Germany – Saxony

June 12th, 2017

I spent two weeks in Germany with family and had a wonderful time. The sun shone throughout the holiday (with the exception of one sudden downpour) We rented accommodation on campsites. The first was just outside Dresden so we travelled around the area. Highlights included Moritzburg with it’s beautiful fairytale castle. It was once a hunting lodge and there are many references. So many stags heads on the walls.  I did a number of drawings changing view points and perspective. Initially I sketched in my small moleskin and then got bigger. I was using pastels and watercolour and marker pens.

2 km down the road is the stunning Pheasant House. When I arrived it was late afternoon and it was closed (hence the closed shutters). Still a very pretty pink castle and I really liked the sculptures in the gardens.  The castle was named after the surrounding Little Pheasant Garden.

Nearby is Saxony’s only lighthouse. It’s tiny!

Spent some time relaxing on the campsite. I don’t think I’d ever drawn a caravan til now. So many different trees: Pines, spruces, beech and oak.

On another occasion we visited Domburg. In the blazing heat I sketched the gardens and pretty castles. Very picturesque and lots of amazing roses.

Also had a day trip to Prague which was a two hour drive from where we were staying. Always wanted to visit since I saw INXS’s Never Tear Us Apart video. Loved Michael Hutchence! Twenty years later I made it there. Clearly so much has changed since then. Spent most of the time walking around the city to get a feel for the city. So beautiful.  Once we had a break and a beer I took the opportunity to do a couple of small sketches of Charles Bridge (Karelsbrug) which was heaving with tourists when we crossed it.

Viva Lewes

April 26th, 2017

Really enjoyed illustrating and designing the new May edition of Viva Lewes. Always enjoy browsing through the magazine and it’s had many great covers over the years. I was asked to design a cover to coincide with the opening of the new Depot cinema in Lewes. I was slightly apprehensive as the cinema was a building site when I had last visited and I usually prefer drawing on location. However when Katie at Viva emailed me a few photos of the building site and a few architectural drawings  I felt more confident and responded immediately with a couple of roughs. I then worked up our favourite and created linocuts for the main image an colour. I worked bigger than the magazine format which made it slightly easier to cut the image. Then scanned the linocut and made a few tweaks in Photoshop and hey presto the new cover!

 

Amsterdam Skyline

April 10th, 2017

I had a lovely day on Saturday. On a previous visit with friends and family I’d visited Nemo (the brilliant Children’s Science museum) and The Sky Lounge. On this occasion I returned alone with my sketch books in tow. The Sky Lounge is close to Amsterdam central station and has a great view across Amsterdam towards St Nicholas church. I ordered a coffee ( Not cheap at 7 euros 50 a pop although you did get a couple of sweet bites including a tiny macaroon for that!) It wasn’t busy so I could easily select a spot and sketched looking out towards the city. I had bought my larger A3 book on this occasion and so glad I did as I ran out of pages with my A4. It made me stretch myself more as I generally feel more comfortable with the smaller format. When there is so much to see I tried to be selective, using more gestural marks and washes to indicate buildings. I liked all the high rise buildings in contrast to the old ones. After the visit to the Sky Lounge I strolled over to Nemo. It had certainly got a lot warmer since I arrived. I’ve a museum card and it’s great. I wish we had something similar in the UK . Pay 60 euros and you get into most museums and galleries in the Netherlands. Sometimes this includes unexpected places such as botanical gardens. I sat on the third floor by a window, plugged myself into my iPod and looked out across the bridges towards the central library and the eye catching Chinese restaurant. I struggled a bit with the bridge tbh and started and stopped a few drawings before settling on a composition. A fun day and I’ll definitely be returning.

 

Drawing in the Spring

April 10th, 2017

Now it’s Spring and the weather has been lovely I really enjoy drawing in gardens and parks. The light creates beautiful shadows which I’ve included in some of the drawings.

 

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

January 17th, 2017

Travelled to Amsterdam at the weekend. I like visiting the Jewish museum and I discovered that the Hortus Botanicus is nearby. Probably not the best time of year to visit but the glasshouses had lots of palm trees and plants to draw. The spiral staircase lead to a good view too. I went outside when there was a break from the rain and drew one of the glasshouses through the trees. The sky was grey but it didn’t put me off  drawing outside and experimenting with blue and purple tones. That was until the clouds opened and I didn’t have any choice but to run for shelter!

