Things to do with an A4 sketchbook

Holiday meals sm

At October half-term I was lucky enough to be able to get away on holiday for a week.

Rather than my usual foodie sketches of whole meals on a single page I instead decided to devote an A4 double spread to all my meals across the week.

The funniest of all the sketches to do, was the outgoing trip on the airline; trying to balance an open A4 book whilst I tried to eat and draw! Blimey!


Lost in amongst the hubbub of the food on show – was a welcome return visit to Sykaminia Cafe up in the old town of Paphos; it was pretty cool catching up with owner again, who remembered my visit from a couple of 05 - Sykaminia Cafe - Pork Kebab Pitta smyears ago. I had the Pork Kebab Pitta again – just as delicious as I remembered from my first visit. The old town has been hit pretty hard by the building of a spiffy-looking new shopping centre/mall; which many high-end shops have migrated to leaving the old town as pretty much of a ghost town, where it had once been a popular tourist shopping area for clothes and other trinkets.

Why bother travelling all the way up there when the shopping mall is closer, covered, air-conditioned and has all our favourite eating places?

I hope the cafe’s there the next time I get a chance to visit.

It amused that many of the people who spotted me drawing and chatted with me about it, seemed rather bemused/amused/mystified why I was doing it ‘just for my own amusement’. Well, either I’m crazy, or they are!

I enjoyed drawing my whole-week food diary – but I have to admit I didn’t half miss jotting my notes down next to my meals.



Betty’s Tea rooms II

Bettys A2 smI’ve posted this picture before. 

Well … sort of .

Hit the link above to see my original posting.

Any changes? Well, I’ve tinkered with the text a little. Just a bit here and there, just to tidy it up.

A bed and breakfast in York has requested a print of the sketch for one of there themed rooms, so I’ve polished the writing up a bit so it’s a bit more A2 print-worthy! Yes, you heard it here first … A2! Blimey! I’m used to seeing my little sketches in teeny tiny A5 sketchbooks.

Anyway, back to the story …

When I originally posted the sketch I can’t believe that I missed out the best bit!


As usual before I started sketching I took a quick photo – using my iPad for a change.

Sketched my Fat Rascal and cup of tea – then enjoyed them.

By which time Caroline had finished her meeting and had come to join me for a second round of refreshing tea.

and then we headed back to the car ….

Reaching for iPad … I found that was super hot and the battery was down to a low percentage.

Somehow it had been taking photos the whole time! From the point when my tea and cake arrived – through my sketching and relaxing, then sitting with Caroline chatting and the walk back to the car!


I had about 3500 photos to delete on the way home!

And all of the inside of my bag

Each of the following photographs had several hundred examples. And while I can appreciate their, quite outstanding photographic excellence, it was a bit tedious scrolling down through hundreds of them!

And deleting them too!

Now, I love my drawing bag as much as the next person but 3500 photos from the inside seemed a little extreme!




Long journeys and turning corners

View across Phphos harbour sm

I’m grateful for those times when I can sit and wait.

And take in my surroundings.

It sometimes feels to me that everyone is so caught up in their own world that they can’t see the world that they are in.

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted for a little while. It was a deliberate choice to avoid social media for a while, and I can tell you – it was pretty nice looking at the real world instead watching cats doing funny stuff.

The Eiffel Tower – It’s all getting a bit too meta!

A couple of years ago, whilst in Paris, I sketched the iconic Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel View 01 - sml

This was all done while Lucy and Caroline took a trip up the tower.

I first draw this, about halfway across the Parc du Champs de Mars (Just beside the road, if you must know)

I then wandered across the road and settled down beside a piece of shrubbery to draw another view of the tower.


Eiffel View 02 - smlNot realising that Lucy and Caroline, now having ascended the tower, were taking photographs of the view.

Including me, albeit inadvertently!



Can’t see me, yet?


P1000881cHere I am.

Sat slightly to the right of the cone-shaped shrub.


P1000881eSo, in fact, while Lucy and Caroline were photographing me, I was unknowingly sketching them on my tower sketch.



Sketchcrawl – Nottingham Castle

Saturday’s Sketchcrawl was in Nottingham.

