Archive for the ‘Sketches’ Category

I’m still here…honest!

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Oh dear, poor, poor neglected blog. Over 3 months since my last post!

Outside of work I have a habit of getting completely absorbed in new projects. I only seem to have enough room in my head to focus on a few passions at once and when I get into something new this usually means that I start to neglect something else (like this blog).

Over the past few months I have found myself focusing on a few new projects. I will update you on these over the next few posts.

However I have been inspired to start posting here again…

Last Saturday I had to go up to South Yorkshire to work, but once I had finished in the afternoon I had a little time to spare before I needed to head home to London and I remembered reading in Lynne Chapman’s blog that the Sketchcrawl North group was meeting in Sheffield. I couldn’t make most of the day (a visit to a museum in the morning) but I made it in time to join the group and catch the end of the first Dr Sketchy event in Sheffield.

Dr Sketchy’s is a global franchise, they bill themselves as the anti-art school. At their events they get together fabulous (and raunchy) burlesque performers to pose for an audience of sketchers. They also run several competitions during the course of the event in which they ask the performers to choose their favorite drawing of their pose. The Sheffield event had a 1920s theme which carried through the costumes, music and the competition prises.

I only made it for the last 3 poses but my 2nd sketch (above) won me this prize. A fabulous Gin bottle necklace by Tatty Devine!

After all the sketching had finished the group made their way down to the bar to share sketchbooks. I was in for a real treat. There were some fantastic sketchbooks for me to see. I also got the chance to look at not only Lynne’s wonderful sketchbooks full of wonderful loose, fluid colourful sketches but also one of Andrea Joseph‘s beautiful detailed sketch books. I have followed both Lynne’s and Andrea’s blogs for some time and I always look forward to their posts so it was wonderful to not only have the chance to meet them but also to see their fabulous sketches in person! If I’m honest I was probably a little bit starstruck ;)

All in all I had a great day (even if I did have to work on a Saturday) and it was lovely to meet such a talented bunch of people, Hopefully I will have reason to travel up north and join them again sometime in the future.


Sunday, August 28th, 2011

While I was on holiday with family in Cornwall this year my youngest niece came back from a day out with this lovely little cuddly pig. It is made out of a really soft plush corduroy with a really interesting texture. I couldn’t resist trying to capture this little character on paper.

This was quite a quick sketch. I started by blocking out the colour of the pig and it’s shadow using watercolours with a large brush. I then added the shade using pencil crayon and finally picked out the highlight colour and texture of the corduroy using a white conte crayon and using the rough grain of the watercolour paper.

Shad Thames Meetup

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

It’s been a while since I have done any location sketching and it seems I am a little rusty. When I met up with Drawing London on Location a few weeks ago I spent most of the day struggling with the perspective on Shad Thames. I didn’t manage to complete the drawing but while my friend Jon and I were sat on the floor sketching we did get to learn a little of the history of the area. A young lady passing by stopped to chat to us and asked if we knew anything about the area. We thought she was asking as she wanted to know for herself but it turned out that she has lived in the area all her life and thought that as we were interested enough to sketch the buildings she loved, we would probably like to know more about them.

Shad Thames, completed in the 1870s, was apparently the spice district of London and the warehouse buildings that we were sitting amongst were originally used to store spices shipped in via the Thames. She pointed out that the building we were sitting next to was used to store salt and that the walls were so inpregnated with salt that they would never hold a coat of paint. She also pointed out the spices stored in several of the other buildings and explained that the building opposite us was used to store Cardamom and apparently still smells of Cardamom whenever it rains. Though less so since the area was renovated by Terance Conran and all of the buildings were cleared out and converted into up market housing and restaurants etc. Before this, the area had sat empty and unused for some time but when it was at it’s industrial height and the warehouses in Shad Thames were being built, the area had captured the imagination of Charles Dickens who based the story Oliver Twist around an inlet just a little further down the river. Hopefully I have remembered and recounted what she said faithfully.

I think I have mentioned before how sitting and sketching in public makes you fair game and available for conversation. Even in a place like London where people tend to be anonymous and insular. Sometimes this is a pain especially if you feel self-conscious about drawing in public. But every now and then you meet someone who has something very interesting to say and has obvious passion for their subject matter and I feel very glad that I have this chance to open myself up to Londoners who I would not normally have the chance to speak with.

