Tuesday, 28 March 2017

SketchCrawl Day at the Hepworth Gallery

Saturday was this month's SketchCrawl Day for Urban Sketchers Yorkshire. I decided to take the group to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. I chose it partly because there is an exhibition on at the moment, which is related to urban sketching. The drawings and paintings were made at the time of WW2 by artists like Henry Moore, Edward Bawden and John Piper, documenting their  world at the time (it's on for months yet - I recommend a look if you can get there).

The main reason for sketching there though, was the fantastically huge windows, floor to ceiling, which give great views out over a river and weir, towards the town of Wakefield. Perfect for indoor sketching while the weather is so cold. The windows look small in my painting, but it's just a very big building:

As it happened though, we didn't need the windows: the weekend was weirdly hot for March. Most people stayed outside. While I was sitting beside the gallery painting the piece below, I actually felt too warm and had to take my cardigan off - whatever next?!

There is also another really interesting show on at the moment, called Disobedient Bodies, looking at fashion as sculpture (running until 18th June). There is one room which contains a hanging 'forest of jumpers': knitted in wild stripes of different colours and elongated from the ceiling to the floor. There are some very peculiar, distorted versions of the body too, which are then dressed in different ways. I was particularly drawn to this piece, in its yellow stockings:

Actually, this was a return visit to the gallery for us - we sketched there back in 2011, not long after it opened. It was interesting to look back at my work from then. It was before I had started to use watercolour. I didn't realise until just now, but I drew the very same sculpture on both occasions.

There was some fantastic work done on Saturday by other members of the group, which you can see on our Facebook page. We will go back and sketch there again and not leave it so long this time. I will certainly be going back to see the Howard Hodgkin in India exhibition, which opens on July 1st.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Watch a Recording of My Broadcast

Well, I have discovered a new thing this week and it was really good fun.

On Thursday, I did a 50 minute, live broadcast from my studio, via Facebook Live. It was something that the folks behind Sketchbook Skool asked me to do, to promote my forthcoming course with them: Exploring. I wasn't sure how it would be and, I think you can see in the first minute or two of the film, that I felt really weird to start with, talking to myself, not knowing if anybody was out there...

I soon got into my stride though and the time whizzed by. I only intended to do it for 30 minutes, but people were asking such good questions and new people joined half-way through, who missed the studio tour at the beginning, so it ended up expanding. I did two different tours round the studio and showed 5 different sketchbooks, mostly to help answer questions about techniques or art materials. I even showed some examples of hot-off-the-press textiles pieces I had been working on the day before.

Luckily, if you missed it, you haven't really missed it, as it was automatically recorded, so you can still watch the filmed version, either above or on my Facebook page.

When it was over, I discovered that a few people had been sketching me while I was talking, as they posted their pictures to the Sketchbook Skool Facebook page! This one was drawn by Danny Gregory, one of the founders of Sketchbook Skool:

If you want to sign up for my Sketchbook Skool course, 'Exploring', where you can watch no less than 14 videos of me talking about loads of different aspects of my work and giving you lots of advice and ideas about things you can try, as well as doing a demo painting from start to finish, sitting on the street in my hometown of Sheffield, it all kicks off on April 17th. It lasts 5 weeks and I am one of 5 different instructors. There's more detail here.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Drawing Under the Beedy Eye of a T.Rex!

Things are getting really interesting lately...

One of the things I was hoping for, as a result of my Morgan Centre residency last year, was that more paid urban sketching jobs might come along. I figured that, if I show enough people what I have been doing, via the wonders of social media, something might pop up...

Well, it's starting to happen.  I just got booked to be artist-in-residence in Brighton, at the University & College Union conference, at the end of May!

It sounds like it will be a massive affair, with lots of different things going on at the same time. I'll have 2 days, wandering around, capturing as much as I can of what's happening. They are also looking into ways of projecting the work as I go along, so that all the delegates will be able to see what I'm up to. It'll be great fun to get a free trip to the seaside - I'm sure I can squeeze in a paddle at some point.

There are also 2 ongoing residencies with Manchester University. As well as the Dementia & Creativity project I told you about recently, I have been booked to do a couple of days more work on the Synthesising Menthol project, which I was first introduced to through the Morgan Centre, last year. The sketches here are from my first day, last Saturday. The researchers set up a stall in Manchester Museum (under the dinosaurs!), to talk to passers-by.

They are interested in people's associations with and use of menthol products, as well as their attitudes to the concept of something as natural as menthol being replaced by a synthetic alternative, created from bacteria, especially in the context of products which you put in your mouth, like cough sweets, cigarettes, mouthwash etc. There's more info on their blog page.

As usual, I am having great fun and learning new things.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Sketchbook Skool: Selfie Sheet

I spent a few fun hours the other day, creating an illustrated sheet to introduce myself to my new Sketchbook Skool students. The folks behind the scenes at Sketchbook Skool sent me a short questionnaire. Instead of just answering the questions in the normal way though, because it's Sketchbook Skool, and they are into playing and having fun with drawing, they asked me to answer the questions more visually: whatever I felt the urge to do.

So, I got out a big piece of cartridge paper. I thought it might be a good opportunity to use the set of gorgeously zingy Graphik line-painters that Derwent sent me as a pressie a while back. They are great, really nice to use. They started straight away - no shaking and swearing necessary - and the flow was constant and even. All five colours are really punchy and the paint line is opaque, which is very handy, especially with light colours. And once they are dry, they are totally waterproof, so I could add a bit of watercolour to the line-work here and there.

It was fun to not plan the sheet, just to start at the top and see what happened. When it was done, I tinted the questions digitally, to help the composition and make them stand out. Here's the finished piece:
If you are interested in signing up for my course with Sketchbook Skool, it consists of 14 films of me talking about and demonstrating my work, which you can watch from May 8th, but which are 'bundled' with 4 other instructor's films (including the legendary sketcher Nina Johansson) into a course called Exploring, lasting 5 weeks from April 17th. The whole thing costs $99 and you can sign up as soon as you like.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Meet Me in my Studio!

I am trying something new: it's a bit of an experiment. I'm doing my very 1st Facebook Live event, which means that you can chat to me, in my studio and ask me questions about sketching. Sound interesting? It's happening later this week, on Thursday March 23rd. You do need to have a Facebook account for it to work though.

I don't know what to expect. Maybe I'll be swamped; maybe I'll be just sitting here, all on my lonesome. We'll see.

If you don't know how it works, At kick-off time, I'll be talking to camera, via my phone, on Facebook. I'll give you a quick studio tour, maybe whizz through a recent sketchbook and chat about my work. Then you type questions at your computer or on your phone, which come up on screen for me to answer, by just talking to camera. It's all very new to me too, but we did a quick run-through, just to make sure I knew what I was doing, and it worked really well. It will be fun!

So, come along, say hello and keep me company. We'll have half an hour together. I'll answer any questions you have about urban sketching and tell you anything you want to know about my new Sketchbook Skool course.

If you are interested in following proceedings or taking part, click the link to the 'Event' and 'join' the group. That's where it'll all be happening. Plus, if you can't make the time of the live broadcast, you can always watch the recorded film afterwards.