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!
Last summer, I sketched a Victorian building in Newcastle-under-Lyme. This was a fine example with plenty of details , especially the terracotta tiles. Terracotta means ‘fired earth’ -and describes a form of moulded clay masonry of a finer quality than standard bricks.
Terracotta tile, King St, Newcastle under Lyme
Terracotta tile, King St, Newcastle under Lyme
Sketching the building as a whole meant losing some of the finer details so I took a bit more time to draw these ornamental terracotta tiles.
A month or so later, I was sketching in London and spotted these tiles on Cross St., Islington.
The following month I noticed more tiles on The Swimmer, the pub around the corner from where our son lives off the Holloway Road.
It was then that I decided to keep a drawn record of all the architectural terracotta tiles that I come across whilst sketching and drawing the street as they form a quiet signature of a time and place. Looking into these tiles a little further, I read that ‘by the 1860s a number of eminent English architects had recognised terracotta’s value for mass-producing ornament and fine masonry by casting from an original, combining new technology with traditional craftsmanship’. Read more about this here
I thought I would make a start by sharing these sketched examples. The sketch below was a postcard original of the Swimmer tiles for a recent fund raiser for Shape Arts
Finally, I will sign off with this one sketched today – a collage of tiles from a local school – Hassell Primary, Newcastle-under-Lyme.
I have returned to drawing Holloway Road, the Great North Road – and paused to draw Dorset House in more detail. It caught my eye as it is quite small compared with its neighbours yet with a few faded classical details, it quietly holds its own.
Here it is in context with its neighbours:
I have tried to find out a little bit of the history of the building but not got very far until today perhaps…
We have been down to London to join today’s walk in support of Crohns and Colitis UK. The walk takes place every June, and around a thousand supporters walk through the City as a fundraiser and to raise awareness of this disease.
Walking has a lot in common with drawing as it allows you the time and space to enjoy details in the landscape and architecture you might otherwise miss. In this picture, we are walking along South Bank towards Southwark Bridge and you can just make out its trident lamposts above a band of green; here’s part of the bridge in detail:
Having only just finished drawing Dorset House, I immediately recognised the balustrade detailing and couldn’t help but wonder if it is by the the same architect. looking at the plaque, I see that Sir Ernest George designed this bridge.
I love finding little details like this. If you know anything about this architect, or Dorset House, I would be delighted to hear from you.