Monday, 8 April 2019


(Ink, Pentel Brush Pen and Posca Pen in 8x8 in sketchbook)

In March I spent six days in Belgium; first of all in Bruges, then in Leuven. They were both fascinating places to visit and I'd love to go there again. If only Brexit can be prevented from cutting us off completely from Europe. Or just prevented.

Being new to a place always makes it more likely that I'll spend the whole time there walking about, looking and photographing, rather than sketching. And so it was this time.

I'd love to go back, especially to Bruges, where I saw so much I'd want to draw. Oddly, rather than the buildings, the thing that stuck in my mind was the Flemish obsession with pollarding trees and I wish I'd taken more photographs of pollarding examples. I'd certainly make more of them were I able to do some drawing there.

Using one of only two photographs I took, I made this drawing today by quickly brushing in the shape with some ochre ink, then drawing over it with a Pentel Brush Pen. The cut ends of the branches were highlighted with a white Posca Pen.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Greek Butcher

The Greek Butcher
(acrylic and collage on board, 8x8 in)

With all these posts from last year's stay in Crete, there may be a temptation for my Regular Reader to think I've been doing no other work. To set the record straight, here's a painting I completed last week. 

The collage element in this one is simply the inside of an envelope used for the background pattern. 

It might be of interest if I show the photograph I used as source material. It took me a long time to find out what information I needed to extract from this photograph:

Monday, 18 March 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - On Kissamou Avenue

On Kissamou Avenue.
(Marker and watercolour in 195x195 mm sketchbook)

Moving away from the historical Old Town, I wandered into the more commercial and, I have to say, rather run down part of the new town. Kissamou Avenue is a very busy main road running out of town and just crossing it needs very careful timing but it led me to some lovely dilapidated properties.

When I started this drawing, there was a motorbike parked in front of the building. By the time I got to the bottom part of the drawing, the rider had driven off and a car had arrived and parked. Such are the difficulties of urban sketching.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - Potted Hydrangeas

Potted Hydrangeas
(Rotring Art Pen in 195x195 mm sketchbook)

Feeling a little lacking in energy, I decided to sit in the sun on our apartment's patio area. I can never sit still for long without wanting to do something, however, so I thought I'd draw the big pot of hydrangeas near me.

I started in the middle and gradually worked outwards. There's a kind of meditative tranquility that takes hold of me whenever I draw something that needs careful observation like this. Everything else ceases to exist.

I hadn't used my Art Pen in a long time because it had clogged up, but I thought I'd found a way to clean it out and really enjoyed using it again. Unfortunately, when I was done, there was ink all over my fingers and I had to retire it from use again.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - Lunch at Ntemek Cafe

Lunch at Ntemek Cafe
(Marker and coloured pencils 
in 195x195 mm sketchbook)

On a walk along the bay with Pat, we decided to stop for lunch at Ntemek Cafe. Sitting out front we could look across at the Mocenigo Bastion and enjoy our olives, slices of cucumber, and garlic bread, washed down with Brink's Rhethymnian Dark.

Pat was very patient and understanding in allowing me to draw the meal before we could eat it, but most of the colouring had to wait until we'd done.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - On the Walls of Chania

On the Walls of Chania
(mixed media in 195x195 mm sketchbook)

I went out onto the road along the Venetian wall again, but this time I'd made preparations. The sketchbook page was collaged with some pieces of brown paper bag and fragments from a magazine whose colours I knew ought to correspond to a house I had in mind to draw. I also had a folding stool so I could sit in the shade at the side of the road while the groups of tourists passed by on the other side.

Things went well; the colours worked just as I'd hoped and with watercolour, coloured pencils and markers I got what I wanted from the subject.  Just as I was wondering if there was more I might do, a man drove up and parked his car in front of me, then covered it with a tarpaulin, completely shutting off my view. I decided it was time to go, so stood up, but somehow I put pressure on one of the three legs of the stool, it bent and collapsed and I rolled around on my back in the dust.

