Friday, 8 June 2018

Boat at Craster

A couple of years ago I was on holiday in Northumberland, a most magnificent part of the country. As well as visiting the more famous locations such as Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, and the wealth of stunning castles in the area such as Bamburgh Castle, I searched out some of the small fishing villages on the coast. One of them was this jewel in the crown called Craster.

Craster has a very small harbour and I found only a handful of small boats, mostly beached on the overgrown pebble and shale beach. I spent the most wonderful couple of hours strolling out onto the harbour wall with my camera snapping shots of the boats and seagulls (I just have to take photo's of seagulls in flight - lol) and then sitting on an old wooden bench where my wife and I enjoyed a cold drink and a sandwich. This pen and ink drawing is of the view we had from that bench. I would add that drawing it now has brought it all back much more vividly than simply looking at the photo's again.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018


While doing this drawing of a Rhinoceros I had serious doubts about some really bad habits that I've allowed to creep into my technique. Not for the first time I've been very conscious of how much blending I do. I'd go as far as to say I draw more with my tortillions than I do with my pencils. I'm aware that over blending flattens the tooth in the paper and leads to more 'graphite shine' so it's not necessarily a good thing to do to excess. That said, it's become an essential part of how I draw so that raises other questions in my mind, mainly, if the end result is acceptable then how much does the process of how we get there matter? What are your thoughts on Technique versus Results?

I took a photo of this grazing Rhino at the West Midlands Safari Park a couple of years ago with the express purpose of capturing him in graphite, which just goes to show I get there in the end. LOL.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Paddle Steamer

Yet again I find myself posting here after a long absence. Though I am still very enthusiastic about my art, it seems I never actually sit down and do any. I find time to keep my Art Forum up-to-date, feeding it with posts, topics and projects, and I constantly tweak and maintain my Art website where I've recently spent a huge amount of time making it fully 'responsive', which is tech-speak for "suitable for mobile devices of all types and sizes", but when it comes to picking up pens, pencils or brushes it just doesn't happen. Is this what they call "artists block" .... the interest to draw or paint but lacking the 'drive' to actually do anything?

Anyway, recently I felt a sudden urge to do something art-wise and felt drawn (excuse the pun) to the idea of doing a pen drawing of an old fashioned, shallow draft, Mississippi-style Paddle Steamer. I found a suitable reference photo and dusted off my set of Micron pens. I really enjoyed the process and the drawing was completed much too quickly. Now I have the urge to draw an old Farm Tractor in a similar way .... but will I actually do it? LOL.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


For quite a long while now I have been absent from blogland partly due to the loss of my mojo and partly due to a lack of time, however, I've recently had two events that have spurred me on to doing some art again. Firstly, after a long absence from my blog, I was staggered to receive an enquiring post from one of my followers, Hilda Muxo Klinger. To say I was very touched is an understatement. Thank you Hilda. The second event was a commission.

In October 2015, my sister and her husband, Ian, were out together when he suddenly collapsed. An ambulance was called but despite the determined efforts of the paramedics my brother-in-law never regained consciousness. He had shown no signs of illness and was a very active 63-year old. His loss came as a massive shock to us all and my sister was devastated, the suddenness robbing her of any opportunity to say 'goodbye'.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister asked me if I felt like tackling a portrait of Ian. At times like this our 'mojo' is irrelevant and I said I'd be happy to do a pencil portrait for her. Suitable reference photo's were hard to find and none showed his eyes as anything other than black blobs, which showed no life. However, a little artistic licence allowed me to create some 'sparkle' and detail where the photo's had none. I have been quite anxious about doing such an important portrait but today I handed the framed portrait to my sister and I was delighted with her response..... she was thrilled.

And now, with the portrait finished, I find myself wondering "What's next?". That's a good sign, right? But first of all I'm off to have a look at some of Hilda's wonderful pastels.  ;-)

Monday, 27 February 2017

A little nostalgia

Once upon a time, as a young teenager, my friends and I used to go train-spotting. Sometimes, as a special treat, we would take a packed lunch and catch a train ride to another station a stop or two down the line so we could 'spot' other trains. One very regular engine on those runs was an Ivatt class, 2MT 2-6-2T No 41218.  It was built at Crewe works in September 1948 and remained in service until July 1965 when it was withdrawn and ultimately scrapped.

My brother-in-law/cousin is a keen train enthusiast with a substantial model layout in his spare room. He also used to train spot at the same time as I did and it was reminiscing with him that inspired me to want to do a drawing of this fondly remembered engine. Fired with interest I did some googling and found a couple of photo's of similar engines (different numbers but the same class) online. I used them for reference to recreate engine 41218 in graphite. 

It's been a long time since I last did anything like this and I thoroughly enjoyed every second.

N.B. For any beginners interested I've posted a series of Work-in-progress photo's on my web site.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Best Xmas present ever

There are significant medical reasons why I never expected to ever be a grandparent, and I'm not going to elaborate on them in such a public arena, but suffice it to say it was something I never dare dream of. Which is why, when my daughter Tracy gave birth to a bonny bouncing baby girl on Tuesday, December 13th, it really did feel like a miracle. 

"Holly Evelyn" weighed in at 6lbs 12ozs and mother and baby are both doing very well. Husband and new father Darren is doing a sterling job of looking after the girls in his life and I'm immensely proud of them all. 

My wife and I have a bauble on our christmas tree for each close family member, and both of our dearly loved and long-passed dogs, Sally and Tess, so it was with huge joy and a bursting heart that I added one more bauble to the tree this year.

We will be spending a few days with Tracy, Darren and Holly over Christmas and I have a sneaky feeling that Santa's sack is going to be quite a lot heavier than usual.

Whatever you're doing this Christmas, and whoever you're doing it with, I wish you the very best of Christmases and hope your dreams can come true too. 

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Pen with Ink washes

LOL. I started this post with the words "It's been a long time since I last posted....." but then noticed my previous post which started the exact same way. Thing is, while non-arty matters initially got in the way of my art, over time I totally lost my mo-jo. Even when I did find myself with time for art, I was totally devoid of the slightest inclination. Those of you who've experienced it will know just how it feels. 

For some odd reason, a few weeks ago I started thinking about how ink might be diluted in water to create an ink wash. After a while I decided I just had to have a go to see what the effect would be. I haven't done any research or looked things up online, I thought I'd just jump in and discover things for myself. Having found a suitable subject I spent time doing a pen drawing which would provide the framework and detail to which the ink washes could then be added. 

The pen work was fairly routine for me as it's my favourite medium anyway but I found the excitement mounting as I neared the final stage of adding the washes. I obviously didn't make too many pen marks where I knew the washes would be. Estimating the ratio of ink to water involved a lot of guess work but that was half the fun. Where I got a real buzz was when I dropped neat ink into still wet paler washes. Watching the ink bleed and teasing it into the right places with my brush was amazing and I absolutely love the purple tints that magically appeared in some places. I imagine that different inks will cause different colour separation so I'm keen to try various inks. If any of you have experience with inks in this way I'd love to hear from you.