Every Day in Feb: 12 & 13 …


On Friday afternoon, after an outing with my daughter, I realised we would most likely not be venturing out again that day; so I took M into a nearby bar/café in order to try to fit in my daily location sketch before heading home.

After getting M’s coat, hat and gloves off and settling her in a comfy seat with a newly-acquired toy while I purchased some refreshments, I found that I was cashless – and that card payments under £10 weren’t accepted. Unwilling either to get M all wrapped up again so that I could take her with me to a cash machine, or to leave her in the bar while I dashed out alone, I eventually managed to persuade the young bartender to make an exception and let me pay by card. Once I’d brought M’s orange juice and my pot of tea to the table and removed my own coat and gloves, I found her sippy cup had leaked grapefruit squash into my bag and over my Moleskine sketchbook. Shaking off my pen, I determined to sketch a nearby chair. Between repeatedly having to leap up to pass M her orange juice so she didn’t knock it over, or to retrieve the various tops and bottoms of the Russian dolls she kept dropping on the floor, and keeping a vigil on my cup of tea in case the little feet jogging the table should send it flying, you can guess how extremely not focused on my subject I was.

The rushed and half-hearted result was a sketch I thought so bad and unshareable on this blog that I questioned the very point of my February challenge. What on earth am I doing, I despaired, imposing on myself this pressure to produce something every day, no matter how difficult that is, at the risk of ending up with a bunch of sub-standard drawings that I do not want to share and know don’t represent what I am capable of when the time and place suit me better? Since fiddling with some hatching, I’m ok with the sketch and feel I may have overreacted to its rubbishness, but at the time, it shook my resolve, and I haven’t attempted a location sketch in the three days since.

The truth is that I haven’t had any time to myself in public places in those three days: any time spent in cafés has been surrounded by small children, and other adults, where my role has been that of mother, wife and/or responsible friend, and not compatible with that of artist. And although this was precisely one of the reasons I so wanted to succeed in proving to myself that some sort of drawing was possible every day (the feeling that I was artistically inferior – less committed – than others who sketch and post on a daily basis), I’m not going to beat myself up for that now. I was disappointed, too, that I managed so little sketching on our trip to Paris, but I understand now that being part of the moment meant, before anything else, being present for my family.

I will continue throughout February, despite the missed days.

My sketch from the day before this one is viewable here.

Every Day in February! 4 – 11


My self-imposed challenge – to sketch on location every day throughout February in my Van Gogh Pocket Moleskine, whether I have an hour in which to do so or only 30 seconds – is going rather well.

One of my aims is to build confidence when drawing directly in pen, from life (I would love to reach the point where I no longer care if I don’t have a pencil and eraser on me); the other, to prove that I can make daily time for sketching, even when it seems at first that the time just isn’t there.

Sketches and comments are up on Flickr:

Every Day in February? 1, 2 and 3


I have a new travelling companion.

I’ve set a challenge to myself for the month of February: to sketch out on location every day in my new yellow Van Gogh-edition pocket Moleskine. All drawings are to be done outside my home and must, of course, be from life. I am keeping my materials simple: a sepia Pilot pen, a retractable pencil, a brown Inktense watercolour pencil and a waterbrush. There’s something about the look of sepia on the smooth yellowish paper of this sketchbook which makes them a real pleasure to use together.

Daily sketching is something I already do, in theory … Real life, though, strews obstacles in my well-intentioned path. My beloved Canson book is sometimes large enough to make me self-conscious, whereas with the Moly, nobody ever really knows whether I’m drawing or writing, and if they suspect the latter, they won’t keep trying to snatch a peek. There are also times in my week – the days I still have my extremely energetic little daughter to myself, all day – when artmaking during daylight hours is an impossible dream. Still, I proved to myself yesterday that I could fit in a quick gesture drawing. The 30-second sketch on the right-hand page was made possible by the distraction of a triple chocolate muffin …

This morning’s sketch of another local coffee shop makes me smile, for it is so utterly different from the life-filled sketches of this same branch of Starbucks that Anita Davies posted recently! On work days, I tend to arrive here rather early, sitting down with a coffee as I wait for the supermarket to open; and as you can see, I have my choice of the comfy seats.

The idea is that by the end of a month, I will have made my sketching a genuine, can’t-not-do-it daily habit. 3 days down, 25 to go. I can do this. Easy.

Every Day in May: Day 31


Helix Aspersa #2

Snails, it transpires, aren’t as slow as their PR would have us believe. The final day of May was greeted by intense sunshine, and this little guy (if that’s an acceptable term for a hermaphrodite) was lurking inside its shell in the leafy shade, but I coaxed it out by watering the earth, and it proceeded to make a rapid and twisty escape as I rushed to paint its portrait. Pen & Inktense in Japanese-fold Pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May has taught me a lot about what my Inktense watersoluble pencils can do, both on their own and in combination with waterproof pen, coloured pencil, white gel pen and watercolour. I’ve grown used to the feel of my Pablo CPs on smooth Moleskine paper. I’ve had a fine excuse to spend a total of many hours out of doors enjoying the garden, learning loads about the flora and fauna that inhabit it. I’ve become quicker on the draw, as it were – less hesitant – when it comes to attempting a sketch in limited time, developing shortcuts to enable me to finish a drawing later if my sketching session has to be abandoned. Finally, I can now open up my accordion-style Moly to display 31 images, all in a row: a sequence that conjures up every single day of my own personal month of May.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to view my May entries and leave me an encouraging comment. All of my Every Day in May posts can be viewed here.

Every Day in May: Days 29 & 30

1 Comment

Pieris “Forest Flame” and Prunus Domestica

I couldn’t resist sketching the Pieris for a third time on noticing that new red leaves had begun firing up among the greenery.

Our fan-trained plum tree made a very half-hearted attempt to blossom this spring, but its small green baubles suggest that we shall, after all, have home-made plum cake later in the year.

See you on the final day in May!

Pen & Inktense in Japanese-fold pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 27 & 28


Mystery plant and Lonicera [Reprise]

Could there be a better advertisement for “less is more” than the contrast between my two latest drawings?

Due to a conspiracy of time and weather (and suddenly I grasp why those partners in crime share a name in so many languages: le temps, el tiempo, il tempo … They are both part of the same plot to keep me from sketching!) I started my entry for Day 28 from a photo snapped last night, finishing it from life this morning, by which time no amount of watercolour would improve it. This is the first sketch I have posted to my blog which I truly hate. Move along now, folks. There’s nothing to see. Ugh.

#27 pen & coloured pencil; #28 pen, Inktense & watercolour in Japanese-fold pocket Moleskine.

Every Day in May: Days 25 & 26


Cymbalaria muralis and Rosmarinus officinalis

“Ivy-leaved toadflax” sounds more like an Elizabethan term of abuse than something I’d wish to find growing in a crevice of my garden wall; but it is a delicate and pretty thing to find there. I added a close-up of one of the tiny flowers, barely a centimetre high. It had a little cartoon face.

It is stupidly easy to grow rosemary, and we have plenty. Fortunately it’s one of my favourite herbs.

Pen, coloured pencil & a bit of Inktense in Japanese-fold pocket Moleskine.

Older Entries