Category Archives: Coursework

Assignment 5 pt 9

I’ve finished the assignment, if not I think the pictures I will create, of the subject I picked in the end.


The prisoners of conscience window at the top end of the cathedral is a glorious mix of deep colours which adds to the sobriety of its subject. I like the contrast in light coming through the glass and reflecting off the altar centrepiece. I also liked the abstract pattern the lead in the window creates when you aren’t close enough to understand the image.

I went for a portion of the cross rather than the whole thing, I think its a recognisable enough symbol to take it.

I wanted to keep the background abstract in the final piece (which ended up being significantly smaller than the last 2 pictures).13344813_10155006997708079_3223031802986792384_n

A deep blue wash which was a mix of 2 colours of ink (Prussian and aqua marine) then indian ink marked over. White gesso formed the basis of the cross, with successive layers of yellow ink and a mix of yellow, orange and a drop of black. I didn’t think I had rushed this, but I think its why the blue is coming through the gesso, a pleasant happenstance, to me it makes the cross look less permanent.

I also didn’t put in the decorative gate that is directly behind the altar, I felt the lead pattern was enough.




Assignment 5, no.8

This week I have taken the time to redo the chapter house ceiling in a more subtle way, I’ve kept the colours soft and used the newspaper backing to reflect the contours in the curved ceiling, covering this in a thinly yellowed (to warm) washed out gesso, then a grey in patches over that.

DSC03852I mixed ink with gesso to pale down the strength of the colours for the decoration, then tissue papered the central column and gessoed the decoration on that.

The whiter area bottom left was just to give that corner some interest, a difference from the others. I’d be tempted to white out the whole thing and bring the tone right down. Its the length of A1 as a square, so not the easiest thing to pack. I’d frame it with a white frame, maybe pale grey. it would need space to the glass and no window mount.

I think it gives a completely different effect than the charcoal version, more contemporary and light in feeling as well as tone.



Assignment 5 no 8

After looking at the work of Dennis Creffield I decided to have another look at the chapter house roof. I popped in and took the photo I needed and worked on the sketch at home (it was a bank holiday Monday, the last place I want to spend a huge amount of time at sketching is going to be the local tourist trap).


The symmetry is much more noticeable at this angle, I prefer it to the previous sketch, which brought to mind a merry go round more than a roof. I liked the idea of cropping it square but didn’t get the distance to the window tops totally accurate in this version.

The off placed circles worked well though.


I wanted to work larger than A1 and I know I have a roll of cartridge paper, but I prefer the tooth of not watercolour, so I’ve got 2 sheets of the above masking taped at the back so they don’t shift. I used willow charcoal to initially do the lines, then I scribbled over all but the windows and blended it in. I brushed some of that off and then re charcoaled the lines over the top. that didn’t produce enough definition so I erased sime lines and shaped areas of the roof. Then I used compressed charcoal (although it could be black chalk for all I know, its an insert for a 5.6mm lead holder and 2 descriptions online contradict each other) to define some lines and detail the windows.

I think I want to try it again with pastels. Its not that it doesn’t have impact, the scale does that, it lacks detail that would darken it down more than the charcoal already has, so I think I’ll do it again in greyscale pastels, actually I could use colour…

Let me get back to you with this one.


Drawings at Mottisfont Abbey May 29th 2016

A lot of this collection is on loan from Southampton gallery, some is from the collection at Mottisfont and all of it is un photographable due to copyrights and ownership. There is no exhibition catalogue and no postcards, so my only take home reference was memory and info cards I asked to photo. I didn’t have time with an entire entourage of family to sketch anything, so this is my record going back through the image info I liked with the help of google and my memory.

The pictures that stuck in my memory where;-

Dennis Creffield Windmill on the isle of wight, a large loose charcoal with movement and energy, what was rubbed into the sheet of paper was as important as the marks that went over or remained from the scrub off.

2 John Virtue etchings landscape no. 34. These represent a lot of lines that lead to a place, you can’t define what or where it is however from the marks. As an emotive response these provide a dark view of somewhere that makes me think John didn’t want to be there either. However this is my first view of Virtues work up close and it was informative.

