Morning at the Museum

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Ely’s Stained Glass Museum is reached via a winding stone staircase which leads to the south triforium (elevated gallery) of the Cathedral. On a brilliantly sunny Saturday morning in mid December, it proved the perfect location for a sketcher on a mission to fill a couple of pages: out of the chill, far from the madding Christmas shoppers, with sunshine filtering through the coloured glass and enough space and solitude for unselfconscious drawing.

Halfway into my 75-minute visit, a carol service kicked off below; fittingly, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” was my accompaniment as I stood and sketched one of Edward Burne-Jones’s angel musicians.

The museum is essentially a one-room exhibition, but just the handful of subjects I chose to draw spanned the centuries, from 15th to 20th. I feel my visit was hugely enriched by having a sketchbook in tow: my eye lingered where it might not otherwise have done, enjoying the details of a few exhibits rather than pointlessly skimming them all. And even though, for me, God was not in those details, something pretty wonderful was.

It has been a long time since I last sketched in a museum, and I have Roz Stendahl to thank for the suggestion – and for so much else that’s influencing my sketchjournal lately.

My back pages

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This past week has seen me making a real effort to fill the remaining pages of my Canson sketchbook by the end of the year: I’ve covered seven pages in six days, two of them double-page spreads, and although not all of them are worth sharing, I’ve decided to stick a few of them up on my Flickr page for anyone who’s interested. As usual, you can find them in my Sketchjournal & Sketchbook set.

This double-page spread was done in pen and gouache with white gel pen, and shows you what I usually eat for breakfast (because, naturally, such questions drive the readers of my blog insane with curiosity.)

I am very motivated, as I continue to browse the pages of Danny Gregory’s An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, by the possibility of taking my sketchjournalling to another level. My current Canson sketchbook has accompanied me for 18 months now, and has been a breakthrough book for me, its lovely smooth just-off-white paper accepting most kinds of media and allowing for a good amount of experimentation. It has seen me become far less concerned about making perfect pictures, more considerate of things like composition, mixing different media, incorporating written diary elements and – most importantly – just knuckling down to the act of sketching itself. I often cringe, though, at my own handwritten notes: the banality, the clumsiness, the obvious self-consciousness of them (… of me!). I’d like to do something about this, when I open my new sketchbook at the start of the new year.

Nine pages and counting.