If you’d like to know more about Urban Sketching

After a quick trip around Nottingham (Including stumbling into a local art exhibition and a complimentary glass of Prosecco!) I headed back to the castle.

Now, it’s not really a castle any more. There once was a castle on the site. In fact, in medieval times it was one of the major castles, and royal residences, in the country. What we would think of as a castle was pretty much all destroyed in the mid-1600’s. Since then there have been a couple of manor houses built on the site.

Nottingham castle smSo, what is termed Nottingham Castle, is now the remains of a Ducal Mansion, restored in the late 1800’s. Now used as a museum and art gallery.

My first port of call, when I arrived back was to sketch the outside of the building. But, it was gosh darned cold – so I only completed a rough outline.

Drawing in museums always overwhelms me. While I do like to draw individual items a lot of the time, museums’ overabundance of treasures overtakes me and I’m afraid I spent a little time on my return wandering the various corridors and rooms looking at the well-displayed artefacts.

Peru sm

In the ceramics section of the museum I spotted this unusual clay bottle from Peru, apparently in the shape of a deer.

I splashed on my watercolour first for this sketch and then dried the paint on top of one of the radiators, before sketching in the lines.



It was pretty much lunchtime by this time – I choose a kind of all day breakfast concoction made with Lincolnshire sausage, saute mushrooms and scrambled egg.

sausage smAs you well know, I love drawing my meals out.

But I don’t tend to eat them cold. After taking in the rough outline I sketched in some of the other main lines to denote the different elements of the meal. Then I quickly coloured in; a very rough approximation of the different elements.

Finally I asked my two table companions, Mart and Debbie, to sign the page too. This is something I had been considering doing for the last couple of meals out. A bit more of a connection with who I’m eating out with.

Mart had brought along an electric eraser (One that rotates when you depress a button on the side). He was particularly unimpressed with it as a rubber, but we wondered whether he could re-fit it with a pencil instead of a rubber; an interesting idea – as the line, made with a rotating pencil head, might make for an interesting form.

Persian helmet smAfter lunch, wandering through another room, this Persian helmet caught my eye.

I think it was the interlocked metal rings making up the ‘chain-mails’ neck protector that appealed to me.

It was only once I’d started drawing that I realised that the whole of the actual helmet section was finely decorated with etching work.


Thankfully, much of the fine etching work was hidden from my view by shadow! And besides, it’s a drawing – an impression of what I could see, not a slavish ‘photo-realistic’ image.


Wandering down into the depths of the museum, I found a robin hood exhibition with a fine display of woodland creatures of Sherwood.

fox smAs it was valentine’s day I opted to quickly sketch out the red fox, sulking through the undergrowth.

I worked super quick on this and tried to use a variety of reds and pinks and browns.

As a base for the whole drawing I used a bright pink highlighter pen, which I think has added a different twist on the illustration. A bit more cartoon-y I think. A rougher illustration. Certainly an interesting experiment. I’m not entirely happy with the end result, but I can see potential in this style.


art gallery smFinally, I headed for the long art gallery.

My intention was to draw the whole gallery. In the lower part of the page, you can see where I started to draw in the end wall of the room and some lines of perspective.

A raft of visitors swarmed in and I quickly realised that if I was to draw the room and wait for the visitors to leave I would have a very empty looking room. But this room was not empty! It was buzzing with visitors; all milling about and stopping and staring and pointing. Nobody was really standing about for too long.

I opted instead to sketch out some of the visitors, instead. Using the pink highlighter and a red uni-ball (Two pens that I never, ever, ever use to sketch with!)

I’m quite pleased with a lot of these (very) quick sketches. Drawing people is on my list of things to practice.

I particularly liked the elongated legs that I seem to have given everybody and the figures with a line mark as a nose.


This time –  the challenge that I’ve picked up for myself, is to have a go at a wide vista of a view. Nottingham Castle had some spectacular views across a valley of urban structures, as well as views across the city too. Ordinarily I would shy away from this kind of scene. Probably from fear of getting bogged down in tiny details.


If you’d like to know more about Urban Sketching



Brighouse – Some pubs


The Robin Hood - smallLet’s go back in time to 2011! –

Would I do these building portraits differently now? Probably.

