12 May 2008

Sketches from the garden

I've been so busy lately that I've fallen behind with my Every Day in May posting, though I have been keeping up with doing some art every day...honest! Today, I'm catching up a little bit by posting some sketches of things growing in our garden. One is of dandelions; unfortunately, I don't know what the others are called (my DW is the gardener in this family), though I've a feeling one of them might be called aquilegia.

One of the things I'm busy with is getting ready for the Oxford ArtWeeks exhibition that I'm taking part in next week. Here's an invitation, for anyone who happens to be in the Oxford area. You can find directions to the club here: http://www.medleysailingclub.co.uk/maps.html

07 May 2008


It's a bit early for strawberries really. I never buy the imported ones, because they don't really taste of anything, but the English ones seem to start earlier these days; I guess they are grown under glass or plastic. Anyway, this one was on the lunch table today, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to draw it -- before I ate it, of course. I only had a black pen, so that's what I drew it with. Although the colour is the most striking thing about strawberries, I find their texture very attractive too, and pen and ink is good for rendering that.

Winsor & Newton Artists Journal

It's a bit difficult to find time to keep up with the Every Day in May challenge at the moment! Work is busy with exams just around the corner and I'm still getting ready for the 10k race, now only 11 days away (eek!), which means going out running most nights. So, here is a very quick sketch of my Winsor & Newton artists journal, a present from my DW and a very nice thing to carry about and sketch in. Just for a change, this is done using Noodlers ink and graphitint pencils.

05 May 2008


Today is a public holiday in England (not sure about Scotland), but not for the hard-working staff of the University of Oxford. :( Never mind, it rained so much I wasn't really missing much. Unfortunately, that also meant I was confined to indoor sketching, so turned to the trusty manequin. I also wanted to try using my Noodlers ink with water, having been alerted to the fact that it isn't waterproof by Anita, who uses this medium (as so many others) so beautifully.

04 May 2008


I was at my sailing club today, not sailing, unfortunately, as it was my turn to be in charge of the racing. The club (called Medley Sailing Club) is not far from Binsey, where the poplars that Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote about in his famous poem. This is a quick sketch that I was able to do between races of a poplar on the banks of the Thames, just coming in to leaf. This is just pen and ink; I might add some colour tomorrow...the green of trees at this time of year is so lovely.

If anyone happens to be in the area, the sailing club is having an open day on 10th May. Come and have a sail!

Here is the poem.

Binsey Poplars, felled 1879

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being so slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.

03 May 2008


It's been a lovely day for being in the garden. In between mowing, cleaning, weeding, etc. I found time to do a couple of quick sketches, including some of the forgetmenots which absolutely cover the garden at this time of the year. I suppose we should try to control them, but they're my daughter's favourite flower, so I haven't got the heart! I also did a quick sketch of a tulip, though I don't think that really worked very well. Still, in the spirit of EDM, I'm going to post it anyway.

02 May 2008

Apple blossom

A busy day at work today, so not much time for drawing, but I'm not going to give up on EDM on the second day, so I found time to do a quick sketch of the apple blossom that is out in our garden at the moment. Actually, this is growing on a small tree that has a lot of meaning for my DW. It is a graft taken from a tree planted by her father not long before he died. It's still only large enough to get a handful of fruit, but it's growing well and has lovely blossom at this time of year. This was done using Inktense pencils.

01 May 2008

Lizzie, WIP part 5

This being the first day of May, I'm starting the annual Every Day in May challenge. Which means doing some sort of art work every day. Today's work was to continue with my portrait of my niece, Lizzie. I've made a few adjustments to the left eye and the mouth (I always find the mouth the hardest part to get right, for some reason) and done a bit more work on the hair. I'm still not completely satisfied with the likeness, but it's better than it was. I don't think I'll do much more work on the hair; I like portraits that are more and more "unfinished" the further away you get from the face. This time I've also posted my reference photograph in case anyone can spot any glaring problems that I could easily correct!

27 April 2008

Lizzie, WIP part 4

I've done some more work on my portrait of my niece, Lizzie. It's coming along quite nicely, though I'm beginning to wish that she had shorter hair! There's something not quite right with the likeness, though I just don't seem to be able to put my finger on what it is. It's getting closer, though!

