Experiments with watercolour

This week I spent a few days at St. Ives, Cornwall.  I took part in a three day course called Expressive Watercolour, which had a particular emphasis on techniques to create effects and textures with watercolour such as using salt, resists, and different tools to apply paint.  I had hoped for more opportunities to paint out of doors, but took the opportunity in the studio to paint three versions of the same view using different approaches.  These were based on a pencil drawing I did on location of the church and houses overlooking the harbour at St Ives.

 

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Windmills on my mind

 

Later in July, I am travelling to Amsterdam, to take part in the annual Urban Sketchers international meet-up.  Of course, I am very excited to meet with hundreds of other sketchers and to draw scenes of Amsterdam.  And when an English visitor thinks of Holland – tourist cliché alert – that includes windmills, doesn’t it?  So, maybe some practice is in order.

Did you know we have windmills in London?  My fellow sketcher, Lis Watkins (both of us are admins for Urban Sketchers London) and I set off to explore.  We found and sketched three in South London, from left to right: in Wimbledon, Brixton, and Shirley, near Croydon.

The wonderful windmill sketches of Lis Watkins can be found on the international website of Urban Sketchers, where she is one of the London correspondents.

Exploring Stoke-on-Trent

This weekend, 7 – 9 June 2019, I have been sketching Stoke-on-Trent, the historic home of the English ceramics industry, including Wedgewood, Spode and other pioneering firms.  This was the location of the annual get-together of UK Urban Sketchers, and we spent the weekend exploring the city and sketching.

The drawings I have done are a continuous image in a concertina sketchbook, and I have scanned them two at a time here.

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The subjects are: Stoke Minster, outside and inside, including a panel of memorial wall tiles by Minton, a display of modern ceramics at the Potteries Museum, the façade of the Wedgewood Institute, ceramics moulds at the Middleport Pottery, inside the bottle oven at Middleport, a building in the town centre of Hanley, a bottle kiln at Middleport, and a vase made by Josiah Wedgewood.  Without planning this, I feel I am now a bit better informed about the history of this industry.

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A complex drawing challenge

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This week I had the challenge of drawing two Hindu temples, or mandirs, in North London, both of them buildings with extremely complex stone carvings.  I needed to find ways of drawing these buildings in a fairly short space of time.  The drawing above, and the photograph on the left, is the Shri Sanatan Mandir at Alperton, near Wembley.

The photograph on the right is of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden.  Here is a second drawing of the Shri Sanatan Mandir, and one of the entrance to the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.

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A visit to Exmoor

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Recently I spent a few days painting in the Exmoor National Park, staying at Selworthy.  The painting above shows a view of Exmoor near the North Devon coast.  Below, a farm building near where I was staying, and a wind-blasted tree which was painted on the coast at Porlock Weir.  All the works are watercolour, painted on location.

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Sketching in Dulwich Village

Yesterday, I ran a sketchcrawl in Dulwich Village with Urban Sketchers London.  I also found time to draw across four pages of my concertina sketchbook, and the results are shown below.  The paper was initially prepared with torn paper collage, acrylic gesso and random marks with diluted indian ink.  Then I drew on location with chinagraph pencil, which is a waxy, quite thick black pencil which encourages a bold approach.  I am finding that the concertina format encourages a more flexible use of different images across the spread, developing a portrait of the place, in this case Dulwich Picture Gallery and its surrounds.

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A figure in the landscape

I recently spent a few days at West Dean College in Sussex, on a course called Drawing in the gardens – Pattern and place.  One of the challenges we were set was ‘A figure in the landscape’.  Here are a few drawings.  The Victorian greenhouses in the West Dean gardens are under restoration, so scaffolding was also a feature.

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