sepia glow

20140525 (6)   20140525 (10)

20140525 (14)   20140525 (1)

To photograph my drawings for this blog, I have switched to using the ipad camera in reflected daylight.  I crop pictures using a scaled down version of photoshop and adjust the exposure and contrast to get as close as possible to the original.  The photoshop app has various filters, including “glow” which gives a rich sepia tone to the work, and I think, boosts the highlights.  This manipulation enlivens the charcoal sketches above.

20140525 (7)   20140525 (13)

This is the explanation of the sepia images in my previous post, which drew comments.

20140525 (12)

I have added a dip pen to my field kit, and, as an experiment, put sepia ink in a small bottle containing a large lump of dried up gold ink, which seems to be slowly dissolving.  I will also take a sanguine conte stick.  I want to see if I can get these effects directly onto the paper.




watchful peace

20140525 (2)

Two lapwing chicks blithely wandered and foraged on a small spit of land in the middle of the pool.  The parent was often as much as ten feet away, though always watchful.  Behind, on the water, were juvenile and adult herring gulls.

20140525 (9)  20140525 (7)

This is like watching baby gazelle gambolling near a pride of lions.  Any moment, I expected a herring gull to take a short hop over to swallow a chick whole.

20140525 (5)

Also nesting in the grass, incubating eggs I think, as yet with no chicks, were black headed gulls.

20140525 (3)

I gradually realised that the larger herring gulls were in fact prisoners, on parole.  As long as they stayed still, they were tolerated, but make a move or take to the air and they were immediately mobbed by crowds of black headed gulls driving them away.

20140525 (11)

This watchful peace is what lent safety to the lapwing chicks.




Sunday sunshine

20140518 Sunday sunshine in May

The Blythe is just a brook as it winds through the Industrial Park and has widened where is passes beneath the medieval packhorse bridge and feeds the flooded pits in the Marsh Lane Nature Reserve.  Further north it has joined the river Tame, winding past gravel quarries reclaimed as recreational open water in Kingsbury.  On a warm day last week, this was crowded with cyclists, families like ours and large groups of older people clad in lycra.  The café here consistently offers the perfect fried egg and bacon sandwich.


Chord progression

chord progression

I re-suspended the loose charcoal in the picture posted previously in very wet white gouache.  White and Prussian blue acrylic were applied in selected areas. The white acrylic pushed the gouache wash away whereas the blue slowly bled into it.  The migrating washes (below) were left to dry overnight and then the whole layer fixed (above).

The music was by Elena Kats-Chernin, the haunting Works for Piano Trio.

chord progression 1

I am thinking how to draw back into this.



Beethoven Piano Sonata no. 32 in C minor II: Arietta

Ballad of Mae in Soho 2

I drew this one evening using the music to drive the strokes of charcoal.  I wet it and scraped back to the white highlights with a fragment of lava.  While cropping the photo, I noticed the invert function that reversed black and white.  The original is below.

Ballad of Mae in Soho 1

Last week, I watched a stunning performance of the ballet “Bye” danced by Sylvie Guillem, set to this piece and choreographed by Mats Ek.

However, the image I have drawn owes more to a set of line drawings by the late painter Barbara Tate and to archival photographs of 1940s Soho.  In her early 20s, Tate found employment as a maid, keeping house for a prolific and dramatic sex worker.





On a Sunday, the Blythe Valley Business Park is mostly deserted.  Many lots are vacant, with a short tarmac drive leading into rough grass.  It has been landscaped around as a nature reserve with paths through trees and between flooded gravel pits.  There are kestrel and buzzard but few water fowl, just a couple of mute swan pairs and some coots.  The last two weekends, I have heard cuckoos calling but have been unable to locate them in the trees.

Three times I sketched the stream as it wound through undergrowth.  I continue to use pen and brushpen, liberating the ink with water and letting it bead and dry on resistant paper

20140503 01       20140503 03

Painting with volcanic rock

PLaya Blanca

A little way from a beach resort and harbour, a short spit of rock projected into the sea from the cliffs.   The volcanic rocks had eroded to greys tinged with bands of mauve, pink and orange.  I drew using black pen and wash on resistant Moleskine paper.  Lacking paints, I  ground a fragment of stone against the rock beneath me and stained the paper with the dust suspended in water.

Here is the original field sketch.  To create the final image above, I accentuated have the contrasts with white and sepia ink.

20140424 01

The sketch below at the same spot had been done a few days before just with ink and water – I had not thought to use the rock itself as a medium.

20140424 08

I spotted some plovers bathing in the rock pools below.  These sketches of a species unfamiliar to me were made alternating between drawing and looking through binoculars. Again I used the volcanic rock to get a sense of the rich chocolate brown plumage.  They were scared off by boys going fishing before I could have a proper go at drawing them.  These turn out to be waders called Ruddy Turnstone.

Ruddy Turnstone

Lanzarote is built from the outpourings of lava from a magma bubble not far beneath the surface of the Earth’s crust.  Some of my sketches of the now cold craters, twisted basalt and fields of ash are shown in the page on this blog called Exploded and Eroded, mixed with other drawings, mainly of the limestone karst scenery in Yorkshire and Majorca.