Monday, July 31, 2006

Travels with a sketchbook in the southwestern states of the USA

I've just posted a summary of my recent trip to California, Arizona and New Mexico to "Travels with a sketchbook in..." my new blog dedicated to travel and sketching.

Posts proper should start later this week. There will be quite a few comments about the weather (temperatures, rainstorms and fog!).......

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Travels with a Sketchbook in Venice

I've now posted all the days from my last painting trip overseas in my new Travels with a Sketchbook blog. There's a post for each day and two have posts for both morning and afternoon. Beware - anybody who doesn't like fish!

This is the format I intend to use for posts from the trip to the southwestern USA which starts next week. I'd be interested to know what you think and welcome any suggestions for how it can be improved.

This blog is now signing off and having a break. See you all in August!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Blind Contour First Friday - Sky

This is this month's contribution from me - I'm a very literal person! ;)

And I'd got it all worked out ;) The weather would continue to be good and I could just fill the page with blue pencil! But it's cloudy and grey!

I get great skies in the morning when I look out of my kitchen window - but today wasn't one of the...................

To see other people who contribute to Niff and Sutter's Blind Contour First Friday visit this link

7 July - One Year On

The irony of the title of this blog is not lost on me at times. I don't normally comment in any way on things happening in London or the wider environment - but today is a bit different.

Today I'd like to pay my personal respects to all those who died and also to all those who were injured or got caught up at the centre of the events of a year ago today...........on a day not easily forgotten in London.

"F" - I still 'see' your smiling face every time I see a No 30 bus. Thinking of you today and giving thanks that you were one of those who were able to walk away.

This is a link to what happened then and since.

No comments please.

Changes to the Clustr Map

I've changed the way I archive my Clustr Maps as it had got to the point where it was difficult to view the dots! Clustr had moved me to weekly updates because of the number of hits I'm now getting.

So now, instead of archiving on a yearly basis I've moved over to monthly archiving with the number of visits back to being updated on the map on a daily basis. I still need to check and see whether I can get archiving to occur on the first of every month.

So the old map was archived yesterday (plus the start date corrected after their server update) and today there is a new map - with the 263 hits from yesterday! By tomorrow I'll have had nearly 16,000 hits in 3 months.

Many thanks to all of you who made you way over to the new sketchbook blog - it also started with a very respectable number of hits - and has already collected its first Technorati favourite!!!

I've started posting my sketching trip to Venice last year to my new blog - and the day-by-day format being used for this trip - is very much the way this new blog will work.

If you use Technorati favourites you can read posts from your favourite blogs (if they're registered with Technorati) very quickly.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Travels with a now up and running

I've got my new blog up and running - with nearly all the tweeks added in. Just got the Clustr Map and MapStats to go.

It already contains 4 posts and I'll be transferring an account I wrote last year of my visit to Venice to it within the next day or so. Doing that was what got me started on blogging!

The photo on the left is of me sketching on my first trip to Bali in in 1992. I've been sketching for a very long time!

This is the URL for the new blog and the feed is

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Self Portrait Marathon #4 - Two Half Brows

OK - so sooner or later I had to do one with the glasses on.

So this is it - it's really difficult finding an angle which flatters my double chin! I've called this one Two Half Brows because, although my hair has only just started to acquire the odd grey hair, the colour in my eyebrows is receding fast and the bit of my brows nearest my nose now needs my expertise with coloured pencil - I use "blond" by Chanel!

I did try one with coloured pencil but got the proportions wrong and looked too dumpy for words - or a reveal on the Internet for that matter. The coloured pencil scribble worked well though - and I might try again if I have time before I start travelling.

Does anybody know why, when we're concentrating on drawing our faces, every self-portrait has to look like the viewer has just committed an unpardonable gaffe? Or is it just mine?

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I need a title!

I need a title for this new work which I seem to have been fiddling with forever. The subject matter is rowing boats on the River Stour in Dedham in Suffolk (Constable Country). The fine art society of which I'm a member is having a show in Septenber and it has a theme of "Reflections" - hence the subject.

Anybody got any ideas?

This is 12" x 16" and on Arches Hot Press paper (in a block - as it provides a useful support while I'm working). It will be joining other works in the Waterscapes Gallery.

I've included a link to the boatyard in Dedham where these clinker rowing boats live in case anybody fancies a row down to Flatford!

