Tuesday, October 18, 2016

you're like Manchester, you've got Strange Ways

This is the drawing that I made with all the tools that I took out with me in my last blog post. Well, I say 'all of the tools' but obviously I just mean one pen, one bottle of ink and one sketchbook. I must say I was overwhelmed by the response to that post, and to how many people related. I assumed it was just me. It's a comfort to know I'm not alone. Perhaps we could set up a support group?
Anyway as I said, this was the drawing I made on that day. The sketchbook is really difficult to photograph as it's so long. So here's the top, middle and bottom, of the Midland Hotel, Manchester, in bite size chunks. If I'm honest, it's really quite difficult to draw in too.
I made this drawing while out with Manchester Urban Sketchers. It's a building I love. A big ornate hotel in the city. It has everything I like to draw. It's a strange thing, I'd say that Modernism and even Brutalism is possibly my favourite style of architecture. But, I just cannot draw it. I have no desire to draw it. When it comes to drawing I want the exact opposite. I want twirls galore. The Midland has that.
I made the drawing in around two hours on a bench across the road from the hotel. It's getting freezing out there on the streets now, so I retired to the library to finish it off. I'm guessing that with winter approaching a whole new set of 'things to take on a sketchcrawl' are about to trouble me. I should just give in and drag a trolley around.
And in case evidence is needed as to quite how awkward this book is, here we are at the end of the session, look I can't even hold it.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, October 14, 2016

why I make a rubbish urban sketcher

Today, for once, I am going to travel light. I'm going monotone so all I need is a black pen. Maybe two.
I'll take one sketchbook. Two black pens, one fine nib fountain pen, one brush pen and the obligatory bulldog clip.
I will need to take refills for the fountain pen. I might take my dip pen, just in case, too. 
Mustn't forget my glasses. But, I'm really impressed with how light I'm travelling. 
I'm thinking, though, that I might as well take one or two fine liners. I'm going to take a paint brush too because I'll probably want to put a wash over whatever it is I draw. Might just take my back up fountain pen and back up brush pen too. That's all though.
But then if I'm taking a paint brush I'll need some water. I'll take a jar with diluted black ink in. Then I could take a water brush with clean water in. Yes, I'll do that. I might take two jars of water with two different inky-water mixes in. And one white pen.
I think what I'll do is take another sketchbook so I have a choice in paper size/format. I don't want to get there and not have the right shaped paper. So that's all I'm going to take. Hold on...
There's no point in taking a dip pen if I haven't got a bottle of ink. One bottle of black ink. That's all I need. I think I'll take my 'Little Reference Book of Noses' too. That's always useful. In fact, it's essential.
Thing is, what if I need a bit of colour? Just a little splash of colour. I regretted it the last time I didn't take any and needed some red. I'll put the ink box in. I could always leave it in the car when I get there. Just because I'm putting it in the car doesn't mean I'll be carrying it all over town. That's a good idea. A good back up plan.
And, if that's the case I might as well take a few bottles of coloured inks. Back up. Sod it I'll take a bag full of them. You never know which colour you'll need.
And that is why I make a rubbish urban sketcher.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, October 06, 2016

