Skip navigation

Category Archives: pencil on paper

PutaliJBGuava003

Guava Branch, Watercolour on Tracing paper

So my collection of photos of this lovely place and my drawing practice have started to pay off. I have been asked to design a range of woodblock prints for fabric to be used in children and babywear. I have so relished this process, drawing and redrawing. Pattern and Form. I am looking forward to what the Indian craftsman make of it.

The friend that asked me to do it, asked me to draw emblematic East African animals and plants with a Indian sensibility. We swiftly eschewed Giraffes and Rhinos, in favour of the wonderful animals that are less often drawn and therefore more interesting. Whilst working on the drawings I realised how close this idea was to my previous practice in ceramic. In which I explored the cultural richness of East Africa, through working with Islamic decorative motifs on strong bold clay forms. One on another.

PutaliJBGerenuk2006

Gerenuk, Pencil Watercolour on Tracing Paper

Looking over my childrens’ books, seeking inspiration for my Reception Class, I realise that I LOVE these children’s books. Love them more than any adult book. The collection we have amassed through gifts and regular trips to book havens: the Owl Bookshop in Kentish town and Daunt Books in Belsize Park, is a wonder to behold. Shelves of charm from Ed Vere to the intricate details of Satoshi Kitamura. Of course they are all tied up with parenthood and nurture. Each has a memory: a birthday gift, a reward for achievements. These glorious books have carried us through from burbling baby to essay writing eleven year old. Helen Ward’s The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse is just exquisite, & Naughty Nina from Anna-Laura Cantone is perfectly bonkers! I have completely fallen for these illustrated books.

So it took me a while to settle on which book to work with in the Reception Class, I plumped for a combination of old favourites John Burningham and Eric Carle and relative new comer to us Catherine Rayner, whose beautiful ‘Augustus and his Smile’ will form the basis of our exploration into illustration.

Last weekend in preparation I made these mark making tools from scraps I found in our field. Tools to scratch and scape, to push and trail, to splash and flick. I think they enjoyed using them. I certainly did.

20150119-190423.jpg

20150119-190508.jpg

chocolate

Broken Chocolate, Drawing, Pencil on paper, detail

Chocolate was surprisingly hard to draw. It is mostly geometry and so easy to get wrong. Perspective skewed. I was drawing it whilst fasting, the smell of chocolate so strong in the room, it was hard to concentrate. Tortuous almost, wanting something you can’t have, today at least. It is no bad thing, certainly no big deal, to not have today. Especially here, where so many are going without, all the time, no choice. I have been going without drawing for a while too, fun though they were the Easter Holidays got in the way, then getting everyone back into the rhythm of school seems to take an age. This drawing is rather ‘school’ like. Perhaps that is appropriate, a childish image.
So here I am back from the chocolate holidays.
Phew.

20140314-165248.jpg

Still life, Coloured Pencil on Paper

20140314-165400.jpg

Still Life, Drawing Coloured Pencil on Paper, full page

DSC00507

A larger pic so you can see the detail…hopefully

I worked longer on this one than I have on any thus far. My cousin asked for more so I got very enthusiastic at the fruit stall. And why not! Here is the most colour filled beautiful fruit I have seen. Apart from in paintings by Frida Kahlo and others of that ilk.
So here you go Cuz this one’s for you!

20140311-192107.jpg

Bananas, Coloured Pencil on Paper

I love these little bananas. So sweet and perfumed. Much more fruity than the starchy giants back in London.
I find them oddly touching. Huddled together like suckling pups. When drawing them I hoped to convey the tenderness. I felt almost sorry for them, the butt of so many jokes.
So here they are my sweet little family of bananas. Don’t laugh.

20140311-192431.jpg

Bananas, Detail, Coloured Pencil on Paper, unfinished.

20140128-133346.jpg

Leaves of a Pineapple, Line drawing, Detail

So inevitably about a third of the way into a drawing, the crisis hits you. Oh no, this is going to be such rubbish! At that point the urge is to quit, why bother, this is too hard, this is no good. Who was I kidding thinking I can draw!
Sometimes if you press on regardless with energy and commitment the drawing comes good. Sometimes it doesn’t…. Either way better to press on.

20140123-190203.jpg

Pineapple, early stage drawing on Paper.

20140123-190215.jpg

Pineapple, detail, colour pencil on paper.

20140123-190227.jpg

Pineapple,Drawing Detail

Who knew that a pineapple was so exciting, close up? I had no idea. Its twist and turns, multiple colours: greens and reds, oranges. Perfect subject. First drawing of 2014. Good to be back.

20131202-142548.jpg

Line Drawing Charcoal on Paper

 

So I keep on going. Thinking and drawing, drawing and thinking. I am trying to remember why I did what I did, made what I made. Mostly I remember a sense of peace. A sense of place. Placement.

From idea to clay would often be a journey of about two years. An idea would appear then disappear, slipping back into the soup bubbling at the back of my mind. If the idea was strong enough it would flip itself forward again some months later. Then again, until eventually the idea would take form and exist independently.

I am drawing now, to fill the pot. Chopping and thinking. Discarding and keeping. Hopefully something good is bubbling away in there.

prickly pear

Barbary Fig Drawing with Aquarelles


I realised today I only had a couple of hours, so no long labour of love was possible. So it seemed a good moment to mess about. To scribble in colour and enjoy it. The Barbary Fig is a willing subject, large sections of it collapse to the ground regularly. So although I felt a little guilty depriving the bees, as I gingerly negotiated prickles to snap sections from the main, I know that this cactus is designed to fall apart, and start anew from the ground. (So don’t stand underneath a heavily laiden tree for too long!).
I enjoyed the spikes, the green and the bright yellow and red. Sumptuous, succulent and violent at once.
2013-11-22 12.06.31

Broken off the tree outside

 

But that's not there

“But that’s not there,” erasing pencil drawing.

The brain is always guessing, filling in gaps, short-cutting visual information to build a reality.
“This is an object,” it says. “A three dimensional¬† object. Although you can’t see it this object has a back a side. You can’t see it now but I know it is there, from the shadows it makes, from the change in colour here or there.”

And so my hand attempts to draw this knowledge, the bits you can’t see. Tries to fill in the gaps, to leap to conclusions.
But I don’t want it to. When ‘life’ drawing I want to record only what I can see, not what I know to be there. I need to record these signs, shadows and contours, not bypass them.
It’s a constant battle, a drawing is a lie, a flat pretending to be a form.¬† Rubbing at the paper, erasing my failing drawing,¬† I am often heard muttering. “But that’s not there….”

2013-11-13 13.22.49

Vertebra Drawing, Pencil on Paper