pencils slow-going.  It is drawn on A2.

Fig 2:  Plants and flowers in coloured pencil

Fig 3: Plants and flowers in coloured pencil : sketch #71

I enjoyed making the effort, however, and am halfway pleased with the result.  I like the contrast of the cricket ball on the table by the flowers as it brings the reds down to that area causing a triangle of reds. It was really hard to capture the way the light shines through the anemone flowers.  The main source of light was from the right with a little at the back.  The shadow of the ball shows up but in my photo the shadow of the vase is not clear. I used pastels for the table cloth and blue curtains because I wanted them to disappear into the background rather than be prominent and spoil the focal point.

Exercise : Drawing with other colour media – OCA p 65

In the drawing below (fig 4) I have taken the picture of the anemones and brought the focus in closer so that only a few flower heads and the top of the vase are featured.  Anemones open very quickly and change daily so some had to be thrown out! It is interesting to think about a composition such as this and easy to ruin it by using a fast-coloured medium that spoils the result!  I started with a water colour wash to each area and then washed in some slightly stronger colours.  This still looked wishy-washy so I began adding coloured pencil which seemed to work quite well over the water colour. I wanted to make some deeper areas of colour and used felt tip brushes and pens but I felt this looked too harsh so used coloured water soluble crayon to blend.

Fig 3 : Drawing with other colour media

Fig 4 : Drawing with other colour media : sketch #72

I still wasn’t happy with the result and decided to use brush pens for the black outlines which, again seemed too harsh  –  at least the way I had used them, so I used ink to squiggle some of the edges into submission. I learned that blending with felt-tip is impossible (obvious really) and it is a very hard and cold medium so perhaps I should have left it out of a subject I wanted to have a soft effect.  However, the addition of black ink here and there balanced the felt tip disaster a little.  A good learning curve and I’m reasonably pleased with the final result, particularly because it looks more spontaneous than drawings I take a lot more time over.

Check and log

  • My experiments with negative space will certainly help my future drawings.  I seem to be able to be more accurate when I look at the negative rather than the positive space. It fees my brain from thinking I know where the lines ought to be and putting them where they really are.  A good learning.
  • I used my viewfinder and sometimes some grid-lines to ensure I drew my plants in proportion.  I also constantly checked that each component was where it was supposed to be compared to another.
  • I tried using light and dark to achieve three dimensional space.  The use of shadows also helps and the blurring of the background and sharpening of foreground.
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Drawing Skills Pt II : Drawing fruit and vegetables in colour : tone / markers / oil pastel / research

Exercise : Using hatching to create tone (OCA p59)

Fig 1 Individual fruits and vegetables (sketch #

Fig 1 Individual fruits and vegetables (sketch #63)

(1) Drawing individual pieces

I have used different media for each item (fig 1).  The carrot and mushroom are drawn with a graphite stick.  The softness and slightly blurry nature of this medium is possibly better used with something like a peach or kiwi which don’t have the hard, sharp edges of a carrot but it’s an interesting experiment.  It is very useful for tones, shadows and shading though.

I hatched with graphite, firmly outlined the edges of the carrot with an oil pastel – making is look as if it’s been nuked but I was looking for a ‘glow’ and then lightly coloured the skin.  Not my best effort. but it does have the tonal values produced in the current light conditions.

Below the carrot sketch are mushrooms drawn with a dipping pen.  My hatching could be more even and the shadows deeper in places.  I like the circles-within-circles that form from the outer edges; through the valley; into the soft skin around the stalk; the stalk itself and then the little dent in the centre.  Interesting.  The 3D effect is improved by hatching with the pen and the shadows and shading are created the same way.

The onion (top right) was fun to draw.  I used water-colour pencil, wetted it to give a firm edge and filled in the hatching and markings on the skin, dry.  The peeling, delicate skin is lovely and I wish I had captured it better.  This sketch is coloured in chalk pastels to show the smooth planes of the skin and the dent caused by a bruise.

Lastly, the grapes (above bottom left).  I tried using oil pastel for these with a little touch of drawing pen for contrast and detail.  I find oil pastel difficult to use as it is to thick but it is good for colouring in.

Fig 2: Compositions. Sketch #64

Fig 2: Compositions. Sketch #64

(2)  My next task was to sketch some compositional ideas (fig 2).   Top left I have placed some vegetables on a board.  I like the way the carrot crosses drapes itself across the celery but feel there is too much white space, especially on the left edge.  The board is too parallel to the frame as well.

