Sketch: Asakusa teacup

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If you are at all interested in the medium of oil pastel, or in the discipline of sketching from direct observation, then I warmly recommend a visit to the blog of Yusuke Katsurada. His daily oil pastels of single objects, sketched from life, continue to delight and inspire me for their quiet meditative quality and for the amount of lovingly precise detail achieved in what are largely one-hour sketches.

This teacup, a souvenir of Japan brought home by my husband some years ago, is my small homage to Yusuke, who has kindly clarified for me that the characters read “Asakusa”, the district of Tokyo where the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple is located.

Oil pastels (mostly Sennelier with some Caran d’Ache) on Daler Ingres paper, 24.10.09.

Them apples

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Ely Apple Day has been and gone, but it left me with a couple of Braeburns to sketch, so I plopped them on top of my trusty Canson sketchbook and went to it with my Sennelier oil pastels.

 
I realised, doing this, just how much I have missed the daily discipline of these small one-hour studies from life. They are so easy to fit into the evening of an otherwise busy day, and they’re great for keeping my observational skills sharp and my fingers familiar with the pastels. So why have I have neglected them?

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Just like my daughter, at heart I’m just a little kid playing with her crayons. Only mine are more expensive.

Poppies I & II – oil pastel on Daler Murano paper.

The Beguiling – wax pastel on Daler Murano paper.

For this last piece, I took an idea that June Walker has used so many times to beautiful effect: that of starting out with a few uplanned, doodled lines curving around the page, then seeing where they took me.

Journal 26.01.09

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The joyous consequence of pasting a piece of brownish Murano paper into my sketchbook on Sunday was the excitement I felt on turning the page and finding myself with a midtone background for my next sketch.

I don’t much care for pastry, particularly of the flaky variety, but croissants have found their way into my kitchen in an attempt to give Melody her first taste of Frenchness in preparation for our upcoming weekend in Paris. Turns out she loves them, and can devour one with alarming speed. Turns out also that they make an utterly absorbing sketch subject. This was drawn mostly with Stabilo pens, which I’d had no intention of using until I realised lazily that while my gouache and coloured pencils were out of reach, the pens (friends!) were right there in front of me. In the end I did stretch to coloured pencil in the final stages to inject a bit of warmer colour.

Coloured pens & pencils with white gel pen on Murano paper in Canson sketchbook

Carpe minutum!

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I listened this weekend to a couple more back episodes of the Creative Mom Podcast, one of which spoke of ways to carve out small chunks of time for artmaking when you’ve convinced yourself there is no creative time available.

Desperate to pick up my neglected oil pastels, I’d been struggling to find extended drawing time during daylight hours, but the podcast removed that apparent obstacle from my path as if by magic: I went on to do this one-hour sketch over 3 short sessions.

The box itself is a souvenir from Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, but I won’t reveal its contents just yet; it might be fun at some point to make them the subject of a companion sketch!

8×8″ oil pastel on Daler-Rowney Murano paper. #12 in the 100 Pastel Sketches challenge.

Ménagerie à deux

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I spent an hour yesterday in the company of my daughter’s chums Tabatha (better known as “Meow”) and Serge (aka “Oo-oo”). It was a joy to use my oil pastels again for this sketch, and my subjects sat nice and still for me for the whole hour and a bit.

Approx. 9×8″, oil pastel on Daler Ingres paper.

Blue is not the only colour

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Surprise flowers arrived for me the other day, from a friend I haven’t heard from in months: 15 gorgeous dendrobium orchids, with a note thanking me for a favour I’d done her.

Managed a little oil pastel sketch of one or two of the blooms.


Eric Maisel’s book The Van Gogh Blues has a lot of wise things to say about the relationship between creativity and depression. Yesterday, three days after I opened its pages, I found my way back to the Thursday afternoon art sessions I’d abandoned this past month for a tangle of psychological reasons.

It’s been a good week.

Outside, Inside … Outside

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Jubilee Gardens, Ely, 7 Feb 2008, from life. Pen & watercolour in small hand*book journal


Sofa in the “Blue Room”, 9 Feb 2008 – a 20-minute sketch from life. Pen & wax pastel on blue art paper pasted across a double spread of my small hand*book journal. This is my #9 in the WetCanvas 100 Pastel Sketches Challenge.


London Plane tree, Dean’s Meadow, Ely, 14 Feb 2008, from a photo. Too cold to sketch out in the open, so I took a snapshot and uploaded it to my screen so I could try to untangle my subject. Sepia pen & wax pastel on yellow A4 Canford paper

Spicing up Sunday

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I have my very own domestic god. Yesterday, he baked some subtly-spicy Sunday afternoon cinnamon biscuits, and the 3 of us devoured them eagerly.

Since my window of opportunity for uploading sketches is even narrower than the one I have for actually doing them, I figured I’d better share this now. A couple of strokes are still needed to redefine the shadow of the plate. It took 45 mins, and is my #8 in the WetCanvas 100 Pastel Sketches Challenge. Yum.

9×9″ oil pastel on dark blue Canford paper

SketchCrawl #14: Ely

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Anita Davies and Diane Mainzer joined me in Ely on Saturday 19 May for the 14th WorldWide SketchCrawl: one small city, three enthusiastic artists, five sunny (if breezy) hours, three bags full of sketchbooks – and several tons of cake!

We grabbed ourselves a coffee and a table outdoors, and I took up Anita’s challenge to sketch the corner of Starbucks coffee house. But whereas Anita has a weakness for sketching buildings, my sketches of buildings are merely weak. Bah.


Profipen across two pages of small hand*book journal.

Our second sketchstop was Palace Green, where we spread out a blanket on the grass and became quite the tourist attraction. A middle-aged woman, who had marched up to peer over my shoulder, uttered a deflated and somewhat contemptuous “Oh” on discovering that my sights were set, not on the ornate majesty of Ely cathedral, but on the whacking great brick of chocolate button marble cake in front of me. An American gentleman later ambled over and exclaimed, quite superfluously, “You’re drawing food!” I sketched until both the cake and my oil pastels started to melt. This is my #7 in the WetCanvas 100 Pastel Sketches Challenge.


Caran d’Ache oil pastel & wax pastel in 9×6″ Daler-Ingres pastel pad.

My late al fresco lunch of fried chicken wings found itself the subject of a final sketch (done rapidly, so please overlook the wonky ellipses). I’m counting this as EDM #87: Draw your lunch. Though very tasty, these were almost cold by the time I ate them. How I suffer for my art!


Pen & watercolour in small hand*book journal.

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