Glenn Sujo Architectural drawing was a large piece informing on a building with pastels and charcoal, the use of pastels made the image softly appealing without huge amounts of detail

Anna Ticho Landscape of an area in Isreal. the land was un populated and stretched into a pale coloured set of hills. I liked this because of the use of colour under the black marks, I think I want to learn more about lithographs.

Adrian Stokes Still life of bottles in an oil painting is kind of fascinating to me as I am still avoiding starting to use oil paints. I look at pictures now and try to work out if they are wet on wet or glazed, if they where allowed to dry between coats. the tone used on the pallet and the amount of colours in any given area of picture.

I’m still not sure I have the patience to work in oils and thats probably what is putting me off…

There is a Henry Moore sketch there as well as a Barbara Hepworth and they both display beautifully the sculpting credentials of the artists. The medium creates lines that wrap around the form in a way to make that elusive 3rd dimension on a flat plane.

As part of the permanent collection in the house there is also a small degas sketch of a head that I liked (whats not to like about something that looks as if it was created effortlessly) and a small John Piper that tells you all about a piece of landscape involving rocks plants and a brook, I can look at his work for hours.

Of course Mottisfont also has an entire room of trompe l’oei from the central sun in the ceiling, down the curtain sconses and decorative walls. All painted by Whistler presumable the year before he went to war. Having painted murals on walls I have a lot of respect for this space although I wonder at the fact it took a year, a lot of the patterning is on top of a plain colour and only produces shadows?!?


Assignment 5 No.7

The end of term is a tiring place to be, and as much as the sketchbook work continues, blog posts do not…

The first sketch is from the centre looking towards the main altar, this gives the full height of the cathedral as does the second picture which is off centre in the left hand wing  looking directly across to the right. Depicting the magnificent size to me, means the height, its an awe inspiring building. The difference between the two sketches is time, the first, my children were pootling about outside on strict instructions not to hit any tourists while on scooters, this meant that throughout the hours sketching I was interrupted every 5 minutes when they checked in to prove they were ok, carrying scooters off the stone floor. I have to say that my children are being very accommodating about the time this course is taking up, as long as we end up in Nero’s for a drink after they seem to be ok.

The second sketch I had a couple of child free hours and I kind of got locked into the space by a service so just kept adding detail. the ink wash was applied at home for a more informative tonal image. the final piece these informed was a loose adaption


A1, the paper prepared from the bottom up with potato sack and the top down with newspaper, I did this to help ground the picture tonally before I started. I then applied a mix of white gesso watered down with a bit of yellow and orange ink, I wanted to warm the paper up as the ceiling is artificially lit with comforting yellow hued spots. Then the deep blue middle part of the picture, this is the Prisoners of conscience window at the back of the cathedral, a piece of art that has attracted and fascinated me for many years, I can sit and look at it for hours, from a distance, the most striking element to me is the intense blue overall of the glass and I wanted my picture to reflect this eye-catching part. The lines were put on with the wrong end of a mapping pen again, in a blue ink to start. I then overplayed green lines. The width of the paper was giving me problems as the image is height over width but the paper seemed the right size and I didn’t want to chop it. So I hemmed in the sketch with ink wash after ink wash. I wanted to darken the picture significantly which because of the pools of inks drying time meant this took up the lounge carpet for most of the week. I then went over the lines with a darker blue so they stood out from the ink wash and finally added the altars gold.

I am slowly getting a sense of the arches that are the symbol that define this place, they create the walls and arch up the roof with perspective leading them of into the distance, which is what drew me to my next piece.

I finally remembered to box the picture in my sketchbook, (got kicked out for choir practise for this one, again my urchins were floating about the background) I liked the idea of confining it to a square and handily this was formed as long as I stopped at the top of the first arches. This is right in front of the main altar so the blue is more prominent as is the large golden cross with the candlesticks either side. I’ve had to take the ceiling behind the arch a deeper yellow to distract from the richness of the altar-cloth but I’ve been determined not to rely on gold ink for the ornaments, preferring to achieve a deep yellow to match the other colours. This piece I’ve let gravity do its thing, its helped elongate the piece as all the drips run down, but I don’t think this has been the best piece of the assignment.