Top right I have used a similar composition but have cropped it.  This improves the composition and leaves less negative space.  It also leaves something to the imagination and creates a good flow around the sketch.

At the bottom of the age is a new composition which I quite like as well.  I’ve given it a little tonal value to create more depth and perspective.

I have not used a viewfinder previously and found it a wonderful tool.

Apologies for the greyness of the picture.  I cannot seem to photograph pencil sketches adequately with my camera in this poor winter light and flash obliterates some of the pencil marks.

Fig 3 : Fruit and vegetables in colour.  Sketch # 65

Fig 3 : Fruit and vegetables in colour. Sketch # 65

OCA page 59 (3) : Fruit and vegetables in colour.  I used an A3 lightly-toothed paper and chalk pastels for this piece.  I built up the colours gradually, leaving some white background showing to create the light areas.  I enjoyed using different techniques for colouring in the vegetables.  Lots of round strokes and blending in on the tomatoes; long lines of various thicknesses for the celery, spidery firm strokes for the tomato tops, blending and hatching for the carrots.

Again, I used the viewfinder to enable the picture to bleed over the edges.  Looking at it in retrospect, perhaps I should have re-arranged the items to fill a little more of the top edge though I rarely like things to be that uniform.

Pastels are very smudgy so the frame I had created was damaged in transit but I liked the idea of this and will use the technique again another time.

Exercise:  Using markers or dip pens (OCA p 60)

Fig 3: markers and dip pens  - alternative compositions. (sketch #66)

Fig 3: markers and dip pens – alternative compositions. (sketch #66)

(1) Three alternative compositions:  Top left I’ve tried out ideas with black drayon and felt tip pen.  I like the browning skin of the banana but not keen on the composition as it sits in the middle with lots of white space around it.

The second sketch (right) is worked in charcoal.  I do like the effect of blending this medium for shading and tone but I haven’t yet got the hang of any delicacy of touch with it.

Bottom left I’ve used dipping pens to create the rough outlines of the fruit and a brush tip felt pen for the colour.

Of the three compositions I prefer the charcoal sketch because it has a better flow from top left to bottom right.

Page 60 (continued) final drawing; fig 4 (below)  For this piece I used dipping pen for the outlines and some of the hatching.  I built up the piece with various coats of coloured inks and felt tip pens, for instance the shadows are diluted acrylic ink, the markings on the fruits are both acrylic ink and felt tip.

Fig 4 : pen and felt tip still life.  Sketch # 67

Fig 4 : pen and felt tip still life. Sketch # 67

I like the fact that the apple has escaped from the group and the banana is pointing right at it like an admonition.

I seem to be leaving background information out in my work in general and that’s simply because I’m afraid of cluttering up my pictures.  I need to work on that.

Exercise : Drawing using oil pastel (OCA p 61)

Fig 5 : Drawing using oil pastel. Sketch  # 68

Fig 5 : Drawing using oil pastel. Sketch # 68

We were asked to use a toothed coloured paper.  I had white A3 acrylic paper so my first job was to give my paper a wash of peach paint.  I sketched the outlines in a pale peach oil pastel and then began building up layers of colour with various techniques and overlaying one colour with another to give depth.

I’m not too pleased with the pepper – it doesn’t have the detail I would like.  ~Ditto with the french beans.  I wasn’t any good at achieving any detail with this medium as it’s so soft and thick.  The lemon was built up with pale lemon through darker and darker shades, then overlaid with green and purple for depth.

I enjoyed drawing the broccoli and layering from yellow through light brown to various shades of green and eventually purple.  I used squiggly lines and left dots of light colour to give some sense of the small florets within the whole.

My choice in future would be to use oil pastel for colouring in but not for the whole drawing.  I need more practice and perhaps some training in using this medium.


We were asked why Ben Nicholson simplified forms and superimposed them on the Cornish landscape:

Nicholson was born into an artistic family, his Mother, Father and Uncle were all great influences in his early life.  Starting out as a landscape artist, he only spent a short time in formal training at the Slade School of Art in London but seems to have gained most of his training and inspiration from his family, friends and artistic colleagues, travelling extensively through Europe and the USA.

