Monday, 2 March 2015

Cafe de Sketchy



John and I had another fun evening recently with Dr Sketchy Sheffield. The theme was a Toulouse Lautrec style cafe. Some great costumes. We had a fabulous cancan dance half way though too:


For some reason, I didn't feel much in the mood for drawing with my watercolour pencils, so worked the whole evening in watercolour, using a paintbrush instead of a pencil. Luckily, I had brought pretty big sketchbooks with me, which made it easier. 

I ended up giving this painting to the model, as she was so taken with it:


Luckily, I had a 2nd opportunity to sketch the dancing girls in their extraordinary costumes. I just love those huge turquoise feathers:



I had been working at a school in Scunthorpe during the day, so unfortunately we were a bit late getting to the pub where the Dr Sketchy events are held. I like to get there first, so I can get a seat at the front, where you can see better. The organisers do allow for that problem though, by having the models roam the audience, posing around the room, often sitting at the tables amongst us: 


The pose of the three dancing girls in the photo above was sideways on to the audience, with the girls leaning on the bar. I was sneaky and quickly slipped onto the other end of the bar, which gave me a clear view and more room for my paints:


The rest of the time I sat myself on the floor at the front, so I could spread out. When you are working quickly in paint, you have to have somewhere to put the ones which are still wet, while you work on the next pose. I put my lager on the stage, to stop me accidentally using it to wash my paintbrush!


There were fellas modelling too. I was very taken with this man's waxed moustache. This was another sketch I gave away, which is why it's signed. I was having a rare generous moment! The model kindly did a scan of it for me before he got it framed:



I love the challenge of Dr Sketchy - so much to do in so little time. You can feel the concentration humming in the room. With multiple models at once, you often only get part done:


I really enjoyed the paint-drawing. I think I need to get a better brush though. I know Liz Steel works a lot with a dagger shape, which gives a good range of fluid marks. I've got to get one, but I am having trouble getting a wide enough one from a UK seller that isn't also really long. 


Thanks so much to Eric Murphy for the use of these great photos. He even managed to capture me without the usual sketcher's double-chin, so an extra thanks for that!



If you like the idea of Dr Sketchy and live in or near either Sheffield of Buxton, check out their Facebook page for future events. If you live further afield, try a bit of Google searching, as Dr Sketchy is a franchise, with groups around the UK and USA I believe.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Oh Look - It's Me!


I had another of those nice packages arrive through the post... 

Turns out The Leverhulme Trust (the lovely guys who are giving me the money to do my residency with The Morgan Centre) has a magazine. It's called a 'newsletter', but it's very glossy. January's edition was forwarded to me by Professor Heath. It announced the list of residencies they were awarding - 20 in total. 

Lots are with various universities across the country There's a really wide range of study areas: Law, War Studies, Pharmacy, Geography, Medicine and more. Then there is an observatory in Armagh who is working with a musician, The National Waterways Museum who is working with a theatre writer / performer...

Apparently they selected from over 200 submissions, so we did really well to be selected, which feels great! I am delighted to discover that it is possible (at least in principle) to earn a crust from my sketching, as well as my picture book illustration. I am really enjoying the greater variety I have these days too.

Anyway, in December, Professor Heath wrote an article for the newsletter about our plans and, as you can see, it got a full page. Hurrah!


A big roll of watercolour paper also arrived last week, with a few book-binding bits, ready for me to make the concertina sketchbooks I am going to use throughout the 10 month residency. It's starting to feel real!


Thursday, 19 February 2015

SketchCrawl in Nottingham


Sorry it's been a week since I last looked in. I am working hard every day on my mural. I did get to escape the computer on Saturday though - everything stops for SketchCrawl day!

This month, Urban Sketchers Yorkshire met up with our counterparts in Nottingham, for a drawing day at Nottingham Castle. There were a few sketchers from the Manchester and Birmingham groups too, so it was really lovely to meet lots of new people.


The train from Sheffield arrived half an hour before the one from Manchester, so I did this quickie of the station front, while we waited. By the time I got underway, I only had 20 minutes, so I was really pleased with the results. I think, because of the silly amount of time, I had such low expectations that I was really relaxed. No time to think either, so I was working on instinct, by-passing my brain (often a good thing with my brain).


Fired up with this success, I decided to brave the cold at the castle and draw outside. Several people did the same as the views across Nottingham were spectacular. I avoided the really long views and drew the interesting aerial view down over the surrounding streets, continuing in my concertina sketchbook with the tinted paper, flowing on from the drawing I did on Castleford.

Nottingham Castle isn't a real castle - the real one was blown up hundreds of years ago. The new one is a museum and art gallery, so I headed inside and had a quick whizz round to warm up my fingers and toes. Then it was time for some lunch and chin-wagging with my new chums.


After lunch I was sufficiently thawed to try again outside. It was cold, but there was very little wind, so it was possible to stand it for about an hour. I did this view of the front entrance.


Once more chilled to the bone, it was wonderful to walk through the automatic doors and feel the wall of heat kick in! The gallery was a really lovely space, so I sat in there for my last sketch of the day, working with my Koh-i-Noor rainbow pencil and some white pastel:


This was a continuation in the concertina sketchbook and flowed on from the earlier drawing:


It also filled the very last section of the book - a rather satisfying end to the day - so it's now complete: 


You can't really see the drawings properly here but, if you are interested, you can enlarge it sufficiently for a good look on my Flickr page.

This lovely book was made for me as a present by one of my group (thanks again Lucie!), but I have also made concertina books for myself. They are very easy. If you want to have a go, this post shows you how.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Talking to the Henry Moore Foundation


Great news - Wakefield Library Service love the mural design, so it's full steam ahead. 

While I was away during the first half of this week, working with under-graduates at Bishop's Grosseteste Uni in Lincoln, John was helping out back home, scanning all the children's work again, this time at high res. It is extremely boring to have to scan everything twice, but I didn't know until now which images were going to be used and at what size; the original drawings have been re-sized a lot, to make them fit together within the design.


I also decided to try and fit a Henry Moore sculpture into the design, because of his Castleford history. It makes for a good discussion point for school groups coming into the library. As I mentioned previously, using someone else's photo would raise copyright issues. I have various sketches of Moore's sculptures, but the one above, from a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the only one in full colour. We still had to run it by the Henry Moore Foundation though, to get their blessing. Luckily, they love it and so have now been added to the invite list for the Grand Opening.


It was no mean feat trying to find a spot for Henry, but in the end I moved a bush-baby out of one of the trees (above), to create a space on a column between two bookshelves. I also popped a tiny owl (I think that's what it is) on top, which really helped to make the sculpture 'belong':


It's a bit surreal, but well, it's not as if the rest isn't! I did like the bush-baby though, so I rejigged things in another section, to make room for him in a new location. It's a nightmare though, because each thing you move has a knock-on effect. Spot the differences:


My next job is trying to find a way to work with the high res scans in Photoshop. I am working at 25% of the real size and divided the design into 6 sections, but the base layer of each section was still coming up at 470MB - still too big to be practical. So I am also having to work on just the upper part first, adding the below-bookshelf-height elements at the end.

It's still going to be a bit of an ordeal for the computer and I will have to 'flatten' the artwork as I introduce each new element, as floating layers make a file enormous and my poor computer is likely to throw in the towel if I am not extremely careful. 'Saving' really often seems like I good idea!