Sketchcrawl – Nottingham Castle

Saturday’s Sketchcrawl was in Nottingham.

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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.


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“Urban Watercolor Sketching” by Felix Scheinberger

This book is such a treat!

Urban Watercolor Sketching smAlex Scheinberger approaches sketching with such energy and vibrancy that it’s hard not to get carried along on a journey through rediscovering drawing and painting in an exhilarating and refreshing way.

Essentially the book is Alex’s take on various aspects of water colouring. While it doesn’t particular cover anything groundbreaking, the way Alex approaches the various ideas are exciting and fresh.

It is a delightful book, packed with all manner of dazzlingly coloured sketches.

The book is divided into sections which consist of about ten or so chapters


Intro – Looks at the basics of paint; what it is

First attempts – Covers various techniques with paints and inks

Excursion in colour theory – Looks at where colours come from and how the watercolorist can manipulate them in various ways

Your own style – How to find your own style

Basics/tools – Looks at the various tools needed to Urban Sketch

Out and about – How to Urban Sketch in different atmospheric and weather conditions

Tips and tricks – A whole slew of practical tips. from how to ‘Undo’ mistakes, to ‘How much is your picture worth?’, to ‘Working with colored paper’

Urban Watercolor Sketching 01 Urban Watercolor Sketching 02

I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in sketching and painting from life.

154 pages