Lantern and Leaf

WE CALL at our niece Sarah’s new house in Wakefield and, while chatting over tea and homemade cupcakes, I draw this lantern and leaf.

Just as I’m uploading these sketches back in my studio I catch sight of a silhouette against the blue sky; a Buzzard soars across above me.

That’s the kind of thing that I was hoping that I’d see more of when I moved my computer to this end of the studio by the metre square Velux window in the mansard roof.

I notice that the cock Pheasant has now broken off his bowing and bullying display to a hen Pheasant who was sitting on the plank bench in the corner of my meadow area. He was strutting and bowing on the ground below the bench.

Every year I think that I might get around to doing a decent drawing of the Snowdrops, to start the season as I’d like to go on but, as in previous years, I’ve left it just that little bit too late and they’re already past their best. Those in the shade of the hedge look the freshest.

Put Your Feet Up & Draw

I’ve drawn my left hand so many times while in waiting rooms but drawing my feet is better left until I’m relaxing at home. As I said the other day, I’m enjoying these pen and ink drawings, although here I’m back to ArtPen rather than pen and Indian Ink.

I was taking a look at a Photoshop magazine in the supermarket. Most of the projects don’t appeal to me as they tend to focus on touching up portraits or adding surrealist flourishes to photographs but a step-by-step workshop on turning a photograph of plant pots on greenhouse staging into pen and wash appealed to my both in its subject and its treatment.

Put simply, I gathered as I scanned the pages with no intention of buying the magazine (this is a man thing according to a woman we were talking to the other day), you use a filter that selects edges only then tweak it a bit to give a pen and ink effect and you add a free watercolour layer by hand. It was remarkably effective in reproducing the free and easy charm of pen and wash.

Even taking a close look at the final drawing I think that I would have assumed it was hand drawn but it raises the question of why would you wish to deny yourself the pleasure of hand-drawing all those shapes.

Talking of Photoshop tutorials, the box that I drew around my drawing was prompted by Daniel Fieske’s Gnome tutorial that I followed through the other day. As I was trying to build up tone in my drawing in the weave of the jeans, the knitting of the socks and the out of focus background, it made sense to add an edge, rather than fade out in a vignette and have the tone fade out too.

I’m  very literal when it comes to drawing and you might say well there’s no box around subjects in real life but then there aren’t outlines, stipples and cross-hatchings either. As with Fieske’s Gnome I’m actually conjuring up a little world in any sketch even when I’m following what I can see with reasonable care and attention. The frame helps suggest that this should be taken as a view into a little world (in this case a rather unappealing corner of a world occupied by my feet).

I’m sure that I’ll get launched again on my book work soon and I wish that I could keep this kind of looseness and animation going in my illustrations, which will be in pen and ink. I seem to stiffen up my style and become rather earnest and uptight when I know that I’m working for publication.

Join the Conversation


  1. I find my self shaking my head yes…in agreement to what you have to say–it seems so strange to me that I would think the same thoughts ( here I thought I was the only one that thought that way) etc….—a 76 year old artist enjoying the illustrated journaling like nothing else I’ve ever done….You’ve left a lot of your artist’s mind in your work…bravo !

    1. Occasionally it’s good to go a bit too far and over-finish a painting but I much prefer it if there are some traces of the creative process still visible.
      Hockney, who has filled the Royal Academy with recent work, aged 74, is fond of quoting an old Chinese proverb that ‘painting is an old man’s game’

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.