Sketching in Crete 2019

The air in Crete was warm and damp. This affected the paper. See how the ink has spread in this pen and ink sketch at the airport:

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This is De Atramentis Black document ink on high quality watercolour paper, Saunders Waterford, in a small book 6″ by 4″ from the Vintage Paper Company.

After that, I used pencil and watercolour only. Here is a view of the Akrotori peninsula. The warship is lurking in the NATO base.

We lived with insects. At a hand movement, other movements occurred, in the air, on the kitchen surfaces, on the floor. Ants made their way across the breadboard, collecting crumbs or notifying HQ of the location of the honey drip. Beetles arrived suddenly, folded their wings and inspected the floor. I tried drawing them.

Two geckos made their miraculous appearance some evenings and early mornings. They emitted small squeaks.

These are images made on “sun print” paper, using plants, and cut-out paper shapes. The geckos are a species of nocturnal reptile: Hemidactylus turcicus or Mediterranean House Gecko. They are insectivorous, eating, amongst other things, moths. I wondered if they would like to live in the Barbican ducts. It must be quite warm in there, and they would be entirely welcome to devour the moths.

They stick to the walls not with suckers but with hairs on their feet. The feet of geckos are subject of intense scientific interest, I read, since these hairs are so configured that they get close to the wall on an atomic scale (10 nanometers or so). At this distance the molecules of the feet attract, rather than repel, the molecules of the wall. There is a whole compendium of physics effects which make this possible: quantum mechanical, electrostatic, surface tension.  There could be an entire undergraduate course on the feet of the Gecko.

Outdoors there is landscape…

…and a garden.

I am learning to draw clouds. There were a lot of them.

I am learning to draw quickly. Here are some very quick sketches from cafés.

The grass was cut around the lower buildings in ancient Aptera, revealing arches.

Arches make poetry in the Agia Triada monastery: a pre-departure pause….

 

…before the airport.

Technical details

Pictures done in sketchbooks:

Using Watercolour box 1:

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Sun print paper was from Cowling and Wilcox on the Kingsland Road. It is called “Sunography”. I printed it on both sides.

 

 

 

 

Excelsior, LT472, Lowestoft

I sketched “Excelsior” which was moored in Lowestoft Heritage Quay.

She is a former fishing smack, built 1921, now a training vessel based at Lowestoft.

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The water was very muddy because a dredger was at work in the river channel, providing education and entertainment to those on the jetty.

It took me 1 hour 15 minutes to draw Excelsior. I was sitting on the concrete, facing away from the dredger entertainment and looking at Excelsior through a fence.

Here is work in progress.

 

A walk to Wapping

Today was a beautiful day. It was a day to go for a walk.

I went to the river. Near Old Billingsgate I looked under London Bridge and saw Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast. This is a 15 minute sketch, watercolour-only, no pen.

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Onwards towards the East, I stood on Sugar Quay, which has only just re-opened after years of being closed while the nearby hotel is built.

Here is the Shard, in context,  from a wooden bench on Sugar Quay.

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This map shows my walk:

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Tourists congregate around Tower Bridge. East of Tower Bridge, after St Katherines Dock, there are no tourists at all. It was suddenly very quiet. I went down “Alderman Steps”. There was this great view. The wind was fierce, and my eyes were streaming. I had a go anyway. Two mallards bobbed around amongst the floating quays, chatting away, looking around as if searching for something lost.

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Then I went on East. I had lunch in a hipster café called “Urban Baristas” on Wapping High Street.

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Lunch at the hipster café “Urban Baristas”

A man at the next table discussed flats on his mobile phone. He said Shoreditch was too expensive, so he was looking in Wapping. He’d found a good place, a view of the river, open plan, lots of space. Maybe it was offices he was describing, not flats.

Then I went on East. The river opens out here, it starts to feel more like an estuary. There are 1980s flats, brick-built, but in the river shores are the remains of the old trade: the old chains, the stanchions, huge shafts of timber, rotting piers.

Then the river bends again, and there’s a magnificent view of Canary Wharf.

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I drew this in about an hour, sitting in sunlight spiked with the smell of someone else’s fish and chips.

Here is work in progress:

Here is me drawing:

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Sketching in Shetland, 2018

In Shetland I was learning to paint clouds. Here’s one of the pictures I like best, also the simplest.

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Sometimes the clouds are lighter than the rest of the sky:

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Sometimes very dark:

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Sometimes rather complicated:

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Below is a picture drawn in the rain. I was using a sketchbook which had very heavily sized pages. In light Shetland rain, the pages became damp, and were absorbent.

The water is brighter than the sky: a Shetland phenomenon.

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See how this heavily sized paper lets me put layers of colour on.

Here’s another picture in the same sketchbook. See the colours in the sea.

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This was a sketchbook from the Vintage Paper Company, based, appropriately enough, in Orkney. The paper is described on their website:IMG_5323

“The paper was made in the 1950s in Somerset, England. It’s a 180gsm, 90lb rough surfaced paper ideal for drawing, ink and of course, watercolour. Made from cotton rag and gelatine sized, it’s a dream to paint on. “

It took a bit of getting used to.

I found it didn’t take the paint very well, until it was damp. Here’s an early attempt. See how I struggled to get the paint to adhere to the paper.

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This was painted in a strong wind from the edge of a hill. At first I thought this picture was a total failure. But later, it seemed to have captured something. perhaps you can see the rocks, the dry grass, the shifting sky and sea?

 

Later pictures were a bit better, especially if I kept things simple:Shetland 2018 drawing

IMG_5324The other sketchbook I used was a Khadi cotton paper, much more absorbent. Below is a picture of the roads of West Mainland. The roads are calligraphic strokes on the landscapes. Shetland 2018 drawing

Here’s anther picture of the roads:

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I also drew birds:

On a day it was raining outside, I drew my boots:

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Below is a picture of Burrastow Cottage, where I was staying. I swam in that bay. Despite the blue sky, the water was cold. I rate it somewhere between “refreshing” and “challenging”. That is, probably about 12 degrees Celsius.

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I had a wonderful time.Shetland 2018 drawing

Suffolk Sketchbook, June 2018

I drew a picture from a bird hide, looking over the estuary of the River Blyth.

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Bird Hides make good places for watercoloring. Here is the view from a Bird Hide at Minsmere.

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I had a go at drawing birds too.

 

In the evening, kayakers made their way upriver against the tide.

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I watched the crabbers on the quay.

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All pictures in a Katazome Sketchbook with vintage paper, from the Vintage Paper Company, experimenting with loose watercolour technique.

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Katazome Watercolour sketchbook, from the Vintage Paper Company.

 

Lady of Avenel etchings

Here is the Lady of Avenel in aquatint.

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Lady of Avenel, aquatint

Here is the hard ground, before the aquatint went on:

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To help with the aquatint, I made a small test plate. It seemed a pity to leave it blank, so I put some sea life:

Lady of Avenel is an 102ft brigantine square rigger. I sailed on her for the swimming expeditions in the Hebrides in 2017. This is why the sea life is relevant, and realistic. Especially the jellyfish.

I drew the Lady of Avenel in Heybridge basin, see this post:

Lady of Avenel at Heybridge Basin

Lady of Avenel website is: www.LadyofAvenel.com

Etchings done at East London Printmakers, 18th January 2018.