Thankfully, the car driver had gone and there was a gap in the groups of tourists, so my embarrassment was a private affair.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - The House with Good Connection

The House with Good Connection
(markers, watercolour, and coloured pencils 
in 195x195 mm sketchbook)

A road runs along the top of the Venetian fortified walls near our apartment and I knew I wanted to draw some of the buildings that can be seen from that road. I've always liked being able to look down on buildings or get a view of the upper stories and this was a great opportunity. 

This house was on the street immediately inside the walls. No shade again, so I had to simply stand with my sketchbook resting on the parapet for around two hours, the sweat running down my neck from inside my straw hat. But it was worth it. I was able to include the details of the wires and pipes of the building and I especially loved the cable that ran from the downstairs apartment window up to the tv aerial. Hence the title, of course.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - From Ntemek Cafe

From Ntemek Cafe
(Marker in small square sketchbook)

Lunch at Ntemek Cafe, looking out over the bay towards the Mocenigo Bastion. We ate at the Ntemek several times, partly because they stocked the excellent Brink's beer, brewed in Rethymnon. 

The bay has a small beach and is popular with local swimmers (you might see one in the drawing).

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - Down Balantinou

Down Balantinou
(Markers in 195x195 sketchbook)

Balantinou was one of the streets we used most often to walk into the Old Town. It was just round the corner from the apartment and skirted the Schiavo Bastion, built by the Venetians as part of the city fortifications.

On the left of this drawing is a ramp leading up to the top of the Bastion. For about a week after we arrived the ramp was closed off because of a landslide, but the demand from people wanting to get a view of the town from the top soon led to a dismantling of the fence; whether officially or not, who can say?

The landslide had fallen onto the road, which meant it was closed to traffic, so I was able to stand in the middle of the road to draw. In doing so, I was much safer than if I'd stood on the pavement, because that was being used by all the local motorcyclists in the absence of a road.

The taverna canopies belong to the Banana Garden and the blue dome in the background is on the top of the Roman Catholic Church.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - Shrine and Bell

Shrine and Bell
(Markers and coffee stain in 195x195 mm sketchbook)

This little shrine stands in front of the old buildings in Chania I drew earlier, but rather than stand in the sun this time, I was able to find a sheltered door where I could sit on the step and draw. Only now and then did I have to pull my legs in to avoid being crushed by cars and motorbikes.

The page for this drawing was prepared by having cold coffee spilled over it - deliberately - before leaving the apartment. I knew the stain produced would be similar to the colour of the buildings and I was pleased to find I was able to work with it well.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - Old Town Laundry

Old Town Laundry, Chania
(Markers and watercolour in 195x195 mm sketchbook)

Another afternoon in the hot sun. Urban sketching in Chania can be difficult from the point of view of finding a shaded spot that affords a view worth drawing.

Why is the Laundry sign in English rather than Greek? I imagine it's because, being a tourist town, the people who need a laundromat are tourists and English is the language of tourism.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - Old Buildings

Old Buildings, Chania
(Black marker across two pages of 195x195 mm sketchbook)

Allowing myself more time, this drawing was completed while I sweated in the sunlight standing near these old buildings. I knew the buildings from previous visits to Chania and had them in mind when making plans for the trip. 

I started on the right hand page, them continued the drawing onto the left hand page.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Two Months in Crete : Sketch - Nea Chora Beach

Nea Chora Beach
(Markers and coloured pencils in small square sketchbook)

Last year, Pat and I decided to carry out a plan we'd thought about for quite some: we'd find an apartment abroad and spend as long as possible there, me painting and drawing, Pat reading and sitting in the sun.

