Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Brooklyn Sketchbook Library

Time is racing by and our Swindon Urban Sketchers entry is due to be posted within the next couple or so weeks.  We still have a few pages to fill and I have added a 4th sketch which can be glued into the book if contributions are still short.

Wayland's Smithy, on the Ridgeway Long Distance Path
Watercolour, gouache, pen and white crayon on Hahnemuhle grey paper

The Ridgeway is a prehistoric travellers' route, stretching 87 miles from West Kennet in Wiltshire to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire and is very popular with leisure walkers to this day.  

Wayland's Smithy is a Neolithic long barrow situated on the path a few miles from the Wiltshire border.  There are many legends about the site, dating back over a thousand years, and this was recorded in 1738 by the antiquary, Francis Wise: -
'At this place lived formerly an Invisible Smith, and if a traveller's Horse had lost a Shoe upon the road, he had no more to do than to bring the Horse to this place with a piece of money, and leaving both there for some little time, he might come again and find the money gone, but the Horse new shod'.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Hahnemuhle watercolour postcards

At the end of last year, Hahnemuehle sent me a tin of their watercolour postcards (30 size approx. 6" x 4").



I always have trouble finding suitable birthday cards for male relatives, but for my brother-in-law this year I used one of these postcards and popped it in with his gift.  On a recent visit to their cottage in the wilds of Wales I had taken a photograph of his prized Massey Ferguson tractor - an ideal subject for his birthday greeting.

Pen and watercolour -
 (birthday greetings were added later in the top lefthand corner)

Saturday, 3 February 2018

February Sketch Outing

A very damp, grey day, but our local sketching group had permission to use Swindon's old Town Hall building which now serves as a dance/drama studio.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to sketch any of the activities taking place - lots of youngsters milling about coming and going from their various classes within the building.  We were restricted to the foyer and the first floor landing, with most of us taking in the architectural and stained glass window details, although one or two took advantage of the framed photos of ballet dancers to try out some figure studies.

Watercolour, pen and oil crayon on Hahnemuhle grey paper -
I've only hinted at the complexity of the stained glass window
Watercolour marker and oil pastels
Marble statue of Charlotte Corday -
 by 19th Century sculptor Mich' Ioretti
This beautiful and unusually posed statue greets you in the entrance hall.  I'm afraid my photo is very out of focus, and my brief pencil sketch doesn't do her justice.


During the French Revolution, Charlotte was executed at the age of 25 for the assassination of the Jacobin leader, Jean-Paul Marat.  She believed she could save thousands of lives by ridding France of the more radical and violent faction of the Revolution.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Bookmarks and an Altered Book

Following my participation in the Bookmarks Project (details here), I now have a set over 50 individual bookmarks from the 15th year of this challenge.  These have been languishing in an envelope in my "in-tray" since August last year and I have been wondering how to display them.  I came up with the idea of an altered book to house them, together with a niche for the original blocks I used to print my own contribution of 100 bookmarks.

I went in search of an appropriate book in the sales shelves of our local library and found one of the right size for 40p.  I was hoping to find one with a title relating to "books" or "reading", but no luck there.

Using about 120 pages at the end of the book, I cut out an area to contain the lino blocks, glued these together using plenty of gel medium around the page edges and the cut edges.  The whole of this area was then stuck to the back cover, with a piece of painted tissue between the two.

I still have 260 or so pages out of which I will fold and decorate pockets for the bookmarks.  Intervening pages will be cut out so that the book doesn't become too bulky.  Since deciding on this book I have found out that it would have been better to choose one with a stitched spine, rather than a glued one - the former would have allowed the cleaner removal of superfluous pages from the middle of each signature.  Let's hope this one holds together OK with all my alterations.

The novel is about slave-catchers in New York in the 1840's and each chapter commences with a related quote from that era - I aim to retain those pages unchanged.

The cut-out is just under half an inch deep


Just enough room for the lino blocks

A start on the folded pockets

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Printing experiments

I have been printing a couple more fold books for birthday greetings (similar to this one).



I had some leftover gesso to use up and experimented with combining it with some Caran d'Ache Neocolour II water soluble crayons.

The gesso was already tinted a creamy orange.  First of all I coated my foam stamp with gesso then quickly scrubbed over crayons in reds and purple.  The result was a bit patchy, so I tried lightly dampening the stamp, adding the crayons, then gently adding the gesso over the top.  The latter method seemed to result in a better impression, but a bit more experimentation is needed.  I could have used just the crayons, but the addition of gesso sets the image should I need to work over it with other media.



Sunday, 14 January 2018

Travel sketches

Nothing of great moment has been happening in the studio since Christmas and the New Year, so here are some sketches from our travels in previous years.

Although I had previously sketched while on holiday, it wasn't until we bought a caravan in 2003 that I made a conscious effort to ensure I kept a daily record, with writings and drawings, of our trips around the British Isles.  We still took plenty of photographs, but these journals provide much more in the way of memories.





Saturday, 6 January 2018

December Sketch Outing

Quite a few new faces at our Urban Sketch group today.  We met up for coffee in our Central Library cafe before dispersing to other areas of the building, mostly taking inspiration from the views outside.

The library itself is a fairly modern construction, but is attached to the Town Hall which was built in "neo-17th century Dutch style" in 1890.  The two structures enclose a courtyard and from the upper floors of the new building you can get a good view of the original decorative clock tower and cupolas.

I had already sketched the clock tower on a previous occasion, so today I concentrated on one of the cupolas.

5.11.16 - Town Hall Clock Tower
Pen and watercolour marker

Pen, watercolour, white gouache and gel pen
in the Hahnemuhle Grey Book