In the 1920s he moved from painting the landscapes his Father had encouraged, to more abstract work based on cubism and Post Impressionism.  In 1932 he met the sculptor, Barbara Hepworth.  They lived in London for several years and Nicholson traveled often to Paris to the studios of Picasso, Braque, Arp, Brancusi and Mondrian who was a friend and also a huge influence on him..  During this time Nicholson and Hepworth were major players in the Modernist London art scene.

He did not want to move from London but in 1939 at the outbreak of war he decided Cornwall would be a safer place for his 3 Product1328021children and Hepworth, who he had recently wed.

At first he continued to create his famous white reliefs (right) but the Cornish Landscape called him back to his artistic roots – this time with a twist.

Nicholson, using all the techniques he had gathered along the way, began drawing simple abstract still life images against the Cornish landscape he saw through his window.

Ben Nicholson : 1946 St Ives

Ben Nicholson : 1946 St Ives







Ben Nicholson : 1943-45 St Ives

Ben Nicholson : 1943-45 St Ives





The St Ives picture to the right has a Union Jack flag in the front.  This quirky little symbol is purported to be his artistic celebration of VE day.

This change of style may have been a necessity rather than a choice initially since he had to earn money during the war.  They are certainly more commercially viable, especially in the area in which he lived.  Even if that was the case, we are richer for it.





Check and log

  • My composition should fill most of the space on the paper’s surface.  It does fill much of it with less than 1/4 negative space.
  • I’ve learned several things from drawing fruits and vegetables.  1.  I need to use specific types of lines and media to show the softness or hardness of the surface of the food.  Some has really hard, sharp edges and others are squidgy, ridged, hairy, etc.  2.  The insides of fruit and vegetables is really interesting.  When we cut through a cabbage or cut open a pepper, tomato, lemon or other food, there is a whole new world of pattern and colour.  3.  The colours are often vibrant and the shadows and shading look a different colour eg; the shadow side of a lemon might make the skin look green; on a pepper that might be purple or brown.  4.  Nobbles, bruises and blemishes add interest and are a great contrast to a smooth skinned variety.
  • The part of the project I found most challenging was trying to draw with soft, fat media like charcoal, oil pastel and chalk pastel.  I enjoy colouring with them, but am baffled as to how to create fine lines.


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Part II : Project Still Life : Line and tone

Exercise:  Still life group using line OCA p 57

I looked for an easier subject than the cacti but I kept coming back to them as a great way

Fig 1. Line drawing

Fig 1. Line drawing / sketch #60

of showing some line drawing skills.  I was extremely nervous of the amount of work I would have to put in; the shapes and character of the different plants and also I didn’t feel at all skilled to draw the basket.  But here it is in Fig 1 and I am pleased with my effort simply because I took time over it and achieved what seemed unachievable.

The cacti were put together in a basket to give them coherence – maybe they will now stay that way in my home as they look good together.  The baize cloth was wrapped around them to wrap them up as if they were being presented to someone as a gift.  I wanted to bring them forward against their background rather than detract from them with something too busy.  I’m quite pleased with the composition.

Fig 2. Line drawing now coloured. Sketch #

Fig 2. Line drawing now coloured. Sketch # 61

I used A3 paper and a fine drawing pen for the background and a 5B pencil for the folds of cloth.

Having photographed the line drawing, I decided to colour it in with chalk pastels.  (fig 2) Very messy.

I preferred the line drawing but this module is about colour so I gave my cacti a red background to contrast with the greens.

Exercise : Still life Group in Tone : OCA p 58

Fig 3.  Still life in tone

Fig 3. Still life in tone / sketch #62

In Fig 3 you can see my drawing of fruit on a tea-cloth. This was drawn with water-colour pencil and the fruits were washed over with a brush and then more pencil was added to give more depth.  I’m not used to this medium and was not thrilled with my efforts at using it.  I hope the final picture is adequate for my novice status and I know I’ll improve with practice.

The composition is flowing from left to right and down to the right hand corner with the heaviest object up in the left top quarter to stabilise it.  The stripes on the cloth help the flow enormously.

The lemon looks as if it has rolled away from its mates, giving movement around the page.  The folds of cloth were a real challenge but the stripes helped my efforts to show the folds rather than hindered them.

The dark tones of the shadows have been created in purple and taupe.

