Sunday, 27 October 2013

Canal Sketches

Hungerford Lock - 20 minute drawing
21 October 2013
Watercolour, gouache and ink
Moleskine A4 Watercolour Album

Last week, Elaine and I had a relaxing narrow boat holiday on the Kennet and Avon canal with Paul and Wendy and their dog Alfie.

Bridge 76 from Kintbury - 5 minute drawing
20 October 2013
Derwent Graphitint Pencils
Moleskine Watercolour Notebook – Pocket

In the evenings, I followed (loosely) some lessons on sketching by Katherine Tyrell (see

Jupiter - 15 minute drawing
20 October 2013
Watercolour, gouache and ink
Moleskine A4 Watercolour Album

The first assignment in Katherine’s class involves drawing sketches within a time limit. Katherine suggests doing this assignment at home, but I felt comfortable enough to draw from the boat or a bench on the towpath. I drew the:

  • 5 minute sketches in a Moleskine Watercolour Notebook – Pocket (5 ½"x 3 ½" / 14cm x 9cm) using Derwent Graphitint Pencils
  • Longer sketches in a Moleskine Folio Watercolour Album - A4 (11 ¾" x 8 ¼" / 29.7cm x 21cm) using pencil and ink

West Mills (Newbury) - 10 minute drawing
22 October 2013
Watercolour, gouache and ink
Moleskine A4 Watercolour Album

For the longer sketches, I used about half of the time to draw a gesture study in pencil and the other half to do a very quick contour study in ink. I completed the drawing in the time allowed, but then spent a lot longer painting them with watercolour and gouache. In cold or damp weather, the paint seems to take forever to dry on the Moleskine paper. I ended up using a more direct wet into wet approach than I intended because the dwindling light meant I didn’t have time to wait for multiple layers of paint to dry.

Katherine suggests concentrating on sketching without colour until you get the hang of sketching. I am going to heed this advice on my next sketching trip and focus on creating some tonal sketches in pencil.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Studio Rousar Memory Drawing Group - Weeks 13 to 18

Studio Rousar Memory Drawing - Week 18 Day 3

The exercises from the Studio Rousar Memory Drawing Group (see are time consuming, but they are entertaining and I think I am improving.

Weeks 13 to 18 return to memorising outlines after the challenges of memorising tone (see Studio Rousar Memory Drawing Group - Weeks 7 to 12).

The basic instructions are the same as for the original exercises, but the shapes are more taxing and you are limited to studying the images for 5 minutes before each attempt to draw them.

Studio Rousar Memory Drawing - Week 13 Day 4

The outlines for weeks 13, 14 and 15 are silhouettes of figures from Greek kraters (large vases used to mix wine and water in Ancient Greece)

The images do not have any reference lines or reference points, but I added lines at the top and bottom to make it easier to compare my drawings with the originals. In retrospect, these lines acted as references, but the exercises were still challenging enough - I don’t feel as though I cheated too badly.

Studio Rousar Memory Drawing - Week 15 Day 4

The outlines for weeks 16, 17 and 18 are abstract shapes.

Studio Rousar Memory Drawing - Week 17 Day 3

I have no idea how accurately my drawings should match the originals, but I am pleased if:
  • The drawing reflects the gesture of the figure or shape
  • The drawing contains each major change of direction in the outline
  • Each attempt is better than the previous one

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Bant’s Carn

Bant’s Carn
Watercolour on Paper
34cm x 24cm (13.5" x 9.5")

Bant’s Carn is a Bronze Age burial chamber on St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. It sits on the crest of Halangy Down and on the slope towards the sea lie the remains of an Iron Age village.

The weather wasn’t quite as bad as the picture suggests, but Elaine and I considered sheltering in the tomb for a few minutes while the rain was particularly heavy. The conditions gradually improved and we enjoyed our walk around the island which packs a lot of variety into a relatively short circuit: ancient sites, wonderful coast scenery, an out of the way and unexpectedly good cake stop, the only traffic lights I’ve ever seen on a coastal footpath, a pub with a beer festival and Harold Wilson’s grave.

Coastal Path Traffic Lights 

We would have enjoyed the walk with the sun and blue skies we had on other days (see Garrison Bell), but ancient sites are sometimes best appreciated in the rain.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


Transition - Towards Stoke Fleming
Ink on Rice Paper
28.5cm x 20cm (11.25" x 8")

Transition is the second principle of composition from chapter 3 of Composition by Arthur Wesley Dow. The first principle is Opposition. Dow defines Transition as a step beyond Opposition.
"Two straight lines meeting in opposing directions give an impression of abruptness, severity or even violence."
"If a third line is added, the opposition is softened and an effect of unity and completeness in produced."
"This combination typifies beauty itself which has been defined as consisting of elements of difference harmonized by elements of unity."

Examples of Transition - copied from Composition 
Ink on Rice Paper
18cm x 9cm (7" x 3.5")

The exercises for Transition include:

  • Copying examples from the text
  • Designing corner ornaments for panels and book covers
  • Drawing examples from nature

Captial - Example of Transition - copied from Composition
Ink on Rice Paper
9cm x 10cm (3.5" x 4")

The drawing at the top of the post is a scene from the South Devon coast. The same view appeared as a tonal sketch on Tonal Studies. This is probably quite a subtle example of transition, because the opposing lines meet off the page, but I couldn't find many better examples in my collection of photographs.

Corner Design with Diagonals
Ink on Rice Paper
14cm x 14cm (5.5" x 5.5")

I am persevering with using Japanese brushes for the exercises, but I struggle to draw pleasing lines with them. This is a good indication I should keep practicing, but it is frustrating because I can draw better lines with a marker pen.

Corner Design with Chequers
Ink on Rice Paper
14cm x 14cm (5.5" x 5.5")

You can find another description of Transition in the post Principles of Composition: Opposition and Transition  on Paul Foxton’s  Learning To See blog.