Meanwhile, I'm feeling rather stiff today. I foolishly allowed myself to be talked in to entering a 10km (6 mile) "fun run" that is raising money form Muscular Dystrophy. Given that the last time I ran in any sort of race was my school sports day when I ran the 800m (a distance that I remember thinking at the time was unreasonably long!), I thought I'd better get in some practice. My big fear (apart from doing something really silly like tripping over a kerb) is being overtaken by someone dressed as a slice of toast. So, I went for a five mile run this morning, which I did in 48 minutes 33 seconds. Since I've never run five miles before, I guess this counts as a personal best, or PB as my running friends all say! Three more weeks before the actual event...

22 April 2008

Lizzie, WIP part 3

Another hour or so to work on this drawing this evening. I've only got about three weeks to get everything I need finished before the show, so I hope to make faster progress later in the week. But I think it is going to be OK...fingers crossed! I've done some more work on the face, trying to smooth the texture as well as adding some more details.

PS For some reason the scanner seems not to be working properly, so this looks much less smooth than it really is.

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21 April 2008

Lizzie, WIP part 2

Just managed an hour or twos work on this tonight, but thought I would post the latest update anyway.

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20 April 2008

Lizzie, WIP part 1

I've finally succeeded in getting a good reference photo of my niece, Lizzie, so I'm doing a drawing of her that I hope will be ready in time to include in the group show that I'm going to take part in during Oxford Artweeks. I say "group show" because that sounds like something a proper artist would take part in! Actually, it's a group of members of Medley Sailing Club who have decided to put on a show in our clubhouse, which is located right on the banks of the Thames in Port Meadow. I thought it would be fun to take part, because every year I go around and see as many artists' work as I can but I would never have thought of joining in myself until this idea came up.

As for the drawing, it's early days yet but I think the pose is a nice one, so it should make for a good drawing. Though as usual now that I come to post it I can see a problem with the right eye and there's something not quite right with the mouth...I always have problems with mouths! Still, plenty of time to put those things right...

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17 April 2008

Lifeclass 3

I went to my third life drawing class the other day. This time we had a different model, which was good, even though this lady was obviously a bit nervous about it. Not that I blame her; it's a weird thing to do, isn't it!

This first set were all five minute poses, drawing on A3 cartridge paper using charcoal.

The next two were fifteen minute poses, the first using charcoal again and the second one using a large, flat graphite pencil.

The last pose was 45 minutes and I used a wax pastel for this one, a medium that I've never used before. I'm quite pleased with how it came out (though less pleased with the rubbish photograph of it!).

I was pleased to find out that these classes are now being held twice per month, so I should be showing more drawings soon. This weekend I'm off to Cambridge (I'm examining some poor guy's PhD thesis tomorrow; hope he's not too nervous, I'm quite a gentle examiner really!!), so maybe I'll get some sketching done there. Who knows, I might bump into Anita!

15 April 2008

Another batch of Australia sketches

Here are another batch of sketches from my recent trip to Australia. These are all done in and around Bloomfield, a secluded area in the Daintree Forest, in northern Queensland.

14 April 2008

Australia sketches

These first set of sketches were done in the airport or on the plane. Done on lined paper because I cleverly packed my sketchbooks in my luggage!

Our first stop was in Sydney, but I didn't get much chance to sketch there. I did manage a very quick one of, inevitably, Sydney Opera House. I have to say, it is an amazing building, inside as well as out. We were lucky to hear an amazing performance of Shostakovich's 8th symphony in the lovely concert hall. And I also did a quick sketch of a gum tree!

More to come soon!

09 April 2008

I'm back!

I'm back from Australia, jet lagged and a bit stiff from the marathon session in economy-class seats, but having had a wonderful time! I did get the chance to do some sketching, so when I've got myself organized to scan them, I'll show them here. Meanwhile, here are some photos to whet your appetite!

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22 March 2008

Trip to Australia

I've not posted for a few days because I've been preoccupied with getting ready for our trip to Australia. We leave tomorrow!! I've never been before, so it's very, very exciting. We'll be spending a week in Sydney, then going to Port Douglas and then on to Bloomfield in the Daintree rainforest. Can't wait!! So, here are a few random sketches that I've done in breaks from packing. I might not be able to post again until mid-April. But, I'm taking pens, pencils and paints with me, so with any luck there'll be something to show you all when I get back.

15 March 2008


It's the time of year when the garden is starting to bloom again. We don't have a lot of bulbs, but we do have some trees that now are in blossom, and also a camellia that is now coming in to flower. It was actually warm enough to sit outside and do a quick sketch of one of the flowers this afternoon, before the rain came down.

04 March 2008

EDM #143 -- draw a herb or spice

I haven't done an EDM challenge for ages, but thought doing a sketch of a nutmeg would be a real challenge! You'd need hours and hours to do something like this justice, but this was a fun quick sketch.