It has been a busy time: two of the art courses that I have been tutoring concluded; I've run a workshop as part of the Harwich Festival of the Arts; I have had drawings being exhibited at Old Bank Studios (the exhibition closes today); and the garden project continues.
Finally, I have managed to do some sketching. This is the latest and the model was fantastic sitting very still.
Last Friday, 5th June, I attended a workshop on monoprinting with stencils. The photo above shows the stages of my print starting with sketching in an allotment to adding the cutout pieces as collage.
The workshop was run by Essex artist and printmaker Karenza Jackson (www.karenzajackson.com) and I would recommend attending a course with her. With just 5 of us attending we all got lots of attention and help.
Starting in an allotment we spent some time sketching. I started with lupins and moved on to sketch the scarecrow, onions, nettle patch and more. I would have been quite happy to stay there all day, so may plan a return trip. Back inside it was those first lupins that I decide to make a stencil of as well as some poppies. I enjoyed the whole process of monoprinting with stencils and found it quite liberating. Now, I need to get back to etching.
Have you tried monoprinting? Why not tell me about it in a comment below and you are welcome to link to your own prints too.
Determined to do one 360° drawing, which was halfway right, I started the day with an early morning sketch out of my hotel window. It's a bit better than the previous attempts, but this technique still needs some work.
After breakfast, I headed into town for a pre-workshop sketch and ran into Liz Ackerley, a fabulous landscape designer at Poppyhead Consultancy. Tackling the wonky, albeit restored, building of the Flying Standard was a challenge. I would have liked a bit more time to work on the sketch, but had to join Simone Ridyard for her great workshop.
First up was 1-point perspective down the side of modern university buildings with the cathedral in the background. Again, I ran out of time and having pencilled in the cathedral added colour later. (sorry about image quality, my scanner is ignoring watercolours, so I too a photo).
Next we went into the old cathedral for a demo on 2-point perspective by Simone, which was really informative.
Then it was round the corner to Hay Lane, where I drew the Golden Cross pub with an extreme perspective as I sat on the pavement. Whilst I pencilled in the rest of the street I chose not to overwork the sketch and empasize the pub's structure.
Sadly, due to worrying about Degas' health despite being left with my amazing dog-sitter, who sent me regular messages, and the Friday /end of Easter traffic I chose not to participate in the the last afternoon session but head home. I was greated by a very waggily tail, cuddles and half an hour of crying from Degas.
I had a fabulous time on the workshop and would thoroughly recommend attending an UrbanSketching workshop regardless of your level and experience. Thank you to the wonderful instructors and my fellow participants.
Don't forget the Urban Sketcher's Symposium is in Singapore this year, and I hear there will be an Oxford workshop later this year.
Swasky (aka Víctor Martínez Escámez)
Urbansketchers symposium 2015
Day 2 started with some fun warm up exercises with Isabel Carmona, then the challenge began: we had to produce 360° sketches. This was the most challenging thing I did all week both inside the Herbert and then outside at the new cathedral. As you can see below, I didn't get the taper correct, among other things.
In the afternoon, our tasks included drawing people and then placing them in context. As you can see from the photos it was a lovely sunny afternoon and a pleasure to sketch outside, which is not what you expect from Coventry in April. Exhausted we had a debrief over a refreshing glass of cider in the local. I sketched an amazing pink cider, but I cannot get a decent copy of it, sorry.
Last part will be on Thursday.
With Degas on the mend, I was able to attend the UrbanSketchers Coventry workshop this week. However, needing to leave her with the dogsitter for as short a period as possible, I arrived almost on time for the start of the first workshop, but missed the night before's drink and draw registration event. I also left before the end on Friday, partially due to Friday/end of Easter week traffic, but also as I wanted to see how she was. In between was a great event, arranged and tutored by Isabel Carmona, Swasky, and Simone Ridyard.
With no time to settle, it was straight in with recording the old cathedral in Swasky's workshop on Bending the Floor. The result is above, and I have to confess it's my favourite of the three days. The workshop was ran alongside the Recording Britain exhibition, at the Herbert, and copies of our drawings are there until the end of the month.
The second exercise was more complex, and although I didn't do it correctly, I am also pleased with my representation of the Herbert and adjacent university buildings. (below)
In the afternoon we drew lots of portraits of each other, which was fun, and Simone took this great photo of us (below).
Exhaused, we retired to the nearby pub for food, drinks, and, of course, more sketching.
