Shetland landscapes 2022

Sketching on the beach out of the wind, I am fascinated by the regular angles in which the rock cleaves.

Beach on the West Side, 27th June 2022, 1pm

The angle of the distant cliffs echoes the slope of the nearby rocks.

Sketching in the hills, islands and hills are of the same form.

Here’s a sketch in my small sketchbook. The green overlaid pattern is a print, made in advance.

Hills near Footabrough, 3 July 2022

Postcards from Crete

I sent some hand-drawn postcards from Crete.

An experimental view from a restaurant:

Kalyves, looking inland to the church

Another view from a restaurant:

View from the Aptera Tavern

The Roman water cisterns at Aptera:

Roman water cisterns. Totally amazing. Still here, strong and standing.

The beautiful monastery of Agias Triados

I’ve sketched here in previous years, here is a 2017 sketch:

2017: https://janesketching.com/2017/05/13/agias-triada/

Paint dries really quickly here!

Crete blog posts:

  • Postcards from Crete

    Postcards from Crete

    I sent some hand-drawn postcards from Crete. An experimental view from a restaurant: Another view from a restaurant: The Roman water cisterns at Aptera: The beautiful monastery of Agias Triados I’ve sketched here in previous years, here is a 2017 sketch: Paint dries really quickly here! Crete blog posts:


  • Insects Collage

    Insects Collage

    I made a postcard for friends in Basel. It shows the insect life in Crete. Here are some details, and the work under construction.     The idea was that the flies would jump out of the window when it was opened. The postcard is painted using pigments made from the earth. Update 28th May: … Continue reading “Insects Collage”


  • Sketching in Crete 2019

    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: 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, … Continue reading “Sketching in Crete 2019”


  • Sketches in Crete – Sept 2018

    Sketches in Crete – Sept 2018

    I was experimental. I had a large sketchbook with rough pages, given to me for my birthday. I turned over the pages and tried things. As we drove back from Aptera one evening, the sun was setting and fired up the mist between the hills. Back at the kitchen table, I had a go: It … Continue reading “Sketches in Crete – Sept 2018”


  • Sketching in Crete: May 2018

    Sketching in Crete: May 2018

    Aptera was a city in Greek and Roman times. The people went to the Theatre. From the small slab in the centre, the acoustics are perfect. John gave a rendition of the speech of Richard III “Now is the winter of our discontent….”.  I heard it perfectly, at this distance. The place where we stayed … Continue reading “Sketching in Crete: May 2018”


  • The Guardian of the Vines

    The Guardian of the Vines

    Another collage postcard. I posted this one in London 18th May. It looks a bit crinkled because the cardboard was damp with PVA glue, and then dried. The white shape on the bottom right is a flake of white paint I found on the ground. It must have been polyurethane paint, because it was flexible … Continue reading “The Guardian of the Vines”


  • The journey to the chapel of St Antonis

    The journey to the chapel of St Antonis

    Here is a collage made for friends in Switzerland. I posted it at the Post Office in Kalami on 8th May. The official there did not seem to be concentrating very hard. He looked dubiously at the word “Switzerland” on the address. I think I need to find out what “Switzerland” is in Greek. The … Continue reading “The journey to the chapel of St Antonis”


  • At the airport

    At the airport

     At the gate at Chania airport, we eat cheese pies, and I do sketches of the other people.


  • Agias Triada, small chapel

    Agias Triada, small chapel

    We visited the monastery again, before going to the airport. Two large coaches were in the car park. As I drew the chapel, fragments of dialogue in French and German floated by. A French-speaker was relieved at last to have a call from Yves. He described in detail where the car was, naming the Greek … Continue reading “Agias Triada, small chapel”


Sketching near Oban, Argyle and Bute, Scotland

The Lady of Avenel is an 102ft square rigged brigantine, currently based near Oban, on the west coast of Scotland.

Every year the Lady of Avenel needs a refit to prepare her for her working season. This year I went up there to join the working party for the refit.

I travelled by overnight train from Euston to Crianlarach.

Journey via the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Oban. Map from the Caledonian Sleeper webpage. The overnight journey takes about 10 hours Euston-Crianlarach. Then I caught a local train Crianlarach to Oban.

I drew some sketches on the journey.

The boat was at Dunstaffnage Marina. In between work sessions I drew some pictures.

On the boat was a sea dog, Shona. She had to be locked indoors while crew members were hoisting the engine out. I was not part of the engine-hoisting gang. So I kept the dog company and drew her picture.

I travelled back via Fort William. The High Street caters for climbers and walkers and has a large number of shops stocking all brands of outdoor gear. I examined some of them, then rested by the Old Fort.

Near the train station there is a park with several war memorials, and a poignant plaque from the young people of Hiroshima:

“From the youth of Hiroshima in the hope that the experience of 6th August 1945 will strengthen our search for a peaceful world. January 1st 1968. Hiroshima Junior Chamber of Commerce.”

Here are a few photos of the Lady of Avenel during the refit.

Scotland is beautiful.

Sunset after a swim. Beach called “Ganavan” near Oban.

