A few unposted drawings from this summer coming up!
My uncle´s Massey Ferguson is old (1968) but still going strong. He loves it and gives it the TLC it deserves. We all appreciated the ease with which it pulled up a trailer with some scaffolding on it to the summer house, so we could fix a roof leak. Though I shouldn´t say “we” fixed the leak, since the most I did in this building project was this drawing the tractor.
A4 size, UniPin fineliner and watercolours in A4 Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook.
The trip home from Manchester offered a few neat drawing opportunities. One just beside my fav store in London, Cornelissen´s (where I happened to spend just a few pounds on a fabulous travel brush). Then off to Gatwick, where I was a bit early for my flight, so I could relax with some people spotting with pen in hand.
And so, end of journey, putting my feet up on a foot stool after emptying my bags at home. Aaaah. You know the feeling.
Top drawing: 19 x 19 cm, middle: 18 x 9 cm, bottom: 18 x 11 cm, all drawn with fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis document ink on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.
The last couple of drawings from Manchester!
The urban sketchers symposiums are always good fun and super informative. Where else will you find workshops to get on with the next level of your drawing habit, or listen to lectures all about drawing and different takes on it? Plus you get to see demos of how people do their sketches, you get to peak into sketchbooks, dig into pen cases, try out interesting drawing tools, and learn all the magic tricks of your drawing heroes.
I went to a lecture where Ed Mostly, who talked about the “history of urban sketching” through vintage books about drawing. Very interesting and amusing. And he told us all to draw while he was talking, so I did.
I also took a workshop with Don Low, one of my biggest people drawing heroes. I do draw people, but it is a bit out of my comfort zone, and it is so good to try out someone else´s take on it. Humans are the toughest subject to draw from life, they always move about and have difficult proportions and put their limbs in strange angles all the time, just to make life complicated for a sketcher.
Don talked about proportions (nothing really new there, maybe, but he is a lot more thorough than the regular life drawing teacher – such as myself…), and then gave us some quick exercises to do, forcing us to draw each other in different ways in a very short time. Then this, where suddenly I felt completely calm and sure of what I was doing, capturing both people and furniture and whatnot, in ten minutes. I should keep practicing this at least once a day! But do I have time for that? Do I do it? No.
If you´re ever in Manchester, don´t miss the Museum of Science and Industry! I only had time to see their collection of aircrafts, but that alone was well worth the visit. I like drawing things that I don´t really “get”, that I don´t feel comfortable drawing. Especielly if I get to do it together with others. Spent a few hours here with Lapin and Vincent Desplanche, among others. Great fun!
And so, the last sketch that I am going to post from Manchester. A quick one on Oxford road. I loved this green and cream coloured building, it has so much character!
Top drawing: 19 x 18 cm, second: 19 x 14 cm, third: 19 x 25 cm, bottom: 19 x 13 cm. All drawn with fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis ink and watercolours, except no. 3, which was drawn with various ink pens and watercolours. All on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.
Drawing under the bridges of Castlefield, Manchester, was amazing. I love the perspectives and size of this place, and all the details! The care that was put into building this back in the day! The brick work, the cast iron details, bolts en masse… Wow. Just wow.
Top drawing: 19 x 15 cm, fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis document ink and watercolours, bottom: 19,5 x 28,5 cm, UniPin fineliner and watercolours, both on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.
Being an instructor at an Urban sketchers symposium is great fun. The only drawback (!) is that you actually have less time to go sketching than you´d want to, since the workshop preparations take quite a bit of time. So some mornings I get myself up early to join the morning sketching crowd, which basically consists of instructors who feel the same itching drawing urge as I do.
Now, I am not at my best early in the morning, which is why it´s completely lovely when you find a bench in the sun by the Rochdale canal, and you get to sit there drawing Margo for an hour or so.
This is probably the biggest sketchbook drawing I´ve ever made. I have an A4 sketchbook at the moment, and this is the first time I drew across a whole spread. Liberating and just a little bit scary.
41 x 29 cm, fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis document ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook spread.
On the 26th of August, I joined a sketchwalk through the Northern quarter in Manchester, with Andrea Joseph and David Lowther. So much fun to walk through new (to me) streets and take in the views together with a bunch of other sketchers! A few of us stopped at this place, the backside of Hatter´s hostel. Such a cool building, but I did have a real struggle with that staircase…
Then on to the Smith´s Arms pub, which is/was apparently one of Manchester´s oldest pubs, about to be demolished in the name of development. Lots of apartment buildings and condos are coming up in this area, and an old pub obviously isn´t worth preserving. A pity, I always like when each period of time is allowed to leave it´s layers on a city.