Parts 2 and 3 will be posted on Tuesday and Thursday. I hope you come back to check them out. Please remember I love receiving your comments.
I am now a member of the print workshop at Cuckoo Farm Studios, Colchester. Consequently, on Thursday I had my induction to use the workshop unsupervised in the future. Whilst there I took the opportunity to have a 2nd attempt at etching. I used one of my new etching needles, which is quite heavy and a dream to draw with into the hard ground. I redid the oak leaves I'd attempted to etch on my workshop, you can see those results here.
What printmaking lessons have you learnt?
As mentioned last week, I have been studying on Liz Steel's Sketching Now online course. Stretched over 12 weeks, Liz has covered all the foundations of successful sketching in well-thought out lessons presented in Liz's charming and exuberant fashion. Each week, there has been an indoor and outdoor prompt. I have missed one week entirely (week 9), only managed 2 of the outdoor prompts, but have managed the majority of the indoor ones.
Despite being a regular urban sketcher, during the last few months of 2014 I had felt lost. However, having worked through this course, on the 11th January I wrote alongside my coursework:
I LOVE DETAILING LIKE THIS!!!... Using class to remember who I am.
In the first lesson we had to draw our current sketching kit, which is something I've not done before. My Super5 pen has since run out of ink and I've replaced the Super5 Atlantic ink with Noodler's blueblack. I prefer the Atlantic, but can't get it here in UK and the postage is too high from Germany.
My biggest struggle has been with doing set up lines. When sketching, I normally work directly in ink and sometimes use dots as a guide to key points of a sketch. I can see the value of doing a minimal set up for complex scenes, but, I struggle to observe properly in pencil. Is it because I can change it? I struggled with that throughout the course. Right is an example from week 4.
Liz's course was very comprehensive, and I'd thoroughly recommend doing one if you have the chance. It was good to be reminded of some of the basics, and to try out the exercises. shh don't tell Liz but I frequently got halfway through some exercises and had totally forgotten what I was "supposed" to be doing. I aslo frequently missed off adding the colour.
One of my favourite exercises and results was looking at shapes. I finally drew my Korean teacup that I bought in 2001 and has been in storage until now. It was supposed to be in 2 colours but I loved the shapes as it was, which is half the fun of experimenting within a class situation.
Finally, here's an outside sketch for week 10 that is not of a subject that I would normally choose, but captures a snapshot of dad's garden in winter. If you want to see my other sketches for this course, they are all in an album on flickr: Sketching Now coursework
The questions and my answers:
I've been invited by Béliza Mendes to participate in the Monday Around the World Blog Hop.
Béliza and I first met and the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Barcelona and then again at last year's symposium in Paraty. I was very fortunate to spend a few days with her prior to the symposium exploring and sketching another Brazilian town, which was a great way to warm up for the intensive sketching that occurs at the symposiums.
How does Around the World Blog Hop work?
Every week someone is nominated to answer a few questions about their creative process, post those answers on the following Monday and nominate someone else to do the same.
What am I working on?
This year is turning out to be a time of experimentation for me. I have been employed as an art tutor for the charity WEA and my first course this year is back at the homeless café Sanctus teaching Mixed Media. As this is not my area of expertise I have been experimenting with texture, collage etc.
Recently, I took a workshop in etching, which I haven't done since art college, and I can't wait to get back in the print workshop as my head is full of ideas. You can read about the workshop here.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I am a pen and ink artist specialising in drawings of buildings, landscapes, boats, portraits and more. Very few people work primarily in black and white like I do nor with the detail and interpretation that I bring to a subject.
This is an example, Al Minsefah Doorway, which is part of my popular Decay series drawings. More here: Decay Series.
Why do I create what I do?
I have always drawn and from an early age I was aware of a pen drawing of my grandmother's farm hung in my parents' house and I wanted to be able to copy it. It was at art college that I really focused on drawing with all types of ink pens. I mainly had to teach myself the techniques through reading art books and emulating artists I liked as the majority of my lecturers were painters. A college printing course, where I first learnt to etch and yearned to be the next Albrecht Dürer, was a great influence too, but at the time I found the process too slow and liked the relative immediacy of drawing with pen & ink better.
I choose subjects that appeal to me and themes have repeated throughout my career such as decaying buildings, wood and rocks, which all lend themselves well to the medium. Travel and culture is a big part of my life, and these are also reflected in my drawing subjects.
However, my world is not only black and white. As an urban sketcher, I often add watercolours to my on-location sketches.
How does my creative process work?
