Back to basics


Every now and then it’s good to remind yourself about the basics of what you do – about 10 days ago I attended a one-day drawing workshop. The teacher had set up a series of still-life objects along a long table, and gave us various techniques for getting the form, using charcoal, graphite, ink in various degrees of dilution, water-soluble pastels, regular pastels. The techniques weren’t new to me, I have used them many times before, but haven’t used them for quite some time, and this was a good brain refresher. It was about being quite loose, building the forms and working back into them. For most of the morning I couldn’t find my pace and felt fairly lost, but once I gave up trying too hard and just let go, interesting marks emerged.

A large bust of Julius Caesar was the catalyst for me getting into it – by the fourth drawing I had regained my confidence and enthusiasm to do more. I wasn’t looking to get a good likeness, just interesting marks. I’ve realised it takes me a while to settle into a new way of working – when I have done workshops in the past, it’s been only right at the end that I get going, and have the ‘Ah-ha’ moment, so I probably need to do more and really get myself moving more quickly.

Below are four of the drawings I did of the bust, in chronological order. I find it interesting to see how they became less tentative.

This Friday I decided to continue working with these techniques, but using better paper, and have come out with work I find interesting. I’m not sure how much more of this kind of work I will do – in some ways it feels quite foreign, but in others very exciting. Maybe I need to persist a bit more!


The blot series – no 3, Galaxies


The third drawing in the blot series is complete. I have decided to give the series the title of ‘Galaxies’ – ‘blots’ doesn’t really cover where these drawings have progressed to, even though that is where they began. The word Galaxies can cover more than just other physical worlds, it can be the worlds of our imagination. Something I am really enjoying about these is the input I get from viewers as to what they see in them. Some are quite literal, faces or insects, others much more ephemeral, to do with stories and ideas, brain activity and portals into distant worlds. All are equally valid. To me they are floating, drifting shapes, changing form and character, coming in and out of focus, each element has a story of its own, and these stories change from one day to another.

Above are details of this drawing.

Above are the first two drawings in this series.

All are made using Liquid Pencil and Caran d’Ache coloured pencils, graphite pencils on Magnani Corona paper, 35 x 25 cm.

The blot series – no.2


The second in the series of eight drawings based on blots is completed (I think – there is always room for a bit more work …). This one has much more colour than the first (see here) in the series, and that one had more than the large piece that I called Evolution (see here). I’m not sure why this is, maybe there was more colour suggested in the original blots, or maybe I am getting more confident in applying colour. I am finding that I can get more intense darks with coloured pencil than graphite, but for precision there is nothing to compete with a very sharp clutch pencil lead.

This one has more substance to it, less of the fragile, insubstantial marks. The imagery is more like folded fabrics, although there is still the sense of floating and drifting.


This is what I began with, the Liquid Pencil blots on the paper. I remove some of the heavier encrustations of the paste as I can’t draw through it, but otherwise I simply work with what has appeared on the paper.

These are details from the complete work. In some ways I like the intensity of the details best, but I will wait till I have completed the set before deciding if I am going to cut them up and possibly make them into 3D objects.

I used Liquid Pencil for the blots and Caran d’Ache Luminance and Pablo pencils for the colour, and a 2mm 2B clutch pencil for the graphite, on Magnani Corona paper, 25 x 35 cm.