Monday, March 30, 2009

London Wall from Moorgate

London Wall
Train Girl
I was invited to the retirement party for a design client I’ve had for about seventeen years. This city view en route to the party was mainly selected because there was a convenient bench near the corner of Moorgate and London Wall. The people were fellow train and tube travellers. Although my friend seems to have planned lots of absorbing activities it made me think about how devastating retirement can be for other people who have had a very fulfilling work life but find it difficult to make the transition to a work-free existence. Those of us who enjoy sketching are so lucky to have something that’s so enjoyable and fulfilling.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Theatre evening

Actors at the Maltings
Maltings theatre audience
A few weeks ago Robin and I went to see a theatrical adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Cat’s Cradle’. It was a Christmas present from me as Robin loves Kurt Vonnegut. It turned out to be a rather tedious production, but obviously not as tiresome for me as it was for Robin as I had a sketchbook.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Robin hunched

Pencil in sketchbook

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gathered to watch 'The Apprentice'

Pen and watercolour

Swimming pool figures

Another meditative, steamy half an hour.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Keeping up with friends

My daughter, who can’t see the point of making your bed when you’re just going to make a mess of it when you get back into it. I think I'm going to have to resort to killing off the wireless internet access if her bed isn’t made tomorrow morning.
Pen in sketchbook

Monday, March 23, 2009

Captive audience

Trestle theatre audience
I went to see my son, Hugo, performing in a youth Shakespeare production at the Trestle theatre this evening, and managed a sketch of some members of the audience.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mothering Sunday sketches

All the others were out so Xavier and I took Rufus and a picnic to one of my favourite spots just beyond Langley Wood. I managed this tiny watercolour and a quick sketch of my artistic son. I said that eventually I’d be able to make money from my art when he grew up and became a famous artist/inventor/film director and the newspapers would pay me good money for drawings of him as a child. We also went for a little drive and as we drove past Shaw’s Corner, the home of George Bernard Shaw I told Xavier about his revolving writing summerhouse at the bottom of the garden, which allowed him to turn the summerhouse to let in the light as the sun moved across the sky. Xavier promised me that when he grows up and builds me my dream house that he will include a revolving garden studio.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Orangery

The Orangery
Before lunch on Thursday, I managed to start this sketch of The Orangery, in Kensington Gardens.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wonderful day

I didn’t have the nerve to sketch the
great man whilst he ate at the next table in the perfect Kensington restaurant my dear friend took me to yesterday. I mean you can hardly whip out your sketchbook to draw one of the world’s greatest living painters who’s sitting a few feet away from you but I had to have some record of the occasion, so a sketch that’s a mix of memory and looking at innumerable photos.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Swimming lesson

Sandringham school swimming pool
Every Monday I accompany Xavier to his swimming lesson at the local school swimming pool. Although normally I find chauffeuring children to sporting and other after-school activities a bit of a bore, I nevertheless quite enjoy this activity. I think I go into a sort of meditative trance as I sit on a comfortable bench in the warm steamy atmosphere. It’s almost like being in church and sshh, don’t tell anyone, but I much prefer it when I end up seated next to people I don’t know – so that for once – I’m enjoying inner contemplation, rather than chatting away..

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hob salon

Hob salon, St Albans
In the moments between having my hair plastered with hair colour and having it washed, I quickly sketched the receptionists I could see in the mirror. This is a two storey building and this is the first time I’ve had my hair done downstairs. I suspect that upstairs was completely empty as in this economic climate so many of us are delaying having our hair done until our partners complain that they are sharing their life with a badger.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back from university

Another portrait that doesn’t quite capture Flo. However Tom reckons this is quite a good mix of Flo and our friend Andreia.
Brushpen in sketchbook

Monday, March 16, 2009

Look up!

Pike and sons
Like most towns we have the same chains of shops and cafés, but when you look above the standard mass-produced signage you can spot the unique little features that hint at what the town was like a hundred years ago. A beautiful sunny day encouraged me to grab some moments to sketch 'Pike and Sons' above 'Accessorize' in St Albans town centre.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Pen in sketchbook

Friday, March 13, 2009

Filling in a form

I have them trained well. They fill in all those tedious parental consent forms themselves and then just hand over the form for me to sign in the box. Of course there’s always the possibility that I’ve just agreed to Tom going on a ‘How to grow your own drugs’ weekend away, but heck at least I didn’t have to read through all those questions about allergies and doctor’s contact details etc.
Pen in sketchbook

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Xavier and Julie portrait party

Xavier and I had a lovely evening. He helped me make meatballs for supper and then while Robin was coaching canoeing we had fun drawing each other. He ended up going to bed very late because I can’t estimate time when I’m drawing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tom winding up friends

Facebook teasing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Drastic haircut

Tom, at last using the knowledge he gained from his one week hairdressing work experience, cut Hugo’s hair this evening. We save a fortune in this family by rarely having professional haircuts. (And many of my friends would probably add ‘and it shows…’).

Monday, March 09, 2009

Robin dreaming about canoes

Pen in sketchbook

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sprawled teenager after lunch

A lovely day. A big Sunday lunch with all the children and two of their friends. And then a walk round the bluebell wood to work some of it off. Flo went back to university with the makings of a meal raided from the fridge.
Brushpen in sketchbook

Friday, March 06, 2009

He needs a hair cut

Xavier’s hair was knotted and standing on end this morning so I started to brush it. However he insisted on taking over while gazing into the large mirror in my room. As he brushed he said ‘My hair looks like the hair on lego men – you know the kind that can be taken off their heads’. I seem to be the only person to find this acutely observant and also very funny.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Strange right hand

Why would I want to push my last drawing (which I rather like) down my blog page so that you can see this poor sketch which gives Hugo a strange unconnected right arm? I’m one of those people who has to keep this drawing art thing going on an almost daily basis. If I spent a moment worrying about the quality I’d end up incapable of producing anything. And if I left off drawing for a week it might be another twenty years before I picked up a pencil again.
My son, Tom, begged me not to mention my blog at a lunch party we’re having soon – to which I remonstrated that I only ever mentioned blogging when people said to me that they wished they were more creative, or that they could draw. However I’m not so sure that starting a blog would initially be as rewarding as it was a few years ago. When I started blogging comments arrived under my pictures as if by magic and so there was an almost instant rapport between me and ‘my readership’. So I just had to keep on producing the pictures. However, now, so many people, including me, read many more blogs and most of them via an RSS feed, that there just isn’t the time to spread the comments around. So now instead of feeling as though blogging is being at a rather agreeable party, with lots of people who are interested in what you have to say – it could feel as though you’re a bit of a wallflower. Personally I really, really don’t mind the lack of comments – I sort of imagine there’s probably a dozen or so of you who visit regularly but are too busy to keep a dialogue going with all of the blogs they visit and I’m pretty much the same.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tom wearing a Stockwood t-shirt

Tom wearing a t-shirt I designed for the transatlantic sailing race 1988 – there's a great stack of them in the attic.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Mums’ night out

A very enjoyable night out with all the primary school mums. The lone male was the class teacher who enthusiastically dragged the mums onto the dance floor. The restaurant was Anastasia’s in St Albans and they get a 9 out of 10 from me for food, value for money, and entertainment and I’m afraid a zero for insisting on keeping the music up at such a high volume in the early and middle part of the evening so that it was impossible to chat over dinner. You probably think it’s yet another sign of Julie getting old – but I have never been able to appreciate the joys of straining to hear your friends talk and having to shout over the dinner ’till you were hoarse.