The Joys of Sketching in Public.

‘What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.’ The words of Welsh poet William Henry Davies often come into my mind when I am poised with a pen and a sketchbook. Whether in the midst of a breath taking landscape or the bustle of a busy railway station, sketching in public is all about standing and looking.

We all know the importance of ‘looking’ as an essential part of drawing practice but, unlike the life room, when out doors our concern is for capturing  a sense of place with all its interesting intricacies: a moment in time, a smell, a weather condition. As artists we are privileged to be able to leave the exact capturing of detail to the cameraman and indulge ourselves in the recording our own personal response.

I nearly always sketch in pen for the exact reason that you cannot rub it out of fiddle with it. This allows you to become less precious about representational accuracy and allows your sketches to become more responsive, plus you don’t have to carry an eraser. I often use water fast, fine tip liners as I can brush watercolour over the top without the ink running, however, any pen will do – biro gives a lovely quality of line and old fashioned fountain pens will give a line that transforms into beautiful tonal washes with just a touch of water.

Paper wise I generally use a reasonable weight watercolour paper (140lb rough) or a good quality cartridge paper but again don’t miss an opportunity through lack of resource  – I have sketches on paper bags, serviettes and till receipts.


Sometimes it can be difficult to find a starting point within the seemingly infinite subject matter that the public domain offers. Choose something that interests you as your central point and work outwards – don’t get bogged down with composition, you can crop or expand it later – it can be a vista or a row of flowerpots. Whilst accuracy is not essential it is still important to look for relationships, angles and negative space and if your picture includes buildings keep the rules of basic perspective in mind.

Put things in or take things out, move things around – remember it is your visual record of a sense of place.

Flowers and tree fern at Plas Gwlard gardens

Vary the complexity of the sketch according to circumstances: if you are stood on a headland in driving rain you may want to note a few landmarks, if you sat in the shade on a summer’s day then a detailed sketch may be more fitting.

Remember, sketches don’t have to be finished, although it is a good idea to date and label them. You and others will enjoy looking at them in years to come.

Finally, never be irritated or embarrassed when passers-by want to see what you are doing for it is a pleasure to watch an artist sketch. As artists, we should feel privileged to be in a position to oblige.

The next date for sketching and painting outdoors will be on Saturday 29th June in the beautiful walled gardens at Brockhampton. See courses for further details







Life Drawing session 30th April

This was the first session of our summer term and a way of easing ourselves into this enjoyable but demanding part of art practice the beginning of the session was slightly different to usual.

Tim our amazing life model held the same pose, against a blue screen for 45 minutes. Members of the class were given the task of completing three drawings of approximately 15 minutes each.

The first was to study the outline of the model and the ‘negative’ shapes that his body formed.


The second drawing was to be completed using straight lines only, no curves! Kirstie chose to work with white chalk on black paper (recycled from her Arches watercolour pads no less!).

Tim by Kirstie Trobe 


Tim by Don Emmerich

The third and final drawing was to be made by starting with a mid tone charcoal base and using a rubber to carve out the lighter areas in the model before adding charcoal to get the dark tones.

At our tea break we had a wonderful catch up chat discussing the latest exhibitions and generally putting the art world to rights. In particular this week the ‘Artist’s Statement’ came under review. A difficult one for all artists who wish to appear both intellectually cerebral and approachable at the same time. My thanks goes to Alan for his constructive criticism of mine!

The second half of the session concentrated on one pose with a short study of hands to conclude.  If you are interested in life drawing but the thought of taking part terrifies you then do get in touch and I will find away to get you started.






The beauty of the monotype

Monotypes and mono prints are viewed, in the art world, as unique images.

A monotype is a print whereby the image has been created each time and there is no reusable matrix.

A mono print differs in that it has a common underlying matrix with other prints but it differs in terms of colour or finish.


There are lots of different ways of producing monotypes and I like to use it as a process of mark making to construct a visual work. The images above shows the acetate used over several inking applications with the image in the process of emerging. The second image  shows and a negative print taken from the final acetate.

I often combine several base resource materials such as leaves and flowers together with sketches of my own. I use the printing process itself in a painterly fashion often working with different elements over a period of time before reaching a result I am happy with.

Interestingly, the negative transparencies that evolve form images of their own with a different quality to the finished print (shown below). 

The two finished prints form part of The Marks We Leave Behind  collection of work. They can be seen in detail on the Gallery Page

Big Art In The Garden Feedback

Teaching outdoors is one of my favourites along with gardens so this workshop only needed the sunshine! 

Although a little chilly at times the spring sun shone for most of the afternoon. Artists began with wandering around the layered and interesting garden at the Dormy House in search of inspiration. The aim was to gather sketches that considered structure, colour and personality of individual plants rather than illustrations of specific areas. 


Once the sketches were all gathered the fun began with students, working from their sketches, creating large paintings showing a personal response to the garden and nature. All types of paint, pastel, ink, sticks, brushes etc were used with everyone engaging wholeheartedly with the creative process. Students shared ideas and laughter which was brilliant and I think the results are fabulous!!