An unexpected early wake up (its hayfever season, I wake up wanting to scratch my eyes out, I’m trying not to be too reliant on antihistamines this year) had me thinking about structured shapes IMG_9887

These are the recuring lines that have happened throughout the sketchbook, I nearly went through the page with aquarelle here, but you get the idea. This led on to the chapterhouse roof, this isn’t a perfect sketch (worked off a photo), but I have a better idea what geometry needs to be in place to get this accuratly and I think that will be interesting as a larger square. So thats next. IMG_9884

Today we are going to Mottisfont abbey, they have an exhibition of drawings from Southamptons amazing collection, hockneys constables etc, I’m hoping to find some inspiration because I think its time to draw this assignment to a close soon, the sketchbook hasn’t been very experimental for this, but it has been very well informed and as a result leaves more space for the larger pieces to be the experiments.

Assignment 5 no.6

I had an idea that I wanted to develop the door sketch into 2 pictures, 1 an ink and wash , the other the multi media mishmash with added depth.

Both are A2-ish and are over a piece of watercolour paper covered in newspaper. I wanted to highlight the light coming through the arches inside and the contrast between that and the inside of the cloister, over the front as we look at it and the differences in the stonework, both the shapes of the bricks row by row and colouration in the stone. I like the effect of the pen and ink inside the doorway, I think the perspective is well worked and I have the sense of looking into somewhere else. I’m not happy with the colour on the stone front though, its too pink, but changing it would make it darker which would make the contrast from outside to inside, less. The right hand version was worked much quicker, the gesso, gouache layers blending because they were wet. I tried adding texture to the stone with a sponge and It looked too affected so I went over it in the loosened black gesso and an amazon gift voucher card again.

I can see the right hand picture in a square frame, I’ve cropped it square to add it here, I did it small enough in the centre of the paper to be able to play with the final shape.

I like the fact the eye is drawn in and down the corridor. I don’t know if I would have needed to do the ink and wash if I had done the initial sketch in ink instead of pencil?


Assignment 5 No.5

So, working on an elongated sketch that draws attention to the height and scale of the space drawn, made for some obvious issues when I came to the final piece. My response was to go large and I didn’t want a join bisecting the picture. I’ve got a roll of fabriano cartridge paper which is 1.5m wide, problem with cartridge and why I’ve been working multi media on watercolour paper is that it cockles appallingly unless you work one small damp piece of collage on at a time. So this was done at risk, however, I have learnt lots since I started this course, the least of which is to ease the paper up and lay it down with a stretch as the layers absorb moisture.


I wanted the brightness at the windows to be the strongest areas so keeping much of the media away from the glass seemed the obvious answer to keeping it light. The metallic sweet wrappers the homage to the stained glass, using reflection to achieve the shine and sparkle.

Next, I laid down a washed out layer of black gesso followed by the tissue in the pillar. This was followed by the scrape over of guache

My initial black lines where with charcoal, this wasn’t dark enough, but when I rubbed over the window edges, smudged the glass area into a less brilliant space.

I followed this with dip pen and ink, but I wasn’t satisfied with the thickness of line, by the time you achieved any small distance from the paper, the lines disappeared, so I tried dipping the broken end of a paintbrush instead and scribing with that, its a much thicker line. I’m not happy with the scribbled shading I did in the seating arches, its too quick. I can’t change it though, the best I could do to hide it was rub over a bit of charcoal.

I also tried highlighting in white ink. This was too stark so I went over it with a loose solution of washed out ink. Then I used the wrong end of a mapping pen which was finer than the back end of the paintbrush, but thicker than a dip pen nib… This I used for the lines on the ceiling that help shape the space.

This still left the image too crisp, so I rubbed a lot of charcoal dust into the area around the pillar, not on the pillar and the ceiling above the windows.

I am hoping to get away from posting this piece, It won’t fair well rolled tight enough to fit in my portfolio and folding it will damage it and create issues with the charcoal. the image above is a 24meg image, lighting is a pain, the matt medium I overlaid on the paper after the gouache layer still has an element of shine that impacts on the photo.


Onto the next piece…


This is the gate into cloisters that is the main entrance into the cathedral, the stone leading into the darkened interior drew me to the image potential, I thought about going up to the top of the building and making the door small in the final pictures, but I kind of like it appearing in the middle. The bigger versions of this will be A2, I’ve already prepped up 2 sheets, they will be a line and wash and a full multi media version, I can already see them, which helps.

Get held up by a horse and a small canvas I picked up cheap to play with though.

So now I can get back to coursework.