Sketchbooks I: Surroundings

Trying out pencil and pen together on a morning walk

Throughout this long period of Lockdown we’ve been lucky to be able to work from home and homeschool.

More experiments – pen for trees and pencil for houses, or vice versa?

When we were only allowed out to exercise, I really missed being able to stop and draw. I used to love drawing people in streets, supermarkets and cafes.

Drawing the view from my window with sticks dipped in ink.

Homeschooling meant that instead of having whole mornings in my studio, I was only picking up my sketchbook for the odd half hour, which felt frustrating. Eventually I worked out more of a balance, but it took time.

I found that I keep coming back to drawing tiny faraway houses nestling in the hills where I live!

I began to draw everyday objects, my garden, my family and the views from my windows, and realised that there was so much I could learn from what was around me.

A quick warm up drawing in my studio – I like the accidental splodge of red in the middle.

I also did a lovely online illustration course by The Good Ship Illustration (more about that later!) which helped me to experiment with how and what I draw.

An old tractor, roped off – to the dismay of passing kids.

When we could spend a bit more time outside, I found I was drawing in a different way – really looking at my surroundings. By limiting myself to only 2 or 3 materials when I’m out and about, I don’t feel overwhelmed by trying to get everything in.

Drawing by the sea after being at home for so long was exhilarating …

Has anyone else used sketchbooks more, or in a different way, during Lockdown? Or even started drawing for the first time?

#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.

Daily Drawings

February drawings

Some time ago I was inspired to try filling a whole page with doodles after reading Michael Richard’s lovely blog A Certain Line (I couldn’t find the exact post…)

I found it a really enjoyable way of starting (or ending) the day – a mixture of drawing what’s around me and drawing characters from my imagination.

This February I decided to do it every day (though I missed a couple through tiredness/forgetfulness). It acted as a bit of a warm-up before starting work on something more focused.

It felt less pressured than doing ‘A drawing a day’ because it was looser; I unashamedly scribbled to fill spaces on the page. Now it’s becoming something that I’ll just do when I get to my desk without having to remind myself.

(And, as the top picture makes it look as if I work in a white and uncluttered space, I’m adding this unedited snap of what my studio looked like yesterday morning.)

February studio mess

Worldful of Colour

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I immersed myself in colour last week, as I’ve been preparing for an Illustrators’ Sketchbook workshop at the lovely Prema Arts Centre in Uley, Gloucestershire.

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I’ve been coming up with all sorts of ways of approaching colour in a sketchbook – ways of playing with colour; releasing colourful shapes from painted pages; trying out colour combinations; and of course some scribbling,  snipping and gluing.

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And in doing this planning and preparation I’ve come up with things that I would never normally have tried…I found it really hard to stop playing around with colours and go off to school to pick up my kids. I felt as if I was floating along in a different (& quite colourful) world…

Open Snoozios

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I’m in the midst of Open Studios this weekend, and it’s been lovely to meet so many people.
It also motivated me to make more dioramas…

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…and a few papery things like this Secret Garden…

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…and these Hanging Gardens.

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The only thing is that after all this Creative Activity and meeting of lovely people…

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…I feel really tempted to have a snooze on my sofa whenever there’s a quiet moment. So far I’ve resisted (unlike a fellow artist who napped in her garden undetected last week, an approach which is much to be admired. No wonder her artwork is so fabulous).

A Nonchalant Fox

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The other day I was spending the morning drawing wolves in my studio. As I stood by the door washing my paintbrushes a beautiful fox walked past right in front of the studio.
I opened the door quietly so as not to disturb it and then suddenly wanted it to look at me – I wondered what it’s reaction would be.
The only thing I could think of to say, rather foolishly, was ‘Fox! Fox!’ as if I was calling a pet cat.
It carried on walking up my sloping garden, then turned and looked back at me.
Then it did a wee in the grass and sauntered off.