Showing posts with label Sketchcrawl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sketchcrawl. Show all posts

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Being Sick and Sketching in the Park (Luckily, not Simultaneously)


So far this weekend, John and I have mostly been in bed. No, I know what you are thinking... nothing saucy (far from it). On Thursday night, during the private view of The Great Sheffield Art Show, I suddenly had to rush to the loo to be violently sick. Not, I hasten to add, an effect of the artwork, but of a very nasty tummy virus. I had my head in the loo once an hour, all night long. Lovely. John wasn't actually sick, but felt awful (at least that's what he said... or was he malingering?). Anyway, we both slept all of Friday and still felt decidedly delicate yesterday. 

Thank goodness it was this weekend though, and I was fit and well last weekend, as that was the weekend of my Broomhill Festival eventFor the last three years, the festival have asked me to run a SketchCrawl in the Botanical Gardens. 


Often the people who come are less experienced sketchers than at the Urban Sketchers Yorkshire SketchCrawls I run each month and my role is more to offer help and inspiration than to actually sketch. In previous years, we have had a fairly modest turn-out though, so I have done quite a bit of drawing too. This year, we had a lovely big group, so I only grabbed 10 minutes at the end to do the quickie above.

It was glorious weather and a really lovely group of people, so we all had a good time. They worked really hard too and several of them have now signed up for my regular SketchCrawls, because they want to try it again - result!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

SketchCrawl on July 19th - Mark Your Diary!


Urban Sketchers Yorkshire's day out in Buxton was great fun and so was the Broomhill Festival SketchCrawl last weekend in Sheffield's Botanical Gardens. Next time round we are going to spend the day in Manchester, so if you like sketching, do join us.



I am REALLY hoping for dry, warm weather (it is mid summer after all!) so we can draw outside, because we are visiting some beautiful buildings: Manchester's old Town Hall, the magnificent John Ryland's Library and then finishing the day with the gloriously unconventional Royal Exchange Theatre.

Anyway, the details are below if you would like to take part. Everyone is welcome, whether you are a beginner, a professional or anything in between. It is totally free. You can even bring your children, as long as they bring a sketchbook and draw alongside you.

1st stop and meeting place: outside Manchester Town Hall, Albert Sq at 9.20am
(sketching for 1hr 40mins, until approx 11.00)
(indoor meeting alternative if it's wet: Central Library foyer – access via Peter St)


2nd stop: John Rylands Library, Deansgate at 11.10am
(sketching for 2hrs until approx 1.15 – inside if wet)


1.15 - 2.00: lunch – both venues have a cafĂ©, or bring a packed lunch if you want to picnic.
3rd stop: the Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Sq, at 2pm
(sketching for 2hrs until approx 4pm – inside if wet)


As usual, we will go somewhere nearby to share our work at the end of the day: either a cafe or a bar. We will be winding up about 4.45 I imagine. 

I will be catching the 8.04 train from Sheffield, if you want to join me, getting into Piccadilly just after 9am (it’s not the nearest station, but cheaper, as you can buy cheap singles). Meet me by 7.55 at Ritazza cafe on the station forecourt. If that’s too early, feel free to join us later.


If you can't make July 19th, but would like to hear about future SketchCrawls, just email me

Power to your pencil!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Broomhill Festival SketchCrawl


Every year I do a drawing event in Sheffield's Botanical Gardens for The Broomhill Festival. Time has flown, as it always seems to, and the festival has come around again. I suddenly realised - my SketchCrawl event is this Sunday afternoon, June 22nd! 

So, if you fancy having a look at some of my sketchbooks and then spending the afternoon sketching with me, come along with a sketchbook at 2pm:


Crossing fingers for sunshine. See you there!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

USk Yorkshire Go SketchCrawling in Buxton


The forecast for Saturday was appalling: heavy rain from early morning through until the end of the day, with thunder and lightning a possibility. Perfect SketchCrawling weather, so I didn't really expect many people to turn out. Saturday was intended as a day of drawing outdoors too, capturing some of the beautiful architecture, but that was clearly not going to happen. 


There was already a small group huddled outside the Opera House when I arrived and, over the next 10 minutes, they kept coming until I counted 23. It was starting to spit already, so we went inside to our first 'Plan B' venue: the Pavilion Arts Cafe. 