We settled on an apartment in Chania, just outside the old town. We've grown to love Chania over the years and it has a very special place in our hearts. The apartment gave us easy access to the Old Town and Venetian Harbour, had a kitchen and bathroom, a patio and garden to sit out in and a good big table to work on indoors.  Just round the corner was a very good supermarket and, of course, there are more restaurants than you can shake a stick at (should that be your favoured method of counting restaurants). We were there from the end of August to the end of October, the weather was great and it wasn't long before we felt perfectly at home. 

Walking out right at the beginning of our stay, we had lunch in a taverna overlooking the beach at Nea Chora, the new harbour. Determined to make a success of this working holiday, I got out my little square sketchbook and made a start.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Old Buildings, Chania

Old Buildings, Chania
(mixed media on board, 12 x 12 in)

Finished about a week ago, this painting is based on some buildings near where Pat and I stayed on Crete last year. There's a big post needed to deal with that, as I've hinted before, but this isn't the time for it. 

This picture was long in the making because I'm going through a quite experimental (for me) period of trying out new materials and methods. For this I used acrylic paint, Posca Pens, FW Acrylic Ink, a bottle of dye with no label on it, tissue paper, and collage papers. It was a fascinating, if messy, experience.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Sketch Crawl : St Thomas's Church, Newcastle

George Cross Island Assoc. Window
(Black marker and coloured pencil in A5 sketchbook)

On Saturday, the Tyne & Wear Urban Sketchers met up in St Thomas's Church in the Haymarket. I was a little late in getting there and some of the sketchers were already thinking of moving on to McKenna's Cafe at Northern Stage. 

I'd never been in St Thom's before and was surprised at how small it seemed inside: bigger on the outside than inside, a sort of inverse Tardis.

Maybe because I've been painting figures recently, I was attracted to a stained glass window commemorating the Siege of Malta and sat down in a pew to draw part of it.

I was interested enough in the window to look it up online later. It was designed by Helen Whittaker of Barley Studio in York and it's interesting to note that Barley Studio were responsible for making and installing the new window in Westminster Abbey, designed by David Hockney.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Sketch Crawl : Back to the Ouseburn

The Old Chimney, Ouseburn
(Black marker in A5 sketchbook)

OK, I know I'm late in posting and everything seems to be becoming confused. Must do better.

The winter weather wasn't terribly conducive to outdoor sketching and I missed at least one sketch crawl (to Durham in January), but this drawing was made in December. We met in the Cafe at the Ouseburn Farm where hot chocolate and coffee made forays to draw outdoors possible. Some sketchers didn't even brave the outdoors, choosing to sit in the warm cafe and draw the view through the windows, but I decided to draw the Lime Street Chimney. The chimney was built in the late 1840s originally as part of a steam operated flax mill designed by John Dobson, the building now known as Cluny Warehouse.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Maris Pipers

Maris Pipers
(acrylic on board, 12 x 12 in)

The first painting of the new year continues my interest in market stalls and found still lifes.

Belated best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all my Regular Reader. And here I must apologise to those kind people who've taken the bother to comment on my posts in recent months. Somehow the system didn't notify me of those comments so I wasn't aware of them until today and only now have they been published. And here was I bemoaning the apparent lack of interest in my blog posts!

In the next few days I'll be looking at the comments and writing replies where appropriate and then I have to make some catching up posts. A great deal happened between August and November and the work needed to post adequately overwhelmed me. 

I shall make amends. Don't give up on Boogie Street - your comments and interest mean a lot.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Christmas Exhibition

Something to put in your diary. I'll have up to eight of my paintings in this Xmas show.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Sketch Crawl : The Ouseburn again

The Toffee Factory
(markers in A5 sketchbook)

Bus problems on Saturday meant I arrived at the Cycle Hub just as the other Urban Sketchers were leaving to search out subjects. I should perhaps have followed them to the mouth of the Ouseburn to draw the boats berthed there because I do like a nice boat when I find one. Instead, however, I walked up the hill, past the Free Trade Inn and tried a view from up there. No joy, mainly because the buddleia has grown wild there and obscures the enticing view of the Toffee Factory.

