Blue seahorse … for Anita


Inspired a couple of Thursdays ago by Anita Davies’s Postcard Penpals project – and remembering that I owed her a second card from our exchanges last year – I dug out my coloured pencils and tubes of gouache, and this little fella was born.
Gouache & coloured pencil on 4×6″ watercolour postcard

EDM #54: Not so much a sketch …


… as a three-and-a-half-hour experiment. I had never attempted a portrait in oil pastels, and wanted to try one using a limited palette of four shades, similar to those which have worked well for me in several soft-pastel portraits.

I built up the image on warm-tinted Ingres paper in Neocolor II (wax pastels) and Neopastel (oil pastels), blending with fingers and kitchen towels. It’s about 8×5″. The highlights have scanned rather harshly, and I can see a couple of details I may be tempted to tweak; but I can’t help but be happy to see that little face on the page.

This is EDM Challenge #54: Draw someone you love.

My little girl.

EDM #76: Draw some flowers


I bought a bunch of the most gorgeous white lilies for £2 at the Thursday market: seven blooms whose waxy sheen, juicy greenery and scent of fizzy lemonade said, “Take me home and have your wicked artistic way with me.” This sketch was done in Profipen and watercolour in my small hand*book journal.

I love to watch lilies as they awaken, yawning and stretching, their petals taking on those lovely flowing curves. I did this in a leisurely hour and three quarters, which makes it the closest thing to a painting-not-a-sketch that I’ve produced in over a year.

Caran d’Ache oil pastels & wax pastels in 12×9″ Daler-Rowney pastel pad.

#3 is in the bag!


To be more precise, #3 is the bag.

EDM Challenge #3 is Purses, wallets or bags. I bought this drawstring shoulder bag in Cambridge recently. It’s large enough to hold my sketchbook, pencil case, watercolours, reading book, mobile phone, mp4 player, money, keys, tissues and a knitting project – though it’s a hell of a jumble in there. I only had an hour for the sketch, so you will have to imagine that the real-life bag is orange, yellow and purple striped. I boobed on the composition, having chosen to use my larger pastel pad so that the subject would not be cramped, but ending up right at the edge anyway. You live, you sketch, you learn.

The Pastel Forum over at WetCanvas is holding a 100 Sketches Challenge, and I’ve decided I’m in. Only sketches done in soft/oil/wax pastel will count towards the total, so this is Sketch #6 for me.

Caran d’Ache oil pastels in 12×9″ Daler Ingres pastel pad.

#116 Revisited


I decided to revisit the challenge to Draw something green.

The Green Man springs up (if you’ll pardon the pun) in the mythologies of many cultures around the world. He is best known as a pagan symbol representing the spirit of nature, fertility and rebirth, which made him the perfect subject for the First of May, when I fitted in this 40-minute sketch.

This ceramic Green Man was a gift from my mother from a visit to Ely Cathedral a couple of years ago, and he sits above the pinboard in our kitchen. “The Green Man” is also the name of a pub a mile or so from where I grew up; it was the place my parents would take me for dinner on special occasions when I was a child. The last time we went there was in 2006, before Paul and I had our daughter (hey, as a fertility symbol, you can’t really knock him!).

I went to a Church of England primary school, in whose traditions Christianity and Paganism went hand in hand – though we weren’t encouraged to dwell on the pagan element …

Wax pastels and oil pastels in 6×9″ Daler Ingres pad.

EDM Challenge #110


Lack of sleep, a cold, a snuffly teething daughter and time spent on knitting have all contributed to my failure to sketch lately, but here’s one I did from a reference while languishing on the sofa. It’s my response to Challenge #110: Draw a flame. Today would have been my Nan’s 97th birthday, so this one’s for her; and also for my friend A, who had sad news on Friday.

Neocolor II wax pastels in 9×6″ Daler Ingres pastel pad.

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 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.