Summer evening light plus check shirt

2015 06 21 Siden Hill Woods (9)

Last weekend I set out to capture the lowering evening light filtering through the trees in Siden Hill Woods.  These are the finished pieces photographed on site before fixing.

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Initially I attempted just to capture the tones, using white, black and sanguine on mauve grey paper.  The patches of sunshine on the forest floor were spattered by moving shadows adding additional tone to the piece.  This first initial drawing has pleasingly broken lines and shapes lost when I overlaid it with the coloured crayon.

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Fixing with spray adhesive unfortunately darkened the picture and sucked the life out of it.

2015 06 21 Siden Hill Woods (11)

My only other sketch from last week was of my son, playing on my phone after swimming, in blue and black fountain pen and water.


Bowling up hill

2015-06-14 (3)

The drizzle rapidly speckled the paper as I drew.  I was watching over the children in the playpark, and saw these guys playing cricket up hill.  If the fence behind was the wicket, the batsman was out more than once but never yielded the bat.  When he hit the ball bowled up to him, it was inevitably a six, as he had the advantage of the elevated ground.

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This was while waiting for new tyres to be fitted.  She is standing at a high counter drinking hot chocolate.

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These pen sketches of lapwings and a black headed gull were done at the same time as the drawings of the chicks posted previously.

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I am always enthralled by the urgent piping of oystercatchers.  A group of five formed up on the mud and paraded in ranks, hunched, bills open, calling in chorus.

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These sketches were done in a café while out yesterday, playing with dominant and non-dominant hand drawing.

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Field sketches

2015-06-07 (1)

I started working from left to right, swinging the telescope across the stony islands in the pools, drawing what I saw, switching between charcoal and pen.  For some sketches in pen, I played a game, aiming to do six drawings in six minutes using six lines each.  I managed four drawings, but could not find the discipline to limit myself to six lines.  The lapwing drawing was the closest to what I intended.

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The roosting black headed gulls were scattered into the air.  Another birder said, obscurely, “did he drop it or swallow it?”.

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A lesser back backed gull had settled back on an island further away.  It had caught a chick apparently.  I spent the rest of the time watching the predator.  It spent a long time assiduously preening yet I think, always with an eye on the black headed gulls and their chicks.  It was mobbed on land by a diving black headed gull and later on water by a lapwing.

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It was joined by a second – its mate? – and they flew off north.  I think the same bird swept round and came in low over the trees to attack the colony from the south.  I don’t think it caught a chick and it was seen off with a pair of the smaller black headed gulls flanking it left and right.

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Tomorrow, I will watch again, this time aiming to capture the gulls in flight, the mobbing and the raids.  However, time passes.  Even within a week, the chicks may be too large and no longer a target.

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To see inspirational field sketches which combine simplicity of line and shade with capture of character, movement and shape, its worth googling images using the term “John Busby birds”.  A search on Amazon brings up two pages of his books.  I met him two years running through the Scottish Seabird Drawing course which he founded and led.  As for many others, he had been an influence on me through his books  for many years before that.  I was sad to hear that he died and his funeral was yesterday.


02 06 2015 Chicago 1 (1)

On the only sunny day since I arrived in Chicago, I found half an hour while waiting for the bus back to O’Hare airport.  I wandered into Grant Park, which overlooks Lake Michigan but is separated from it by a busy road.  As a subject for a sketch, I was daunted by the spectacular fountain as the subject.  Instead, I sat with my back to it and drew in charcoal the city skyline over the trees.

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This is the sketch as I completed it on scene.  Once home, I worked back into it with water and harder pressure on the stick, scraping back the damp surface to reveal the white beneath and accentuating the contrast as the wet charcoal clung to the ruckles.  I added some white acrylic paint with a stick and scraped it back along a straight edge.  At some point I had to stop.