Tag Archives: janet mary robinson

How to draw a glass – step by step

I hope this might interest people during this strange and worrying time of the coronavirus epidemic. I drew this during my toddler’s naptime; I am not claiming it is a perfect drawing or even a particularly good one, however, I enjoyed the focus and drawing is a wonderful way to distract yourself from your thoughts.  As long as you are enjoying the process, don’t worry too much about the outcome. Apologies for the unedited photos.

Top Tip: This drawing is much easier to do in the evening, when you have stronger shadows and a single controllable light source such as a lamp. 

What you need:
A pencil. Ideally, a couple of drawing pencils e.g. a 2B and a 4B, or a really dark 6B.
A putty rubber. If you don’t have one, you can use any rubber but you may have to trim it to get smaller more precise control for the later stages.
A glass, and something dark to put below and behind it. I used two sketchbooks.

My set up, with its annoying complex and strangely shaped reflections.


1. Warm up! Practice drawing ellipses. It’s easiest to do this using movements of your whole hand or even arm, rather than just with your fingers. Make a whole page of ellipse shapes. Doesn’t matter if they’re wonky, they’ll get less wonky the more you draw.

2. Beginning the drawing. Roughly draw two sets of ellipses for the top and bottom of the glass.


3.Check the proportions of your drawing. For example you could check how many times the ellipse at the top of the glass fits into the height. Mine fitted three times.


4. Add the vertical lines at the sides of the glass. Vertical-ish in my case, as it looks more like the leaning tower of Pisa. Firm up the lines,  attempt to refine the top and bottom.

6. I find that turning the drawing on its side makes it easier to check if the lines are parallel. I constantly turn my paper around when I draw. I roughly shaded over the drawing at this point too.


7. Where it starts to get a bit more interesting and fun. Half close your eyes and squint at the glass. This ought to allow you to see the shapes of the darkest areas of the glass more clearly. Roughly draw those shapes, and shade them in, without being fussy. Every time you move your head the shapes will change, so all you can do is give it your best shot. Nobody else will know what it looked like!


8. Add some dark shading around the glass. You can either blend this smoothly, or use hatching, small directional pencil strokes, as I have.


9. More carefully applied areas of dark and light in the glass. Note I have left a strip down the edges where there were highlights. I also smudged over some of the shading on the glass to make it look smoother.

10. The most fun stage, rubbing out the highlights. In fact my glass only had small highlights. Putty rubbers can be quite hard to use, you have to form them into a point each time you want to make a mark. If you don’t have a putty rubber, use a sharp corner of a regular rubber instead.


11. I also used the rubber to create some slightly larger highlights and clean up the drawing.

12. The finished drawing, toddler woke up. I added some slightly neater hatching around the edges.


Wild At The Margins at Lancaster City Museum

I’m exhibiting paintings and sculptures at an exhibition at Lancaster City Museum next month, alongside Fay Collins. Our work focuses on nature and wildlife and it’s relation with humans and the human environment. Most of my paintings are of landscapes very close to my home, the woodland alongside the River Wyre, and the Lune Estuary, as well as some from Scotland. This is partly because I love to depict places and subjects which I really know, and partly due to the constraints of combining creativity with a schedule imposed by a tiny tyrant who is nonetheless far too big for me to actually carry any distance. So all the places I have painted are places that can be reached with our trusty green off road buggy, I probably ought to have included it in at least one painting. Here are two of my new paintings which will be on show.

The exhibition is on until March 1st.

‘At the Edge of the Sands’. Oil on canvas, 102 x 76 cm.
‘Where The Fox Was’. Oil on canvas, 36 x 46 cm.