the streets are ours

For one reason or another, I seem to have been talking, and thinking, a lot recently about how my work is changing/has changed. And it is/has. It's changed dramatically.
There are a few reasons for that, which, if you're interested, I'll share with you now. If you're not interested please take a look around at some of my pictures.
1. The first reason is that I went on this ink workshop. And I loved it. It felt I'd been reunited with an old love. Way before I ever believed I could be an illustrator, I used to play around with ink. Mainly just cheap fountain pens, but I also bought a whole load of those little bottles of Windsor and Newton inks back in the day too. I'd paint with them, like in this old children's illustration, and loved the intensity. I kind of forgot about all that as time passed. But, it was taking the ink workshop that woke me up to the possibilities all over again. It truly was like coming home.
I should also mention, that just around the same time I inherited a load of old inks - a huge box of bottles of all different kinds from acrylics to Indian ink to luminescents - when an art studio was closing down. Half of them were so old or crusty that there was no way of opening them. I threw all of those away, but what was left, coupled with the W&N ones I'd bought twenty years ago (which incidentally were all still in perfect condition), became my new palette.
2. So now I'm armed with my new weapons, but I'm really stuck. I'm really...well...bored. Bored of what I'm doing. I'm still running my Drink & Draw series which I absolutely adore, so that's giving me lots of practice on the life drawing front, I'm still going out and doing lots of observational drawings, but I'm still stuck. Now, I don't think I even noticed this. Not quite. Not until my next change, but I see it now. And it's not always a bad place to be. In fact there's something quite exciting about being in that place.
Cos change is gonna come.
And, I love that. I love just knowing that.
3. One morning I woke up and just had an incredible urge to draw the Buxton Opera House. This surprised me. It surprised me because the thought of doing that before that point would have bored the pants off me. The place had been drawn and painted by every artist within a fifty mile radius of it over and over again. Quite rightly too, it's really beautiful. REALLY beautiful. But it's been drawn and painted to death. The idea of doing it just felt soooo predictable. So obvious. But this day I got up and I had a need to draw it. So, I did. Then I drew the town hall. Then the Palace Hotel. Then some of the gorgeous flats that overlooked the Opera House.....
And so I drew Buxton (I haven't got around to scanning them yet, so that's another post) until I'd drawn all of Buxton. It is only a small place. But now something was awakening.
4. And then came the Urban Sketchers Symposium, that just so happened to be in the city I work and the city that I see as a spiritual home. Manchester, the city where half of me is from (my mother's half).
Now, I've been a part of an urban sketching group (Yorkshire) for around four or five years, in fact, I now draw with two (Manchester), but I've never felt like much of an urban sketcher. My favourite outings were always the coffees shop ones. I'd always end up drawing details or people. So I always felt a bit of a incidental urban sketcher.
What the Symposium did for me was open my eyes to our amazing city and to share that and show off Manchester with people who love drawing as much as I do. I also discovered so many drawing opportunities. Around every corner there's a little surprise, a little gem, and I intend to draw them all. It was wonderful to share that with other sketchers. I've learnt a lot about the city. And about where I want my work to take me.
So, yeah, my drawing has changed. And for the first time in quite some time I'm loving what I'm doing again. That's a good feeling.
Just go with the flow kids. Don't get hung up or frustrated by your drawing funks. It'll all come around. It'll all come back around.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

to the moon and stars and back

Aw, I found this a drawing whilst looking for something else.  I made for my Art O Level  many many moons ago. Around thirty years ago. I did this and some studies of denim with blue ballpoints. I'd never have imagined then that I'd become known for drawing with a ballpoint pen. Or that I'd have a drawing of a pair of converse in ballpoint that would go viral. Although, I was a real dreamer so maybe I would have imagined that. Well, not the bit about it going viral. I couldn't have dreamt up the Internet. Even my imagination couldn't have come up with that!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

the most marvelous Roald Dahl

It has been brought to my attention that we are approaching what would have been Roald Dahl's 100th birthday.
 Yes, today I (and I'm guessing lots of other people in the UK) have been watching, and voting on, Roald Dahl's Most Marvellous Book; a programme that has taken a look back at all of his greats
Well, ten of them. Ten of his children's books that is, as, of course he also wrote for adults (we all remember Tales of the Unexpected, right?).
Not only has the programme reminded me as to what an amazingly ridiculously phizz-whizzingly whoopsy-whiffling genius he was, but it also reminded me of these drawings I made a few years ago.

I made twelve drawings that were used as backdrops for a production of James and the Giant Peach at the Buxton Festival.  And an extra one for the programme (top of post).
It was a really good excuse to re-read the book too. I find a lot of childhood favourites don't read quite as well (to say the least) when you're an adult. But Dahl's do. Try it.
As much as I love James and his Giant Peach it's not the most marvellous. That, of course, is Danny Champion of the World. Which is what I voted for, and which, incidentally, is also as good a read when you're grown up (ish).

