A few weeks ago, the weather was set fair so we took off to Anglesey for a bike ride and a night in our tent. I love these 24 hour mini-holidays. Not driving too far and getting fresh sea air is a tonic and I really enjoy exploring places new to us.
I had a new tiny palm sized sketchbook to make a start in. The best sketchbooks are the full ones so I got stuck in. There’s a church tower rising over the dense trees opposite the entrance to the campsite. It’s dedicated to an early Celtic female saint – Saint Ceinwen. Apparently there’s a holy well somewhere in the area – finding where that’s hidden will be a destination for another day!
Thanks for the subject of this next sketch Aunty J!
The following morning, we cycled out to the Cefni Reservoir from Newborough Sands. Most of the route is off the main road, alongside waterways full of wildlife.
I love this time of year. We went on this trip just before Midsummer when growth is at its peak. Have to grab and treasure these days when we can.
This week, Stoke Urban Sketchers celebrated international recognition as they were granted the status of ‘Regional Chapter’ within the global community of Urban Sketchers.
The group met up for a sketch this Saturday in the New Vic and the group founders, Laura Green and Rhomany Klair Scattergood were interviewed by the Sentinel for a feature as part of the Stoke bid for City of Culture 2021. There’s a taster video of the sketching session here filmed by Rhomany.
Instead of sharing my recent sketches, I thought I would rewind a bit to where I began keeping a sketch book. A few years ago, it was a wish of mine to become a member of the Urban Sketching community. I loved the confidence and simplicity of sketches from life and how people would share their sketches from all over the world. The range of skill is quite dramatic – from hurried sketches to accomplished works of art.
Even with my background in architecture, I still found it quite daunting to sketch out on the street, but that was only until I came across the work of Danny Gregory and his genius idea of Sketch Book Skool.
I think I was the eighteenth person to enlist on ‘Beginning‘, that first round of Sketch Book Skool lessons, which was such a brilliant experience. There must be thousands enlisted now. Danny and his co-teachers taught us all to just go for it – to sketch our days and in so doing we sketch our lives.
For these sketches, I was following a lesson given by Prashant Miranda, recording a day from start to end, my early dip into sketching from life, which is all urban sketching is about.
If you are thinking of joining a local group of Urban Sketchers – it is really informal and you’ll be made very welcome!
Having a sketch book means waiting for anything is a pleasure, especially somewhere like Stoke Station where there are plenty of subjects to draw. This letterbox on Platform One caught my eye, marked with the initials GR, for George VI (reigned 1936 to 1952). The evening sunlight was pouring all over it and it was so bright, it looked gilded in places.
Thanks to @Rhomany for recommending Holbein Watercolours and the juicy Vermillion Hue, this is a proper letterbox red!
On the opposite side of the station stands the North Stafford Hotel , built in 1847, and listed grade 2*, with its grand Dutch gables and rows of chimney pots.
These sketches are tiny – drawn in a palm sized pocket sketch book – one of the ‘Perfect Sketchbooks‘ made up by Erwin Lian. The paper is lovely to draw on and means that is is easy to zoom on an a detail and draw something like a chimney stack, or a chap with his phone and coffee.
There were a few trips down south last month so a few London sketches will follow soon.
Signing off with the best thing to follow a run of townie sessions: a day out cycling on the Welsh coast!
On the top floor of the brand new Fiona Stanley hospital in Perth, there’s a dedicated visitors’ room complete with all you need to help yourself to a brew or chilled water thanks to donations from the Australian #DryJuly. A perfect refuge for me who had just arrived from UK and was all at sixes and sevens with the seven hour time difference.
This was an unplanned, hasty visit as my sister had been admitted to intensive care then moved to ward 7D. She was so poorly.
I unplugged from all social media simply because I wanted to be fully present with my Aussie family.
My sketch book though is a great soother and even these bins became quite a focus when everything else was just too hard to take in. In spite of clear labels, when under stress – no one knows what to throw where!