From the upstairs, which we had all to ourselves, there were great views out over the Pavilion Gardens, but I was most tempted by the way you could peer down over a balcony in the centre and spy on people sipping tea on the ground floor. 


I stood up, leaning over the railing for my first sketch above, but kept worrying that I would lose the grip on my sketchbook and it would go flying down and hit somebody on the head, so I sat down for sketch two, which is probably why it is more controlled (and arguably less exciting). I was snapped half way through - don't you just love the sketcher's double-chin? So flattering. 


We stayed there until midday, when we got our brollies out and headed across town for lunch. By this time, a few more people had joined us. We were such a big group that I had to book out half The Cheshire Cheese pub. Thank goodness they could fit us in at short notice.

It took a while for them to serve us all though, so I did this sketch: 


I was so intent on what I was doing, I didn't even noticed my sneeky neighbour snapping me in action once again:


It was nice to have a long, lazy lunch actually - it gave us lots of extra time to chat, especially good for the new faces. We had quite a few first-timers. Ours is a very sociable group. I think it's a really important part of the day.

Once we were all fed and watered, we headed to the Cavendish Arcade: a lovely, tiled arcade, with a beautiful glass ceiling. I don't feel I did it any justice:


The last sketch-stop was The Dome - part of the University of Derby. It had actually stopped raining, so I spent my final 45 minutes in the car park outside, crammed into a corner against a grit-bin, where I was able to get this view:


We had booked the upstairs room of The Old Clubhouse pub for our sharing session. We pushed loads of table's together, but still struggled to get everyone round. 


As usual it was lovely looking through all the books. It was especially interesting because of all the fresh faces. Lots of holding up of sketches, and: 'Wow - who did this!' kind of thing.


After about an hour, everyone went their separate ways, but I had to hang around, as John was coming to pick me up. Because the day was over, the sun was now out and it was really warm. I sat on the wall outside the pub and managed this sketch before he arrived:


Thanks to everyone who took part on Saturday, especially for turning out (and sticking with it) on such a miserable day. Next month we are thinking of visiting Manchester again, this time for the John Rylands Library and the Royal Exchange. They are both beautiful outside as well as in, so I'm crossing fingers that we might actually get a proper summer's day, no umbrellas needed!


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

SketchCrawling in the Rain


I discovered the monumental and slightly rusty underbelly of Castlefield a couple of months back, when I was invited a to run a SketchCrawl for SCBWI. On that day, we were supposed to be drawing inside MOSI, so I got less than an hour to explore outdoors with my sketchbook, but I was determined to go back and spend a bit more time, so chose it as the location for this month's SketchCrawl North meeting.


What I didn't know, was that the weather forecast was going to be heavy rain on and off all day, with the possibility of thunder and lightning at lunchtime. Great.

Come Saturday, four of us left behind the irritatingly blue skies and glorious sunshine of Sheffield and took the train to Manchester. It was already raining when we met up with a dozen others outside Deansgate station. 


Most of the group decided to opt for the warmth of MOSI, but a few of us tough-nuts braved it, sheltering under the railway arches. I love the strong contrasts you get, even in bleak, grey conditions. I managed the painting at the top, but the rain was getting heavier. It was splashing in under the arch so I had to keep moving further and further back. I just about got finished by the time we decided to give it up and get a coffee to warm up.

We headed for MOSI, where we discovered lots of our team in the cafe, luxuriating in soft sofas and painting the view out of the huge, picture windows. There was no soft space left, so I sat on the floor again (my poor bottom) and did the sketch above.


I had booked Dukes 92 for lunch, which had a huge table we could share. By now though our numbers had swelled to over 20, so we expanded to two tables, scoffing and chatting and watching Matthew draw his cooling food (as always). 

The sun was out now, so I decided to go back to the railway for another go at my beloved bridges. I braved a view that had me sitting out in the middle of the pavement so, naturally, it began raining again after about 30 minutes! I scurried back under my arch and tried to finish off the painting above, but soon retreated back to MOSI. 


I didn't want to draw the museum's exhibits, but I remembered this wonderful, Victorian window in the Air and Space building (the same iron and glass building I drew the outside of, from the cafe). 

I got lots of attention, including a little boy of about five: "How much do you sell your paintings for?". He told me he 'didn't paint as much as he would like' and that he 'liked collection art' (!)


