Category Archives: Pencil

Japanese Cherry Blossom

There’s a tree outside my window, currently full of blossom. On Sunday I went for a walk in the neighbourhood and saw blossom everywhere. On returning home, I remembered I had a winter tree sketch made a few weeks ago, sitting in my ‘unfinished business’ pile. I mixed up some pinks, whites, and reds, and carefully brought the winter tree into a new season.


I shared this new Spring tree on Facebook, then put it in my Etsy shop, where it sold about fifteen seconds after I’d listed it. Head spinning stuff! I’ve since listed a short run, limited edition print of 30 which have started to sell too. Maybe it’s just the timeliness of the image, but whatever it is, I’ve not experienced such a strong and fast positive reaction to my work before now. Thank you to everyone who has shared this image online, and given such encouraging feedback. I appreciate your support.


This week I visited Cass Art in Islington for a drawing workshop with Jake Spicer. Jake’s a friendly guy and an accomplished artist. He spoke briefly about what he thinks the important basics are to help you draw and in time, draw better. I didn’t take notes at the time and here’s what I recall of his suggestions.

Time : Find some, it doesn’t always have to be a lot, but enough to practice regularly

Subjects : Don’t get hung up on what to draw, choose something and draw it

Materials : Keep a small sketch book and pencil to hand, don’t let the absence of stuff to draw with be the excuse for not drawing

Confidence : Grows with time and practice, and part of the process is about making bad drawings and seeing what you learn from them

We then tried drawing something using a continuous line while looking at the subject all the time, not at the drawing. I found this process really enjoyable – here is a sketch of a bookcase.

I had no way of knowing what the final picture would look like until it was finished and I’m really pleased it ended up being a good size to fit one of my small mounts. I’m tempted to trace the basic shape a few times before adding some small details – I might make another small series of images in a similar way that I recently created Stained Glass.

Jake showed us the basics of how to draw a head in profile before inviting us to find a partner and draw them. I’d never made a life drawing of someone else before…there’s a first time for everything.

Woman in Profile

I can clearly see areas for improvement and at the same time I am happy with this as a first attempt. I really enjoyed Jake’s class – it helped me realise I need to make more drawings, and the basic process is simpler than I thought.


Silver Birch

A group of us took a country walk through parts of Sussex recently. We started and ended in Fernhurst and walked for around nine miles up and around Blackdown and The Temple of The Wind. We encountered all kinds of scenery, lots of woodland, and some spectacular views up on Blackdown.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After we returned home I took my new set of pencils and made a sketch of some silver birch trees. I learned from my previous sketch and deliberately made the picture much less busy. I also framed the picture differently within the A4 page – longer and thinner than the previous desert landscape sketch.

Silver Birch Trees in Spring

The finished image is quite pale (I’ve struggled to take a decent photograph) and I like it. The composition works well in the shape and size of the frame and I think I’ve managed to stop before making the drawing too full – I hope there’s still some room for your imagination. This drawing has been given to a friend.

Silver Birch Trees in Spring

Desert Landscape

My friend Mark Catchlove recently gave me a set of Faber Castell Polychromos pencils, what a kind gift. They are a lovely, muted set of colours, greys and browns with a couple of blues and greens, and I’ve been experimenting with them to see how I respond to having fewer colours to choose from. Here’s my first attempt.

Desert Landscape

I’ve tried to fit too much stuff in here, it looks too busy for my liking. Maybe dropping the top line of the frame further down the page and losing some sky would have looked better? This sketch is on an A4 sheet of water colour paper with a rough surface, the next attempt will be on smooth cartridge paper.