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.

Leiden buildings

August 22nd, 2016

I am really interested in buildings and architecture. Holland has so many impressive buildings. I’m particularly drawn to the buildings from the 1920s and 30s. Most notably the Amsterdam School architecture style.

Leiden Botanical Gardens

August 22nd, 2016

Leiden Botanical Gardens

July 25th, 2016

I’ve been becoming more and more interested in gardens. It may be something to do with the sunny weather when gardens often look their best. In Leiden there is the Hortus Botanicus and I’ve visited a number of times. I had done a few small drawings here whilst my daughter slept in her buggy. Then I returned to do some larger drawings. Every time I visit I seem to spot something different. There is so much to draw upon – the plants or flowers, sculptures, observatory or even visitors lounging by the pond or walking along the winding path.

Rotterdam: Hotel New York

June 27th, 2016

It was lovely returning to The New York Hotel for a coffee and tompoes on Saturday. Situated on the River Maas and built in 1917, it was the former head office of the Holland America Line and the last spot for many Dutch immigrants who set sail for North America. It’s now surrounded by skyscapers and has been converted into a cafe restaurant and hotel and still retains much of it’s original charm. I walked over the Rijnhavenbrug to the Kop Van Zuid. The harbour district has been regenerated since I was last in Rotterdam. It’s a great spot to hang out and draw the New York hotel. I included some of the water taxis that travel to and from the centre of town (and to Veerhaven). I later sat in a cafe on a mezzanine and watched the visitors having lunch and drinks outside with The New York hotel in the background.

Utrecht flower market

May 17th, 2016

I visited the Utrecht flower market on the Janskerkhof on Saturday. There was a great atmosphere and an amazing selection of flowers and plants. I sat with a coffee for a time and watched the visitors and then stood amongst the shoppers and sketched very quickly. Can’t believe the drop in temperature! I should have worn an extra layer. I left with a large bouquet of flowers and these drawings.

Scheveningen Beach

May 17th, 2016

Glorious day so headed to the beach. Not too hot with a breeze.  We sat under a large parasol, relaxed and I sketched the visitors.

Germany

May 5th, 2016

Spent a relaxing week in Germany and some time in the Rhineland. Weather was variable – snow, sleet, rain and a little sunshine! Not ideal for drawing outside but grabbed a few moments. Here are a couple of drawings from Saarburg. Loved the hilly landscape and St Laurentius church standing tall. Interesting to see all the surrounding Mosselle vineyards. Very picturesque (even in the rain!)

We spent a sunny day in Bonn and took a break in the Bonn University botanical gardens. Very distinctive pollarded trees lined a path towards the main building and lots of students and young families relaxed on the lawns. This time I had some help from my assistant.

On our last day, we visited Cologne. I could have spent alot more time here. Museum Ludwig is very close to the stunning Cathedral. Amazed at how quiet it was. A fantastic selection of work by Picasso and German Expressionist painters. The view from the second floor was also very good so I got my pens out and drew the view towards the Rhine river and Hohenzollern bridge.

I often do a couple of drawings. A small one and then a larger drawing if I have time. It was nearing closing time and I had a warden standing over me so I had to be quick!

Amsterdam

April 22nd, 2016

A beautiful sunny day in Amsterdam. Arriving at Amsterdam Central Station I walked towards the Central Library to get a good view of St Nicholas Basilica. Often I draw in my small sketchbook first. I can play around with composition quickly with a few marks. If I don’t have a  time limit I can start off a bit tight and generally my drawings loosen up the more I do. It’s always busy in the area with commuters and tourists arriving and departing. Also the cyclists, trams, buses and cars passing by. Afterwards I followed the trail of tourists towards Dam Square. Had planned to visit De Nieuwe Kerk and perhaps visit the current exhibition but sketched the fun fair instead.