I have sailed on the Lady of Avenel in previous years:

Outer Hebrides 2017

I took my sketching things on a swimming expedition to the Outer Hebrides with Swimtrek. We were on the wonderful Lady of Avenel 102ft square rigged brigantine. We started in Oban. It was raining when I…

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Lady of Avenel at Heybridge Basin

Here is Lady of Avenel, 102ft Brigantine. This was the third of three sketches. Here are the first two. I have drawn Lady of Avenel previously: Outer Hebrides 2017 See also these pages for pictures of and…

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Sketch notes from maritime Holland

This is Noordermarkt, as seen from Café Hegeraad, in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam. It was a lovely autumn day, warm with a light breeze. I had the apple cake and a coffee. I had arrived from…

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I’ve written about my experiences of sketching and swimming here:

Bristol – St Mary Redcliffe BS1

Walking back to Bristol Temple Meads I stopped by the “Thekla” boat and music venue. Much of Bristol docklands area has changed radically in the last 35 years, in appearance and use. But the Thekla is still there, still in the same place, still a music venue, although the music has changed somewhat. I looked across the water as I thought these things, and saw St Mary Redcliffe.

St Mary Redcliffe from The Grove car park, next to Thekla, 23rd March 4pm in Sketchbook 11
The future: “Redcliffe Wharf” – photo from https://www.generatorgroup.co.uk/development/redcliffe-wharf/

St Mary Redcliffe has been there since the 12th century. The current building dates from the 13th and 14th century, and the spire was rebuilt in 1872.

On the left of my drawing, the building with the graffiti, that’s the last remaining undeveloped parts of the docks. The vans and lorries parked in front of it turned out to be a film crew. As I walked past, I saw the big hoardings advertising the redevelopment of the site to become “Redcliffe Wharf”. The developer’s website tells me:

This exciting development is the last direct waterside location on Bristol’s Harbourside. Once complete the development will create around 41,000 sq ft of highly sustainable Grade A office accommodation plus 45 two and three bedroom apartments, two waterside restaurants and space for local businesses.

website for the “Redcliffe Wharf” redevelopment

As I was drawing, a person came and stood, for quite some considerable time so it seemed to me, directly in my field of view. This person was a member of a group. They all walked past, saw me sitting on the kerbstone drawing, and then wondered what I was drawing and went to have a look across the water for themselves. This particular person then chose to align themselves exactly in front of me, adjusting a camera and taking multiple shots. I practised Zen patience, cleaned my palette, mixed some colour, looked at the seagulls, and waited. Then I decided to take a photo.

When I finished my drawing, I walked on into the picture, and past St Mary Redcliffe.

I hope the redevelopment does not touch the beautiful tranquil garden at the top of the hill.

Map from about 2005, showing the sightline of the drawing

Bristol – view from Nova Scotia Place BS1

Wandering in a warm Bristol evening I rounded the harbour and found myself in Nova Scotia Place. This is a secluded domain, enclosed by water, and main roads. There is a pub, the Nova Scotia Hotel. People occupied the outdoor tables, with pints and conversation. I walked onto the small promontory and looked at the little cottages opposite.

Sketching at Nova Scotia Place, 22nd March 2022, 6pm

The warm evening became rather cooler. I packed up when I’d done the pen sketch. The bench that I had been using was a memorial bench:

In memory of Alan Helliwell (German) remembered by family, freinds and work colleagues of Underfall Yard who died too early. 7/2/1961 – 03/10/2009 after several near misses.

Later I put on some colour:

“TS Adventure Sea Cadets” cottages seen from Nova Scotia Place

Walberswick Huts – monoprint

Here is a “packaging” monoprint I made of the huts in Walberswick.

Walberswick huts, monoprint, image size 8″ x 5″ [Available]

The print is made using a discarded carton from a box of aspirin. It looks like this:

Walberswick huts, plate made from aspirin carton.

The brown colour is shellac, a varnish which helps make the plate last a little longer. I make the picture on the shiny side of the medicine packaging, by cutting off the shiny surface to reveal the rougher cardboard underneath. The plate is very thin and fragile. This plate made 5 prints. I lost one of the chimneys during the process.

Here is an 11-second video showing the print coming off the plate:

The ink is JS Gutenberg Carbon Black etching ink from Intaglio Printmaker in Southwark. The paper is Gampi smooth from Shepherds of London, in Gillingham Street.

I made the print at East London Printmakers in Stepney, on their Henderson etching press.

Thank you to Karen Wicks @iacartroom for sharing her technique and her wonderfully inspiring work.

Here is another post using the same process:

Anchor Brewhouse, Horselydown Old Stairs, SE1

I am trying an experimental monoprint technique. The idea is to use packaging material to make intaglio “plates” which are then printed using an etching press. This is the first one. I printed it yesterday on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers. This is a real building, a former brewery, just to the South and East of Tower Bridge. That’s the river Thames you see on the left of … Continue reading “Anchor Brewhouse, Horselydown Old Stairs, SE1”

The lift at Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

Broadstairs is at the far end of Kent.