In the evening, our group met up with lots of other sketchers at the Dukes 92 by the Rochdale canal. It is a special thing to see a hundred or so sketchers in a pub – all the other guests are laughing and talking. Sketchers are concentrating.
Top and middle drawing: 19 x 18,5 cm, bottom: 18 x 10 cm, fude nib fountain pen with DeAtramentis document ink, and watercolours, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook pages.
When I was not teaching a workshop in Manchester, I was trying to sketch as much as I could. I just love this city! Oh the red brick buildings, and the mix of old and new in every street!
These sketches are from the 25th of July, and in the evening there was a Drink&Draw at the Peveril of the Peak, the most charming pub I ever saw. And of course, when I got there, Lapin and Suhita Shirodkar were already drawing the place. So I drew them drawing it.
Top drawing: 19 x 17 cm, bottom: 19 x 10 cm, fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis document ink, and watercolour, on Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook page.
Teaching a workshop during an Urban sketchers symposium is a real privilege. The will and enthusiasm of the participants in the symposiums gives such a great learning environment, and everyone´s style, techniques and skill levels are all ingredients that enrich the experience.
I had the opportunity to spend three days, with three different workshop groups, at the John Rylands Library in Manchester this year. This building is a real challenge to draw, with it´s peculiar shapes and rich details. Also, since the weather was overcast (to say the least), the façade didn´t offer much differences in light and shade, which made it even more difficult to capture is volumes on paper.
In my workshop, called from Macro to Micro, we made a collection of sorts of this library, presenting it from it´s entirety to it´s tiniest details, on the same page or spread. We discussed how to fit everything on the page, planning a page layout, and also how to simplify the shapes of the building, to manage to draw it all in the limited time of the workshop (3,5 hours). We also looked into how to include the context around the building (people, city streets, street furniture), and taking colour notes, for those times when you don´t have the opportunity to finish your sketch completely on the spot. We also walked up close to collect some of the more intricate details of this place.
As always with urban sketchers, the participants blew me away with their generosity toward each other, where everyone shares their work in progress in the group gatherings. For me, it´s these gatherings that generate the most food for learning. Seeing how everyone meet the challenges, what problems they encounter and how they solve them, is something that everyone can pick up advice from. Even when the work isn´t finished, or maybe BECAUSE the work isn´t finished, you get a unique look into the process of sketching, and you realise everyone is doing it a bit differently – and everyone is therefore contributing to the collective learning experience.
Of course, the workshop time is usually too short for getting a lot of practice, but you get to try things out, see how others tackle the challenges, and hopefully, you take some new thoughts and tricks with you that you can try out and practice more when you´re out on your usual drawing adventures at home.
The workshop participants in this year´s symposium were of the braver kind. Manchester is a rainy city, and we had some really bad rainfalls during the workshops.
Two of my workshop sessions worked out anyway, because we found shelter under awnings, scaffolding, umbrellas and such. In one session, we had to head indoors half the time, which brought on new challenges – we weren´t allowed to use colours in there! But since we started outdoors, most people had already got colour sketches done before going monochrome indoors.
The weather is the reason why I didn´t get group photos of all the groups, or photos of everyone´s work – sorry about that! It was just too wet!
A great big hug and a loud THANK YOU to all my participants, thanks for your hard work, your contributing to the workshop, and for being so patient with the Manchester weather!
If you want to take a look at the handout for the workshop, you can download it in the link below. Mind you, the handout doesn´t contain everything in the workshop. It is meant as a help for participants to remember the most important points from the workshop. I know from my own experience as a workshop participant, that during the sessions, you are so hard at work, that you don´t have time to take notes or remember everything that is said and done by the instructor. I hope this little leaflet helps a bit with that.
From Macro to Micro – workshop handout
(The pdf was originally printed on both sides of an A4 sheet of paper, then folded twice in the middle. This version is web optimized, so images may not look great in print.)
After Hastings, me and M took a train to Manchester and took a good look at the city for a few days. We loved it! Manchester is such a beautiful and interesting city, and the mix of old and new everywhere really blew us away.
When M headed home, I stayed on for the Urban sketchers symposium. On the 25th, I hooked up with old sketching friends and headed out drawing. Among other things, we stopped by at John Rylands library, which was to be both mine and Liz Steel´s workshop location for the symposium. Great to get a first look at this place. Such a crazy building (in a good way!) – beautiful, and so intricate, but much younger than you´d think from looking at it, and so unlike everything else built during the same period (around 1900).
Top drawing: 17 x 16 cm, bottom: 19,5 x 16 cm, fude nib fountain pen with De Atramentis document ink, and watercolours, in Stillman & Birn A4 alpha series sketchbook.