I laboured too long over the window and was getting bored with all the detail. I looked at my watch - only about 5 minutes before I had to leave to meet the others back at Dukes 92 for the sharing session. I desperately needed to draw something less fussy, so I quickly sketched what was in front of me, which I think might be a microlight (no time to check), then rushed off. 


As usual, we all thoroughly enjoyed admiring each other's work from the day, sneaking a look back through all the sketchbooks and swapping sketching tips. 

I had a new sketching pen with me, which I was given by Super 5, one of the sponsors of the forthcoming Usk Symposium


I didn't get around to using it during the day, so did a quick trial in the bar, sketching a few people around the table, before lending it to various others to have a go. It's very smooth and glides beautifully across the paper in all directions. There's a raffle to win one if you are interested (deadline May 30th). It gives a subtly variable line as you can see in the sketch, which I think really adds life to a drawing. It's not as wide a variance as my trusty Sailor though. It depends what you are after.

Thanks to everyone who turned up on Saturday, despite the dreadful forecast, and especially to the new members and to those from the Manchester Urban Sketchers group who joined us. One of the lovely things about SketchCrawling is all the interesting new people you get to hang out with.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Visit from a Parisian Sketch-Buddy


Until last week I'd never met Yves Damin, fellow sketcher and graphic designer, living in Paris, but I had admired his work on-line. Then a few weeks back I got a Facebook message, saying he was coming to the UK and would be visiting family in Sheffield. He asked if I would like to meet up, to do some Urban Sketching together. 

When Liz Steel came to visit once, all the way from Australia no less, we had a great time, so of course I said I'd love to meet Yves. I contacted the other members of SketchCrawl North too, so we would have a fitting welcome committee.

The weather forecast wasn't great, so we decided to meet the others in Caffe Nero, as there are big windows with views out over the city centre. As crazy chance would have it, Yves's Sheffield-based family live two minutes walk from me so, just before 9am on Friday morning, we took the bus into town together.

We sat at an outside table, because Yves said he would prefer that, and other people gradually joined us. It was a wee bit chilly, but we got coffee to warm our hands. 



But as time went on it got colder and colder. I managed the drawing above (in my Inktense pencils and white chalk) but, by the end, I was losing all feeling in my fingers (that's my excuse for the slightly wonky tower) so we went inside for the next one. Nice and cosy: 



But Yves was made of stronger stuff: Paris must be even colder than Sheffield! He continued to brave the outdoors:



While Yves was painting the town hall, I got a bit obsessed with the water-balls in Millennium Square:



We had a little break after that, because there was an Urban Sketching exhibition on at the Millennium Gallery: paintings and drawings from the Recording Britain project begun in 1939. The exhibition is on loan from London's V&A until November 2nd. It's really varied and contains some real gems, so I would definitely recommend it, if you haven't seen it yet.

Fully inspired, a handful of the group left the exhibition to squeeze in just one more quick sketch before Yves and I had to head back. Yves went outside again with Rich Wellswhile I sat indoors with Lucie Golton and Andrea Joseph, who drew the sketchers and people in the cafe:



This time we were in the warmth of the Winter Gardens cafe - another one with lovely, big windows into the world outside, so perfect for softie-sketchers!



We girls ate lunch before starting to sketch (a very nice roasted-veg and hummus roll - mmm...), after which there was even less time to get something done. As usual, the time constraint loosened me up nicely:



It was so lovely to have the chance to meet Yves and I was really pleased that so many of the group managed to get out to draw with us, despite it being a weekday. You can get a proper look at the sketches Yves did, if you take a look at his write-up of the visit.

Come back soon Yves (or maybe next time I'll see you in Paris!).

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Huddersfield SketchCrawl


We had another SketchCrawl just over a week ago: this time we went to Huddersfield for the day. I was hoping for warm weather, as I really fancied drawing outside, but unfortunately it was decidedly chilly, with a bitter wind. Our first stop was drawing in and around the station. 

