Wednesday, 31 March 2010

internet connection

Started in a new office this week, and this... the guy who came to install the internet router.
He had great eyebrows, really arched and quizzical, like he spent his entire life working out the mysteries of the universe. And, given he was the internet man, he probably does.

Only had a felt pen to hand, so shading not very subtle. ( Is it ever ? )

This is, I see, my 100th post, so that's all the mile stones passed now.

As Kurt Vonnegut would say - Ho hum.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Music to my (neighbour's) ears

Wanted a musical sketch for today, as I have just arrived home to my neighbour's friday disco session. Anyone who knows me will know of my neighbour's love of playing his music VERY LOUD on fridays, often, but not always followed by the movie TITANIC, again VERY LOUD. I would have no trouble guestimating he has watched it ( and, by extension, I have listened to it ) easily 200 times.


Today it's Soft Cell and Erasure.
Although I may be mistaken, and what is really happening is a worm hole back to the 1980's opens with alarming regularity, ONLY in his living room.
It amuses me more than anything, I just plug myself into my own choice of listening ( at this precise moment it's the Florence and the Machine album. = I leave it to you to decide who has the better taste, and am not assuming you will automatically think it's me )
So anyway... this guy was from the other day, same day as the man in white jacket, no.89. Had to stand up on the way back, and was taken by the piping on his coat. An odd thing to notice, but it appealed to me.
A lot of people plug into i-pods on the return journey, more than in the morning I've noticed, like they need to zone out more before they get home, than get to work.

My neighbour also has his own disco light, I have seen it flashing on several occasions. The rest I will leave to your own imagination.

But if your name's not on the door you're not coming in.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

112 to 115 - Nothing like a damn good read.

When you've got time to kill, and the city is littered with free newspapers. ( or at least was ! )
Or you've got a brilliant book you can't put down.

Or you could browse over the map of our great city you just brought...
and marvel that we ever find our way anywhere.

Or there is always the eternal and ever present mobile...
with all it's insistent beeping messages and tweets to follow.

Just how many narratives can we carry in our head at any one time ? It amazes me. The latest celebrity scandal, the current novel you are reading, a dozen soap plot lines, the ongoing season of sport, last night's episode of 'Mad Men', your friend's nightly escapades, your Mum's constant chat. History. Politics. How to work your microwave.

And how do we never get them mixed up ?

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

110 -111 ( that's almost binary )

Caught some students sketching in a museum the other day, They had ranged themselves across a gallery of statues, and had become as much a part of the display for the other museum visitors. People were sneaking looks over their shoulders, or just out and out standing and watching them, engaging them in conversations. And it would seem that the sketcher-watchers fall in to the same two types as the sketchers - those who do so unobtrusively, and those who want the world to know, to acknowledge them.
So I sat down, sketched the sketchers, and became part of the incidental theatre we had all created.
Really enjoyed this girl's belt and boots. I often run out of time, or space when I get to the feet, or just plain chicken out, 'cos feet are tricky creatures. So like that she is complete, although her bag lets me off here a bit.

But ohhhh... that gap of flesh across her lower back... Museums are drafty places at the best of times... she should have worn a vest. She'll regret it later in life, mark my words.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

109 - Tricky suduko

This guy spent the whole journey home last night doing a suduko puzzle, so I'm guessing it was one of the 5 star toughies.
Really enjoyed sketching him, for some reason, the zips on his coat do a great arabesque swoop there, like a roller coaster track. And the dark hollow that is happening below his neck.
And he had a neat little chin beard that really suited his face. I tried one once, but it just made me look miserable.

Good name for a Bond girl - Tricky Suduko


On the train into town yesterday ( to take a friend to see the birds on guitars at the Barbican ) so the perfect time to grab a few new drawings.
Sat opposite this guy, liked how his shaved head and fur lined hood made him almost Monk like.
He was, I assume, a web site designer, because he was suggesting ways to format a drop down menu on fragrance types, " you could have resins, florals, sandalwood, maybe alphabetical. I've had an idea. Are you there ? Are you there ? " as we dropped down into a tunnel and he lost the signal.
Caught his mouth open, talking, which I always find tricky.
And loved the retro fur edged coat hood. He had every texture going on.