Next workshop date is Saturday August 3rd 2019


“Unframed” Chapel Gallery Bromyard Feedback

“We so enjoyed the ‘Unframed’ show at the Chapel Gallery so much so that we visited twice!” Jenny & Evan


The ‘Unframed’ exhibition showed a large and varied selection of drawings from a number of artists. Some were more finished, as it were, but most were beautiful, raw examples of the artist’s working practice and it is therefore hardly surprising that a considerable number of visitors were indeed artists themselves (we can not resist the opportunity to look at other peoples drawings). There was something here for everyones taste with mark making of every shape size and description from Roger Percival’s bold, abstract charcoals to delicate ‘etchings’ in bees wax by Jane Tudge.

Personally for me, it was a chance to see ‘Welsh Cove’ (above), which measures 1.5M x 2M, hanging in a beautiful space and I did say goodbye to one of my smaller, investigative ink works. It was great to meet and chat with, amongst others,  Jane Tudge and Deb Catesby and massive well done to Vicky and Sheila at The Chapel for putting on a great show.

Many thanks to all my friends who came to view.

Large Scale Experimental Drawing Day Feedback

“I thoroughly enjoyed it. A bit daunting at first but a great challenge! I am itching to do some more painting………The big board awaits.”

Susan Catford

The day started with experiments in mark making. Mark making is a principal part in any drawing process. The marks you make can dramatically alter what you are attempting to convey visually, so a series of short, sharp marks can depict movement or agitation whereas long curving marks can show calm and softness. These marks were initially made as a response to certain words and then progressed into a series of marks made as a response to a short paragraph of creative writing. Just about anything and everything in the studio was employed to make the marks.

In the second half of the workshop students used the results of the mornings work to create a more resolved art piece that brought together many different marks and drawing methods.

The whole process was an exercise in taking new approaches to visual representation whilst removing preconceived ideas of how a drawing should be constructed.

‘Figures’ A V-B

‘Townscape’ FR
‘Woodland A V-B

Judging at Malvern St James

Karen Stone, Di Weissberg (Head of Art), Headmistress Olivera Raraty and winner Kirsty Thomson

This exhibition brought together artwork from 13 different schools, aged from reception to year 8 and I was given the privileged but difficult task of judging it.

It was brilliant to see so much fabulous work illustrating that the love of creativity and the commitment of our art teachers. It was also a privilege to meet so many wonderful young people. parents and teachers.

Obviously not everyone could be awarded a prize and what I thought would be a relatively straight forward task turned out to be more complex. Each work demanded, and deserved, a thorough inspection and the subject matter ranged from explosions of mark making to complex conceptual ideas that challenged our thoughts on the environment, space and beyond.

When I was at school there was a girl in my year who took the art prizes. I always entered and sometimes achieved a highly commended but never took the main award. My school friend took the prizes and had her work hung in the school hall at regular intervals. Annoyingly she was good and even more annoyingly, I knew she was good!

Then, as now, I never take seeing brilliance in others as being a criticism of my own work. I simply  use it as an acknowledgement that there is still work to do and further ways to develop my practice. Winning an award (and I have won some) is the most fabulous feeling but it is subjective to the aesthetics of who so-ever is judging. The importance of believing in your own art, keeping on the path to improvement and not giving up when times get tough ultimately makes you a better artist.

‘Unframed’ Exhibition of Drawings 6th to 14th April 2019


drawings and sketches


Saturday 6th to Sunday 14th April at


The Chapel Gallery, Bromyard, 2 Forbury Chase, Sherford Street, Bromyard, HR7 4DL. 

Open 11am to 5pm with pop-up café.

(Closed Monday and Tuesday)


How do artists work and think? Whatever the final medium by which an artist may be known, perhaps as a painter or a sculptor, often their ideas will begin on paper with drawings and sketches. Sometimes the drawing may be the end in itself. In this group exhibition we offer you a rare chance to see their inner thoughts and gain an insight into their working practices with an array of unframed works which will be available for sale.

See  website for more details

Karen will be there on Sunday 7th and Friday 12th April to talk about her drawings and working practice.


The Lacemaker and other pictures on show in architects’ window

From Saturday 23 February at Nick Joyce Architects, Barbourne Road, Worcester WR1

The window displays a selection of pieces inspired by the traditional craft of lace making. In the centre lies a copy of the famous Vermeer painting, The Lacemaker, which is flanked be a contemporary pastel work of the same name and an abstract screen print based on the domestic interior. Also displayed is the patchwork Quilt made up of 171 individual mono prints all taken from pieces of old lace or embroidery.

The work celebrates these crafts, traditionally practiced by women at a time when it was often their only form of creative outlet.

‘The Lacemaker’ Pastel on paper (50cm x 60cm Framed)
‘Still Life Abstract’ Artist’s Proof (30cm x 50cm Framed)