Recent sketchjournal stuff

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It’s image dump time, now that the scanner’s in action again, and I’m pleased to be able to upload a few sketchjournal pages – the first I have posted in a while. However mediocre I tend to think these are when I’ve done them (inhibited as they are by pressure of time, the presence of other people and/or the subjects I have to hand), in the chronological context of my sketchjournal, they end up meaning something more to me than the sum of their modest parts.

This last sketch was done late this afternoon.

Journal 23.01.09

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On occasion, the written portion of something I’ve just journalled strikes me as so banal that I feel silly sharing it – even with my fellow sketchers in the “Everyday Matters” group! In the notes around this sketch of vine tomatoes, I blather about tv and the supermarket.


Pen & watercolour with gouache highlights in Canson watercolour book

One day, however, when the 23rd of January is a sufficient number of yesterdays ago, as I re-read this entry I will judge myself less harshly, possibly even smiling at the random details of a day I might have let slip away forgotten, but did not.

That’s the idea, in any case.

Pens … friends!

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Teddy was sketched on a Hahnemühle watercolour card at my parents’ house on Saturday night, and posted to myself. Not having tried these postcards before, I found I enjoyed the canvas-like texture of its surface. I’m thinking my most lightweight sketching kit could include a couple of these cards, in place of my sketchbook: I could then mail my sketches home and paste them in later.

My card arrived yesterday, not unscathed, having undergone not only bending at the corner but also the cruel branding of Teddy’s right paws. This was all part of the experiment: if I were posting a handpainted card to someone else, I would now be certain to slip it into an envelope first, but in this case, I rather like the visible record of its journey. I haven’t asked Teddy what his feelings are.

It seems this is a week for playing with new materials. This lunchtime sketch was done in Stabilo Point 88, with a touch of white gel pen. I’d never built up a drawing in coloured pens before. It’s quite hard work!

In the classic words of Pauline the restart officer in The League of Gentlemen, “Pens … friends!” I’m not sure these Stabilos are my friends just yet, but this sketch has at least left us better acquainted.

November, November, the fifth of Remember …

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… or something along those lines.

I present a handful of November sketchjournal pages – with minimal blog commentary, I’m afraid, because that’s the sort of mood I’m in. It has been an unusual month: my little girl and I have been suffering and snuffling for two weeks now with the cold that just won’t quit; and having returned from Australia, Paul is now in the US; and I would like the viral unpleasantness and the incessant work trips to cease and desist, thank you very much.


Pen, watercolour & Starbucks wrapping in Canson journal


Pen & gouache in Canson journal


Staedtler pens, gouache & silver thingummybobbies in Canson journal

SketchCrawl 20

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It was a year and a half since I’d last had the chance to sketch and chat with Anita, so there was no way I’d be letting the wintry chill of the coldest day of autumn so far keep me from my date with her, here in Ely, for SketchCrawl 20.

Having downed the first of several coffees, we got the sketching underway with the King’s School boathouse, as seen from a bench overlooking the River Great Ouse. Anita was generous enough to let me use her Daniel Smith watercolours, and they were a treat. This is in my Canson journal.


I managed to fill another page as we recaffeinated and lunched at the Lamb Hotel. Going straight in with my pen for the people sketches was fun, but there are parts of this page I would happily obliterate. I gave no thought to layout, being caught up in trying to capture the lunch crowd, who were quite the most fidgety bunch of people I’ve ever observed. I used pen, Inktense and a bit of watercolour and gouache.


Our last coffee stop was at Costa, where our table out front amid the stream of Saturday shoppers afforded me my next sketching subject: this bloke, talking on his mobile phone. Anita and I had made a detour into the art materials shop prior to this, where I’d been unable to resist buying a tiny Paperblanks sketchbook, and at 2.5″ x 3.5″, it was the perfect size for a bit of surreptitious scribbling.

This is the mess I made of Nitsa’s watercolour palette. She didn’t mind. She’s a star!

Autumn song

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How strange, two weeks ago, to find ourselves transported from Greek summer to English autumn in the space of a few hours. Strange, but magical: the England we returned to was the one I love, one of yellow, russet and crimson, of crisp blue morning skies and the smoky damp of dark, chilly evenings. The colours of the season have found their way into everything I’ve put to paper since then.

Melody on one of our many leaf-collecting expeditions …

… one of which inspired an entry in my sketch journal …

… another, a gloriously messy – but at least somewhat structured – two-hour painting session with Miss M herself …

… yet another, a playdate with materials, textures and compositions for this month’s CMP trading-card exchange on the theme of “A Song”. I’ve had great fun experimenting with combinations of gouache, acrylic, poster paints, gold leaf, pen, collage and spray varnish – all in the pocket-size ATC format.

The finished card:


ATC Original (2.5″ x 3.5″) “Chanson d’automne”
Mixed media on cardstock

Even this sketchbook doodle ended up sporting shades of sepia, burnt sienna and blue …

Jottings and Giottos

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A small plush turtle, a sugar packet, a shell, cypress trees and a mini cheese pie: such things as dream holidays are made of. I should have posted this as part of my previous entry, but it was threatening to become ridiculously long, and I would hate for anyone’s scrolling finger to suffer repetitive strain injury on my account.


Pen & watercolour in Canson journal
A quick word on these “Giotto” wax crayons, which I picked up at the mini-supermarket in Alykés to amuse Melody when we were at the apartment. For 2 euros 20 I wasn’t expecting much, but WOW: these give up rich, vibrant colour (more so even than Crayola, it seemed to me, though this could have had something to do with the warmth of the Zakynthian climate) and they’re washable too! I brought a second box back home with me, but am as yet undecided as to which of us they’re for …

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.

Squelch

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Just when I thought those little hands (not to mention the chair, my trousers and the kitchen table) couldn’t possibly get any messier, M developed her own vigorous approach to colour mixing …


The cleanup time was considerable, but worth it for that full hour when she was happily involved in making handprints (my own role, as artist’s assistant, being to replenish the yoghurt pots with new colours and shove fresh paper under her hands at the command of “More!”) and I was able, at the same time, to make a satisfying mess of my own. Using my watercolours and M’s poster paints, I made some little prints using plasticine, rubber stamps, and string glued to card.

They don’t look like much at this stage, but they are destined to become ATCs. My first ATCs.

Been amazing the people next door …

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How can shoes this small come with such a big price tag?

I’ve no idea why octopuses feature twice in this post. I’m just grateful we humans aren’t eight-footed. I’d have to pay out for four pairs of shoes every time my offspring grew out of hers.

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