Why the long face?

horse-200-scan145 face-200-scan146face-photoshop

More fun with the fountain pen. Seems to be weaning me off the pencil. Multiple strokes build up into a surprisingly dark layer (though these poor scans are overly dark). The paper in this Daler Rowney sketchbook (A5 150gsm cartridge paper) starts to break up if overworked with the fine ‘F’ nib but still stays dark.

The face sketch (copied from a photo by Marta Azevedo) was an experiment to see if fountain pen, brush pen and watercolour lamp black will mix when run together. Lamp black and brush pen ink look almost identical on paper, though you can see brush strokes/unevenness in the original which don’t show in these scans. Lexington Gray at its blackest feathers in quite nicely to the brush pen ink.

Corrections and photoshop liberties taken in the final one. Is that cheating? Does it matter?

EDM 10 – hands


EDM#10 a tough one. These are copied from Mucha posters (I thought if I drew someone else’s hands then I’d have two hands to draw with!). Instead of being stylised and cartoony it’s surprising how much anatomical detail is in his figures (the flowing, effortless lines are lost in these copies).

EDM 9 – organised chaos


Drawn fast, with no looking back.

Fun to do and makes for a lively cartoony drawing, even if the computer has shrunk and the pen holder has inflated. Drawing this way can be a welcome break from slow careful drawing.


flower power


Drawn from a photo taken when strong sun was shining into a darkened room, hitting the flower and creating some interesting lighting.

It doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny with all those grubby pencil marks and scrappy lines. The graphite from the underlying pencil sketch gets trapped and sealed by even a light watercolour wash. Even if I’d rubbed most of it out before painting I think some would have shown through. There must be better ways to do the initial outline sketch.

EDM 8 – watch


Back of my father’s self-winding watch. The automatic mechanism makes it keep ticking eerily when picked up after months untouched.

Found this a tough one, partly because the subject is so small but also because it’s hard to keep track of the complicated rings of light and dark which taper in and out, and it’s weird to go into writing mode in the middle of a drawing (a sure sign I’m doing it wrong).

new pen fun

cello-beardy-scan137-500 tulips-scan138-500 p63-the-printed-picture-scan136-700

New toys arrived in the shape of a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and Uni Pin Fine Line markers. The brush pen is a delicate and twitchy beast which frightens easily but can produce a very satisfying line when it obeys, and because the inks are permanent and waterproof the watercolour can be applied after the ink (though in the chromolithograph copy, the 0.05mm Uni Pin was applied last as it hadn’t arrived at the time of colouring).

The top picture is copied from a photo by Mark J. Davis, part of the series Suspended Dreams: The Unknown Musicians, the vase with tulips was copied from a photo, and the chromolithograph reproduction was found in The Printed Picture by Richard Benson.

EDM 7 – tin in pen


EDM 7: Draw a bottle, jar or tin from the kitchen.

This started as a pencil sketch (there was much erasing) followed by watercolours and finally pen. I rushed the beginning of the final inking stage, just as I should have been slowing down and paying closer attention to the final effect, with the result that it’s sloppier than I intended and hoped-for close-up labyrinthian joy has been lost. Symmetrical designs are especially unforgiving. Also the perspective on the lid is wrong.

Still using the Papermate Flair (the other pens haven’t arrived yet) which isn’t waterproof, so ink goes on last.

off we go

These first posts began as emails posted to a couple of friends, sent as we shared photos of our latest sketches. We still exchange some sketches by email but it’s more convenient to save it all on a website where it can be a record of discoveries made and techniques learned.

As with any learning process, it’s often the mistakes that are the most instructive. The sketches shown here are more a record of what works and what doesn’t, rather than a showcase of finished pieces.

So the expected audience is rather small, but even so, when posting on a public website it is tempting to be more thorough and exhaustive with the information given than when writing a personal email, often to the point of paralysis. Instead, these early posts are kept short (if incomplete) to pass on brief thoughts or observations, with occasional links to other sites of interest.

The dates of the posts have been altered to match the time the sketches were made, which makes more sense when reading in sequence but that could mean new posts are buried in the pile as I add old sketches. Use the Recently Edited list on the right to find the latest posts. There are also a number of dead links which have accumulated over the years. As they’re corrected they’ll also appear in the Recently Edited list.