EDM #15: a tree (or two)

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I wouldn’t call myself a tree hugger, but I am certainly a tree sketcher, photographer and fondler lately.

This is a London Plane tree, or platanus × hispanica (I assert with confidence, having practically devoured Collins Complete British Trees cover to cover on realising my shameful ignorance of things arboreal). It sits in Dean’s Meadow near the Cathedral, and I love walking past it every day on our strolls around Ely, because it is so twisty and full of character. Did this 30-min sketch in my small hand*book journal with a new Rapidograph pen while my daughter slept in her pushchair.

Next up is a weeping willow or salix × sepulcralis on the charmingly-named Quai d’Orsay down by the river. This was another pen sketch snatched during nap time, with black and white gouache added later. The grey Canford paper I’d pasted into my hand*book allowed me to have a bit of fun with a medium I wouldn’t usually include in there.

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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.

Chanson d’automne

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Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur
Monotone.

~ Paul Verlaine

Since the summer completely passed me by art-wise, I’ve been determined to put something of the autumn into my sketchblog. This has been a good week, and for once I can’t honestly say I share Verlaine’s seasonal wistfulness, because so many paths and possibilities are opening themselves up to me that I feel excited to be alive. My autumn song is a cheerful one.

It’s been 16 months since I last picked up a soft pastel stick, and I am sorely out of practice, but it felt good to limber up again. I did this 50-minute sketch from one of my Cambridge photos: it’s Rembrandts on Wallis paper, about 9×6″, and was done sitting in the few square inches of free floor space remaining in what we laughingly refer to as the “Leisure Room”. I’m not thrilled with this sketch, but I’m thrilled with the doing of it. And for the moment, that’s what really matters.

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.

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.

EDM Challenges #22 & #63

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Having done EDM Challenge #22: Draw a piece of clothing (Paul’s work shirt hanging from the wardrobe door – a sign, sadly, of tomorrow’s return to the office), I didn’t expect to fit in any more sketching today; dull grey skies made the “Ely Gardens” charity event, where private gardens are opened to the public, an unlikely proposition. In the face of some classic changeable English weather, however, I managed a two-page spread. In my previous life, given a cloudy sky and only a couple of minutes in which to do a sketch, I wouldn’t have bothered: I’d have made the excuse that there wasn’t enough time. One day I realised that there was time – if only I didn’t waste it on excuses!

I’m no botanist, and have no names for the plants and flowers I drew, with the exception of a fig tree in the Bishop’s garden. From there, we made our way to Hazeldene, and after a downpour (when we hastened wetly to Costa Coffee), wound up at The Old Fire Engine House. I’m calling this Challenge #63: Nature walk, and my afternoon goes clockwise on the page.

No plants were harmed in the making of these sketches.

(Edited with a slightly better scan of the second pic.)

Chatteris Museum sketches

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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 …

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