Walking down a dodgy flight of stairs, I found myself back on the footpath by the Ouseburn where Michael was hard at work on a drawing of the Barrage. I've drawn the Barrage before, but the bench Michael was on gave a decent view of the Toffee Factory, so I settled on both the bench and the view. 

I realised there were too many trees for comfort and vowed to make an effort in future to work up a few different marks for sketching trees to avoid the somewhat generic trees I always end up with in my drawings. To lend a bit of difference to the shrubbery, I used a purple marker to colour the long flower spikes (they're called pannicles) on the buddleia.

Part of the Barrage
(0.5 marker in A5 sketchbook)

After making arrangements to meet up with the others for coffee at Kiln, I decided to do something about a subject I'd looked at last time we were there but had to leave because of rain. It's a bit of the Barrage that serves some useful function I've yet to determine; I guess it rises with the tide, so maybe it's just a buffer to prevent boats from running into the Barrage. 

I like the odd shapes of this thing and happily drew it, then found myself quite involved in the stones partly submerged in river mud. I'm always in my element with odd objects, stones and mud.

The coffee was good in Kiln and we were eventually able to all gather round a long table for a show-and-tell, although the numbers did mean conversation was a bit limited to those immediately to hand. Sadly, Kim wasn't able to be there, so no group photo this time.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Six Cakes

Six Cakes
(mixed media, 22 x 22.5 cm)

Also finished today. I like how this has turned out and it fits quite well into the "Collection Series" (which has just come into being) along with the recent caps, bags etc.

Good enough to eat? It's been said already, but not by me because I'm not much into eating fancy cakes.

Streetfighting Men

Streetfighting Men
(mixed media on board, 10x10 in)

Today I decided it was time to get some of these outstanding paintings finished. Why they've proven so awkward at the closing stages, I really can't decide. I know the man in the white tee shirt has had several faces, none of which convinced me, but I'm relatively comfortable with this one. Anyway, it's all done now.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Studio 4, Tweed Street

Studio 4, Tweed Street, Berwick
(0.5 marker in A5 sketchbook)

After a week of great weather, it was disappointing see the forecast for Friday's trip to Berwick-Upon-Tweed showing "showers". Seven members of Gateshead Art Society had signed up for the ride in a people carrier, hired and driven by Allan, to see what we might find to do in Berwick. My plan, of course, was to do more urban sketching.

We parked the car on the south side of the Tweed and walked across the Old Bridge, then split up. I know Berwick slightly, but had no real idea what I wanted to draw, so wandered off up the hill, past the Town Hall and eventually stopped across the street from this curio shop in Tweed Street.The sky was already threatening and a handy doorway nearby added attraction to the view.

The woman in the shop (not the one in the drawing!) was still arranging her treasures outside on the pavement and every now and then I'd look up to find that the suitcase had moved from one side of the door to the other and the rugs in the basket had changed pattern. Luckily, the puffin (?) balanced on the table balanced on another table stayed put.

The rain started before I'd finished and I had to shelter in the doorway until it stopped and I could make my final additions. By then, I have to admit I was feeling the cold and the thought of something to eat was comforting, despite it being quite early, so I headed back down the hill towards the river.

The skies opened before I reached the Granary Gallery and by the time I was in and looking at a very nice collection of work by women artists, including Dame Laura Knight, Dod Procter and Mary Fedden, I was very glad of my umbrella.

With no sign of the rain letting up, I went downstairs to the YHA Granary Bistro and over a falafel and mozzarella panini, fiddled with the Studio 4 drawing. I probably overworked it, but it kept me amused.

On the way back to the car, with the rain having moved off, I suddenly realised the Dockside Gallery was just along the road from the car park and had a few minutes to chat there before my mobile rang calling me back.

