Monday, 1 December 2008

Sketching the punters

Done just now in 'Far From the Madding Crowd' in Oxford. After a nice plate of Gammon 'n' Eggs. Glasses are a challenge.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Yet more pub/cafe sketching

Maybe I should secretly snap the models so my success at getting a likeness can be assessed. The latest one is the lowest, done earlier today at the Borders Starbucks, Oxford, on one of their napkins. Then the other woman was in Far From the Madding Crowd pub (not a great likeness); the other two in Blackwells cafe on Broad Street, Oxford.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Sketching in the pub. Again.

Drawn in 'Far From the Madding Crowd' as I was writing and uploading the last post. You can see the sketch is perched on my laptop. It came very qickly and easily, such as it is. I have a real problem with hair, though.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

More sketches in pubs and cafes

Thankfully, it doesn't take long for the fluency to return (see last post). These likenesses are a lot better. And at this very moment, as I write, I'm in the middle of drawing another one, waiting for the guy to return to the position I started drawing him in.
These were drawn in 'Far From the Madding Crowd', an Oxford pub (with free wi-fi, woo-hoo), and the last one in the Starbucks in Borders, Oxford; in, I think, an A6 moleskine booklet, which makes it easy to stay discreet. Except now, instead of looking like I'm quietly sketching, I look like I'm just staring intensely at people and doing something in my lap with my wrist... Mmm

Sketches in pubs and cafes

I did these after a significant gap in drawing. As a result I didn't feel particularly fluent. I must practice regularly. The last drawing, I don't feel is a good likeness of the model. I find I have a tendency to 'blandify' the features of the people I draw; somehow they resemble the model, but seem less pronounced; like I'm over-compensating for the risk of caricature.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Sketches during a lecture

Two sketches I did of participants at a philosophy meeting I attended at the weekend. As usual, I was glancing surreptitiously and drawing discreetly, which cramped my style somewhat. The second model had a fascinating face and frail body, over which hung a baggy suit. I found out later he was called Weedy.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

More sketches

A portrait done of a friend for her birthday - from a photo. And some doodles done during work downtime.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Cafe sketches

Two sketches done at Waterstone's cafe, Oxford, and one of the speaker at a philosophy talk in London. The latter looks nothing like the subject, and as a consequence I hadn't paid enough attention to ask an interesting question about his paper (on why torture is always wrong). Next week I will be attending a life drawing class, where my drawing will be rubbish because I spend the time discoursing on aesthetics. That would make as much sense anyway.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Beautiful woman, not done justice to

This young woman was in front of me at the local S'bucks, studying. I couldn't take my eyes off her beautiful arms. Unfortunately, my drawing makes her look like a rugby player in drag.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Cafe sketches.

Waterstones and Starbucks, Oxford. Finally found a couple of reasonably immobile punters. The second one was with a ball-point on a Starbucks napkin. They're reasonable likenesses but the first was an effort and seemed like an extended exercise in hiding its flaws as a drawing. You see such fascinating characters out and about; I wish I could capture them quickly on the hoof.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


This face just emerged while I was doodling at work. It started to look nice so I took more care with it. Then I could see it was willing me to overwork it, so I quit while I was ahead.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Cafe drawings, or "Stay still, you bastards!"

Either I have to home in on those sedentary patrons of a cafe, whose habit it is not to move at all when they read (and drink their latte by telekinesis), or I have to learn to draw faster, more economically and from immediate memory.
The most promising effort seemed to be the one started with a biro on a napkin. But what happened? The little git moved, that's what.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Running Man

At least he's slightly clothed this time.

Sketches from life

First foray for a long long time into sketching from life, in the works canteen (Bodleian Library) and at one of my cafe haunts.


The Guardian recently did a series of giveaway booklets about poets, so I copied the pics of Seamus Heaney and Walt Whitman over coffee.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Day out in London

Spent a great day in London yesterday. I got, for me, an amazing amount done. I saw three exhibitions (usually I have the stamina for one, then I'm tired). After the customary mooch along the South Bank near the BFI, I visited the the Hayward, where there was an Alexander Rodchenko exhibition - a Russian designer and photographer. Then on to the Tate Britain to see the Peter Doig show in the evening. That was fantastic - really fresh. His paintings are layered with all sorts of curious effects and textures. While there, I saw they were showing some of the Tate's amazing collection of drawings: Reynolds, Turner, Spencer, Hockney, Epstein, Freud....

On top of that, I finally conquered my fear of drawing in public and made a sketch near Westminster, in an outdoor cafe. The sketch was demoralisingly poor; I had to stop before it was finished, before I screwed it up even more. I need to practice! It was a very complex subject: a maze of branches and windows. But I'll get better fast if I keep at it. I need to learn how to capture impressions quickly and effectively, and make aesthetic choices, like about what to leave out in the interests of a good composition. I managed to position myself so as to prevent people looking over my shoulder and only one or two people seemed to notice me staring in their direction, so the embarrassment of that was minimal.

All in all, a good day out.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Another sketch

I did this at work last night with the brush-pens. I'm not sure lighting and modelling are that great. I was trying to draw a pose that would be tough in terms of getting the parts to relate properly. The proportions are probably fudged a bit.
Is he suffering the existential angst of being thrown into a meaningless universe? Or is he just really cold 'cause he's butt-naked? It's whatever you want it to mean.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

California trip 2007

Couldn't resist putting these up. Last year I got a great chance to visit California. It was my first major flight and first time out of the country in nearly twenty years. The flight was free, as a good friend of mine, Kristin, a Californian who had been living in Oxford then moved back home, gave me a ticket with her air-miles, so I could visit her and let her show me her State. It was an amazing trip. I went just after Southern California suffered all those fires.

In the first pic: Kristin and me in front of (though a long way away from) the Hollywood sign. In the next pic, I'm outside The Hotel Coronado, where they filmed the Florida scenes in the sublime Some Like it Hot. In the pic I'm wittily pretending to play the double bass ala Jack Lemmon in the film; there was no time to drag up. In the third pic, I'm outside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, near the Kodak Theatre where they film the Oscars, effectively high-fiving Cary Grant! Third pic, Kristin and me in front (though a long way away from) the Hollywood sign.

Monday, 31 March 2008

More teenage drawings

More comic book stuff from my teens: just character designs, I guess. I think it's clear that I wasn't a very good inker.


Here are some of what I will pretentiously call my juvenilia: comic book stuff I was doing in my teens when I should've been revising for my O-Levels. The Judge Dredd drawings are obviously channelling Brian Bolland; and by 'channelling' I mean 'shamelessly swiping the style of'. I wanted to draw comics when I was that age (and kind of still do to be honest) but never thought I was good enough. I was too slow; never really mastered sequential 'story-telling'; tended to focus on the figure to the exclusion of learning to draw 'anything and everything' - the usual problems with half-arsed wannabes.

I think I sent samples off once, to the publishers (I think it was D.C.Thompson) of little comic booklets, like Commando. I got a rejection and didn't persevere. It always seemed like an unrealistic ambition. Soon after I went into Graphic Design, which I guess was the more realistic alternative; and it did give me the chance to cartoon every once in a while, if the brief warranted it.