Location of Broadstairs, Kent. Map from openstreetmap

It is a Victorian seaside resort, with a sandy beach, and parks and a bandstand. The beach is below chalk cliffs, and those earnest Victorians provided their citizens with a fine lift to bring people between the sandy beach and the cliff top attractions. I was delighted, and surprised, to find this lift in full working order. While I made the drawing, the lift was used by a continuous stream of people.

The lift at Viking Bay, 17th September 2021, 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

The whole time I was drawing, music floated down from above, a series of 1950s and 1960s classics, including Elvis’ rendering of “You were always on my mind”. This seemed somehow very poignant as I sat there in the sun on the sand.

When I finished the drawing, I used those sculptural stairs on the right of the lift to climb up to the top. A young family were waiting at the bottom. One of their number, a lad of about 8, came rolling along the boardwalk in his bright green wheelchair. He expertly negotiated the narrow door to the lift and shot inside. I reached the top as they all emerged, and the lad zoomed off along the smooth tarmac into the labyrinth of parks and bandstands at the higher level.

Access Thanet has protested against the closures of the Viking Bay lift since 2019 (Image Access Thanet)

The citizens of Broadstairs have fought hard to keep their lift open. The lift was declared “permanently closed” earlier this year (2021), and only re-opened after a sustained campaign by local people, notably “Access Thanet” (pictured)

It reopened in July 2021, according to an article in the “Isle of Thanet News”

Margate Wastewater pumping Station

I walked from Margate Railway station to Botany Bay. Out on a headland, I encountered this extraordinary building. Later, I went back to draw it.

Margate Waste Water Pumping Station 16th September 2021 18:30, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

You can see – I hope – that my viewpoint was low. I was sitting on the ground by the side of the road. The road is frequented by dog-walkers. I learned something from this low viewpoint: civilised dogs are not used to people sitting on the ground. Many of the dogs were loose, and came rushing up to me, barking in admonition, or alarm, or delight. The owner hurried after, calling in vain after their hound. The dog sat next to me, barking in alarm, or pride, depending on the breed. Either “Danger! Danger! There’s someone sitting on the ground!!” or, if an ancestral hunting dog, “Look, revered owner, what I have cleverly found here on the ground. You must have shot it. It’s my job, I think, to bring it to you?” The owners argued in vain against these inbuilt instincts, and eventually had to drag the dog away from its enemy, or its prey, depending on outlook and breeding.

I went on drawing. A man came by, without a dog. He looked at me, and looked at the building, and looked at my picture. Then he gave a kind of shrug which said “OK, right, I get it, you are drawing the sewage station.”

I replied to this implied comment by saying that it was an interesting building, or rather, I found it interesting. His response was, “1960s Soviet Brutalism without the politics” and I said yes, that put it well.

He said, without breaking his step, “I am good with words”. He said it as a matter of established fact, not a brag, not a hope, nothing sheepish or apologetic, just a description. I silently wondered if I should have recognised him: was this a well-known playwright, a poet, a newspaper columnist? He stopped for a moment. “But just with words,” he continued, with a gesture towards my painting equipment, “Not with a paintbrush.” He paused, to make sure I’d heard. Once his words had reached me across the still air of the road between us, he declared, “I’ll leave you to it!” and he strode off, leaving me puzzling. I think I’d just heard a compliment, but I wasn’t quite sure.

When I walked along this road in the daytime, I saw that there were a large number (about 8) of contractors’ vans and lorries parked outside the pumping station. The blue/grey rectangle in front of the pumping station is some kind of portakabin or works area.

I found out later that this pumping station had failed during the summer (2021), and let sewage into the sea, rendering local beaches useable. Southern Water issued an apology which said, amongst other things:

“Wastewater releases at times of heavy rainfall happen across the UK to protect properties from flooding. The release that happened overnight on 16 June was caused by a combination of heavy rainfall and lightning strike during the storms which caused a short power failure and affected systems on site at our Margate Water Pumping Station. Back-up generators are in place. As part of our preparations for the predicted thunderstorms and heavy rainfall we also had a team standing by in the area. These additional precautionary measures meant we were able to immediately begin work restoring the site to full operation. Unfortunately, we had to make this emergency release to protect local homes and businesses from internal flooding.”

A big notice on the pumping station said: “Margate and Broadstairs Resilience Phase 2, upgrade and improvements”. It seems as though improvements are much needed. I can start to understand how local people might have been a bit surprised that I was drawing this pumping station, cause of a recent local disaster.

Orkney sketches

Here are some sketches of Orkney, made during a visit earlier this month.

This is Stromness:

The seascapes and light were magnificent.

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall is awe-inspiring.

These drawings are in two sketchbooks:

  • PrintUrchin Sketchbook 3, with Arches Aquarelle paper, 10″ x 8″ (landscape)
  • A long thin sketchbook with Khadi Paper, 12″ x 5″ (landscape)

Sketching on the journey to Orkney

We travelled to Orkney by train via Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

I carried a long thin sketchbook and made drawings along the way.

Here is my very long sketchbook, 12″ x 5″ made by Khadi Paper, and bought at Atlantis in Hackney, London.

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