Have you ever tried to pin down where a new story begins? In my world the best stories begin with a sketch. Take this one from 2014, part of the very first series of Sketchbook Skool ‘Beginning’
Four years later and it’s second nature to draw a few bottles on the wall of Glasgow’s Pot Still where we were enjoying a glass of Edradour during our transition North. It’s a convivial pub especially on a snowy night and we began chatting with our table companions over my sketchbook…They were over from Germany visiting some distilleries and I gave it hardly a passing thought when Jens mentioned he was looking for an artist to draw labels.
I’ve got quite a few whisky sketches tucked away. They’re a bit of a clue that I quite like a malt though I am no expert!
I’m going to keep this a short story.
Today I finished the 386th hand drawn label to go on a very fine 1976 Speyside Malt for Sansibar – an independent bottler in Germany. You can see some of the bottles here: Sansibar
It’s been a drawing marathon taking up pretty much all of my working time since moving to Scotland at the end of June. Each label is a sketch of somewhere I’ve been to over the years, some detail that caught my eye, or some place that meant something to me including our current neighbours’ place (below). If you look closely you’ll see their dog Flynn being watched by our two cats and the local stray (now part of our gang) with his half bitten ear. We call him Rum Tum. Plums are dripping off the trees above him and you can see the old apple trees of the Clyde Valley orchards beyond.
If you really want an idea of where we’ve moved to, Countryfile did a short tv clip on the Clyde Valley orchards filmed practically on our doorstep. We live in the Fruit Basket of Scotland!
So these are the last batch of labels on their way to Germany.
This has been my view as I work – the mist is over the River Clyde in the valley below.
It’s been a wrench to leave Staffordshire with a lot of goodbyes on top of the passing of my beloved sister but what a time it has been this summer!
I haven’t forgotten my streets and will leave you with a taste of my new surroundings with a big thank you for reading!
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!
It’s Sketch Book Skool time of year! I have signed up to six weeks of ‘Stretching’ with Jonathan Twingley as our first teacher and it has given me a timely nudge to loosen up away from my formal architectural drawings. So, as a change from streets, here are a few pages from my sketchbook made over the weekend.
Starting with a long wait in the fracture clinic and a great excuse to draw a few faces, I’m pleased to say that all my fractures are well on the mend and I have now been signed off.
Our first Sketchbook Skool assignment with Jonathan Twingley has been playing around with ink splats – drawing freely in ink and seeing what takes shape. His work is extraordinary and well worth having a look.
This has been a great weekend to draw as we have had our friends Bill and Lucky Steve here, a winning Stoke game and another whisky festival to draw:
Finally, this great weekend was rounded up by a meal out and a musical treat.
We first listened to Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar play at the 2014 Shrewsbury Folk Festival – they were brilliant! Last night they were playing in Shrewsbury at the Morris Hall. They really are excellent and worth a listen, you can hear some of their tracks through the links on their website.
Back to normal with the next post – I have just completed Micklgate, York which will soon appear on the website www.drawingthestreet.co.uk.