Quentin Blake inspired.


Today I finished a book of drawings or should I saysomeone else’s book- The Story of the Mind by J.M. Baldwin- is now filled with my reed and ink studies of the female nude. I drew on every second page leaving the interim as text only; the endpapers were drawn on too. The book is 263 pages long so there must be approximately 70 images altogether. This weekend I hope to photograph the drawings so that I can upload one onto each blog. In time order you should be able to note a miniscule development of the drawing style; the artist becoming used to a previously unfamiliar medium: the reed pen. Inspired by the beautiful drawings of Quentin Blake I shall continue to use this wonderful drawing instrument.

It is a relief to feel the book is complete; it feels substantial to hold and flick through. It works in a limited way as a flick book; glimpses of different poses viewed as the pages flip past. Ideally I would draw on every page but I was conscious of the ink coming through the old pages which I wanted to avoid . I now have to find another book to work with, another one to fill,  which I know will take over and become equally addictive. Oh! the creative mind: a ne’er fulfilled state.

I can imagine this book on a shelf long after I have gone. It is like the illustrations waited one century to arrive; the new and the old coming together. Some of the drawings are rough, expressive and complex whilst others are more slowly crafted, simple and calm to look at. I like working in both ways and the approach is usually governed by time available; a one minute study will always be different to five minute study.

I have an impatient fast style and find two minutes more than enough to complete most drawings. I am alaways astonished to see how slowly most of my students work even with me egging them on to draw faster and faster. They have sketch books on the go and regularly work on ten, five, two and one minute studies. I enjoyed starting the book and finishing it but the middle was riddled with angst as the project  was incomplete.

Sadly I  have to ask the question what was the point in the exercise? Why did it feel important for me to draw over someone else’s tome, someone else’s pride and joy? This I cannot answer except to say I find the end result interesting and believe it gives a dusty old book – destined for the skip –  a new lease of life. I would say I was also compelled.

Having filled numerous blank page sketchbooks I see this one as a new departure since it was not only conceived and executed within a week but also on previously printed pages; a “seven day wonder” making the style consistent and giving it a particular momentum. I look forward to a family of books of similar ilk emerging in all shapes and sizes. I have to say I’ve enjoyed the small intimate scale; this book with its blue cover is just 10cm x 15.3cm, published by George Newnes Limited, Southampton Street, Strand, London in 1902, and printed by Cowan & co., Limited, Perth. It is a link with the past, a link with the other side of the world; a link with life itself.

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taking a line for a walk


The thing about working in reed pen and ink is that you have to be decisive. A bit like life really. Before pen touches the paper you’ve already decided on scale, composition, and viewpoint. Then as the tip touches the paper you have to keep going, a bit like driving a car with traffic behind you; don’t stop, press on! You can vary the pressure to alter the weight of the line but being a low tech method it is always going to be a little bit hit and miss, but I quite like that aspect.

I go with the flow and if I get an ink blot I make something of it. Today I made a BIG mistake so painted it out with white acrylic paint. It looks alright, but only just; it really looks as though I went over board with the Tippex, or it snowed in through the studio window onto my drawing. I think pentimenti is the correct term for mistakes, then covering them over and reworking, I’ll have to check. My drawings are full of mistakes which like blemishes on the face give character and should be seen as a positive thing; occasionally I get the whole drawing right at the first sitting but that is rare and it can look too perfect anyway. Personally  I quite like the messy look which probably says a lot about me.

Drawing is addictive and once you have a sketch book up and running it can become obsessional; this is partly because each study naturally leads to the next and because en masse they can be seen as a whole, a book, as well as individual sketches. If you’re anything like me, you always imagine the next study or sketch book will be better than the previous one. Sounds like I’ll be creating a whole library.