Sorry about the page spine getting dark down the middle. Didn't press the book flat when I was scanning. Was eating a cheese sandwich instead.


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Writing a note

Just a quick one today, have other stuff that demands to be done. Not good stuff, but potentially leading on to good stuff, so must do, must do.
Like the way this girl's hair falls forward. She was writing a small note card, couldn't say what for.


Done. Gone.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Fax facts track back.

Now this is a bit of a memory excavation. Was at work, standing at my drawing board, and this guy came in to use the fax machine, ( and this isn't all that long ago, and only serves to highlight how the e-mail has conquered all ) I liked his sun glasses pushed back on his head, so snuck a quick sketch.
He was with the effects crew, and I am pretty certain he was organizing the snow for later on, but I may be wrong on that.
This is one of those drawings that brings back every element of the moment. Where I was standing, the room we were in, what we were all doing - the exact moment.
I had worked in this room twice before, which warrants note. Once marking out floor plans when it was serving as the rehearsal room on a Police drama, and once painting an 8ft high model of the Elephant God Ganesh, whilst stuffing myself sick with product placement crisps.

Happy days.

The snow by the way, was brilliant. It looked so real, even though you knew it wasn't.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

105 - Check please !

Another drawing that emphasizes the brilliant way that patterns on clothes can tell the story.
There is almost nothing here that is specifically a person, but the wide check on the coat does all the work for me.

There is always two very specific phases to sketching people in the UK. The winter 'bloody hell it's nippy, let's wear every single stitch of clothing we own so we waddle around like the Michelin man' look, and then, almost overnight, the summer 'bloody hell it's hot, lets go out in as little as we can legally get away with without scaring the proverbial horses' look. ( The perennial exception here being Newcastle girls out on the razz. - two strips of Lycra and a bit of lippy and they're ready whatever the weather ! )
So you get used to drawing bulky coats and hooded tops, like this, and have to guess at the person underneath. Like a Leonardo anatomical study, working out where the bones are in all those layers.
But the good weather is on it's way, everything can feel it. Soon be time to store the cardigans and coats.

What's the opposite of the old 'winter draws on' gag ? Is there one ?

All this from someone who looks doesn't need clothes to look like the Michelin man.
( And there's a mental image you could have done without !!! )

Mother's day.

It was Mother's day on sunday, and I missed the actual day to post ( as I was a good son and went to see her ) but not the sketch number, so here is a quick drawing of my lovely Mum, sneakily grabbed as she dozed on sunday evening.
The word search was the only clearish piece of paper I had to hand. Like the way the box contains the background shading, might use this again.
Mum always knows when I am sketching, she isn't easy to catch unawares. Dad is a doddle, have loads of him, he can be guaranteed to nod off most evenings.

The word search was for Australian animals. I can see wombat and kangaroo.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


Could have drawn this girl's ponytail forever. It was almost art deco in it's curves, Victor Horta would have appreciated it.

Friday, 12 March 2010

102 - Cello on the tube.

On the tube last year, very late, going home. And sat near a bloke carrying his cello, a huge white case that threatened to topple over every time the train brakes lurched on.
The cello case gets centre stage here, it was brilliant. Undeniably present. A fat, solid ghost.
Like how the bloke is looking sideways at me, he knew I was sketching, but did he know he wasn't the subject ? Like his cowlick of hair as well. But the cello is the star.
Oh no, the word cello has gone weird in my head, no matter how I spell it, it doesn't look right.

Cello. Cello. Cello.

No. Lost it.

Thursday, 11 March 2010


An older sketch.
Like the expressiveness of the line, lot of energy there.

Nothing else to add. Ho hum.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

100 !!!!!

My 100th sketch post. Excellent.
But then the dilemma of which sketch is good enough for such an auspicious number ? Not that one.
Not that one either.
So decided this was the idea place for some pages of sketches I did at the anti war march that ran through the centre of London way back in 2003.
So it's not one person who gets to be here, but, potentially, hundreds.
I joined the march somewhere around Cambridge Circus, and moved along, stopping to sketch every now and then, until I reached the Park...
...just as Mo Mowlem was giving her speech.

These three are my favorites, and kind of catch the whole experience for me. The banners and road signs sharing the air above our heads. The sheer mass of people. The Policemen's jackets are coloured in flourescent pen, but the colour didn't scan true.

