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



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!

Dukes 92 – Burger

Dukes 92 - Burger smOut in Manchester on a Sketchcrawl.

If you’ve not heard of this before, a Sketchcrawl is where a group of artists meet up and draw. Usually on location and usually for a few hours, perhaps even for the whole day. Several different locations are used and participants can draw, sketch or paint however and whatever they want to do. At the end of the time the group usually meets up and we share sketchbooks. Actually we share sketchbooks and ideas and try each others’ materials as well.

It’s a fabulous way to spend a day, or part thereof. A wonderful opportunity to make new friends and learn from masters in their craft.

For example, Urban Sketchers Yorkshire boasts two noteworthy artists;

Lynne Chapman, is a children’s book writer and illustrator, and produces wonderful pencil sketches of people and scenes.

Andrea Joseph, produces the most intricately detailed drawings using biro’s as her main medium.

If you enjoy sketching, or drawing, or painting check out your favourite search engine for a local Sketchcrawl group

or check out the main Sketchcrawl website.

or the Urban Sketchers

All levels of ability are welcomed and you’re sure to make good friends, learn some new techniques and look odd standing on a street corner drawing or painting.

If you have enjoyed this post of the illustration, please feel free to share it in the social media of your choice.

Thank you


Sketchcrawl breakfast

I could tell that there were new sketchcrawlers this morning.


Pride of the Peaks - Breakfast sm“It’ll go cold while you’re drawing it” – I was advised.

and yup!

It did go cold … but I did chow down as I drew.



So … outlines first …


IMG_6965Then I start to add colour (When I work live I tend to detail specific areas – so they can be locked and completed …. and eaten – please note – there is only one sausage left in these photos; once I’d drawn it in and shaded I ate:)


Continue to add texture (and continue to eat the sausages … 🙂


IMG_6968… and the toast (which barely appears on the drawing anyway) and the beans at the far right …


IMG_6969… and finished