Curlew sculpture

I’d like to share a couple photos of my latest metal sculpture, a curlew. It is the first in a new series of sculptures of endangered British wildlife. (Sadly, this didn’t exactly narrow my options – finding species which aren’t endangered would be more difficult I think!)
I’m at the start of exploring a new range of possibilities using water jet cutting. There are a few motivations, if you can say that, underlying this. Firstly my main focus for the last seven months has been my little baby boy. Any creative time is now limited to his nap time. By their nature, painting and welding are pretty difficult to reconcile with baby care, as no sooner have I got set up to go then its time to pack up again! My husband is an engineer and he suggested a while ago that I explore water jet cutting. The designs, like all my sculptures, originate from my sketchbook, but are then created as vector images on my computer. I was sceptical of the process initially because I am such a hands on person, I didn’t like the idea of ‘making’ in this fashion. However, to my surprise, I found that I really enjoyed it, I love the process of refining and perfecting the design. I’ve always appreciated the ‘less is more’ aesthetic, and I love how I can refine the shape down to its bare essence, something that I always try to achieve in my drawings. My inspiration for these sculptures, beyond a pile of sketchbooks full of animals and birds stretching back to since I was around 14 years old, are calligraphy, and Chinese brush painting, things I have always loved. In a truly surprising way I think I even prefer this process to hands on welding, because as a beginner welder, the reality never quite lives up to the idea in my head!

The lack of hands on whilst creating the design was compensated for by the process of scavenging for driftwood to use as bases. Our all terrain pram is surprisingly useful even on the mud of the Lune Estuary, and my new pocket saw fits nicely in the changing bag. Once I’d collected my first cutout curlew from the waterjet company, K-Cut in Morecambe (who are extremely helpful and I highly recommend), I then waited until my husband could do a baby shift before exploring the next fun stage – finishing off the steel. I buffed it all over, cleaned it, then tempered it by applying a black patina, composed of various noxious acids. I then applied a coat of acrylic clear sealer. In future I am very keen to explore some different methods of colouring steel. Obviously, allowing it to rust would be the simplest option, but I wanted to protect it at least somewhat from the elements. I experimented with tempering the metal by heating it with a gas torch, but I was concerned that I might actually burn through this sculpture, as it is such thin metal. I was however very happy with the effect of this patina, which is sold to blacken guns. It gives a similar effect to tempering with heat, but is quick and straightforward.

Anyway, enough rambling on, this post is no doubt badly written, but like everything else I do at the moment, it’s done in a hurry and it will have to do!

‘Curlew’. 1 mm tempered steel and driftwood. 28 x 37 cm, excluding base.
Quality control!

Recent bird paintings

I’ve mainly been painting birds and woodland over the winter, I love both. Mainly I head to the coast to watch the birds and these paintings are from the Lune Estuary near where I live, and the barnacle geese from the Solway Firth in Galloway. The entire Svalbard population of barnacle geese overwinters on the Solway Firth and it is really worth a visit to see them.

The Scottish word for curlew is whaup. I was in my twenties before I knew that they were the same bird 🙂 Morecambe Bay is a wonderful place to see them and other wading birds.

Whaups, Morecambe Bay. Oil on canvas, 61 x 46 cm

Whaups, Morecambe Bay. Oil on canvas, 61 x 46 cm

Barnacle Geese, Solway Firth. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm.

Barnacle Geese, Solway Firth. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm.

Little Egret, Lune Estuary. Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm

Little Egret, Lune Estuary. Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm


Wire bird sculptures

I’ve enjoyed experimenting with wire sculpture since I was 15, when I crafted a trio of chickens out of chicken wire and photographed them amongst our flock of hens, as part of my Higher Art project. Over the last year I’ve started creating things using wire again, as well as dabbling in ceramics and various other things. I think sometimes its just very refreshing to do something in a different way, in this case, I feel like I am drawing in 3D, creating something pleasingly tangible.

I’m working on a couple of herons at the moment, as well as my old favourites the chickens. As always, the legs are the hard bit, but i’m making progress and am quite pleased with how these are coming along. 

The herons are designed to be stood in a pond, should you so desire, I will post some pictures asap.

Headless chicken: sculpture in progress

Headless Chicken. My studio has resembled a macabre nativity scene in the last week.

Creatures spilling out of my studio

Creatures spilling out of my studio with my unimpressed dog in the background!

Silhouetted against a beautiful winter sunset -heron in progress.

Silhouetted against a beautiful winter sunset -heron in progress.

Herons on sticks

Herons on sticks! No legs yet but I wanted to see how the bodies were looking.

Scartin in the leaves. I love how they develop a character.

Scartin in the leaves. I love how they develop a character.

Fergus the cat upstaging the chickens

Fergus the cat upstaging the chickens

Sketching at Conder Green, Lune Estuary

I just thought I would share a couple of photos from this morning, I went to Conder Green on the Lune Estuary. Such a beautiful day that even the mud looked nice – reflecting the blue sky. I love the shapes carved by the tidal channels in the salt marsh and mud, and the birds are always fascinating. Today there were lots of redshank scurrying around busily, feeding before the tide covered up the mud. I think they were redshank anyway, they had red legs.