I went along as much because it was a chance to sketch something important, something noteworthy. It is hard now to think how unignorable everyone felt that day. The crowd of people in Hyde Park seemed to go on for ever, like the whole of London had come out. The whole of the country, in fact. The road alongside the Park was solid with buses that had brought people from all over. It is hard to say it was a great day, in retrospect. But I'm glad I was there.

I'm counting these as one sketch, for the purpose of the task.

2 !

This guy was sitting, turned sideways on a bench, eating his lunch, one of those pre-made salads in a clear plastic bowl, with a free, but usually inadequately small fork.
Like his jacket, like the stripe across his back. Any kind of line or geometric pattern on clothing is a bonus, it helps you describe the body underneath so much easier than shading and creases. Bit of a cheat really, but never pass up the chance to use them if they are there.

3 !

Snoozing man. Nothing much to say about him.
Let sleeping sketches lie.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

4 !

The roll neck of this woman's sweater was BRILLIANT.
How could I not draw it. And her in it.
If ever a drawing belonged to an article of clothing this is it.

5 !

The countdown to the first 100 sketches.
The ghost on this one was so insistent I've had to drop her into Photoshop to 'exorcize' it. Demon of the other page - be gone.
This girl was in the National Gallery, listening to her audio tour. We were sitting in one of the long galleries, the one with the Zubarans and the brilliant Velazquez. And the Van Dyck room just off it.
Van Dyck. My absolute Hero.
Just drop in there and look at the hand holding the glove on the double portrait of the Stuart brothers. How the paint is both paint, and a hand holding a glove. Two separate states at the same time. Liquid. Was just looking at it with a mate the other day. He was more amused by how camp the whole picture was.
Good review of last year's exhibition with image of the two ( okay, okay undeniably camp ) brothers and the aforementioned hand here.
This portrait was also on the telly the other night ( synchronicity ) pointing out that within a few year both brothers had been slaughtered on the battle fields of the English Civil War.

Camp only goes so far.

Saturday, 6 March 2010


Just a quick sketch from way back, in one of the aforementioned favoured National Gallery sketch books. Love the orange cover. Now that is an inspirational colour.
There is a hint of the other page ghosting again. A friend said she couldn't see them, which is fine by me. They're always an accident that I don't notice until I post them here, and feel I have to apologize for. But... if you look slightly askew at the computer screen they become clearer.

There, how to see Ghosts 101, without getting all Derek Acorah.

How not to sit in the cinema

First time I've seen someone block THEIR OWN view of the screen.


As if to prove a point, yesterday the pen was seriously knarked off, nothing would sit on the page, no-one would stay still long enough to even get a hint of them, pages of the sketchbook were flipped away with just a few unsatisfactory lines and awful awfulness.
Look !
The whole fidgetyness of the moment is in there. I was too hot, the train was too full, all reason had deserted everything.
Look at his ears !!! Taken individually they just about past muster, but seen together they simply compound their mutual wrongness.

Partners in crime.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Quick sketch

Have noticed other people like to include details about the medium they prefer to use, paper weight, pen type... I wish I could be so precise.
At the moment I am using some cheap old ball point pens that were left over from a job last year, they were about £1 for a bag of twenty, so I am well set for the present time.
But I am fairly fetishist about my sketch books, I find one I like and stock up. I used to love the small note books the National gallery used to sell, but they stopped having them, the ones they have now are too shiny, the paper is all white and slippery, euch. Am currently very happy using the Daler Cachet books you can get from Cass Arts.
( I love Cass Arts )

For the record, Moleskines terrify me.

Monday, 1 March 2010

First sketch for March

Two blokes, who weren't standing side by side, but have ended up that way on the page.
Was sitting on the top balcony in the Imperial War Museum about this time two years ago ( had to just check that, thought it was only last year, blimey, time flying and all that... ). Had gone to see the War Poster exhibition, which was excellent, and, suitably inspired, spent a bit of time sketching the bi-plane that hangs there. But bi-planes don't qualify here.
The first guy was leaning over the balcony, enjoying the view down into the main hall. The other guy was waiting for his kids outside the gallery. They didn't know each other.

Liked the way their coats creased.

Like creases in clothes full stop.