It rained quite a lot on the way home, but Gateshead had been spared.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Grainger Market Sketch Crawl

No.82, Grainger Market
(0.5 marker over two pages of A5 sketchbook)

Last Wednesday, as part of Bardon Mike's Grainger Market Arts Residency project, 28 artists were in the Market frantically drawing things, and I was one of them.

I had to wait for a very large man with a can of pop to vacate the seat outside The Weighhouse that I'd used the week before, but I was keen to complete the drawing of  the clothes shop at No.82. For a while I thought he was there for the day, but eventually I was able to sit down and finish drawing the left hand page of the sketchbook. I tried to show the nice lady in the shop what I'd done, but she was on the phone again and just waved.

Hunters Deli, Grainger Market
(0.5 marker in A5 sketchbook)

After lunch, I found myself sitting next to another sketcher whose name I failed to learn (sorry!) on a bench opposite Hunters Deli. I'd looked at this subject earlier while waiting for the man with the can of pop to move and had discounted it as being a bit boring, but moving to the other end of the bench gave me a different perspective - I was taken with the sausages and bearing in mind my Mam used to do some part time work for Hunters (a Gateshead branch) when I was little, I decided to immortalise the sausages, jars of jam and Maysan curry packets.

I hadn't intended to attempt the assistants behind the counter but for a moment one of them hovered in front of me and I shoved her in. later the other woman stood at the phone for a little while, so she got caught up in it too. When they asked to see the drawings, one of them said "You haven't got all my chins in!"

Friday, 3 August 2018

The Queue Grows Bigger

South Shields Boatyard WIP
(mixed media on board, 12 x 12 in.)

I suppose one of the reasons so many pictures are lining up waiting to be finished, is that, with acrylic, it doesn't just sit on the palette allowing me to stick a brush in and work with it whenever I like. It dries up and I have to put out more paint from the tubes.

To avoid the need to put out a little paint to finish off a painting, I'm inclined to put out enough paint to start a new one, then use some of that paint to finish off a waiting picture. At least that's the plan; what tends to happen is that I push on with the new picture until I run out of time to do anything else.

Oh well, who said the life of a painter would be easy?

This new painting is not making me happy, at least not yet. I started it the way some painters do, by applying pieces of collage papers to a ground, then working into them to get at the image I'd decided on. I'm not sure that's a method that works for me. I'd rather have started with paint, then applied collage as appropriate. As it is, I have some areas I'm uncomfortable with: the thinner papers have buckled ( a brayer may fix that) and there are edges showing that I find distracting (whether other viewers would do so, I'm unsure).

I think what I need to do is proceed on the assumption that it has a long way to go and more layers need to be added to give a more complex surface. If, in the end, I really don't like it, I'll at least have learned something from the process.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Sketcher in Residence

"Where the Best costs Less"
(0.5 marker in A5 sketchbook)

To my surprise, Bardon Mike recently announced funding for a project in Newcastle's Grainger Market that would allow him to appoint a Sketcher in Residence each week from late in July through August. I was lucky enough to be the second such Sketcher in Residence.

I was given three hours to draw whatever took my fancy in the Market and after getting over the feeling that there was just too much to choose from, I settled down on a bench opposite what used to be called The Weighhouse and started to draw. For those interested, I began with the top part of the scales and worked out from there, although the nice lady who was serving moved around quite a bit so her head had to be quickly put in and her body added a bit later.

Once you get into the flow of this sort of drawing, it becomes simply a matter of deciding on a shape of a bottle or a packet of crisps, then repeating as necessary.

When I was done, I took the drawing into the shop and spoke to the man who'd replaced the woman at the till by then. I didn't want him to think I was doing something suspicious by staring at the shop for so long, but it turned out he'd been given a leaflet by someone and knew what I was about. He did seem to think it was odd that I "just wandered about all day drawing whatever took [my] fancy," but what could I say? That is what  do.