I always have a sketchbook near me, although I do not sketch daily, I use it and my phone to record things that catch my eye, from the shadows on trees on a dogwalk to the interaction between people in a coffee shop. From those on-location sketches and/or photos I them compose a drawing, chosing the focal point, what's needed to give context, what to leave in, move position, or take out. Each drawing is not a copy of a single image but an amalgamation. For example,
That brings me to the end of this meme's questions. If you have any comments, or further questions, please leave them below.
Finally, I would like to nominate Kris Wiltse, www.drawingsfromlife.blogspot.com to post next Monday. Kris does amazing watercolour sketches and inspired me to sketch directly in paint as seen in my skaters here. Don't forget to pop over to see Béliza's post and others in this blog hop.
Back in the dim and distant past whilst at college, I had the opportunity to do some etching. This is what I did:
When I had my exhibition in December 2013, it was suggested that I should etch, but I stored the idea until recently when I found a 1-on-1 workshop at Cuckoo Farm Studios with artist & etcher David Stone.
On a snowy morning, and starting with a 10x10cm ish piece of metal, I was shown how to apply a soft ground prior to copying a picture of oak leaves. After putting it in acid bath (8:1 solution) I then cleaned the plate off and... found that I hadn't pressed hard enough and there were very few lines etched. Take 2, soft ground prep by me, drawing (this time with a dead biro and a traditional pencil as opposed to the technical pencil I'd first used), acid, clean and...
there were lines. Yay!
Then, placing the plate carefully on tissue paper on the press, pre-soaked paper went next, more tissue, then the 3 blankets. After, winding it all through the press, it was a nervous moment to unveil my first print. Nothing stunning, but as this was a workshop it's about learning the process not the results.
Then it was on to plate 2, to learn and use hard ground. This time I drew lines with an etching needle to make a print of trees. It was funny but I didn't spot the mistake until it was printed. David told me how I could correct the plate, but I chose not to. Both reference photos used were from recent dog walks and they had grabbed my attention as "could draw that" subjects.
After cleaning the plates (white spirit to remove ink), it was time to explore aquatint, which I had no recollection of doing at college until I saw the photo.
Aquatint is a powdered acid resistant material that was applied over the whole plate. The clean dry plate was put in the box (left) wearing a mask and gloves, then placed on the rack (right) and heated with a scary gas torch from underneath. Once cool, which took moments as I watched the falling snow through the window, I stopped out areas with straw-hat varnish that I didn't want effected. Then it was into the acid bath. Due to the temperature, the grey/time scale based on 24°c was redundant, and David made an educated guess. I built up several tones through stopping out more areas and dipping the plate in acid. The varnish and remaining aquatint were then removed from the plate (white spirit and meths), before it was back to the press...
and I was very impressed with the improvement to my first plate (above). So I repeated the aquatint process with the other plate, but reducing the time in the acid bath to just 15 seconds per tone. Here is the result:
I found the whole workshop inspiring and will soon do an induction in order to use the print facilities reguarly.
Have you tried etching? Or been inspired by a workshop?
You are welcome to leave a link to your work in the comments below.
*NOTE: the expression is believed to be an Edwardian euphanism to encourage physical intimacy.
For the last workshop of the symposium, I took Norberto Durantes' workshop Line Flow/Live Spot as I really enjoyed, and learnt a lot, last year. A bonus was not only the sun was out but I got to draw with Kumi and Simone, so it was a great morning.
The last exercise was to add a pop of colour to our line work. Everyone sat and drew the church, but I turned my back and tried to capture the sandbanks. A horse & cart literally trotted into my view so I grabbed a pencil and added it (minus the man loading sand). Out of time, I was undecided about the pop of colour and added the yellow back in the UK.
After lunch, I did Richard Alomar's activity Unfolding a sketching story, which was really inspiring and fun. I used the Laloran concertina sketchbook, but couldn't complete it in the allocated time, so did so on Sunday morning. Don't forget to click on the image to see it larger in lightbox.
After the activity it was time to sketch and gather for the final group photo in Matriz Square. I'm guilty of not sketching, but chatting to everyone I could and taking photos with friends. There was just time for a Caipirinha before the closing reception, which in true Brazilian style ended up with dancing.
I don't think any of us wanted the symposium to end and I joined a group for icecreams, but didn't go on for the late night drinks.
I was sad the symposium was over, but there was still more drawing to be done the next day... but that's for another post.
I am a nomadic artist travelling the world for inspiration. Here, I publish my sketchbook work alongside my new finished pieces.