It's a lovely old building but, what with the cold and the unlucky timing  (we discovered the whole facade was covered in scaffolding) a few of us headed back into the station to draw on the platforms. This is the view from platform 8 where I was lucky enough to find a train that was not in service, so stayed where it was for the 45 minutes we had:


Next we went to Byrams Arcade. One of the locals said we might get a good view out from the top, so about half the group headed upstairs. We weren't sure if we were supposed to be there, as it was all empty shop on the top storey. To get to a window, we had to be in one of the shops. I tried the door... it opened. I'm totally sure we weren't supposed to be in the shop itself, but nobody was there to tell us off, so we all huddled together in front of the big window and drew this amazing array of chimneys:


Next stop was lunch - hurrah! There was a fabulous cafe in the arcade which luckily had a back room. We pretty much filled that. We had coffee and, while we waited for our food (which was gorgeous), I sketched my cup:


We headed for the market next. It was a big area, crammed with all different kinds of stalls, selling everything from fruit to guitars. There was a lovely Victorian cast-iron roof in red and blue which I was tempted to sketch but, in the end, I found a little corner with a step to sit on and a view out to the street. I was next to a stall selling CDs, so I got great music while I worked. I also captured a few of the group on the other side of the road:


Several people stopped to chat to me. One man got very excited and said over and over that I should go onto Britain's Got Talent! 

Our final sketching stop was Huddersfield Library. It was raining by now and most of the group had got cold, so they headed inside to get warm and dry, but there was a shopping centre opposite, which had an overhanging roof, so I sat in a closed shop front, sheltered under the overhang, and drew the building itself:


A small girl and her mum came by and watched for a moment on their way to the shops. On their way back they stopped again. They didn't say anything,  but the little girl gently passed me one of her sweets. Cute.

We went to another cafe to share the work. They were selling very tempting cakes, but I resisted and just had a mocha. As ever, there was a great variety of very interesting work to look at. We chatted around a big table, passing the books round, oo-ing and ah-ing and occasionally holding one up: "Who did this?".

Thanks so much to Matthew and Peter for their help in choosing the sketching venues. Another smashing day out in great company! If you want to join us some time, drop me an email.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

SCBWI SketchCrawl at MOSI in Manchester


I spent Saturday in Manchester, sketching in and around the fantastic Museum of Science and Industry (yes, this is me in action - thanks to Adelina Pintae for the lovely sketch):


The Society of Children's Book Writers and IllustratorsSCBWI, asked if I would run a sketchcrawl workshop day for them. The idea was to make it very much like the sketchcrawls I do each month with my Urban Sketchers group, Sketchcrawl North but, because SCBWI represents authors as well as illustrators, we incorporated on-the-spot writing too.

I kicked off with a talk in the Learning Loft, because the concept of sketchcrawling was new to many of the participants, in fact several of them had not done location sketching before, or not used a sketchbook in years. I took along lots of my sketchbooks, told them about Urban Sketchers, talked about reportage sketching and the various techniques I use. People were very interested in the contents of my kit bag, because I have got it down to a fine art now. I carry quite a range of art equipment, but can pack it all into a little zip-up case, just 10" x 6":


MOSI is spread over several buildings. Our first sketching spot was in the Air and Space building. I concentrated on a replica of an old tri-plane, although I was also very interested in the iron architecture behind:


I could have stayed there all day, but after an hour we moved on to the Power Hall. It was certainly a baptism of fire for the new sketchers. If our first venue was pretty tricky, the second spot was fiendishly so! It was all pumping pistons and spinning wheels. I got quite interested in the patterns that the various structures and machine elements made so, rather than concentrating on one machine, I went for a general view across one end of the room.


We had a lunch break up in the Learning Loft. It was a wide, bright space, up at the top of the main museum building, with fabulous views out over the surrounding area.  We spent 45 minutes sketching the views. I picked this one, down over the 'train' part of the museum, complete with working steam trains. This is the sketch I am doing in Adelina's drawing at the top:


We were intending to stay within the museum, but it was a lovely warm sunny day, so we went for a little walk instead, to a really good outdoor location, called Castlefield. The canal meets various railway lines as well as the road, so there are lots of different bridges in a small space, creating some great shapes and contrasts:


There are also canal boats and geese, as well as a lovely variety of old and new buildings. I made a mental note to take SketchCrawl North back there as soon as possible.

We went back up to the Learning Loft to share the work. As usual, it was fascinating to see all the different styles and approaches to the same subjects. The two writers who were with us didn't read out, but they also passed round their notebooks. They had both chosen to capture words and phrases, to take away a sense of the place, rather than write a narrative.

I enjoyed walking back to Deansgate station through the same area we had drawn in. It was very visually exciting. Even the grotty bits were interesting. I had a fun journey home too. the train was rammed. Luckily I got a seat and started to draw. 