Check and Log

  • The aspects of my line drawing (fig 1) that were most successful were the delicate and complex drawing itself and the contrasting shapes.  In the tonal study (fig 3), I liked the flow of the striped cloth that gave direction to the piece.
  • The problems I faced were largely to do with using coloured media I’m not used to.  I struggled with wetting the watercolour pencil in a suitable fashion and I don’t think I have made the most of the pastels as I’ve smudged most of the work.
  • I feel I have some depth in the drawings.  Fig 2 shows some depth by wrapping the cacti arrangement in a red cloth that throws the green forward.  Also the little baby cacti bring the lower part of the picture forward.  In Fig 3 depth is created by the horizontal wiggly lines of the cloth, the large melon at the back and small lemon in the front.
  • The restrictions of using only line is that it is harder to create depth as there is less shadow or shading though this can be added in at the colouring stage.  The restrictions of using tone to build up the picture is probably that it’s easy to make an error of judgement in the placement of objects.


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Drawing Skills Part II : Observations in Nature : Detail / tone / stipples

OCA page 52 asks me to collect various natural objects and begin exercises that inspire me so I now have various dried flowers, twigs, shells, cones, feathers etc.

Exercise : Line drawing detail / OCA p 53

I used a black felt-tip pen for this exercise and fig 1 shows the Romaine lettuce stump I was studying.  It was fun to draw in this way and I like the character a simple line drawing depicts.  A no-frills illustration style.

Fig 1. Line drawing detail : sketch #58

The felt-tip was a bit thick so I then used a fine black drawing pen for the lemon that you can also see in fig 1.  I kept it really simple and tried not to fiddle with the lemon flesh too much as I was afraid of over-drawing it.  The pen  seemed reasonably well suited to the lemon but I think the lettuce would have been improved with the use of a slightly finer felt-tip.


Exercise : Getting tone and depth in detail / OCA p 54

Fig 2. Depth and detail : sketch 59


This was a real challenge and took me a very long time.  I had chosen a difficult dried flower head from the garden (fig 2).  The reason it was particularly difficult was that there was no real rhythm or pattern to the florets.  It was so random to copy to paper and get everything in the right place but I drew a light cross on the page so that the image was quartered for the eye and I started with the florets that ran horizontally and vertically along these lines.

When doing my research on Martha Alf below I realised that I had not captured the light and shade at all well so I went back over the work again, trying to create a better depth of shadow and a deeper contrast of light and dark.  The flower is almost ethereal so there isn’t the solidity of the apple she drew.  I’m still not entirely happy with it. I used a 6B, 2B and 2H pencil for this piece.

The exercise was good for helping me to be more patient and persistent as well as improving my dexterity and seeing skills.  I found it extremely hard but I did enjoy it in the end.

Exercise : Stipples and dots / OCA p 55

Fig 3. Stipples and Dots : sketch #60

I chose a dead Astilbe flower head and a live leaf from the same plant.  This, again, was a fiddly job.  We were asked to draw in biro or ink and I chose a fine point drawing pen for this exercise.

I have attempted to create some contours with various hatching marks and used a different technique for the stems and flower heads to show a range of texture.

As careful, painstaking and exact drawing doesn’t seem to be my natural talent and I do enjoy this type of exercise but realise I need to develop patience and must persist in the longer, more detailed exercises too.


Research point – Two artists with totally different styles.

Fig 1. Martha Alf “Tomato #1”, 1978-79


My first choice is Martha Alf. “Tomato #1 1978 – 79”.  This is an incredible drawing that is so precise, well defined, contoured, lit and composed that I’m at a loss to know how anyone can produce something like this with just pencils.  Lots to learn!

I love the way the light is shining on the top of the fruit and the dark corner of the room (?) contrasting; ditto with the dark base of the tomato against the light table.

I wonder how that fuzzy background was achieved.  It could be many dots or the use of a rough paper perhaps with smudged shadows.


Fig 2. Picasso “Blue Dove” 1961


My second choice for this research point is the Picasso drawing “Blue Dove” which was completed in 1961.  I have a copy of this picture at home.  It’s the simplicity of line I admire and how much expression can be packed into a drawing with so few marks.

The comparison with these two styles is stark.  Martha Alf’s ‘Tomato # 1’ must have taken many hours to complete and is beautiful for its depth and perfection whilst Picasso would have taken moments to draw the bird, even though he had taken years to perfect the talent to do so!  It may have zero contour hatching or shadows but has great movement and life.

