Back to paradise

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… and now, back from it once more. Big sigh.

It was a very great pleasure to revisit the beautiful island of Zákynthos (and that’s ZAK-ynthos, not zuh-KYN-thos … why do all holiday reps feel the need to pronounce it this way?) for the first time in ten years, and to find our beloved Alykés remarkably unchanged.

This zentanglish journal page was done during the afternoon of our first day at the beach, in between swims and sandcastles and plates of calamari.


Pen in square hand*book journal, 3.5 x 3.5″
This sketch was done from my sun lounger, and shows the view from Alykés beach to the next resort of Alikanás. I last sketched this view 11 years ago, and the scene felt incredibly familiar even after all this time.


Pen & watercolour in Canson w/c journal
One afternoon I had a couple of blissful hours to myself, which I mostly spent sitting at the decked terrace of a tranquil riverside bar, sipping a fruit cocktail amid the olive trees and doing this next drawing. The owner was a friendly Greek gentleman who asked about my sketching. I left him one of my little Moo cards.


Pen & watercolour in Canson w/c journal
At the bottom of the page: the tiny brown scorpion that took up residence on the ceiling outside our room, and the (in reality much tinier, but very pretty) beetle I spotted on my sun lounger one afternoon.

The beach at Alykés again, on a breezy day.


Pen on 2 pages of Canson w/c journal prewashed with watercolour
As an artist I am architecturally phobic, and was clueless as to how and where to even begin in depicting this view of the neighbouring balconies from our own – but I really wanted to capture something of the Koukounaria (“pine cones” in Greek) and to make the most of my bits of early evening chill-out time. So I just sort of got on with it, and am pleasantly surprised by the results.


Pen & watercolour across 2 pages of Canson w/c journal
Though the mostly gorgeous weather afforded us 11 days at the beach, given the season I realised I had to have a project for the occasional sheltering-from-rainstorm scenario. My starting point for this was the silhouette of Kefallónia seen through a misty morning sky.


Pen across 2 pages of Canson w/c journal
Lastly, those sun loungers again …


Pen & borrowed Cotman watercolours in Canson w/c journal
End of season means relatively few holidaymakers cluttering up the beaches and tavernas, but I’ve perhaps exaggerated that tranquility just a touch here. 🙂 That the Zákynthos of my sketches is apparently a desert island belies the fact that we had a lively, sometimes hectic and ultimately exhausting (but fabulous) family holiday. But it does perhaps reflect something of what art does for my soul.

I have a handful of tiny sketches still to post, along with random crafty nuggets. In the meantime, my holiday photos can be seen here.

Blue day, in a good way

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It’s been chilly today, here on the Isle of Eels.

As my little girl slept in her pushchair beneath several snuggly layers of clothing and blanket, and I sat shivering on a bench, I did this sketch. My hands turned almost as blue as the Khadi handmade paper I had glued into my sketchbook for inspiration.

3×4″ black Profipen on Khadi cotton rag paper in small hand*book journal.

Bricking it

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Yesterday’s sketchcrawl got me thinking about the fact that I do not enjoy sketching buildings.

This is the Old Fire Engine House (these days, a pleasant restaurant, art gallery and tea-room with garden) in Ely. I drew it a couple of months ago, having stopped to sketch when my daughter fell asleep in her pushchair. I’m quite pleased with the drawing, even though I made the garage door too narrow, which irritated me at the time.


Pitt Artist pen, two-page spread in my 6×4″ Daler-Rowney sketchbook.

The next sketch is a 10-minute quickie done one evening in April, as I waited for the tutor and other students to arrive for our weekly College class. I was glad that I’d dared to do it in the short time I had available, even though the lines are wobbly, I miscounted the windows and didn’t manage to indicate how the structure (it’s our classroom) is connected to the rest of the college building.


Profipen in small hand*book journal.

This morning I sketched a willow on the banks of the River Great Ouse, as my daughter slept and Paul read his magazine. Tired as I was, I failed to notice until the moment I put my pen to the paper that the willow had sealed the wound of its missing limb in the obvious and delightful shape of a loveheart. What a joy it is, I thought, to draw natural structures with their organic, flowing, assymetrical forms and unstraight lines; why would anyone prefer to draw architecture? It’s probably because I’m simply not (yet) skilled enough to capture the perspective and detail that gives buildings their character. I would love to hear how others feel about them as a subject.

This is EDM Challenge #15: Draw a tree.


Profipen in small hand*book journal.