No.82, Grainger Market
(0.5 marker in A5 sketchbook)

My second drawing of the afternoon was a greater challenge. Before beginning I decided to speak to the Asian woman in the shop in case she became worried by my stares, but all she said was "As long as you don't put me in!" Not a promise I could really make, so I said she's be in it, but only incidentally.

I sat on a bench outside The Weighhouse - the place where people get weighed, not where they get their cereal weighed! - and began the drawing with the £5.00 sign, then left to the till and the woman, now busy on her mobile phone.

While I was sitting drawing a man came and sat down and ate his rather strong-smelling lunch (I don't know what it was, but I wasn't tempted). After she'd gone, I was joined by a heavily pregnant young woman and two young men, all drinking from cans. One of the problems of having no sight in my left eye is that I couldn't glance leftwards to see if it was alcohol they were drinking. Is alcohol even allowed in the Market? I don't know, but I needn't have worried. They chatted to one another about the supply of blueys, who might get sorted out when they were in prison, what had happened to one of their PIP payments and which children of one of the blokes were actually his; and then the woman apologised for brushing crumbs off her front and knocking my arm. 

Throughout, I kept on drawing and the lady of the shop came and checked on my progress. When it was done, she took a photo of it with her phone and showed it to one of the Market staff who said "You'll be in trouble if your boss sees it and you're on the phone!"

I promised to take her a print of the drawing.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Sketch Crawl - Tall Ships Festival, Sunderland

"Headwind", River Wear
(markers and coloured pencils over two pages of A5 sketchbook)

The heatwave continued on Saturday, so when I arrived at the National Glass Centre to meet up with the other Urban Sketchers I was faced with the now usual problem of finding no shade. No shade, and nowhere that wasn't full of people. There are seats along the quay near the Glass Centre, of course, but they were understandably occupied and even were they to become vacant, I realised that sitting on them would provide no view of the Tall Ships because the railing in front of the seats were fully taken up with sightseers leaning on them.

I do find that when I go to an event like this that I go with a certain mindset, such that if I can't find somewhere to draw what I've gone there to draw, I can't simply decide to draw something entirely different. For a while, I sat on the only sofa in the Glass Centre and worked up enthusiasm for drawing a display case containing two oddly shaped pieces of glassware, beyond which I could also see some diners in the cafe. As soon as I got out my sketchbook and pen, someone came through the door and stood in front of the display case and took root. 

I did a lot of walking around that day, trying to find a space among the crowds that would afford a decent view of one of the Tall Ships, but one by one the ships upped anchor and sailed out to sea. Their departure seemed like an echo of having to say a sad goodbye to Jenny that day, as she gets ready to return to China.

After a coffee in the cafe, we decided we might as well call it a day. Michael, of course, had drawn several sketches, but even his Tall Ship was rather perfunctory. The surprise of the day was Kim's nicely coloured sketch of one of the ships.

I really, really don't like going home from a sketch crawl without getting anything done, so just as I reached the path that takes me away from the quayside, I saw this little boat at rest and a completely empty stretch of railing. Taking the opportunity, I was able to go home relatively content.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Streetfighting Men WIP

(Photo taken in Dubrovnik)

(Sketch worked up in Photoshop from traced photo)

(WIP, with some paint and collage added)

This is a painting long in the gestation. I took the photo on holiday in Dubrovnik in 2012; the men were quite a long way off and the photo definition was really poor. So poor that when I tried to enlarge it in Photoshop it became hopelessly pixellated and I gave up on using it for a few years.

More recently, I bought a lightbox and tried tracing the printed photograph, scanned the tracing into Photoshop and then added some colour.

The next stage was to square it up on a 10 x 10 in. board, then add some collage. For that I dug out an old piece of an etching I'd saved from the Print Room bin at University (30 years ago!) - hence the curious round shapes at the right produced by someone's finger print on the etching plate's soft ground.

At the left I stuck down a torn fragment of a sheet that had contained a Gestetner stencil (science fiction fans will know all about those!) I'd use to produce a fanzine even longer ago. Who said stuff doesn't come in useful?

