Sunday, 19 August 2018

A year of sketching with the Reading Sketchers

I had heard about the urban sketching movement through Koosje Koone's SketchbookSkool klass a few years ago and desperately wanted a local chapter but never managed to find one though I did manage to find one very lovely person to have a coffee with regularly who was also looking through that community.

copyright Therese Lawlor
Thanks to Jelly's wonderful Open for Art Festival in 2017 I finally discovered Reading's urban sketchers. We have had at least one urban sketchcrawl every month come rain, (snow) or shine and last July we celebrated a year of doing these by taking part in the Open for Art Festival 2018 where one of our newest members Nichola wrote about the experience. We applied to become an official chapter but you can still find us listed on this map thanks to another of our members.

Urban sketching gives you a chance to meet others who are sketching the same location at the same time as you, but in their own style. You're alone but together drawing the world. The best thing about this is it gives people the courage to sketch in the open when strangers may speak to you - somehow, saying it's part of the sketchcrawl makes it ok. Secondly, you meet other people who share tips about equipment, books, other artists and of course experiences. In every meet up there's a new convert to pastels, water-soluble (or not) crayons, and Sailor Fude pens or discussing paper/sketchbooks (e.g.concertina & use of tinted or brown paper) and where to purchase them. I like the general buzz after having spent a couple of hours doing something for yourself sharing our experiences and excitement.  Sometimes people are reticent in sharing their sketchbooks but they find it is a lovely non-judgemental environment. Our group is on Facebook that you are welcome to request to join but recently we set up on twitter and Instagram (no posts yet!) so that it didn't exclude anyone from finding out about us.

I've included photos that a couple of our regular sketchers (and a new member) were happy to share for this post.
copyright Mohan Banerji by the River Kennet
copyright Therese Lawlor at Bel and the Dragon using pastels
Over the past year, we've been in Reading town centre (St Lawrence, Forbury, the Abbey Quarter, St Mary's Butt, Broad Street, Reading Museum, MERL, Blake's Lock and Bel and the Dragon, by the river), Sonning, Harris Garden and Wokingham

 Revisiting these places at different times or going to new ones is always exciting.


 copyright Liz Chaderton


copyright Therese Lawlor at MERL 

copyright Mohan Banerji at the Reading Hospitium
copyright Therese Lawlor in Forbury Gardens
copyright Therese Lawlor 

copyright Huma Jehan (sketching the freezing sketchers in Wokingham)



Sunday, 29 April 2018

Sneak peek at my submission to Sketchbook project


















Yes the paper is very thin. If you would like to know a bit more about what works I wrote some notes up in September (not all the tools are there as I got more since) or you could replace these pages with your own and rebind the book. 

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Playing with aluminium

Jackson's Art had an art sale for aluminium panels that I found out about thanks to a fellow Reading Sketcher Mohan so I bought a couple and had a go after reading up on it

The easiest way to tackle the blank panel/canvas was to try doodling using some materials* and the end results were very pleasing in terms of effects.




The surface was cold and you did need to put something under your hand as you drew for your own comfort and to avoid smudging - as per their blog post.

Biro was the only thing that seemed reluctant (and unpleasant to use) . Bingo dabbers and posca pens seemed a bit duller but the other tools created a lovely vibrancy when used. Posca pens layered seemed to be better.

It would be lovely to carry these panels around as well as a sketchbook but may be impractical to do so every day.

*materials list

  1. Posca pen
  2. Faber castel pitt pens (fine and bold)
  3. Water
  4. Sharpie pen
  5. Pentel brush pen
  6. Sailor fude pen
  7. Lamy green pen
  8. Watercolours  (Winsor and Newton)
  9. Watercolour pens  (Winsor and Newton)
  10. Watercolour pencils  (with and without water)
  11. Biro (unsuccessful)
  12. Bingo dabbers
  13. Pentel stylo
  14. Gouache  (designer) Winsor and Newton


Monday, 1 January 2018

Memories from drawing in 2017

When I restarted drawing /sketching a few years ago I didn't expect any of the things it would actually mean for me.

For example that I would share these drawings with strangers, some of whom I would meet in person, others from whom I would learn (book/food/art/tech/Reading-related/stuff). I also reignited or built up friendships with old friends in a very different context and gained confidence and drew things I never thought I would even enjoy drawing.

The other unexpected delight is that I have sketches that are actually diaries and unleash memories  (some lovely, others reminding me of times I turned to drawing to recharge when I had read too much news). I also decided to write down all the books I read 'during' each sketchbook and have built up another wonderful and unexpected reminder of the year.

Here are a few drawings from 2017 and I thought I'd share some of memories and feelings behind them.

A page from Jan 2017's #sbsdrawingaday 

It is the only month I managed to keep up a lot of the drawings a day prompts and this page included CHEESE (thank you Grumpy Goat and Borough Cheese Company for keeping me happily addicted all year around) & a wonderful,  funny, kind and clever hubby who makes an excellent cuppa (and who likes animals and googly eyes)

Brushpen sketch of person in waiting room 

At this point I decided to play with the brush pen and was very pleased with this sketch. I drew it in the waiting room at Reading station and was actually thinking of the many people who were suddenly being affected by the MuslimBan.

