Tag Archives: sketch

Lune Year: Sycamore and Flood Grass

A short lived spell of warm sunny weather in the past few days has finally brought a touch of green to the trees. This sketch is of the brand new sycamore leaves opening, the grass from last December’s floods still wrapped tightly around the branches.

Its mixed media; acrylic and pastel, on a watercolour background.

New leaves of Sycamore with Flood Grass, mixed media

New leaves of Sycamore with Flood Grass, mixed media

Lune Year: Buddleia and Flowering Currant with Warlocks Whiskers

These drawings are of buddleia and flowering currant bushes growing alongside the River Lune in Halton, outside my studio. They are just beginning to bud, and I wanted to record the budding leaves and blossoms tangled in the ‘flood grass’, or warlords whiskers, as a friend calls it.

Buddleia & Flood Grass #1, mixed media

Buddleia & Flood Grass #1, mixed media

Buddleia and Flood Grass #2. Mixed media

Buddleia and Flood Grass #2. Mixed media

Flowering Currant with Flood Grass. Mixed media

Flowering Currant with Flood Grass. Mixed media

Without really planning it, I’ve embarked on a project I’ve called Lune Year. I am drawing and painting the river, and the riverside, for twelve months following the ‘big flood’ of December 5th, 2015. I’m fascinated by the way that the riverside has been so profoundly changed. From late November until mid January, give or take a few days, the river was in spate. On the night of 5th December, the river flooded to unprecedented levels. The environment agency recorded the flood on 5th/6th December as follows:
The River Gauge at Caton on the River Lune recorded the highest ever flow on an English river as 1742 cumecs (m3/second) – That’s 1742 tonnes of water flowing down the river every second! The flow peak was recorded at 00:15 on 6th December 2015 following the intense sustained rainfall from Storm Desmond.

The river throughout December and early January was pretty scary to be honest. However, it was also utterly fascinating. I spent a lot of time filming and photographing it, at different points within walking distance of my studio, and I began my series of paintings and drawings. I’m planning to exhibit them next spring, once the twelve months is up. In the meantime, I’ll post some of the work on my blog.

Two cherries

And a sketch of two cherries, in watercolour pencil, which I did with my Art in the Park class this morning at Williamson Park in Lancaster. My favourite kind of drawing; no particular agenda or expectations, I just like something, so I draw it. I don’t do this enough in the winter. Its easy in the summer to take a sketchbook out to the coast and sit and draw, but when everything is dull and cold, when the sky can’t even be bothered to have a colour, you have to resort to other forms of inspiration, in this case, a packet of overpriced cherries from Aldi.

Two cherries. Pencil sketch.

Two cherries. Pencil sketch.


Todays sketches are of some warthogs and vervet monkeys. (And another elephant backside). The monkey stole our loaf of bread and then modelled for us beautifully while she ate it. Her baby didn’t seem to like the bread, probably too young. Warthogs are amazingly strange looking, especially the males, they have bumps below their eyes and huge tusks. I think their heads look almost too big for their bodies, and they have quite elegant hindquarters which look like they belong to a different animal. The females are a bit easier to draw, once you’ve looked at them enough anyway. Unlike most of the animals they came close enough that I was able to draw them without binoculars. When warthogs run they stick their tails straight up in the air, it looks really funny. They seem to always kneel when they graze.


Warthogs1 Warthogs2 Warthogs3




An abundance of elephants. I returned from South Africa a week ago with a sketchbook full of animals and a rucksack full of shells, porcupine quills, and various other items DEFRA would not approve of. I had a fantastic month. The landscape is stunning and the sheer abundance of amazing wildlife everywhere is breathtaking. You literally don’t even need to unzip your tent to see it; the baboons do that for you.

These elephants are in Addo Elephant National Park. This park was created in 1931 to protect the last 16 elephants in the Eastern Cape. Today there are over 400. I’d never seen wild elephants before and it was such a privilege to be able to watch them playing in the water. Unlike many of the species I saw in SA, I have seen and drawn elephants before in zoos, so it wasn’t quite as much of a challenge as it might of been. However… elephants move very swiftly, and so basically I have a collection of ‘bum drawings’. Not that that’s a bad thing, elephant behinds are very interesting.

The elephants did not like sharing their waterhole with other animals; so I’m uploading them first and keeping them separate from the other species, which I’ll add over the next few days.

Apologies for the dark scans.




I’ve been enjoying observing the weird and wonderful inhabitants of Shetland for the last couple of weeks, and over the next week or so I’ll post some of the sketches I did while I was there. Tonight is Seal Night. These are harbour (or common) seals.

In Shetland seals are called selkies. According to the folklore of the northern and western isles selkies possess magical powers, being able to cast off their seal skins to become like humans and bewitch them.

The Shetland selkies are pretty tame, and are incredibly abundant. I love how fat they are. They vary hugely in colour, some pale sandy coloured, others almost black, many with spots.