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Tag Archives: drawing


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.


Gerenuk, Pencil Watercolour on Tracing Paper


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.

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.
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Broken off the tree outside


For two days I drew the acacia thorn. As hard as nails and able to pierce right through your shoe. The danger of these I hoped to capture in charcoal.
Like the acacia, charcoal has an unforgiving nature. It requires absolute confidence. For really, once drawn there is no turning back, you must stick with what you have. However much you rub away at the paper, a shadow will remain as a reminder of where you’ve been. Sometimes this is a interesting quality. Sometimes, like this time, I wanted stark thorn, no wishy washy third and forth attempts.
I did not really succeed but it was good to change medium. I will do some more….


Acacia Thorns, Charcoal on Paper


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….”

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Vertebra Drawing, Pencil on Paper



Drawing Pencil on Paper

We came across some bones on our travels. I hope it doesn’t upset the ecosystem that I brought them home to draw. A small hip bone, perhaps from a civet or meerkat, and the upper jaw of a ruminant. They are very weathered and rather beautiful. I am spending about 3 hours per drawing. It is concentrating my mind and hand. And it feels good to really look. The better you look the better you draw. Next week I will do some clay work too…


Sketch Book Drawing


Sketch Book Drawing



Stage One of Drawing



Stage Two of Drawing



Stage Three nearly finished

My lesson learned last night is not to ask the children what they think. Is it a tiger mummy?…..