Looking for drawings for this research has helped me realise the myriad different styles that exist and that my own ‘style’ of mark making will develop over time into … well, who knows?

Check and Log

  • The drawing media I enjoy most is pen, especially for the finer dots and stipples.  Soft pencils are great for blending and the slightly harder graphite for detailed lines.
  • Tone can be created with cross hatching or blending dark to light (see fig ; pattern may be random or detailed and repeated marks and texture can be shown by using frottage, dots, random marks, ticks and many other methods.
  • I’m definitely happier with the big broad brush stroke than the details!
  • I wasn’t good at framing the compositions or giving them a background to create a solidity and firm base for them.  This will inform my next project exercise and I’ll make a concerted effort to include a setting in which to place my objects.  I’ve also made some notes in my daily sketchbook about how I could improve on the images above.
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Part II : Extra curricular activities & sketching


Bristol Open Art Exhibition : November 2012

Run by the Royal West of England Academy, this exhibition gives an opportunity to unknown, emerging and established artists to submit work.  354 artists were successful and the exhibition was interesting, informative and a great success.

I learned from studying the techniques, styles and even framing options.

Kurt Jackson : Cornish Orchard


As we are doing drawing exercises in this year’s OCA course, I took a look at drawings I liked – here is one of them:

I particularly notice the way he has drawn the bottom of the tree trunks in the background dark against the light ground and then light against the dark background.  Very nifty.

The words ad atmosphere and bring us into the drawing by suggesting other senses we can use to make the most of it.

I’m a fan of Jackson’s abstract impressionist landscapes, so this was a real surprise.

Cowbridge Art Society Exhibition Dec 2012 

I belong to this Society and attend meetings and demonstrations regularly.  The exhibition has given me a chance to exhibit, even though I’m a novice.  The “Thistles” drawings which I blogged about here are in the exhibition, plus 4 paintings, one of which is shown below.  This piece has been painted on canvas with acrylic paints and acrylic inks.

I also exhibited a painting at the Travellers Gallery, Barry, South Wales and another at Castell Coch, Tonwynglais.

Television / You tube / Internet activities

I enjoy watching some of the Sky Arts programmes on the TV.  In November I watched a programme about Bill Cunningham, a famous New York Fashion Photographer who changed the way fashion was shot and shown in magazines in the 1960s onwards.  He went out on the street each day looking for clues to the latest trends; took photographs showing the latest boots or buttons or scarves or dress-lengths or fabrics … anything which caught his eye and which would give the reader the confidence to wear such clothes or styles on the street.  Great programme and a lovely, unassuming man.

Also on Sky arts is an occasional interview with Tim Marlow, art historian.  He asks an artist or collector to take him to a gallery and talk to him about several pieces of work and what they mean to the interviewee.  This gives me an insight into other people’s tastes, opinions, emotions and reasoning and I’m hearing how others talk and think of art.

I sometimes watch the “Painting and Drawing channel” and have been practicing different mark-making in my personal sketchbook to improve my dexterity.

Classes / demonstrations

I attend a class most weeks where we copy paintings, drawings or photographs to help us learn new techniques.

Collage workshopThis was a day workshop where we took small 6″ canvasses and used paint, fabric, pictures, sheet music, text as well as acrylic

mixed media collage

paint.  Here is one of my efforts:

I used a jug I own for inspiration and attempted a stylized version on my canvas.  I purposely left the lace overlapping the bottom of the canvas to give it a little boost.



Some of my sketchbook work during Pt II:

P1100937 P1100940 P1100941 P1100942 P1100944 P1100945 P1100946 P1100947 P1100948


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Drawing Skills Part II – Observations in nature / Exploring Coloured Media & Research

Exercise: OCA page 51 Exploring coloured media

We were asked to experiment with coloured media and produce a few examples of random lines.

Fig 1 : sketch #54

Fig 1 : sketch #54

It was interesting to play around although I felt as if I didn’t have many techniques up my sleeve but I did my best and my efforts are below:

I started my exploration with oil pastels (Fig 1).  I found them quite difficult to blend with my finger and with white spirit but easier with a paper towel.  I think the brand I own are perhaps a little hard (and also cheap).  They wouldn’t be so good for fine work but do take graffito well.

I then moved on to Neocolour II Water soluble wax pastels (Fig 1 bottom of page) which work better than the oil pastels and I will be glad to try them out some more in further exercises.

