Saturday 16 July 2016

St John Lee

St John Lee Churchyard
(0.5 Micron marker in A5 sketchbook)

Occasionally, the North of England Art Club organises a day out for members to do some drawing, painting, whatever. This used to happen a lot a few years ago but the main instigators have fallen by the wayside. Pity, because they used to be good fun. Still, here was one on Monday and off I went in a friend's car.

I've seen the road sign to "St John Lee" hundreds of times: it's on the roundabout on the main road just north of Hexham, but I knew nothing more than that.

It turned out to be a really nice little church tucked away in the depths of the country with a long hut nearby that they hire out for groups such as ours. By the time I got there, Ian was setting up his table outside to begin cooking sausages, so I wandered around the church and graveyard taking a few photographs until the sausage sandwiches were ready.

Two sausage sandwiches later, I was off into the graveyard to draw these headstones. The one in the foreground was an interesting lesson in the general impossibility of immortality. After the quite easily read inscription of ERECTED IN MEMORY OF, the stone had almost completely eroded away and the details of the person were pretty much indecipherable.

Just as I finished the drawing, the call came for cups of tea, lemon drizzle and Victoria sponge cakes. Sometimes food can be a great distraction to the struggling artist, so no more drawing was done. 

But here's a photograph of a stone with Neolithic cup and ring marks I found just inside the door of the church.

Friday 15 July 2016

Sketch Crawl #11 : Ouseburn Farm

"Sea Song Sang",Ouseburn
(0.5 Micron marker in A4 sketchbook)

Ouseburn Farm Giraffes
(0.5 Micron marker and Pentel Brush Pen
 in A4 sketchbook)

Last Saturday was my eleventh Sketch Crawl and we'd decided to return to the Ouseburn. Last time we were there it rained constantly and we had to spend most of our time looking round the open studios in 36 Lime Street and my heart sank a little when I checked the weather forecast the night before: more rain.

No need to worry, however; the weather was very kind and only a brief shower interrupted us, so I was able to get done the drawing of the little "Sea Song Sang" boat that sits on the Ouseburn below the windows of the Seven Stories cafe. I'd wanted to draw that last time but without shelter from the rain it was impossible. Good to be able to do it this time then.

After a short regrouping to decide what to do with the rest of the afternoon, we went out to draw again. This time I had a good look round the Ouseburn Farm and found an interesting view of the railway and road arches, together with some plants and two concrete giraffes (sorry to disillusion anyone who thought there might be wild giraffes in Byker).

Two drawings. Definitely my limit it seems. When I was done I headed off to the Biscuit Factory cafe to drink coffee and compare sketchbooks with the others. There was a bit of a holdup at the cafe counter, but this was definitely absolutely nothing to do with Anita and indecisiveness didn't come into it at all.

Friday 8 July 2016

Drawing in Saltwell Park

The Climbing Tree, Saltwell Park
(0.5 Micron marker in 21x26 cm sketchbook)

As a break from the normal session in the workroom of the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead Art Society decided on an afternoon sketching in Saltwell Park

Amazingly, after a morning shower, the weather decided to co-operate and half a dozen of us turned up in bright sunshine to make minor masterpieces in our individual ways. For good or ill, I opted for the very complicated "Climbing Tree". It's a very old yew tree whose branches have played host to generations of kids, and I speak from personal experience.

Part way through the drawing I realised the sun had moved round and was now shining directly into my one good eye. I should have brought a hat to shade my eyes, but in the absence of one, I went for a walk to see how others were doing.

Coming back to the tree about ten minutes later, the sun wasn't being any more helpful, so I moved position to work on the right hand side branches, ignoring the small boy now clambering over them. Eventually, however, I realised I'd done enough for the day and coffee called at the cafe in Saltwell Towers.

I walked home via the bird cages and listened for a while to the nice grey parrot in the end cage telling people to "F*ck Off!"

The tree still intrigues me and I plan on going back to work on the drawing some more, taking in the branches that will spread across the left hand page.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Madeira 2016

Car Park Ventilators, Funchal
(0.5 Micron marker and Pentel Brush Pen 
over two pages of A5 sketchbook)

Little Lighthouse, Camara de Lobos
(0.5 Micron marker and coloured pencils in A5 sketchbook)

Monte Palace Tropical Garden, Funchal
(0.5 Micron marker, Pentel Brush Pen
 and coloured pencils in A5 sketchbook)

In June, Pat and I went to Madeira for a week's holiday. We stayed at the same hotel as last time, Vila Vicencia, because we'd liked it so much and we weren't disappointed this time either. It's a nice little group of buildings clustered round a small pool and far enough out of the centre of Funchal to be quite quiet, but near enough to walk in or take the bus.

I was determined to get more sketching done this time and got off to a good start with the double page spread of the car park ventilators. While I was drawing it, I could hear my Mum in my head saying, "Couldn't you find anything nice to draw?" but I'm resigned to drawing only what interests me and these shapes I found fascinating.

My recent trips out with my Sketch Crawl friends have certainly made me more confident in simply starting a drawing and making it work, but because of this need for "interesting" subject matter, I'm still slow to settle on a subject. Which meant that I only managed to do two more, despite constantly keeping my eyes open for things that would appeal.

There was one new development in this drawing trip: I moved my position several times when making the first two drawings. Not an earth-shattering development, because artists have been doing it for hundreds of years, but new to me.  With the ventilators, I moved my position to get the (quite important) palm tree where I wanted it; with the lighthouse drawing, I moved from drawing the rock outcrop to a position where I could take in the cactus and once again so that I could have a better view of the  lighthouse.

No such moving when I did the drawing of the folly at Monte Palace Tropical Garden, because I was limited to a park bench on another terrace overlooking the folly. A very complicated subject, I found myself getting very confused and perhaps it shows a little in the drawing; however, I think the coloured pencil additions made back at the hotel help to pull it together. Am I wrong? What do you think?

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Circle Grounded

Sketchbook Circle Partner A has returned my book without further additions. Quite where we go from here, I'm not sure, but the Administrators are aware of the situation and are trying to make new arrangements.

Meanwhile, I think it's safe to post my own recent pages in my book. Those who were quick enough to see what I posted before being asked to delete them, may remember that much of Partner A's pages consisted of hands. I took that as a lead and made these new pages (one of which is an elaboration of my line-drawn page). This is my idea of a sketchbook conversation and how I see the work of the Circle progressing. The last one above takes the theme of the hand and adds the bowl that I used in the very first page of my book and, of course it also appears in the hand of the woman in the first page shown above.

And just to round things out, here's how I changed one of my pages by adding further imagery and colour.