Monday, June 29, 2009

Train station couple


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Garden Party at Mansfield

mia and marcus borg
We went to my daughter Flo’s college for a garden party lunch and afternoon tea. Her friend Mia gave hours of her time freely to entertain the alumni and parents, and on her birthday, so thank you Mia for the lovely music.

Marcus Borg, who went to Mansfield College in the sixties gave a lecture in the afternoon in the chapel. He made some fascinating points about Christianity in the US. However the lecture was hard to follow and I think we were the embarrassing family in the audience, my husband Robin fell asleep, my hard-of-hearing father had had enough towards the end and was loudly tutting every time someone asked a question and was thus extending the length of time we spent in the chapel finally to crown it all my mobile phone went off – aaah nobody rings me on my mobile phone and the one time they do it I’m in a lecture. That’s the last time we get invited anywhere.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tom sprawled


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Joint artwork

Xavier did this drawing to show just how bored he was on Sunday June 21 (see below). And I added the colour later. I think I should have left him to create all the art that day because it’s a damn sight better than my efforts were.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This made me laugh today


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For those of you who keep looking for Jake's Bistro

I thought this sketch was too bad to post on my blog last year. However people keep searching for Jake’s Bistro Caernarfon, and landing here. So I thought I’d post my other sketch of the place to eat if you have the appetite of a horse and not much money to spend. The sketch is rubbish because this was in fact a very happy day – the day that Flo received her exam results and knew she’d be going to her first choice university.

Robin on the laptop

How many ways can I draw members of my family on that settee?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Painting under duress

I stopped on the walk to paint this scene near where Robin was paddling in Peterborough. Despite being provided with paper and art materials Xavier became very bored and knocked over my water and threw dry grass over my art materials and painting. I did a lot of shrieking – my wet Winsor and Newton paints covered in seeds and grass, the sketch smeared. It can be so difficult to get the balance right between being someone who devotes themselves completely to their children and being a person with interests and and a life of one’s own. *sigh*
En-route to the slalom paddling event had Robin suggested that a drawing of him paddling would be a nice Father’s Day gift. I told him that there was a very good reason I didn’t generally draw paddlers pleine aire – they just won’t stay still as this poor effort demonstrates. Anyway I’ve done it so he can't complain again that in four years of blogging I've never drawn him paddling.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My first experiment with Issuu

I don’t usually drag the day job into this blog, but I wanted to try out Issuu (which I discovered on Mattias Inks blog) and this old presentation on my computer was the nearest available pdf. It should be fun to try this out with completed sketchbooks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hugo on the settee

Brushpen and digital colour

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hugo washing up

hugo washing up
I’ve been itching to sketch, but I must tidy the house first, so just five minutes of sketching indulgence will have to do.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Christ Church, Spitalfields
bus stop ladies
On the spur of the moment I went into London to go to the Art Car Boot Fair, thinking I could sketch wacky looking artists and art buyers. I had no idea what a heaving mass of humanity the area around Brick Lane now is on a Sunday. It was very difficult to find the fair amongst everything else that was going on. When I eventually did, I have to say in the words of Sir Alan Sugar, most of it was a disappointing pile of tut. The crowds everywhere made it impossible to find a quiet corner to sketch, so I eventually retreated and had a cup of coffee near Liverpool Street Station, where I had a good view of Christ Church, Spitalfields.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

St Albans museum

st albans museum
We have two museums in this town. The other museum (the Verulamium museum) holds a collection of Roman artefacts from the time when this was an important Roman town. This museum has bits and pieces from all centuries after the Roman period and also has a collection of workmen’s tools. There’s enough to keep a small child entertained for half an hour and has free parking just outside, so we’ve visited numerous times.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Oxford Union debate

I’m so lucky that with Flo being at Oxford I can attend a debate at the Oxford Union. It was fascinating to be in this famous debating chamber, so although it was difficult to position myself for sketching I felt I had to record the moment somehow. The motion was ‘This House Believes Thatcher Saved Britain’. Fortunately for me, the better speakers happened to be arguing for what I already believed, so I did not have to battle with my conscience when it came to voting for who I thought had won the debate.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trestle Arts Base

When Napsbury Hospital was knocked down to build a new housing development, the 100 year old hospital church was saved and converted into a base for the Trestle Theatre company. Xavier was having his weekly drama class here, so as Robin was not around for the pick up I stayed and drew.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Stormy skies

We sat astride this log on our way home from school. Xavier read me his school reading book ‘Prince Albert’s birthday’ while I quickly sketched the view. It’s good to hear words like trifle, spiffing and parlour in a reading book – so many of the reading books can be irredeemably dull, but I liked this one.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The trick is to find your sport

This was sketched by the canal as Robin participated in individual paddling time trials for selection for the dragon boat team. The Great Britain senior mixed dragon boat team is the second sport in which Robin will represent his country. The first was the Great Britain unicycling hockey team. Me? I’m waiting for ‘sketch as you walk’ to become a recognised sport, sort of along the lines of ice skating where you get marks for speed and artistry.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Robin having a cup of red bush tea

Robin having tea the night before the trials to get into the GB dragon boat team.
Pen in green sketchbook

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Four babies laughing

I’m still busy with the book. But if too much work makes me feel low, I'm just going to take half a minute to watch this – guaranteed to cheer up the grumpiest person.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Too busy to draw

I’m busy designing a book but I just thought I’d take a moment to express my thanks to the unsung heroes of the design world – type designers. I’m using Warnock pro and I’m overwhelmed with the all the choices I have typographically. There are four slightly differently designed sub-families – Caption for sizes 6–8pt (where the thins are less thin than regular and the kerning is looser to aid legibility). Regular for bodytext sizes 9–13pt. Subhead for sizes 14–24pt and Display for sizes 25–72pt (with greater contrast between thick and thin and all sorts of subtle adjustments to allow for a larger size). In each of the subfamilies there are four weights, together with their italic versions. In each font there are real small caps, ligatures, foreign characters, fractions, typographic ornaments, oldstyle figures.

It’s like the joy of having the biggest possible set of coloured pencils. Adobe type designer Robert Slimbach has designed a beautiful typeface – and don’t get me going on his other delicious typeface Brioso pro.

I thought I’d set the words ‘Fiji fiji’ for you because the lowercase version shows off one of the Warnock ligatures, and the uppercase version is an interesting word typographically because it’s one of the very few (if any) words used in English that has three dotted letters one after the other. And also because the current BBC1 TV series ‘South Pacific’ is making me feel homesick for Fiji.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I do this at least once in most sketchbooks – grab the book and start drawing before I realise it’s upside-down. Tom is wearing clothes under that newspaper. He’s not in the habit of hanging around with his parents without clothes on however hot it is – but they’re particularly short shorts – the kind of shorts men wore all the time in the seventies and which take a bit of getting used to after all his other very long shorts.

Monday, June 01, 2009

More bike-riding

After being grateful for the end of half-term holiday and an opportunity to catch up with a mountain of paid work, I walked Xavier to school this morning when horror of horrors it turned out to be an INSET* day.

* A day the school closes down while the teachers get training, (no they don't do their Christmas shopping) and various other things