Challenges #23 & #103 … and #1


This morning I bought a 9×12″ Daler-Rowney Ingres pastel pad and took it home to do an hour’s oil pastelling.

I often use the Daler pads – usually the handy 6×9″. They are spiral bound, lightweight and ideal for sketching in with my Caran d’Ache oil pastels (the paper’s laid lines tend to show through soft pastel, and with Sennelier OPs the oil seeps through the paper). The sheets come in six colours, all of them useful, but I can’t help wishing they included a few sheets of black.

My right foot in a Brasher Trekker sandal is doing double duty for EDM Challenges #23: Draw your foot and #103: Draw some exercise equipment – what you use to stay fit, since my feet are my only means of transport and they see a lot of action! I was underwhelmed by this sketch when I reached the end of the hour, but it’s not looking so bad on-screen.

EDIT: Challenge #1 is Draw a shoe. D’uh! Another challenge covered.

Challenge #111


EDM Challenge #111 is Draw a bowl, so here’s my cheerful Denby breakfast bowl. It’s the perfect size for a grapefruit half or (let’s be honest) a large hot chocolate.

This was done in an hour using Caran d’Ache oil pastels in my 6×9″ Daler Ingres pastel pad. Most of that time was spent chasing ellipses round the page!

The small stuff


Inspired by the grids I’ve seen on other sketchblogs, I decided yesterday to do one of my own. Zooming in on the smallest, quirkiest features of my house, I was able to do each of these tiny sketches in 5-10 mins, and have the satisfaction of filling a page of my 3.5 x 5.5″ hand*book journal by the end of the afternoon.

The images are: a lightbulb over the stairs that we’ve never got round to buying a shade for; our bedroom doorlatch; a “lucky” horseshoe above a doorway (it’s resting on top of the doorframe, so I suppose it’s lucky it hasn’t fallen on anyone’s head); the view through the stained glass panels of our front door; the living room doorknob; and the acorn-shaped cord pulls in our bathroom.

Pen & black watercolour pencil.

Challenges #7 & #14


Going almost monochrome for this entry. These are both in my 3.5 x 5.5″ hand*book journal.

EDM Challenge #7: Draw a bottle, jar or tin from the kitchen

Marmite, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a savoury spread made from yeast extract which looks like tar and tastes indescribable. This sketch was done in Profipen & watercolour pencils with black paper & white pen.

EDM Challenge #14: Draw what you see in the morning when you get up

Technically, this is what I see before I get up, while I’m still on the pillow: my bedside table, sideways on. I’ve noted “THIS WAY UP!” to remind me not to turn the sketchbook clockwise 90°, which is what I do without thinking every time I glance at the page.

The stuff you can see is, from left to right (I mean, bottom to top): Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides; a failed bit of crochet I use as a coaster; alarm clock; lamp; aluminium photo frame. Every night before I sleep, I turn the frame so that I can see the photo. Every morning when I awake, it is facing south west, away from me, and has slid an inch or so forward.

Profipen 0.1 and a Derwent Inktense pencil.

The OPs are out!


These are oil pastel quickies in my 6×9″ Daler-Rowney Ingres pad. The first took 30 mins, and is my response to EDM Challenge #90: Draw something with wings. The wings are made of wire. She’s an angel ornament that belonged to my grandmother, who died in January aged 96.

Challenge #90 is to Draw a piece of fruit, so I drew three. My pears took 30-40 mins, and I could have worked them further, but decided I liked the texture of the paper showing through. It gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to sketch from life, though I often use reference photos for more considered paintings.

More pen & watercolour


These pen & watercolour sketches from February are on a two-page spread in my 4×6″ Daler-Rowney sketchbook.

I started the book an incredible 10 years ago today, finally filling it just last week – thanks to Danny Gregory’s book The Creative License and the EveryDay Matters Group. I was compelled to reward myself almost immediately for getting back into sketching mode with this bijou tin for my half-pan Winsor & Newtons. The sketchbook page includes the dimensions of this tiny box, the colours I keep in it and a reminder to myself about pre-wetting pan colours.


As well as sketching whatever catches my eye, I’m working my way through the hundred-plus EDM Challenges, in no particular order. Challenge #10 is Draw your hand (you can peruse the full list at Karen Winters’ blog, here).

A gesture of defiance – or was I simply trying to hide my bitten fingernails?

Chatteris Museum sketches


The good news is that our scanner is now up and running, so I can now post my Chatteris Museum sketches. The bad news is: they’re not pastels! I say this only because of the rapturous reception my pastel sketches received from artists in the EveryDay Matters group who were kind enough to leave me a comment. I kept my materials for the SketchCrawl simple and light: these are all Edding Profipen .01 with watercolour (or watercolour pencils), 3.5″ x 5.5″.

We have a carpet beater made of cane, an earthenware pitcher, some tea paraphernalia, a hardware store bell (EDM Challenge #21: Draw something old, antique or vintage – we were spoilt for choice, really), Keys (#37) and police whistles.


Cunningly, I also managed to cover challenges #38: Draw at a museum and #72: Draw somewhere new with this trip!

The paper in the hand*book journal is rougher than the Daler-Rowney sketchbooks I’m used to and seems more absorbent to watercolour, but it’s pleasant to use. Since joining EDM I’ve noticed worrying symptoms of a serious sketchbook fetish I don’t recall having before …

SketchCrawl #13: Chatteris


Saturday 17th March 2007 marked the 13th WorldWide SketchCrawl.

It’s horribly frustrating not being able to share my sketches yet: I feel like the only kid who isn’t allowed out to play! Thanks to Anita Davies of the Fenland Visual Arts Collective, however, you can see what went on at Chatteris Museum in Cambridgeshire that day via the FenVAC blog.

Anita is the kind of compulsive sketcher I can only daydream of being as I sit dithering about what to draw. Thanks to being in the enthusiastic company of the “Fenland Friends”, I did fill five pages of my shiny new hand*book journal (not actually shiny – which is why I prefer it to the Moleskine) with drawings of whatever historical artefacts caught my eye. After several hours of sketching, yakking, laughter, lunch and poking around in one another’s sketchbooks, I bussed it back to Ely feeling more positive and excited about my art than I have in ages.

Sketches to follow. Honest guv!

Pastel sketches


I have added a page to my website to showcase my sketching in soft pastel and oil pastel.

I may decide now and then to vary the sketches on display, but for now, here are a few I’m fond of. All of these little studies were done directly from the subject, most of them in an hour or less.

Introducing Ely


It’s frustrating not being able to upload new sketches, so I’m posting a few oldies by way of intro to my corner of the world. The “Isle of Ely” rises up out of the Fens; our little city is situated on the only hill for miles around.

This is Ely cathedral and Dean’s Meadow seen from Cherry Hill Park, August 2006. Pen, watercolour & coloured pencil.

Plein-air pastelling on the banks of the River Great Ouse, March 2004.

Cherry Hill Park in the snow. A 20-minute conté sketch from February 2004.

Have a sketchful Saturday!