The stairs in the foreground have been started with some pieces of paper torn from a Sunday magazine supplement. 

The collage additions have produced a few challenges for the development of the painting. Hurrah! I like a challenge.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

The London Bookbarge

The London Bookbarge
(acrylic on board, 12 x 12 in)

On a recent trip to London, we went for a walk along the Regent's Canal towpath and came across the wonderful Word on the Water - The London Bookbarge. Taking a few photographs, I knew there was a special painting there, and so it proved to be.

This is possibly the most abstract painting I've done, yet, of course, it isn't abstract at all. It's just that all the shapes and marks suggest an abstract. I like it a lot and am pleased to find the owners of the Bookbarge like it too.

Just a note about the materials: although it is an acrylic painting, I used quite a few Posca Pens and resorted again to some old Letraset for the signage.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Sketch Crawl - The Hoppings, Newcastle Town Moor

Closed Teapot Ride
(0.5 marker in A5 sketchbook)

With the return of the annual Hoppings to Newcastle's Town Moor last month, I thought it was an opportunity to invite a few Tyne and Wear Urban Sketchers to a mid-week sketch crawl. Unusually for Hoppings week, we had glorious sunshine and although drawing in the middle of the day before the funfair opened at 2 o'clock meant few people were about, it also meant a serious absence of shade. 

To be honest, I'd forgotten what a visual overload the Hoppings presents, with complicated rides and stalls, all garishly decorated. The challenge was to find the basic shapes and include only sufficient decoration to make the drawing work.

After a short walk around, I stood in the shade of a closed stall and drew a teapot ride, also closed. I saw it later after it had opened up for business and realised how difficult it would have been to draw then.

(0.5 marker in A5 sketchbook)

A little later, I decided it might be fun to capture some of the prizes hanging up on the stalls. Standing again in the shade of a closed stall, I drew these stuffed animals on offer as prizes on a "lucky number" stall. After a while, the man who'd been hanging up these soft toys, walked past me and I could sense he was standing behind. I ignored him and a few minutes later he went back to his job, shaking his head.

Helter Skelter
(0.5 marker, brushpen and coloured pencils in A5 sketchbook)

After a break for regrouping, a sit down with chips and fizzy drinks (by which time our original seven or eight had reduced to three), I set off with Luigi to take a look at the top end of the funfair before setting off for home. I'd just about decided that the long hot afternoon had worn me out but decided at the last minute to give the helter skelter a go. Standing in the shade of the back of a burger van, I did this last drawing. I got so involved with it that I found I was prepared to take the time to add colour with a red brushpen and some coloured pencils.

Then back home, reflecting on the fact that unlike my boyhood visits to the Hoppings when coconuts and goldfish were the prizes on most stalls, the goldfish were thankfully gone and there was a stall advertising that it was the only place to get a coconut, which you had to pay for.

No boxing booth, naked ladies or freak shows either, but we live in different times.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Sketch Crawl - Saltwell Park return.

Pets Corner, Saltwell Park
(0.8 marker across two pages of A5 sketchbook)

For a change, we had a beautifully sunny day for our sketch crawl return to Saltwell Park. Sun, of course, poses its own problems for sketchers, in that you either have to be prepared to stand out in it and slowly melt, or hunt for a place in shade and hope that affords a subject worth drawing.

I wandered around for a while, then found myself in an area of shade overlooking Pets Corner. People came and went, so I included a couple of them, but mostly I was concentrating on reducing some of the complex brick decoration to what you see here. I seem to have abandoned the A4 sketchbook completely now, but may have to think about using a finer point marker in the smaller A5 book.

After the drawing session, and after my foot had ceased being numb (standing in one spot on a slope does that, I find), it was back to Bewicks Cafe in Saltwell Towers for coffee and a splendid photograph of the usual suspects (and some new ones).

(Photo: Kim Willis)