Leiden market

December 19th, 2016

I had a few hours to myself so headed to Leiden market. It’s always busy on a Saturday especially now Christmas is coming up. I enjoy sitting outside cafes with a coffee and my sketch book. I planted myself opposite a fruit and veg stall and kept swapping seats to get different views and perspectives.

Heading home I stopped off at the park and was struck by how autumnal it looked. Generally the trees are looking much more skeletal but the trees here had an amazing orange glow in contrast to some darker green leaves.

Utrecht christmas market

December 19th, 2016

I often return to Utrecht. It has so much charm with lots to do and places to visit. As it was a Saturday and not long til christmas, I stopped by the flower market. There was no seating where the best views were so I stood and sketched the visitors and stalls with the pretty surrounding trees and buildings. Also went to the library and looked out the window down on the main shopping area. Much warmer inside so worked a bit bigger.

Allotment

December 1st, 2016

On one of my favourite walks with my daughter I pass allotments and so decided to return alone with my sketchbook.  It was a sunny day and a number of people were out tending to their vegetables and flowers. Whilst sketching I often get chatting to people and it’s interesting how people get so attached to their gardens. There is a real sense of community here with people sharing gardening tips and tools.
(I had intended to post this sooner as it has become alot colder and so the allotments are now looking alot barer!)

Cat linocut commission

December 1st, 2016

I was asked to do a commission of a cat for Sarah at the St Annes Gallery in Lewes.  The commission was from her children and would be a birthday present. Their cat Mathilda sadly disappeared and never returned so they thought a picture would be a touching tribute. I thought it so nice that they thought of me. To be honest it’s not something I normally do as I don’t generally work from photos but when Jess emailed me a few photos I immediately put pencil to paper. Here is the process and the result. Thankfully everyone was happy!

Vienna

November 30th, 2016

Spent a wonderful weekend in Vienna in October. Vienna is a city that I visited a number of times as a child as my aunt and uncle lived there. It was so nice returning after many years and seeing how it has changed. I stayed in the 7th district, a short walk to the museum quarter. It’s a really laid back, unassuming area with independent shops, bars and a market around the corner (whilst I was visiting) The weather was amazing so tables and chairs were outside bars and restaurants. Enjoyed sitting and drinking with a beer and chatting with the locals. Always good for getting tips for the best bars and restaurants to visit.

During the first day I walked to the Naschmarkt, a popular market with numerous stalls and restaurants. Most visitors come for the food and drink. I jostled my way through the crowds and stopped for a break and sketched some of the passers by and visitors having lunch.

My trip fortuitously coincided with Museum Night – buying one ticket between the hours of 6pm and 1am meant you could visit most of the museums and galleries in the capital. A wonderful atmosphere with many people out and enjoying the evening. I loved the Leopold museum with a large collection of Austrian twentieth century art. Many fantastic Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimts artworks. I don’t think I’ve walked so much or seen so much art in one evening before. Absolutely exhausting but wonderful at the same time!

The second day was spent seeing the historical sights. The Belvedere: Two beautiful palace buildings and more Klimt paintings. Surprisingly not so many tourists. I was two steps ahead of a group of Japanese tourists. There are so many stunning monumental buildings including the parliament, the Vienna State Opera and City Hall. I stopped here briefly to do a drawing. (You can see a short film on Instagram). The park looked so pretty and the 19th century Flemish Gothic building stunning. Then came a downpour so had to move swiftly on.

The modernist and Art Nouveau architecture is beautiful. The Vienna Secession building built by Joseph Maria Olbrich a personal favourite. Quite small inside with the main highlight; Klimt’s Beethoven frieze.

It was raining and I was getting peckish. Passing the Opera house, I stumbled upon the Imperial Butterfly House in the centre of the city. The Art Nouveau palm house is very eye catching. There’s a cafe and brasserie so stopped of for a few nibbles, a beer and sketch.

A visit to Vienna wouldn’t be the same without eating Viennese Schnitzel.  Before leaving, following a tip, I went to very good restaurant near where I was staying. ‘Zur Stadt Krems ‘ has a traditional menu, interior, friendly staff and half the price of the restaurants in the centre of the city.  Popular with the locals and I can see why – very tasty indeed!

My trip to Vienna was short and sweet. Packed with culture, cuisine and charm. I had a lovely time and hope to visit again in the not too distant future.