[Apologies to those who saw this last night - I should know better than to try and match colours on screen to the original at night!]

My website - Waterscapes Gallery
Boathouse, Dedham

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Travel and sketching - in the USA

This time next week I will be on a plane over the Atlantic and heading for California. During July, I'm going to be:
- visiting San Diego and Southern California
- attending a pastel workshop with Dianna Ponting SFCA PPC, MPAC, PSA
- travelling with friends across Arizona to New Mexico in order to..........
- stay in Albuquerque to attend, as a member, the 14th Annual Convention and Exhibition of the Conference of the Coloured Pencil Society of America (CPSA)
- visit Santa Fe
- and then return to California and, hopefully, fly up north and then drive back down the central coast visiting Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, and San Luis Obispo en route.

The whole trip will be recorded - with photos and sketches and maybe pastel paintings - in my new blog - "Travels with a Sketchbook in.........". I had planned to launch this today - but a problem arose yesterday afternoon which has just turned all my plans for this week completely upside down!!! So......launch plans are currently on hold. However, the basics are done and I may be able to start posting while I'm away subject to access to on-line facilities.

In the meantime, I'm practising for the weather in California as we're having a heatwave in London. Fortunately, it's going be a little less humid even if it is hotter where I'm going.

This was the plane tree avenue in the local park late yesterday morning. It's a plein air sketch on a double page spread in my Moleskine skeythbook using coloured pencils.

Links: Click the following links to see

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Article: Sketching with Coloured Pencils

The July edition of "From My Perspective" (FMP) has an article by me on "Sketching with Coloured Pencils".

The article explains how sketching generally and sketching with coloured pencils in particular helps you to:
  • Expand your portfolio of subject matter
  • Get a true record of the colours and tones you see
  • Develop your freehand drawing and observational skills
  • Learn how to draw more quickly
  • Learn how to draw outside – and in public!
  • Learn how to choose what to sketch
In effect, it condenses a lot of what I've already written in a lot of different places both in this blog and referenced by this blog.

Here's an extract from a work which has already featured on this blog

This sketch (across a double page spread of my sketchbook) is of the view from Domme, a hilltop town on the River Dordogne in France. I sketched while I had lunch at a restaurant overlooking this scene. My sketch describes what I had to eat along the bottom! My aim was to record the colours for future use as a reference for a painting and to get samples of colour completed rather than a complete picture.

This is the work completed at home on Arches Hot Press watercolour paper – using information collected in the sketch and photographs. It’s nearly 12” x 16” – more or less the same size as the sketch. The main benefit I get from observation and sketching is a very clear understanding of the place plus I can clearly remember being there. It’s a much better memory than one ever gets from just taking photos!

FMP is the subscription-based online magazine of Ann Kullberg. Ann is one of the best known coloured pencil artists and the author of two best-selling books on working with coloured pencils (see the coloured pencils section in the right hand column of this blog). Her portraiture work can be seen here. Ann also focuses on educating people about coloured pencils. Her own website focuses on the workshops, on-line classes and kits she provides. Access to FMP for subscribers is via this website.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

10th International Sketchcrawl - the results!

Yesterday was the 10th International Sketchcrawl. I participated as part of a small London Group, most of whom were linked to the Association of Illustrators. These are my sketches (minus the people I sketched on the tube at the beginning and end of the day!

I travelled from to Southwark Cathedral (our agreed meeting place) via the District Line, Monument Tube and London Bridge - so all of this is about 30 minutes from my home in London.

I produced 5 sketches in total, 3 large (double page spread in my black hardback Daler Rowney sketchbook) and two small (double page spread in the Moleskine). I used a pen with sepia ink, pencil and coloured pencils. If you click on any of the sketches you can see a larger version.

In order the sketches are:
- a fish, poultry and game stall stall in Borough Market (which was established at the foot of London Bridge in the 1200s (completed 1.35pm) The market has stalls belonging to suppliers from all over the UK. This particular stall belongs to the Furness Fish, Game and Poultry Supplies who are based in Ulverston in Cumbria.