 #OneWeek100People2017 challenge

I signed up for this as I like drawing people but wanted to push myself to draw several quicker.  This one is on International Women's Day and I had to find women on the train that I could sketch that morning. I successfully managed 100 people that week but it took a fire evacuation (that I didn't start, honest), a visit to the theatre to watch The Book of Mormons and a visit to the excellent Reading library trying not to crack up when people moved - and it became about numbers rather than people at the end.


HeyClay - Reading 

The Great Pottery Throwdown is my guilty pleasure. I love it as it makes me realise how amazing the ceramics industry (in everyday use) is - never considered making fully functioning toilets as an art challenge before!  As part of HeyClay, the OHOS in Reading hosted a pottery event and I finally had a first (unsuccessful) go leading me to have another go and learn how to use the wheel from Cait  - she's teaching a couple of courses at the Reading College - sign up here

Whilst waiting for my first go, I dared to sketch this lady AND show her my sketch.

Ancient Reading

So, it's not ancient but I did this sketch of the corner of Cross Street and Silver Street. If I had left it another week - this building would no longer be there as it was demolished. I especially liked the marks/traces of the older building in the wall of the building about to be demolished.

Holiday sketches

Reminders of a small holiday that included animals!



Still life - a cherry

Never thought I'd draw fruit but I really like this one

The Blade

This is one of my favourites of the Blade - it was used by Matthew Farrell's in an interview with me. When I arrived in Reading, I loved the Blade as it seemed iconic and not ugly. A lot of the other buildings no longer exist. It also acts as a navigational tool for me.
Also, it made me more at home about living in what I had then considered a bold move to the countryside. I love life in the countryside with it's cafes, restaurants, art scene, museums, indy shops, people and theatre.



A portrait of an artist.

The amazingly talented Salvo is a fab photographer from Reading and I thought I'd sketch him.

Sketching with strangers (#rdguk)

The Reading Sketchers group (facebook group - ask to join it if you fancy) organised a sketch crawl for Jelly's Open for art. I went along to draw with the group that day and whilst I was sitting sketching the people sitting outside the Oracle), a man sitting next to me asked what I was doing. I told him and then took the plunge and invited him to sketch on my sketch and he did. I was a bit nervous but I'm glad I did. I don't know if we'll meet again (and I won't recognise him anyway) but I felt it was okay to do this in the group. It also made me feel more comfortable to talk to strangers and tell them about the Reading Sketchers group that I got involved in.

A lady on the train - an accidental vehicle for another memory

A sketch that actually reminds me of my mother reading and I don't now recall the person I actually drew.

Daring to cross the road...on to a roundabout

I have wanted to draw the Whitley Pump ever since I saw it. Several years later, I finally crossed on to the roundabout and took a closer look. 


A happy request

Friends bought a camper van and requested I draw them on their adventures. I love these kind of requests and they usually make us all laugh.

The picture that led me to meet...ReadingTalkies

I met ReadingTalkies thanks to this sketch of Broad Street Mall

Another memory of a closed down place in #rdguk

We found the "firestarter" in the sketch (right) in AgainstTheGrain in Broad Street  Mall- it was an upcycling shop /charity that ceased trading just before Xmas. I had intended to draw the person who worked there during the holidays. It had some truly lovely things that cannot fit into our house.
The "little sun" in the sketch (left) is something we got in order to see the OLAFUR ELIASSON Tate Blackout a few years ago.


Using the imagination again.

When I was younger I drew a lot more from imagination (as we all do). The last few years (apart from the fun requests from friends) have been more drawing from life. The Imagining course from SketchbookSkool invited me to revisit drawing from imagination and this is one assignment that I took to mean a series of drawings on one page that made up a whole without knowing what I would draw next (the dates tell you the order it took). 


The Postal Museum and memories of the Eighties.

This is a sketch of two old men walking away from the newly opened Postal Museum where you can go on the MailRail as well. The area is behind Farringdon Road. Every Sunday the East London Group shares this photo and reminded me of an area I have many memories of. It also led me to visit the excellent exhibition in Southampton that opens again tomorrow and ends this Saturday - (HT @declarationball for introducing me to the work of the group)

It also led me to revisit the History Today clips on Youtube. 

A sketch of a #rdguk celeb 

...and for a while, their profile picture! I kept on wondering what I had posted when I saw their posts. It was a huge compliment and confidence boost.

The Nepalese community in #rdguk - and a breakthrough for me

The ladies sitting in Market square is one of my favourite sketches in the SketchBookProject book - a terrifying project I decided to take part in. This sketch prompted me to continue with it.


And this double spread below kept me from giving up as well though it was nerve wracking when I had one sketch on the left and was nervous that the other one would not work. This project is harder because the double spreads matter (well, I keep telling myself it doesn't matter really in the big scheme of things and I just have to keep on going).



tldr; 

Take a few chances and don't give up hope