To the right in fig 2 we have water colour pencils at the top and I had a go at wet in wet,

Fig 2 : sketch #55

Fig 2 : sketch #55

colour blending and cross-hatch with wet pencil which I do like the effect of.

At the bottom of fig 2 are my efforts with wax crayons.  These are much to thick for fine work and I didn’t find they blended well with a finger or cloth but work well in layers as on the apple.





Fig 3 : sketch 56

Fig 3 : sketch 56

Fig 3: Gel sticks are practiced at the top; in the middle are chalk pastels and bottom is acrylic inks.

I’m excessively messy with pastels though I like their blending ability.  The inks were fun to use and I must get a lot more practice to be adept with these.  Of course, all these media would have looked different on a very toothed paper




Fig 4 : sketch #57

Fig 4 : At the top of the page I sketched a tree to practice various marks with coloured crayons, plus a small area of dotted hatching to fade in and out of colour and some hatching.

Underneath that I’ve used my felt tips which need replacement as some of them are getting a bit dry.  They are uite harsh but make some interesting hatched and graded marks.


Research : OCA p51

“Find out about two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing and make notes about their work”

The first artist I have chosen is Jerome Witkin (b.1939) who was an American painter, known for his realism.

Fig 1 “Hands of Actors”

From his series “Hands as Actors”:  The pieces were drawn on frosted mylar with black pencils, crayons and sometimes solvent.  The washes are strengthened with copy machine toner to give darkness and half-tones.  When dry the drawing is shot (photographed) on a positive plate and gummed down for printing (information courtesy of Ocean Works Press).

I love the movement in these hands.  It’s odd to see three hands together and they seem to act like a piece of machinery, as if the artist has used each one to depict a separate part and yet they will all work together and move together when they leap off the page.  Maybe each hand is meant to be an actor playing his part in the piece.

The detail is remarkable and the shapes strange and twisted.  Great use of tone and contrast.  I do wonder why each hand has a tightly entwined thumb and first finger with the other three fingers free.

Fig 2 : Witkin : Vincent and Death

Jerome Witkin : Vincent and Death (1987) : Charcoal and mixed media drawing.  6′ high x 4′ wide

In an interview with John Seed of the Huffington Post in 2010, Witkin explained that he had a model sit for this artwork and that, “He (Vincent) is fighting his own sense of the weariness of life… questioning his purpose… always thinking about death.”

I think he has depicted this beautifully, tragically, eerily.  This picture has great presence.  The balance of Vincent’s head and his upright back show a stoicism and acceptance of the inevitability of his end.

The way Witkin has drawn the shadow on the wall brings a dark dimension to the piece and how strange it is that we can see both sides of the wall, knowing that Vincent cannot.  It creates a sense that we know something he doesn’t – very sinister.

The lighting is interesting because he has the black shadow on the wall and yet light is shining on his suit with the shadow of his head cast over his suit … or is it?  Is that another shadow created on his face too.  I find this a bit confusing.

Note the way his right hand is clenched and the gun on the floor – all very tense.  This image is extremely powerful and emotional and one I won’t forget in a hurry.
And now to move to an altogether gentler artist.  My second choice is Elizabeth Blackwell (1700 – 1759).  Blackwell was a wonderful and acclaimed botanical artist and it is said that she began drawing and selling her work initially only as a way to free her husband from the debtors’ prison!  (Art of the Print.com)
The work I have chosen is “Helleborus Major” (fig 3) which was published in the Nuremburg edition by Jacob Trew around 1775.

Apart from being a stunningly beautiful picture, I admire the composition; the way the mature leaf shape is placed in the background, giving texture, perspective, movement and dynamism.  More movement has been added to this piece with the root trailing along the bottom.  It’s unusual to find botanical drawing that an artist’s eye to create more than just an exact representation of the original.

The use of colour also balances the drawing, being opaque in the foreground and transparent in the background.  Firmer strokes are used for all the foreground work and light, ethereal strokes for the background.  The placement of the ‘floating’ flower, seeds, root and stems has been carefully thought out to balance the piece.

Lovely in every way.

Check and log

The media I found most expresive is coloured inks.  I love the fact that you can use any implement to apply them; you can use wet in wet, blend them, wet on dry.  You can make thin or thick lines, write with it and use the medium as paint.

