Have had this one sitting on the desktop for ages, waiting for it's moment, but always being overlooked by me. And I don't know why because I am very pleased with this one. And just had a notion that if I don't post it now it might never get it's place, so...
From a previous heatwave to this one.
I know I have said it before, but after the long biting coldness of that past winter, this weather is BRILLIANT, and I am reveling in every barefooted, sunburnt moment of it. Sorry, English + weather, can't help it. DNA.
In summer London fills with migratory youth, who fly in in flocks, and get issued brightly coloured matching backpacks to identify them from the grey masses. They trail from cathedral to art gallery in an almost uniform pattern. The eager and the first fledgers up front, photographing and not being left behind, the jaded and cool tagging and lagging behind in little bubbles of contraband indifference.
And always the back packs full of little plastic telephone boxes, and Kendal mint cake, and seriously you don't want to know.
So, had time to think a bit, and saw what Laure wrote, so back to the tablet.
Not convinced, not convinced. I think I am just putting colour where I think it should be, rather than looking at the subject and SEEING where it really is. So the whole idea of adding colour to sketches after the event is a bit null and void here. And those rich dark depths are nigh on impossible digitally. Well, for me, at the moment, they are.
But picked up a few interesting bits here, stuff to carry forward. Not letting it go just yet, still things to discover.
Light is, as always, the key. Maybe if I can sneak a photo of the subject after sketching them... Hmmmm. Asbo's here I come.
Had some time this morning to do a bit more playing in photoshop, trying ways to add colour.
Hmmm. Not sure. It does seem that the purely linear nature of a sketch is at odds with the bulk that colour brings. A sketch allows the eye to make it's own mind up where things are, but colour has to have an edge. And is more dictatorial. Back of the hood is way too heavy. And blue ? How did that happen ?
But in playing around I started thinking about Sargent's charcoal sketches, and how he uses a rubber. And how the Photoshop eraser tool seems to have the same sympathy. It's very different to watercolour, almost the opposite
Hmmm. Maybe try not to be too precious ( and oh does the geek fan-boy needs slapping down as I write that ! ) with a fidelity to the original line. Let the two co-exist, like... well, yes... like layers.
Wasn't hung over, but had had a few drinks on an empty stomach the day before, and had ended up with what I claim was mildish food poisoning, and was somewhat lost and taking paracetamol to ease the journey. So this sketch comes with a side order of woozy for me. And was reading Douglas Copeland as well, a very fuzzy combination. Like weak winter sunshine on a strip of velcro.
And this was on the train home from Euston station, and he is exactly how I felt, slumped and ready for sleep.
Having been inspired by the work of several people who are adding colour and shading to their sketches in Photoshop, thought I would try it out.
Am encouraged by the result. Need to play some more, but definitely something I am going to try again. A bit crude, need to balance the line of the sketch with my temptation to fiddle and fuss in Photoshop.
Both of these sketches are connected to Greenwich, though not done at the same time.
This couple were on the Docklands Light Railway one morning, as I was going to Greenwich to work. Don't know if they were together at all.
I have always maintained that London Transport missed a trick when they built the DLR. There was plenty of scope for a 360 degree loop-the-loop or a log flume as it passes out from Canary Wharf and heads off over the docks. And wouldn't that make your working day a whole lot more fun.
These guys were sitting on the steps by the Cutty Sark ( before it burnt down ) on a brilliant summer sunday. Had gone out there to meet some mates, and was sitting on the bench, drawing everyone as they enjoyed the sun. Not particularly good sketches, but a good moment to put out there.
I had been invited to a preview screening of an independent film, and said I'd go. Always up for a film, always up for anything free !
When I got there there it was clear hardly anyone else had turned up, only a few of us scattered around the cinema, but nonetheless positive, and ready to discover a cinematic gem. I sketched them as I waited. The Director got up and did a little speech, the Producer and some of the cast were there as well. They all sat bang, front and centre.
And the film started. Now I will always applaud anyone who gets a film made these days. The effort and struggle to get from script the screening is Herculean. So hats off to them.
But it was so bad. Sorry, but really. It was so over exposed at the beginning you couldn't actually see what was going on. There were seagulls and some heroin, but how they were linked was a mystery. And it seemed to be shot in someone's front room, which is fine, apart from the seagulls. Then it plunged into a night scene that was so dark, it made the over exposed section look good.
After half an hour I had to leave, it was too painful to watch, but how to sneak out, when it was so dark that I couldn't see the way. I waited, and waited, then took my chance, got my coat, and tried not to make too much noise. And, just as I got to the front, tiptoeing past the film's makers, another overexposed scene came on, flooding the cinema with light, and me, straight in front of them, leaving their magnum opus.
I have long harboured the desire to get permission to sketch an orchestra at work, in rehearsals kind of thing. I love the shapes musicians make when they play, how instruments alter their posture.
Have snuck some drawing over the years, but never had the courage to actually find and ask any, and the stupid thing is I shared a flat with a girl who worked for the London Sinfonia for a while, so if ever there was a missed opportunity...
This I found the other day and liked that I could post another cello. I sat and listened/sketched a youth orchestra in the Place D'Armes in Luxembourg city a few years ago. It was a sunday, and there was nothing else to do. This was the best of a so so bunch, but liking the cello bit. What's it called, the arm, the neck, the curly thing ?
At first this guy looks like another phone texter, but in fact he had a small pocket calculator and was adding up over and over.
He sat in the square, in the sun, in his pullover, and just added and subtracted. And maybe multiplied. But no note book or pen or hint of what his sums amounted to.