Nights alternated between the ward and my temporary Aussie home, looking toward the river and my nieces’ childhood tree house, built to last over 20 years ago, by their Dad.
Every other night was spent on the recliner with Anne, on the top floor of the 5 star, state-of-the-art hospital, overlooking the city skyline. A room with quite a view!
Perth City Skyline from ward 7 D Fiona Stanley
Towards the end of my visit, my sister gradually began to recover. Looking out between the blinds, we noticed an unexpected sky treat – a splinter of light which burst into a huge illuminated candle on the corner of Perth’s landmark QV1 building, designed by the architect Harry Seidler.
These are rare and treasured moments.
Asking to ‘go out’ for a coffee is a significant sign of improvement!
This has been an unforgettable and profoundly moving trip. Anne remains an outpatient under the watchful care of her healthcare team with a large question mark as to what treatment next. We are all so grateful for the extraordinary care, prayers and kindness given to Anne. They are received by all our family with gratitude.
This post is for my nieces – with love and thanks, from Aunty Ron XX
Plans for January to be a time of taking stock of where I’m going and all that have gone out the window! Instead I’m treating it as a time to recharge the batteries.
We went for a great leg stretch up on the Long Mynd a week into the New Year which helped me recover form some cold bug (too long spent sketching in the cold in Hanley!) when I did the above sketch in Church Stretton whilst Iain went and had a look in a bike shop.
Christmas was fab but we had to say cheerio to our much loved old girl Nina shortly after. She almost made it to 14 years.
It’s a quiet house without a dog (first time in 18 years) – although noticeably cleaner!
Then last Saturday afternoon it was really lovely to meet up with some sketching enthusiasts in Middleport Potteries, as I joined the Stoke branch of Urban Sketchers sketching in and around the buildings.
Middleport is famous for its Burleighware, those rich deep blue and white pots – we have a jug at home which my sister bought for me – like this one:
Thanks for reading and wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2017.
It’s Christmas Eve so this will be a short one. Just wanted to say thanks for all the follows and comments this year and to wish you all the warmest wishes of the season.
Also, some of you sketching fans may be interested to learn about the Society of Architectural Illustration – full of great drawings by architectural illustrators all over the world. I have been working towards joining this society for some time and not long ago sent off a few examples of my work. I’m really pleased to have been elected a member and the Wedgwood Door, Burslem is now my profile avatar!
I will close with a section of St Edward Street, Leek, where last Saturday I had a coffee in Spout (served up in Blue Calico Burleighware – fantastic!) with a great view of the opposite side of this historic street – formerly known as Spout Street.
A few years ago John, our son, gave me a hefty 10 metre roll of lovely thick cartridge paper as well as a concertina sketch book with another 10 metres of drawing paper.
The roll of cartridge paper made me commit to that first long street drawing (you can look back on that here) but the sketch book has remained unopened until last week when I received another gift out of the blue from Laura – some Uniball pens. Now these are the pens I turn to first for my on-the-hoof street sketches as they are waterproof and lightfast and have a range of fine points giving pin-sharp lines.
Last Saturday was forecast fair so I took off to the historic market town of Leek, in the heart of the Staffordshire Moorlands, with my new pens and sketchbook.
Leek has to be the friendliest town centre I’ve drawn in so far. It was a busy Saturday with a lot of people in town and although I was on Church Street, tucked out of sight of the main square, people still came over to see what I’d drawn and to pass the time of day with me. The sketches are pretty rough and ready but should help me get set up for the more formal drawing to follow.
I’m planning on drawing a series of streets in Leek which I hope I will have ready in time to go up in a shared exhibition in November at the Foxlowe Art Centre when Staffordshire Artists Cooperative will be putting on a joint display of their work.
I travelled light with my kit: a few Uniball unipin pens, a single ultramarine blue watercolour pan, a Pentel black ink brush and a waterbrush pen. I go easy with the brush pens on this paper but it helps to add a bit of shading to the buildings by dabbing some of the ink into a jam jar lid (travel palette) to dilute it first.