*  The coloured media that lends itself to detailed work are coloured pencils and fine pens with coloured ink.


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Extra-curricular art work Part 1

Here is a selection of the art work I’ve been creating in my weekly class and on my own at home:





This painting is acrylic on acrylic paper.  I achieved this at a workshop in early summer but I had to ‘do my own thing’ as the workshop leader was using techniques only suitable for canvas and I only had paper.  I made it up as I went along which was fun.





This piece was worked at art-class  (July 2012) to my own design, using gutta and silk paints on silk.  I called it “Tree of Fun” and I was really pleased with it.





I drew these thistles in ink at art class (October / November 2012) and then photocopied them onto water-colour paper and practiced different techniques to colour them.  The three images that are mounted were required for an exhibition.



The image directly above was the original drawing.  The others show watercolour wash and a sepia ink effect and a coloured ink effect.




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Extra Curricular activities July – November 2012 : Part I


Several art programmes have been of interest, in particular David Hockney talking about  his photography, his exhibition and how it was filmed; how he did many of his drawings on an i-pad. When Hockney photographs people, he takes several shots from top to bottom, each shot taken from a parallel view so that the perspective isn’t distorted.  An interesting way of achieving a lifelike image.

He used the same technique with the Grand Canyon; filming each piece as a separate and immediately-opposite photograph and then collaged them all together which created an amazing vision without the distortions of distance.

David Hockney : New work with camera : 1985-5

David Hockney : New work with camera : 1985-5

He showed some of his famous chair paintings where he used reverse perspective (painting the front small and the back larger).  His take on perspective in each case was innovative and exciting. A quote of Hockney’s from the programme was “The beauty is in the process of seeing”

Classes:   Still attending a 2-hour art class most weeks.  We draw or paint our own ideas or copy from other artists’ work and the tutor gives us guidance on the techniques we need to achieve our goals.  Click here for examples of my latest work.

Workshops and Demonstrations

Nicola Davies – Tide’s Out, St Ives

Cowbridge Art Society:  

1.   Jantien Powell gave a demonstration of drawing with pastels which made it look so easy.  I found it was definitely not so easy to achieve her simple methods which I tried it myself at home but I did learn a great deal which, with practice, I’m sure I can master.

2.    Nicola Davies showed us how she layered her oil paintings using a palette knife.  Her paintings look quite intricate and it’s hard to believe they are all done by knife.  I have been trying out the technique in class but, as always, it looks much easier when done by an expert.  I’ll post my results when they are finished.  In the meantime, here is one of Nicola’s paintings …

3.   Also saw a demo by Michelle Scragg who showed us her abstract acrylic paintings and demonstrated the techniques she used to achieve her unusual effects.

Porthcawl Pavilion Art Talks

1.  Went to a wonderful talk and demo by Keith Bayliss who explained and illustrated his creative processes leading to his exhibition “Hortus Conclusus – The enclosed garden”.  Much of the exhibition was dedicated to sculptures made from tissue paper, wire, papier mache and fabric.  His work was delicate, beautiful and extraordinary.  H was asked to exhibit at the Mission Gallery, Swansea and styled the entire exhibit around the space.  This was an interesting concept for an exhibitor; thinking what would work to enhance the space rather than using what he already prepared.

2.   Andrew Lanning discussed his journey into art and surrealism whilst creating an abstract painting especially for the audience.  One of the interesting facts he stated was that he was untrained and didn’t want to have any training in case it ruined his style.  My husband and I felt that with a little tuition and some improved techniques his work could be even more stunning.

3.   Catrin Webster returned to the Pavilion for part 2 of her talk and demonstration (part 1 click here.  Catrin explained the journeys she makes into the landscape and how they inspire her work.  She talked about a landscape not being just a snapshot taken through a view-finder but something you experience from the inside.  It’s all around you and this is what she tries to capture.  Lately she also has been drawing on photographs.  She takes a scene and puts her pencil at the starting point of her visual journey, then moves the pencil to the various places her eye goes.  This creates a friction within the photograph which she then paints – including the eye movement shapes.

Reading:  I’ve scanned various drawing books, had a good look at books by Barbara Rae and Kurt Jackson and read my copies of ‘Artist & Illustrator’

Art Trail:   When we went on holiday to Devon, I visited as many studios, galleries and workshops as I could.  Far too many to include here but lots of inspiration was imbibed.



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