30 March 2007


I'm going to be away for the next week, skiing at Zermatt in Switzerland, so there won't be any new posts for a while. But I'm packing my pencils and paints, so assuming I don't break too many limbs, I hope to have a few pieces to show when I get back!

28 March 2007

Winter tree

Continuing my series of tree studies in graphite, here is a drawing of a tree in middle distance, and so showing less detail of texture than the previous two studies. What do you think? I'm not convinced by some of the branches.

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27 March 2007


Thanks to Teri for giving me the idea for creating a slideshow. How cool is this!

EDM #112 Something fresh

Here's my entry to the EDM challenge this week. This was freshly picked from my garden this afternoon! It's watercolour (sap green, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue).

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25 March 2007

Wytham Woods tree

Wytham Woods are about four miles outside Oxford and cover an area of 416 hectares. Much of the site is ancient woodland, though there are also areas of more recent natural woodland. It is owned by Oxford University, who use it as a site for ecological research. However, public access is also allowed, and it is a very popular spot for walking. Inspector Morse fans might remember it from The Way Through the Woods. Yesterday, I went out to draw some trees, but could only stay out for a couple of hours as it was much colder than I expected. Here's one study that I did (EDM Challenge #15).

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23 March 2007

Dürer to Friedrich: German Drawings from the Ashmolean

Yesterday I went to visit the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It's an interesting museum, in fact the oldest in England to open it's doors to the public. I often pop in; it has, among many other treasures, an amazing collection of prints and drawings, including many by Raphael and Michaelangelo. Usually there are a few on display, though unfortunately the museum is currently undergoing major development and so a large number of its rooms are closed. However, they do currently have an exhibition of German drawings from this collection, including some great works by Dürer, Grünewald and Holbein. Here's an extract from the museum's description of the exhibition:

Highlights of the exhibition include Albrecht Dürer’s (1471-1528) Youth Kneeling before a Potentate. Watched by two men looking through a window, a young man in a turban kneels before an elder in a vaulted chamber. The youth is thought to be a self portrait of the artist while the theme of the drawing illustrates a biblical story, possibly Jacob departing from Isaac, Joseph before Pharoah, or David and Saul. Dating from between 1492 and 1494, the drawing was likely to have been made following Dürer’s apprenticeship when he travelled widely in the North of Europe. An Elderly Woman with Clasped Hands by Matthias Grünewald (c.1480-1528) is the most striking of the few drawings to have survived by one of the greatest geniuses of German art. This powerful image of grief ranks alongside the finest drawings by Dürer.

The costume study Figure of a Woman in Contemporary Dress by Hans Holbein the Younger(1497-1543) was used by Ruskin in his Lectures on Landscape to teach students the rules of drawing. Ruskin admired Holbein’s ability to create form through the use of light, combined with what he described as “A perfectly sharp linear limit”. While Dürer was the dominant figure in Nuremberg, Hans Burgkmair (1473-1531) was the most important artist in Augsburg. An active painter, etcher and a designer of woodcuts, he played a significant role in the development of the chiaroscuro woodcut. The Ashmolean's Portrait of a Man is a vivid example of his talent in capturing a likeness.

The exhibition is open until 20th May, and is well worth a visit if you happen to be in Oxford.

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22 March 2007

EDM #111 - Bowl

This is the first time that I've participated in the Everyday Matters weekly drawing challenge, which this week is to draw a bowl. So, here are some bowls, along with a few other random things that are on the same page of the sketchbook. The brown bowl is a first attempt to draw with my latest toy, Caran D'Ache Neocolor II watersoluble crayons. They're fun, but I think will take a bit of getting used to.

21 March 2007

More daffodils

Painting these things is addictive! And it's so good to switch between doing detailed pencil studies and very free watercolour painting. That way, doing both feels like an even bigger treat!

20 March 2007

Tree root study

I've always loved drawing trees. What's not to love? Strong shapes, texture, endless variation. Drawing the bark is my favourite part. If only I could paint them! Here's a quick study of the base of a tree.

18 March 2007

Jesus College

I was all set to go sketchcrawling yesterday (it was the 13th annual worldwide sketchcrawl). In the end, I only managed to get one done, as I was called home! Never mind, it was a bit chilly anyway. This is the entrance to the Principal's Lodgings in Jesus College, Oxford. I think this part of the College is 17th century; the canopy over the door is quite unusual. An interesting feature of Oxford Colleges is that the head of the College is required to live in. The accommodation is quite sumptuous, of course, but students aren't always the quietest of neighbours!

17 March 2007

Essential mother's day supplies

In the UK it is Mother's Day (or Mothering Sunday) tomorrow, which is as good an excuse as any to get a bottle of champagne in! Here's a quick pen and ink sketch before it's been drunk. Now I've got to go out and do the shopping for the lunch I've got to cook tomorrow...

14 March 2007


I've been experimenting with some watercolours of daffodils, trying to keep them very loose. These are inspired by Jean Haines, a very talented artist. I'm not particularly happy with them, but I think this is a good exercise and, hey, they can only get better!

13 March 2007

Inspirational book

The Epiphany Artist recently posted about books that have inspired her, which inspired me to do the same. I own several books by Claudia Nice, an artist from the Pacific Northwest who works in pen, ink and watercolour, a combination that has always greatly appealed to me. The first book of her's I obtained is called Watercolour Made Simple, but since then I have read several more. My favourite is Creating Textures in Pen & Ink in Watercolour. This is why I used pen and ink in the painting of the thatched cottage that I posted a few days ago. I wish I could post one of her paintings, but I guess that would be a violation of her copyright!

12 March 2007


At this time of year Oxford is full of magnificent magnolia trees in full bloom. In fact, Oxford is probably at its best at this time of the year, with the daffodils out and some fruit trees starting to blossom. Plus, the students have mostly gone home for Easter and most of the tourists are yet to arrive. So, I was inspired to do some sketches. Here's one of some magnolia buds.

11 March 2007

Leaves part 2

I've put a bit more work into the drawing of leaves, trying to push the darks of the negative spaces in particular. The leaves aren't perfect, but I don't think I'm going to do any more work on this one. It is all graphite (2H, HB, 2B and 4B) on cartridge paper.

08 March 2007


I'm working on a drawing of part of a plant. This isn't finished yet, but I thought I'd show you the progress so far. It's taking quite a long time, and there's still a lot to do, but it is fun. I like the strong negative shapes.

06 March 2007

Distant trees

Here's another watercolour. Unfortunately, I made a bit of a mess of trying to add some texture to the otherwise rather empty hillside in the middle ground. But the main point of this was to try mixing lots of different greens and getting the distant trees to be interesting. I'm not sure about their interest, but mixing the greens was useful. I'm starting to get very fed up with Payne's grey, as it lightens so much when it dries; I'll have to try some alternatives for mixing dark greens. Any suggestions gratefully received!

05 March 2007

Thatched cottage

Here's a painting that I did in my watercolour class last week. The thatched roof is textured in pen and ink and then tinted with watercolour. The hedge in the foreground is a bit of a mess, but it was fun to do that roof!