As the day drew on I realised I was not going to get much further with my drawing of Shad Thames and I was craving putting some colour to paper so I moved on to do a quick 40 min landscape watercolour sketch of Tower Bridge from the Waterfront near the Design Museum. I may go back to finish the Shad Thames sketch but Mat convinced me to scan it as it is. For some reason he really likes it as it is.

Eden Project

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

I have just returned from a very relaxing week in Cornwall. Away from all mobile signal and although I did have access to the web and a TV I pretty much ended up avoiding both. I hadn’t planned to do this but I must admit it was nice to take a break and good to be back online again now :)

I haven’t been completely idle while I was away. I have recently finished a couple of larger pieces that I had been asked to produce for friends. These are larger detailed pieces and I will soon be selling prints of these and a few of my older pieces through this website and Etsy. I have been talking about doing this for a while but I have finally got around to doing my homework and I’m nearly there, so watch this space.

A while before we went away I checked to see if there would be any gigs at the Eden Project while we were in Cornwall and for once there was, so I got Mat and I a pair of tickets to see Primal Scream perform Screamadelica.

We decided to head down early and make a day of it as we hadn’t been around the gardens and biomes for a few years, plus it would give me the chance to get at least one location sketch done during the holiday. I set myself up on a bench with a good view of the valley for an hour or so to sketch. While I was there Primal Scream themselves turned up on the stage to sound test and played a few of their best known tracks.

I had to stop before I was finished, to go and see Robin Ince doing a short gig in the Mediterranean Biome. I was planning to finish the sketch from photos but on second thoughts I decided I quite like it unfinished.

I have wanted to catch a gig there since I found out that they use it as a concert venue some years ago on a previous holiday. It is such a beautiful peaceful place and the Biomes and gardens make for a dramatic backdrop especially after the sun sets and they start to light the place up. Check out my snaps below.

Apart from the main gig and warm up acts across three stages, a couple of other highlights of the day were drinking a baobab smoothy and when a lady in the rainforest Biome decided to complain to me about the noise of the sound tests and warm up acts and asked me if I agreed, ‘doesn’t it spoil the peace?’ I replied apologetically that as I had paid to see the concert, I couldn’t really comment. She then apologised to me, not sure why.

East End Meetup

Monday, June 6th, 2011

A few weekends ago Drawing London on Location met up at Liverpool St Station for a sketch walk in Spitalfields, up Brick Lane towards Hoxton Square.

I started off with this very rushed 40 minute sketch of Spitalfields Market.

We then walked up to the top of Brick Lane. I had seen a couple of things that I fancied sketching but they were further back down the road. As we only had about 30 to 40 minutes and I was feeling too lazy to walk back, I twisted a couple of arms to get a few people to join me in a local bar to sketch a couple of quick portraits and so that I could drink a refreshing pint of cider ;).

The first is of Tom, The second is Andrew. This was the last spread in my Large Moleskine, finished around a year after I started drawing again.

After Brick Lane we walked over to Hoxton Square. We had planned to sit in the park there but it was closed for refurbishment so we headed over to the churchyard in Shoreditch. Most people chose to sketch each other (Adam’s sketch of me and a few others here) I chose to do this final sketch of the day of Boundry Rd in a new pocket Moleskine I have started, with the intention to keep it in my bag everyday in case I get the urge to sketch.

Hyde Park Meetup

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

The weekend before the Easter weekend I met again with Drawing London on Location. This trip was to Hyde Park and Holland Park, again it was lovely weather for sketching outside.

We started off in the gardens opposite Lancaster gate…

Then moved on to the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall…

And finished off the day in Holland Park…

City Meetup

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I’m back to playing catch up again. About a month ago now I met with the meetup group again for the first outdoor sketching of the year.

This time we met in the city to draw at 3 locations. St Botolph’s Church, the area around Lloyds building and finally leadenhall market. The weather was fine and it was so good to get out into the air to draw again after being trapped inside for the winter.

It also gave me the chance to test one of the goodies that Kuretake gave me to try recently. A small travel watercolour sketch set. This is quite similar to the set that I normally use but the box also has a slot to fit a waterbrush and a black fineliner with waterproof ink that come with the set. This makes it very convenient to carry. I was very lucky to get my hands on it as they are only available in Japan at the moment. It is a very good little set with a nice selection of colours. The paint is very smooth and has a different texture to any watercolours I have used before.

The final sketch of the day was of one of the city dragons that guard the entrances of Leadenhall Market. While I sketched this I was surrounded by men wearing kilts and men and women wearing cowboy/girl outfits. They were all there to film a section of a song in a Bollywood movie. It was quite surreal and after hearing the same 10 seconds of the song over and over again it took a long time to get it out of my head.