Borough Market has gained prominence as a place where the true foodies shop. (my small haul was limited to vine tomatoes, chestnut mushrooms and salade de mache)! Jamie Oliver reputedly shops there and a number of films have been filmed in and around the market including Bridget Jones Diary, Lock Stock and two Smoking Barrels and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

- the view standing at the southern end of London Bridge looking east. From left to right are: the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge - with 1 Canada Place at Canary Wharf in the background. (completed 2.25pm)

I was really fighting the wind at this point and was holding on to everything as I had to stand up to see this (which due to the disability in my feet is not at all easy!) and rest the sketchbook on the parapet of the bridge. Then of course I was also a minor attraction and free tour guide for all the visitors to London!

- - the scene outside the main entrance to Southwark Cathedral - with the amazing magenta pink fold up seats (completed 3.20pm). Met up again with the rest of the sketchers - including Chi Chi who has run into major tube problems. Swopped notes and agreed we all needed to do this again - probably in the same area as we only began to scratch the surface. Some sketchers then went off to watch the footie.

- Not being a huge footie fan, I continued to sketch. The next sketch is of the the scene at Wright Brothers, an Oyster and Porter House in one of the roads which borders Borough Market. It was completed at 4.20pm - just after the England versus Portugal match kicked off. Take a look at the link - little did I know what I was sketching - plus it has recipes!

- Finally, the scene from the side of the Thames looking towards Southwark Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral beyond. Completed at 5.35pm - at which point I headed back home - and got home just in time for the penalties. Need I say more?

We saw the modern replica of Golden Hind (but decided to leave it for another day!) and I didn't make it to the Globe Theatre or Tate Modern - although that would be feasible in a complete day of sketching.

All in all, a good day's sketching despite the extreme heat (for London). It was even more satisfying to get back home and find that lots of people were posting their sketches in the International Sketchcrawl Project that I started on the Wet Canvas website (for link see below). It was especially pleasing to see people producing sketches who had never sketched either from life and/or in public before my recent sketching class. Well done to all of them. It was even more satisfying to hear that many of them also had huge fun doing the sketchcrawl! :)

Sketchcrawl Forum (This is
where details about all local sketchcrawl activities are posted + photos and sketches after the event))
Wet Canvas 10th International Sketchcrawl Project Discussion Thread - 30+ participants sketching all over the world -
Wet Canvas International Sketchcrawl Gallery of the sketches here
Sketching for Real - my sketching class

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Travels with a Sketchbook - my new blog

"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary"

Pablo Picasso

I've started setting up a new blog called "Travels with a Sketchbook" and will be spending some time over the next day or so getting it ready to roll! It will be a blog which I use periodically to record sketches and paintings - and the stories behind them - that I do whenever I'm travelling away from home. It will also link into the Travels with a Sketchbook gallery on my website.

The sketch with this post is one my favourite ones - called "Contemplating Baga Beach" it's of a fellow artist sat sketching boats one morning on the beach at Baga in Goa (on the west coast of India). It's an early coloured pencil work of mine c. December 1993; as you can see I've been sketching for quite a long time!

My website will have a new USA section in the "Travels with my Sketchbook" gallery very soon as, in July, I'm travelling to the west coast of the USA and then in September I'm on the east coast in New England.

In July, I shall be visiting the following places.
I'm then hoping to fly north and drive back down the Central Coast (visiting Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, San Luis Obismo, Santa Barbara and back to San Diego - maybe via a sketch trip to outer Los Angeles - we'll see! Ed Terpening of "Life Plein Air" is already working out how to map good sketch places for me! See his post earlier this week "Teaser" - the best spots painting tour.

It's debateable how much I'll be able to post to either this blog or the new one while I'm away. If it's too difficult I'll post when I get back in the same way as I did with my Venice Blog thread last year (on Wet Canvas). (In fact I might move the text of that over to the new blog to get it off to a good start!)

I'm then hoping to collect recommendations about places to sketch and buy art materials etc so as to make it a good reference source for anybody doing the same sort of trip. So - a bit like this one - but much more focused on being a journal about a specific trip to a specific area and plein air sketching.

If anybody would like to tell me about good places to visit to sketch I'd be very happy to get your recommendations - you've got the next week to come with them!. However, I suggest that you post them to the new blog which should be up and running in the next couple of days. I'll give you the link when it's ready for publishing.

I hope you're going to enjoy it - I'm very excited about it!

Artwork: "Contemplating Baga Beach" (coloured pencil 8"x 11" in a Daler Rowney black hard back sketchbook) - click to see a larger image.

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