I’m planning a series of larger paintings from my accumulated sketchbooks of the Lune Estuary, I have dozens of sketches of birds and the river, I’d like to do something with them.

My Mighty Midget telescope and sketchbook


Wellies essential all year round in Lancashire

Conder Green. Glasson Dock in the background and a flock of oystercatcher and knot?) which rose from the opposite side of the river

Redshank feeding on the mud, incoming tide

Blue Mud! An acrylic study I painted from my watercolour sketch.

Pittenweem Arts Festival 2017

I’m currently showing my work at Pittenweem Arts Festival, in venue 82. Ovenstone 109 is a fledgling brewery and lovely new festival venue which opened this year – formerly a John Deere tractor showroom – (my siblings and I used to enjoy passing by!)

Here’s some photos. There are 11 other artists and makers exhibiting their work here. You can see their websites and work here.  We’re open until Sunday 13th August, from 10 am until 6 pm each day.

My helper Ashby and I after setting up. Photo by www.iain-robinson.com

Inside Ovenstone 109

My paintings

Outside Ovenstone 109

The reservoir behind – used to be the water supply for Pittenweem

Sketches of Spring

May and June are my favourite time of year. These watercolours are of gowans, lovely big daisies, which fill up the edges of our garden at this time of year, roses, and just the general joy and chaos of spring. I painted the deer at Leighton Moss, a nearby RSPB reserve. I’d gone with a group to sketch for the day and we were rewarded with seeing so many amazing birds and animals, an otter, marsh harrier, gorgeous young fluffy moorhens, and these red deer mother and young, who stepped out of the woods in front of our hide, like a scene from Bambi.

'June Garden', watercolour

‘June Garden’, watercolour

'Meadow', Watercolour

‘Meadow’, Watercolour

A sketch from a lovely garden in Eskdale, watercolour

Red Deer fawn, watercolour

Red Deer fawn, watercolour

Red Deer, watercolour sketch

Red Deer, watercolour sketch


New paintings of Lancaster Canal

I’ve been working on a few different things recently, and painting the canal has been one I’ve really enjoyed – probably more so than painting the back door, which has been another project. The door was easier though.

These are mixed media paintings in watercolour and acrylic paint. I live very near the Lancaster canal and spend a lot of time both canoeing along it and walking my dog, sometimes also canoeing with the dog, (as he prefers to be in the boat). I love the tranquility of the canal, and aimed to capture its ethereal beauty in my paintings.

These are all paintings of my local stretch of the canal, between Garstang and Lancaster, including my favourite bit which is the arm to Glasson Dock.

Winter Canal, near Lancaster. Mixed media.

Winter Canal, near Lancaster. Mixed media.

Misty Winter Morning, Lancaster Canal. Watercolour

Misty Winter Morning, Lancaster Canal. Watercolour

Canal in spring, near Glasson Dock. Mixed media

Canal in spring, near Glasson Dock. Mixed media

Summertime, Lancaster Canal. Mixed media

Summertime, Lancaster Canal. Mixed media

Autumn, Lancaster Canal. Watercolour

Autumn, Lancaster Canal. Watercolour

Cow Paintings in JC Country

I have a lot of friendly looking neighbours with black and white spots. I like to say hi when I walk past with Ashby my dog, and I recently decided to draw some of them. These are cows from the dairy herd belonging to John Carr, of Clevely House Farm in Forton, and prints of my cow pictures will soon be for sale in the farm shop, JC Country 🙂 The cows are part Jersey and they’re really beautiful.

I love working in ink, like watercolour it is quite quirky, best treated with a light touch. These cows were drawn in Quink Ink, which although sold as an ink for writing, is my favourite ink to draw with.

Here’s the pictures, including Ashby who works as Quality Control.

Quality Control

Quality Control

'Cow-619', Ink and watercolour.

‘Cow-619’, Ink and watercolour.

'Cow-823', Ink and watercolour.

‘Cow-823’, Ink and watercolour.

'Dairy Cow, Clevely House Farm', Ink and Watercolour

‘Dairy Cow, Clevely House Farm’, Ink and Watercolour