Thursday, 16 August 2012

Formula Student

My eldest son is part of the Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) Racing Team so we went to Silverstone on July to watch them compete. The teams from all over the world build cars that are tested, inspected and timed

 The problem is they don't stay still for long.... I have loads of started drawings
 I love drawing engines
  but the crews tending to their cars were the stars of the show

Congratulations for LJMU for coming 12th overall (second of the UK teams) !

Saturday, 23 June 2012

St Albans Festival

Like triffids great big silk tulips appeared in the town centre. The art society had a drawing day in the town. I drew this view of French Row earlier in the week.
 but I've never had the courage when alone to draw the old door at the bottom of the Clock Tower which has the painted instruction to "COMMIT NO NUISANCE"

With my back to the Clock Tower I drew the war memorial at the entrance to Waxhouse Gate, I added the red of the poppies when I got home

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Jubilee Pageant

Tom and I braved the rain to take a look but the only way we could see anything was with periscopes (thanks Gold) which eventually dissolved in the rain.

 The only drawings I could do were of the horizon and the crowd. I've never seen anyone else drawing before but there were people with easels on the building behind us and the guy behind me in the crowd was doing the same scene in ink. Tom watched us for some time drawing away, neither of us aware of the others picture. I don't know how he got on because the crowd increased until the Queens boat passed and we had to put our sketchbooks away then it rained and my hands got too cold to hold a pencil.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Quadrant St Albans

Another sketch from the car. This is looking across the car park in The Quadrant shopping centre. It's a calm suburban area and I've never seen any trouble but apparently there was a stabbing outside one of the shops on Friday

Bank Holiday Monday

It was a little cold to sit and draw outside so I parked the car on Fishpool Street in St Albans and drew the old houses.

 This has been a road since Roman times. My mum, who grew up in St Albans remembers when the houses were in poor repair but it has become a very popular (and expensive!) place to live.

Later I had to collect my daughter from work so these are snatched sketches of unsuspecting shoppers in a local supermarket car park

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Doodling in a lecture

I've been on a course for my day job. Very nice hotel and interesting stuff. My day job doesn't involve a lot of sitting around listening so the drawing helps to keep my subconcious fidgety self in line while I learn. (Biro on hotel notepaper. The girl with the apple was from the second day, I stitched her in with Paintshop)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


So here I am at the end of the course. I can't say that it has been easy but I do think I've learnt a lot. Although I have always liked illustrative images I often didn't really see them. I think that many good illustrations disappear into the background. It is almost that the better the illustration the more likely it is to be ignored as it works so synergistically with the text.
I am much more aware and more likely to be impressed by a good illustration so the course has expanded my horizons. I am trying to be more aware of how text fits into context but again good typeface blends in, only bad choice (or multiple choices) of typeface scream out.
Although I look at other illustrators work (not that I am presumptuous enough to call myself an illustrator) I am guilty of not documenting my research so this is in some way an apology and an attempt to make amends.
Where to start? There have been so many influences and the Internet makes it possible to make fleeting visits into other peoples worlds and admire their creativity and ingenuity.
The French illustrator  Sandra Dufour does inventive work with textiles

On the same theme Debbie Smyth does amazing pin and thread pictures.
Pin and Thread Illustrations by Debbie Smyth textiles needles installation illustration art

The website was introduced to me by my daughter and is a constant source of diverse and interesting ideas
We went to the Degas exhibition which I really enjoyed but what can I write that hasn't already been said?
I would like to go to the Lucian Freud exhibition but I'm not sure whether time will permit. I enjoyed looking at the reviews in the papers anyway.
Andrea Joseph is always a source of inspiration. I don't know how she manages to be so prolific and creative, and she sketchcrawls with Lynne Chapman who is one of my heros along with the other correspondents of the Urbansketchers blog. Check this out for amazing use of light...
She's not an illustrator but Celia Smith's wire sculptures of birds are both artistic and illustrative.

I love other student's blogs. Working in isolation it is lovely to be able to check how other people have reacted to a project or exercise. I try not to peep until I've come up with my own ideas but when I'm really stuck its been great to get me started.
Jereme Crow and Rob have helped enormously. Thanks guys!
Jereme's blog introduced me to the work of Jacky Fleming who can draw and be funny at the same time. Very clever.

I have also been to the Whitechapel Gallery and seen the Government Art Collection which was suprisingly diverse, Mike Silva's "Pathway through Park", John Virtue's "Landscape No.664"and John Wood and Paul Harrison's "Ladder, Handle/Rope, Map, Lean, Slide and Platform" all stood out.

The White Cube had the Gilbert and George Exhibition which is a very interesting concept but somehow very scary when you're in the room with the posters. I hate to be critical but I think the posters were too busy when you put pictures (of Gilbert and George amongst other things) behind them. There was a sculpture which I'm guessing was by Anselm Kiefer though I can't find any information on it.

It looks like it's made from old books and I love it (this is my attempt to draw it, it's so complicated it would take weeks to do it justice)

Just because I have finished the course I won't stop drawing and posting so please pop back from time to time to see what I've been doing, I've enjoyed your company!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Seven Days-the finished story

So to complete the story it needs colour. I started with coloured pencil
 I wanted simple block colour, nothing too complicated or too busy, it's become a picture book.

I've done a little computer manipulation to make the colour "sing" but it's not quite what I'm looking for. I coloured the whole story and assembled it but it wasn't quite right. What the story was screaming out for was watercolour which I'm not that experienced with.

I think these work better though when I scanned this I noticed a missing leaf which I've added for the final version. The last 3 pages are too big to fit in my scanner so I photographed them with my phone

For the cover I thought I would include the seeds
 I did some studies using runner bean seeds and coloured pencils/watercolour

and thought about including a hand but it doesn't fit in. I tried some roughs in my sketchbook and eventually settled on this. The letters were covered with masking fluid and I painted on a watercolour wash. The masking fluid didn't cover as well as I'd hoped for so the lettering became a bit distorted. The colour of the beans is much richer than I could have hoped for

The pages alone don't give a proper idea of how the booklet tells the story so with the help of my eldest son I videoed it. It's a bit wobbly but it gives you an idea.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Assignment 5 Seven Days

Such a broad brief. Where to start?
 I thought about nursery rhymes, festivals, a news story that unfolded over seven days and some old fashioned advice to a housewife which had her washing on Mondays, ironing on Tuesdays etc.

I've often thought it would be interesting to draw a plant like a daffodil every day from the flower budding through blooming to dying off. So moving on from that I thought of the story of Jack and the Beanstalk which could be spread over seven days from planting to chopping down.
Some studies for figures;

and for the beanstalk

 and I needed a giant who would look a bit fierce but not too scary. I sketched some famous figures not too accurately to get some ideas
then created my giant

 I also wanted to make the story slightly three dimensional so I played with  scrap paper and pop up engineering
I didn't know what medium to use but wasn't really happy with the way this collage was going
(and the computer insists on putting it upside down....)

because of the way the design has evolved it's difficult to properly show the staged of evolution. I started on day 6 and worked backwards. Here are some of the roughs;

Sunday, 18 March 2012


For a variety of reasons I've been hanging around airports recently collecting and delivering my daughter which has given me the opportunity to practice drawing in public. I know I should put more background in but I love the challenge of capturing the people without being spotted...

I am working on my final project in the background but it's a big task so it may be a while before I can post about it.

Waiting room

Drawing to pass the time