There was a clumsy bluntness to him that I am glad the odd shaped arm kind of gives. The weight he was putting behind that finger as he stabbed in the numbers. And that single. furious concentration between him and the machine. This was beyond work, this was obsession.
Caught this guy on Kentish Town platform the other day. He got up and left, but I had enough to carry on shading ( possibly overdoing it a bit )
The Thameslink guard came up to watch, and asked how I could carry on drawing when the guy wasn't there. I told her that he had been sitting on the bench only moments before, and was still in my mind. She asked if I would draw her, which is a fatal thing to agree to, as it then becomes official, and you are then 'performing' and the end result is rarely any good. I politely ( I hope ) made up an excuse that I wanted to finish this one. She wandered off, then sat in the exact seat this guy had been sitting in, as if that would somehow trigger me into sketching her. And that part of me that wants to make people happy so wanted to, but I have been once bitten that way too often before.
Lynne Chapman has some great advice on the rules and don'ts of sketching people in public over here.
Eventually the Guard wandered off, and I did an appalling sketch of the guy on the opposite platform, appaling. Serves me right.
Not sure if this is a safe and reliable baby stroller, or a fiendish instrument of confinement ?
I guess with the benign Gods of Health and Safety ruling the domain these days all things become 'the bit connected to the thingy that makes sure the axis does what it should', but look at how complicated that thing is.
Don't often draw babies, and now I know why. They come in exo-skeletons these days.
Found an old ( 2007 ) sketch book whilst reorganizing the office drawer. At one point in it I had drawn a series of profiles, filling the whole page.
Here are three of them.
I like how sometimes, your sketches carry lessons for you to learn at a future date, like information you don't consciously know at the time, but will later on. I am a great believer that your instinct understands things way before you do, right across the board. You just need to learn to trust it, and take what it offers when it is there.
I like how the blank space is, to me, both the life they are moving towards, and the life they have behind them.
Saw this woman eating her sandwiches in the square the other day.
Ran out of page, but wanted to catch her foot as she jiggled it up and down whilst she absently munched. So you have to do a visual shift down the page to put her back together again. A sort of Magician's Assistant of a sketch, sawn in half.
Not intentional, but seem to have drawn her as she reaches to brush some crumbs from her lip with her little finger, very genteel.
Was at the Lord Mayor's parade last year, didn't know it was on, but saw loads of people going one way and decided to follow them, see what they were up to, and ended up in the crowds watching. Did several sketches, and had time to enjoy them and not have that internal clock that wants to get each line down as quick as possible.
This woman was there with her partner...
He was taller than her, and standing slightly behind her, protective, so in my mind these two drawings overlap.
This couple were on the tube on wednesday, as I was coming back from a location recce. He knew straight away that I was sketching him, even though I tried to cover by sketching someone else at the same time. Then I thought, what the hell, and just carried on with this one. He told his companion and they both smiled, and he took a photo of me. Fair dibs.
They got off at Camden, the destination of choice for all Tourists.
So... now the challenge of doing this is wearing off, I have to decide what purpose this serves. I could carry on just drawing, posting the one's I like here and then be done, but there has to be more to it now. What do I want these drawings to do ? What do I want to learn ?
People of a nervous disposition should look away now...
A good friend asked why there are no sketches of me on here.
Hmmm. The last time I did a self portrait someone told me I had managed to draw myself looking like something that had skipped out of the wood during the funny bit of 'Bambi' !
But, seeing as this posting is the midway point, the exact centre of this whole enterprise. And given that I am the molten core that drives this particular ego-centric planet, the aniseed bit at the sucked down gobstopper of it all, I thought I would go for it again, and post the one I liked the best.
But pen and hand knew better, and betrayed me. So scratch that, I'm going to post the one that made me laugh the most.
Seriously, seriously, when did I become Jar-Jar Binks' cousin ?
I am laughing my head off as I write this, which is appropriate. I know I'm no oil painting, but this is just forcing home the fact a little too much.
A young Asian family sat near me as I was sketching. Mum, Dad and a very small boy and girl. The boy wore Scooby Doo sandals, and the the Dad had a Ganesh keyring. They spoke to each other in quiet tones, then produced the most melted chocolate biscuits imaginable, and shared them out. Soon all fingers were sticky and everywhere. And then the biscuits fell on the pavement. And hands had to be washed, and packets refolded, and it was momentary family chaos.
And the Mum just sat, calm and unconcerned by it all, ordering the others what to do, but hardly moving a hair from her brilliant, complex chignon. ( Ruddy hell, where did that word come from ! )
Now there is a woman who takes the world as it is dealt.
It's tough to find somewhere near home to sketch people, very few places where people linger here, everyone always on the go.
But there was an ice cream van parked on the street, and a nearby bench for me ! Ahhh. Let's give it a go.
And a steady stream of small kids, idle teenagers and indulgent adults lined up, albeit for the few, brief moments it took to for the ice cream man to whirrrrr out a looping Mr. Whippey. I got a few more nanoseconds if a Flake was log-flumed in. A scgloop of chocolate sauce = a few more lines on the page !
And so... a little boy, the perfect customer, unsure what to have, but determined to purchase.
And Dads, steering their kids forward, making sure they don't get distracted from their spot in the queue by the infinity of choice, as one hand fishes unconciously in a pocket for change. Momentary heros.
While mums stood to one side, push-jerking sugargiddy toddlers in strollers and feigning disinterest until the first chance to steal a lick.
Such fleeting concentration on such a simple desire. Almost as pure as anything I have seen. No additives here.
I resisted the urge for an ice cream myself, which is probably a very sad thing to admit.
Just a quick one today as I have an appointment with a construction company later this morning. Good stuff, building bridges ( not literally, I mean, more making connections and building up your business network kind of stuff. )