Monday, 24 February 2020

Bridlington Lifeboat

Five years ago I attempted a drawing of the Flamborough Lifeboat based on a photograph by photographer Paul Berriff, with his kind permission. Paul also gave me permission to use two other photographs, one of the mfv Galatea in a Force Ten gale and a third one which is the subject of this blog post.

It's been quite a while since I last had time for any serious art and when an opportunity presented itself recently I felt I needed something dramatic and challenging to get my teeth into. To add to the 'challenge' I decided to post frequent work-in-progress posts both in my art forum and on Facebook. Confidence in my art has always been a big issue for me and there's no better way to challenge self-belief than show off your work before it's finished.

The subject is of the Bridlington Lifeboat heading out in gale force winds to the aid of a fishing boat. The entire picture has been drawn with a 2B pencil. I used my favourite Rotring Rapid Pro mechanical pencils, one with 0.5mm lead and the other with 0.7mm. I also used a regular 2B pencil for the sea so I could use the flat edge of the lead rather than the point. The paper is Daler Rowney Heavyweight 135lbs A3 size. For anyone interested, the various stages of the drawing can be seen in the Work-In-Progress section of my web site.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Rainbow Trout

The weather here is not very good today and the constant rain and gusty winds are keeping me indoors, yet again. I've decided to have a 'lazy' day today and spend the time in my Den-cum-Study-cum-Office-cum-Studio and get some art done.

It's been quite a while since I last painted anything using watercolours so I decided to dust off my brushes for the latest Painting Project in my art forum. I confess to struggling somewhat with the colours and tried to add multiple layers of paint which seemed to be the perfect way to create lots of green muddy gunk. As it happens, though the painting isn't as 'fresh' as I would have liked, the finished article doesn't actually look as bad as I thought it would.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Midhope Castle

A long time ago I purchased a book by Clive Holmes called "Northamptonshire: A portrait in Pen & Ink". The book is Clive's 'view' of the buildings in Northamptonshire as seen through his Pen & Ink drawings. I was a little interested in the local architecture and history of the county but much more interested in Clive's drawings. As a keen Pen & Ink fan I wanted to examine his technique and skills at my leisure.

Though most of his technique seemed fairly standard I noticed he rarely used hatching, as I do, so I was particularly interested in how he achieved his tonal values. One of the things that jumped out at me was his occasional use of 'dots' to achieve some of the mid-tones, especially where there was little texture to be drawn. I decided this was something I'd like to try some time.

The latest Monthly Painting & Drawing Project in my art forum is of Midhope Castle, commonly called 'Lallybroch', which is used in the 'Outlander' series. This gave me the perfect opportunity to 'go dotty' and play with this new technique. I have to say it is a very time consuming method of shading but varying dot density to achieve different tones was relatively simple. I'm not convinced yet that this approach is something I'll try again, but if I do it will be restricted to certain small area's within a drawing rather than the whole study. I'd love to hear what you think. ;-)

Thursday, 16 May 2019


Some time ago I was looking at my Gorilla drawing and quite liking the close-cropped tight composition and I decided I'd like to try another one. As I said in my Gorilla post I very much liked the intense blacks achievable with charcoal (as opposed to the greys of graphite) so I also fancied working in charcoal again.

Looking for a suitable subject I came across this Tiger. I briefly contemplated doing a black & white study but decided it wouldn't be the same without colour. The end result of my deliberations was to tackle a close-cropped Tiger portrait using pastels (Faber Castell Pastel Pencils to be precise). It's taken much longer to produce than I'd expected but I know more about pastels now than I did. LOL.  ;-)

Friday, 29 March 2019

Radiating Fog

First of all, just a brief update on why I haven't posted for over 6 months..... we've moved home. After 18-months of braving the roadwork-ridden motorway to travel 120 miles each way to see our granddaughter, we decided to move into the area. So the last 6 months have been crazy as we first threw everything we possessed into a few hundred (so it seemed) cardboard boxes, moving to our new home just 1 week before Xmas, and then unpacking and getting ourselves settled into a new way of life. We now live on the edge of the Pennines just north of Sheffield and it is hugely different from where we've come from.

Now to the drawing. From time to time I see an image or scene that I just know I have to try and draw regardless of how difficult or unappealing (hang-ability) it may be. I feel almost compelled to tackle it no matter how doubtful I may feel about the outcome. It happened to me again a while ago when I saw some online footage of Radiating Fog swirling around a church. Initially I dismissed the notion to try and draw the scene and didn't really have the time, but recently time has been easier to find and the urge to do the drawing was still as strong. It was good to finally have my pencils out again.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Force Ten

Quite a long time ago I came across a photograph by Paul Berriff of a Lifeboat in rough seas and felt compelled to draw it. I contacted Paul and he was happy to give his permissions and some of you may remember the final picture... "Flamborough Lifeboat 1971". Recently I've had the urge to do another powerful pencil drawing so went back to Paul's site to see what was there. I discovered a dramatic photo of mfv Galatea, a fishing boat, battling huge waves in a raging sea. Paul again kindly granted permission for me to use it, so here it is. The original photo contains chains and railings from the boat on which Paul was standing when he took the photo but I've left those out to increase the sense of isolation of the Galatea.

Paul's original photo contains many really dark tones, almost complete black, and as any pencil user knows, such deep blacks are next to impossible to achieve. Following on from my recent "Gorilla" drawing I did consider tackling this picture in Charcoal but I think (no, I know) that would be a step to far for me. What I am now considering is adding darker tones to this drawing using charcoal just where needed. I'm concerned about how well the charcoal will 'take' on top of already shiny graphite so I need to do some serious experimenting first. If any of you have experience of charcoal over graphite I'd love to hear from you.

The original photo and more of Paul's work can be seen on his website 

Friday, 3 August 2018

Wray Castle, Cumbria

Not an exciting picture and certainly not one of my best, but I had the urge to have another go at painting with Ink washes. I just love the way the ink separates on the paper and I find trying to 'control' that in a meaningful way quite interesting. I chose the subject primarily because of it's mixture of straight hard edges, curvy mid-tones and light fluffy shapes, all of which combine to put the "ink applicator" (me!!) through it's paces.

The object of the session was to 'play with ink' and I'm annoyed that I didn't pay more attention to the initial drawing stage. The straight edges to the hexagonal towers could have been more intelligently handled and some of my verticals are far from it .... vertical. And that lack of care initially has spoiled what might otherwise have been an acceptable painting. Still, the 'play with ink' part of the session worked and I really enjoyed the process even though I don't think I had quite as much 'control' over the ink as I would have liked.