(By the way, Matilda won the poll. But obviously everyone was wrong)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, August 26, 2016

have you ever daydreamed about improving your lettering?

So, where has all that time gone, huh? The last time I posted anything here my lettering course, over at Sketchbook Skool, was just about to start. Now, over a thousand students and nearly month of daily classes later, we're coming up to our final week. I hope all of those of you who signed up have learned lots and keep on playing with lettering. I know I'll keep pushing and pulling and squashing and stretching my lettering because there's just so many places to take it. Interesting in expanding your lettering? You can learn how to do this kind of stuff. Or interested in pushing your drawing for that matter, there are loads of brilliant courses at Sketchbook Skool. Right, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve for the final week...

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, August 05, 2016

Back to Skool

You know every now and then I catch up with the world. Or the rest of the world catches up with me. It's all about how you look at it, I suppose. Well, there seems to be a real thirst for creative lettering out there, and if you're feeling thirsty I have the answer for you. I have a brand new lettering course starting at Sketchbook Skool right NOW!!
A whole month of daily exercises that'll improve your hand lettering. So, if you'd like to find out how to do this....
or this....
or this...
then head on over HERE now. What are you waiting for?

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, June 10, 2016

the creative space

So here I am sat in my studio/workroom/office typing this. While I appreciate that may not be big news to you, it is to me. It's huge. Its profound, intense, overwhelming, fervent, ardent (yes, I'm just copying out of the thesaurus now). But it is BIG.
This is the first time ever that I have had a space designated to my work. Up until now I've balanced sketchbooks, laptops and Etsy orders on my knee on the settee or amongst printers, guillotines and plates on the kitchen table. But one of the benefits of holding an Open Studios (in my case open house) exhibition, which I did last week, is that it forces you to focus and get things in order.
That's been one of my problems since going self employed (well, since, always) is keeping focus. It's one of those things I didn't think about beforehand, but now that I have all the time to give to my art and to my business, how best should I use it? And, I'll be honest, the first year and half, of going freelance, has been trying to adjust to that and it hasn't been an easy thing.
My mind is always so FULL of stuff. It never switches off. Ever. It's just full of creative ideas, millions of them. I find being organised really really difficult. The ideas seem to get in the way of getting things done. But now I'm self employed I NEED to get things done because I need to make a living.
So, this is why actually making a room/space for my work has been so massive. I'm hoping it's going to help with how I manage my time and my business. I hope. And, I'm open too, and appreciative of, any other suggestions that may help me focus on the task at hand rather than the million little ideas knocking at the door wanting to take up my time.
Now, back to work.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, June 04, 2016

extreme procrastination by Andrea Joseph

So quick, while I'm on a roll, and before I notice, I'm going to blog. I'm only doing it to avoid doing something else, obviously. I've spent months procrastinating to avoid blogging and now I'm blogging to avoid doing something else I should be doing. We're all nuts though, right?
I get quite a lot of students studying my work. Which is ridiculous and fabulous at the same time. And, I often get asked to answer questions and stuff, but I really just do not have the time to answer all those individual questions. I'm sorry about that. If I had the time I would (or, actually, I'd probably like to answer them but, if the truth be told, I'd still avoid doing it because of my terrible case of procrastination). Here are some questions I've been asked recently and answered in a kind of less boring way than just typing them out on a keyboard.

So, if you are a student doing research, or just a person reading a blog, this is a little insight into how I work. Now, I'm going to press publish, or this post will sit in my drafts folder for the next few years. 
One last thing though, if you do go on to read all the nonsense in the drawing below and are curious as to whether I did actually finish the project that I was going to start and actually finish...
...of course I DIDN'T!
Have you learnt nothing???

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.