Drawing Dogs

A few years ago I started doodling scenes from my family life. I wanted to capture moments that I might forget, things that made me laugh or stop and think.

I meant the sketches to be very quick and silly, but I was getting caught up in whether they looked enough like my children.

I tried drawing them as little dogs instead, and to my surprise the drawings began to flow much more easily.

When I tried out drawing them daily for #inktober on Twitter a few years ago, the characters began to develop a different shape.

Then on holiday in France we got caught in a thunderstorm while we were visiting an amphitheatre. We made a dash for the car under a tarpaulin that didn’t quite cover us all, and as we ran though the streets of Orange laughing and getting soaked, I knew that it was a scene I wanted to draw. I sketched it that day, then did an ink drawing back home in England. I wanted to capture the exhilaration and the holiday feeling, and it was the first time that the dogs seemed like a family.

There have been loads of dog drawings over the past few years. There have been stories that didn’t really get anywhere, and lots of dioramas.

Last year I was very ill and was lucky enough to be able to take the time to really rest and recover. Throughout my treatment and as I grew stronger I drew, wrote and collaged a lot, and found I didn’t want to draw dogs at all. Because I was drawing in a journal just for myself, and not thinking about posting anything, it didn’t matter if my characters looked ‘right’ or not. For the first time in years I could draw without thinking about an audience. Despite the circumstances, it was liberating. I began to realise that I wanted to do more than little inky dog doodles.

I didn’t know if I would go back to drawing dogs, but alongside experimenting with printmaking, painting on canvas, writing and paper cutting I started working with an iPad and Ipencil for the first time, and the dogs have found a new lease of life there. So I think the dogs characters may still be around for a while…

… but in amongst lots of other things.

Introducing Dodie and Bo…

Dodie and Bo live on the same street and have been friends ever since Dodie’s family moved in, when they were smaller pups than they are now.


Dodie is full of bright ideas, and Bo is usually happy to go along with them!


Dodie and Bo had their first outing this month, in the pages of the rather wonderful Earwig* magazine…in which they got to spray their Headteacher with Stinky Turnip Juice.**
* http://www.earwigmagazine.co.uk (can’t insert link right now!)
** Dodie and Bo do not recommend that children spray their teachers with Stinky Turnip Juice (although Pongy Parsnip Juice is a different matter…)

#inktober: All of it

This is the first time that I’ve completed #inktober (an inky drawing each day of October) and it’s been really good fun – but also more challenging that I expected. I started out with the aim of doing some more detailed drawings (usually I draw quite quickly in ink) and I did manage a few. But at the weekends – when I’m busy with my family and don’t go to my studio – I found I was forgetting until the evening, then doing a really quick sketch. And in half term I only really did quick sketches too – but I realised that was ok. It’s about drawing regularly, not having a pile of finished artwork.

I wanted to try using colours that I wouldn’t normally choose so I selected colours at random from a paint chart. This worked well in the studio but in my sketchbook I allowed myself to just use a black or grey pentel brush pen and a pencil.

It did remind me that capturing the things that make me smile or the moments that I want to remember is really important to me, and that actually drawing every day if possible is more important than posting photos of the drawings!

#inktober 13th: palette

Today I didn’t find time to draw anything, so for #inktober I’m posting a scrap of paper that started as I doodled a few characters then got reused as a palette as I tested out different inks last week.

Sometimes I think there’s more life in these scraps than in the finished pieces – I overlap colours as I test them in a way I daren’t try  in something I’m going to show people. So…maybe I need to see if I can bring some of that into my artwork.