It kinda upset me when this pub closed down – it’s one of the few town pubs with character outside and inside.

Well, not anymore!

It’s also one of the pubs that I sketched totally on site – for this one I sat on a BUSY! roundabout. All the time tensed up about a car or lorry beeping their horn at me and making me jump!

One of the things I truly love about working in ink and watercolour  is the joy of getting things right! in this case I was particularly pleased with the hatching marks on the road.

No pencil! Straight in there with there with the ink pen!


The Star

The Star, ironically, was another pub that I sketched entirely on site.


Both of these picture recall happy memories sitting on  my little stool beside the road.

A I drew this pub, the owner came out and asked if he could have a copy of the illustration.

Once I ‘d finished with the illustration in the exhibition – There was a new owner who wasn’t interested … and now there isn’t any owner at all


Sketchcrawl at a Hat Museum

01-10 - rabbit smWell, you can tell by the title that I was on a Sketchcrawl – Urban Sketchers Yorkshire – that lovely bunch of drawers from Sheffield and Manchester. It was great meeting up with friends old and new and catching up on techniques and materials that, had I been working solely on my own, I’d have taken an age to come up with. (Check it out to see if there’s an urban sketching group near where you live – I can’t give a we address, I don’t know where you live! But I’m sure, if you check around, there’ll be some group, or other, that meets up every-so-often to sketch outdoors as a group. The groups are always friendly and it truly is a great way to discover new techniques and materials!)

It sometimes feels that there are three sureties in the world; birth, death and I will find some kind of food to draw.

Who else on today’s Sketchcrawl … IN A MUSEUM OF HATS! found something to draw that they could eat?

Who knew that rabbit fur was used to make top hats!? Well, I didn’t!

To be fair, I didn’t eat the rabbit. It was in a glass case, for a start. And it was definitely stuffed (which I was not!) along with a Beaver which was in the cabinet beside it – the Beaver looked rather dustier (and I don’t know any recipes – so, it didn’t get my mouth watering!)

Drawing farm animals for the forthcoming book by The AA has renewed my interest in drawing animals. There’s something appealing about drawing simple lines to convey life and alertness. And fur! Especially tricky when I’m only using vertical hatching!

Anchor Bridge – Brighouse

anchor bridge smOne of my favourite bridges in my local town of Brighouse. I’ve drawn the pub beside it in the past – coincidently also called The Bridge, although I think it was called something else originally.

This view is looking down the canal towards the marina in Brighouse and I was positioned on the footpath/cycle-path which was part of my cycling route to work.

Days when you can cycle to work along the canal towpath for the majority of the journey, cycling past the morning traffic jams! – surely must rank pretty highly on the ‘living the life’ list – passing ducks and squirrels on the way to work; what could be better?

Cacao Cafe – Out and about in Tenerife

Cacao Cafe smOut on a bit of driving tour of Tenerife, we stopped off at La Laguna and found this fabulous little coffee shop.

My Bizcocho Zanahoria was a bit like a plain scone, dusted with icing sugar and light as a feather.

As we sat and watched life pass the shop Morcheeba was playing on the CD player and I sighed at the thought of finding a similarly cool hang-out back home.

I know of several artists who have found ‘their’ cafe, their spiritual (and caffeine) hang-out. But, for all my meals and snacks out I haven’t yet found mine.


Kew Gardens – Hot dog

We’re staying over at a hotel at Kew, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit The Royal Botanical Gardens.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and although the car park was packed, the gardens themselves were fairly crowd free; attesting to their grand scale.

Kew - Hot dog smLucy and I enjoyed a hot dog snack on one of the lawns beside a path and we watched passersby … er … pass by.

Unfortunately we didn’t visit any of the justifiably impressive glass houses. But Lucy and Caroline did visit Kew Palace.

My regular Sketchcrawl group were having a meet up today where they were practicing putting paint on their paper before marking in the lines, so I thought I’d join in whilst my family sauntered round the palace.

Kew Palace smI sat with my back to a sundial and quickly sketched.


Luckily it was a bright, sunny day – so my paint dried quickly enough for me to start drawing in the palace’s many, many windows.