A family, who were standing behind me, were all watching. Their little girl, about seven I should think, had her head just above my book and was fascinated. Incredibly, despite all the attention and all the little girl's questions ('Are you drawing that?'), the people still didn't appear to realise they were being sketched!

A big thanks to Anna at SCBWI for organising the event and for inviting me to lead it. I met some lovely people and had a great time.

Monday, 10 March 2014

SCBWI SketchCrawl at Manchester Science Museum


I've been commissioned to do a SketchCrawl event in Manchester at the end of the month, for SCBWI - that's the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. If you are trying to get started as a writer or illustrator of children's books, it's an organisation that is well worth joining. They have regional groups all over the country and put on lots of events to advise and inspire.


SketchCrawling is an idea I introduced to SCBWI back in 2010, when I was keynote speaker at the 10th anniversary conference. I talked about it in my speech, because sketching is a key part of how I keep my love of what I do alive, despite it having been my job for 30 years now.

Because SCBWI represents authors as well as illustrators, the SketchCrawl event later this month in the Science Museum will not just be for sketching, but writing too - creating on-the-spot responses to what we see. There will be plenty to inspire and I'm sure the exhibits will be evocative enough to get the authors fired up.

If you fancy giving it a go, as a writer or a sketcher, it's open to non-members too. Drop Anna Violet an email to book your place.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

SketchCrawl in Buxton



Saturday was February's SketchCrawl North day and we had a trip to Buxton in Derbyshire. 

It was a beautifully sunny day so, although we were on a pub-crawl (much like the one we did in Sheffield recently), I braved a bit of street sketching outside the pub, to kick things off: 


But, even in my fingerless gloves, it was colder than it looked. It's always chilly in Buxton! I retreated into The Old Clubhouse when bits of me started going numb, only to find most of the rest of the crew tucked up in comfy chairs with cups of coffee and perfect views of the Buxton Opera House through the picture windows - no discomfort necessary. 

By the time I'd got my own coffee, I only had 20 minutes before we were due to move on, so no time for colour, just my fountain pen. It's such a wonderful building. I managed all its colourful glory last time we visited Buxton, sitting on the pavement in September sunshine (oh, for warm weather...).


We did a quick detour on the way to the 2nd pub: one of our team had noticed a great 2 for 1 deal on sketchbooks at Rymans. We descended like a plague of locusts and left the shelves virtually bare!

The next stop was The Cheshire Cheese. I was about to settle in, when my friend (a local) said I really ought to be drawing inside the second-hand bookshop opposite, or at least should take a look. So the two of us went off-piste for a bit.

Scriveners is indeed fascinating: one of those crammed-to-the-rafters bookshops, but with all sorts of interesting bits and bobs as well as books (as well as help-yourself, coffee-making facilities upstairs). It went up and up, a twisty-turny place with lots of little rooms opening into yet more rooms. When we got near the top, this rooftop view called to me. Unfortunately, I could only see it properly by piling heavy books up onto the stool of a harmonium and perching there like a rather old pixie.  


We next visited the New Inn, a quite small and very 'local' feeling pub. There was a roaring fire and a group of men at the bar, sporting a selection of dogs. I asked one man if I could draw his dog. He was bemused, but then got into the idea and pulled Elvis nearer the windows, so I could see better.

But Elvis, who had been quite docile and still till then, now got very twitchy. It turned out he was frightened of a tiny little dog, Axel (with ears like a fennec fox). The man said that was nothing - big but totally soppy Elvis was frightened of the dark and of his own shadow!


Axel didn't keep still either: he was too interested in everything. He was cute and very delicate, but we were warned he was inclined to remove your fingers, given a chance. Perhaps Elvis was right...

Having broken the ice with the locals, I got up the courage to draw a couple of the men propping up the bar. They never noticed me though:


When I was done, I weighed up whether to show them. They weren't bad likenesses, so I went for it. It was the right decision: they seemed pretty pleased and all their mates gathered round to have a look, as they'd done earlier for the dog pics, which were a great success. We left the pub with lots of waved goodbyes and promises to check us out on Facebook. I so love that aspect of Urban Sketching.

Unfortunately the Buxton Tap was heaving by the time we got there, so we returned to The Old Clubhouse for our 'sharing' session. We had to pull 3 tables together to get everyone round. It's such fun looking at everyone else's sketches from the day and you get so many new ideas.

Thanks to Kate and Stefan for organising the day - another great success and a brilliant turn-out.