V&A Museum Meetup

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Last weekend I met up with Drawing London on location again. This time at the V&A Museum.

I have never been to the V&A before and I had a feeling it was my kind of place so I was really looking forward to it. I wasn’t disappointed.

Unfortunately I had to leave a little early and couldn’t see everyone at the pub that evening and I have to admit I had a bit of a poorly head after a late night the night before ;). So I decided to take it easy have a little wander around and just sketch something small.

I headed for the jewellery thinking that would give me something interesting and shiny to draw but all I could find was some weird big bulky ‘necklaces’ and ‘bangles’ that looked more like industrial machinery components and wire contraptions that are meant to hold your iron to the inside of your kitchen cupboard door. However on the way through I spotted this cup in the shape of a partridge. Made of mother of pearl and gilded silver, set with rubies and emeralds. Not sure who would have drunk from this cup or how they would have done it but it was pretty. The level of detail in the cup led to a detailed drawing and gave me the opportunity to try out a new toy that I bought the weekend before. A Copic Multiliner 0.03. I have to say I like it a lot. The ink is a waterproof pigment ink so works well with watercolours and it seems to flow very smoothly unlike other super fine line pens like the Pilot G-Tec-C 0.25 which tends to block a fair bit.

Horniman Museum Meetup

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

A few weeks ago now (Going to be playing catchup for a while) on Sat 5th Feb. I went to the Horniman Museum with Drawing London on Location.

This is a great little museum with a very eclectic mix of exhibits. Among these, they have a collection of natural history artifacts, a great little aquarium (that only costs £2 entry for an adult!) and a large collection of musical instruments. They also have a beautiful Victorian conservatory outside that is used as additional seating for the cafe.

My main sketch was inside the conservatory. A couple of people drew it from the outside but it was far too cold for me outside. I may go back to try that in the summer.

I also did a few small sketches using new charcoal pencils in the aquarium. The pencils are great for quick sketching but unfortunately, Moleskine paper is a bit too smooth for them so they didn’t work fantastically.

I find aquariums very relaxing and quite hypnotic. My brother’s family have recently set up a tropical fish tank and I think I could spend whole days staring at them.

With 20 minutes left before we were due to meet up again and head to the pub I saw this very complicated brass trumpet like instrument. I loved the look of it and had to attempt to draw it with colour even though I was really short of time. It was really rushed and ended up a quite a quirky interpretation but I was quite pleased with it. In fact I think it may be my favourite of my sketches of the day. I think I need to remind myself to do more of these loose imprecise sketches.

British Museum

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Saturday was the last meetup before Christmas with Drawing London on Location at the British Museum. I decided to travel light with just my smaller sketchbook, pen, pencil, putty rubber, waterbrushes and watercolours. I was a little worried as I had really not enjoyed sketching at the Natural History Museum and I have to admit that I turned up a little early with the intention of running away if I just couldn’t find anything I wanted to draw or if it was just too busy.

As it goes I shouldn’t have worried. The British Museum was a perfect place to sketch. Large scale views in the Great Court, comfortable and warm, plenty of space. They even provide folding sketching stools to take around with you if you need them. The day we were there it snowed quite hard (2 or 3 inches between the time I got on the tube in the morning and when I finished sketching in the evening) so it wasn’t too busy either, although I did arrive there looking like a walking snowman.

By the time the others arrived I had already scoped out what I wanted to draw and was itching to start. Because of the cold and lack of indoor sketching opportunities recently, I really wanted to take on something ambitious and time consuming. I really love all the creamy coloured, sandblasted, Palladian, stone columns and modern glass roof structure designed by Norman Foster in the Great Court. So I parked myself on one of the staircases next to the reading room, put on my large headphones so that I would be left alone and got thoroughly absorbed in my sketch for about 4 hours.

The roof was quite a challenge all by itself, after I had sketched it and rubbed it out the 2nd time I was wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew. The snow on the glass roof made the light quite strange all day and unfortunately it all changed while I added the colour as the sun had set and the lighting in the courtyard was all turned on. I nearly ended up getting turfed out when they shut the upper levels just as I started to add the colour but the very accommodating guard kindly let me stay and simply taped me in. I really needed a good day sketching like this, I have a feeling I will be back at the British Museum again before the winter is over.

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Amy Stace published on is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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