Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Some photos from Norway

At the start of the month I visited Norway for the first time ever, and was astounded by the beauty of this fabulous country. I arrived in Sandefjord on a damp and drizzling Sunday afternoon, but even the rain couldn't hide the majesty of the scenery around me. The top photo was actually taken on my mobile phone  which really doesn't do justice to the place.

And, of course, there were millions of boats, so I was happy :)

After the conference in Sandefjord, I headed up to Oslo for the weekend. I was kicking myself for only bringing my little Polaroid digital camera because the city is absolutely stunning. Amazing architecture everywhere and the harbourside is just beautiful. I didn't take that many photographs in the end because I was too busy trying to take it all in myself.

The top photo shows a beautiful ship that was docked in the harbour. Underneath that is the original Viking ship Gaia which has been completely reconstructed and sits in the Viking Ship Museum in Bygdøy. And the bottom photo is the view from the Royal Palace, looking down Karl Johans Gate at dusk.

Definitely have to go back to Oslo with my Canon SLR :)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Bristol Cathedral at dusk

On Saturday night, whilst sitting in The Parlour at our exhibition, I noticed that the sky behind the Cathedral on College Green looked really dramatic, and so went outside to snap a couple of photos.

I'm still trying to figure out all the settings on my camera, so was just messing about with different exposures, but I think these photos turned out pretty well. I have a manual at home for my camera, but I've been too lazy to pick it up so far. To be honest, I quite like not knowing what I'm doing and just experimenting; mostly I get a nice surprise when I upload the photos later. In these ones, I love the contrast between the dark blue sky and the orange of the streetlamps. But I think I just got lucky. Maybe I should start studying the manual to learn how to replicate these effects when the meteorological conditions aren't quite so kind :)

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Opening night of the exhibition

Last night, we held a wine reception to officially open our exhibition. We had a really good turnout and at one point the room was actually packed! I mean, it's a small room, but there still must have been about 30+ people crammed in there. I felt all sorts of proud!

It was a bit of a struggle to drag myself in this morning to open up, but we had another great day with lots of people coming in, really good feedback, and a lot of interest in the group.

Tomorrow is our 1 year anniversary, and also the last day of the exhibition. I'll be sad to take it all down - it feels like a lot of effort for just 3 days - but it's been an amazing couple of days so far and it's been worth it. Already thinking about the next show... :)

Thursday, 13 October 2011

We have lift off!

After months and months of planning, organising, and generally trying to keep from going insane, the Bristol Sketchers exhibition has finally come together. We hung all of the artwork tonight and I have to say, it looks pretty awesome. 

Looking at all of the fantastic artwork hanging on the wall, I felt so proud. This is the culmination of a year's worth of hard work and determination to keep the sketching group going. And particularly in the last few months where most of us stepped out of our comfort zones to produce some bigger, more detailed artworks to hang on the wall. 

And I have to admit that it felt pretty damn good to see my own work hanging on the wall of a gallery :)

Anyway, here are some photos from setting up tonight...


And here's a close-up of my stuff :)


Yay! It's a huge relief to have it all hung up tonight. Here's hoping none of it falls off the walls overnight :o

Monday, 10 October 2011

My first exhibition!

Ok, so I am officially the world's worst blogger... 8 months since my last confession - that's terrible! But, despite the fact that I haven't updated this blog in far too long, I have actually been working hard at my drawing and I feel like I've really improved over the summer.

Next weekend will be the one year anniversary since I set up the Bristol Sketchers group, and to celebrate we are holding an exhibition in the Parlour on Park Street, Bristol. Twelve of us will be exhibiting work from and inspired by our weekly sketches. It's hard to believe the group has been going for a year now, and it's great to be able to celebrate this with our own show.

Here's a photograph of some of the pieces I'm going to hang this weekend. I've got a couple more to finish tomorrow night, so hoping to have maybe five in total.

I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing now. Fingers crossed it goes ok...

Monday, 7 February 2011

Another tree-related photograph

I love this photo. I took this last year when a group of us from the Bristol Sketches were wandering around Totterdown for the arts trail. We passed a little shed in which they were pressing apples for juice and cider. I saw this box and bag of apples and thought the colours were wonderful. 

I'll have to try to paint it!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Saturday sketches

A couple of weeks ago The Bristol Sketch Initiative went to the Arnolfini, but I wasn't hugely impressed with the exhibition "What Next for the Body?" It seemed to me that the artists were trying a little bit too hard to be shocking and grotesque, just for the sake of it rather than trying to convey any sort of social commentary, as was claimed in the promotional material for the exhibition.

It seems like most of the rest of the sketchers felt the same way because we all seemed to end up in a reading room which had a couple of comfy sofas and chairs :)

I spotted this really comfortable looking chair in the corner, so sat down to have a go at drawing it. I really like how the cushions turned out, especially the shading of the sides of the cushions. I think I've kind of captured the rumpled squishiness of them!

Last weekend, we went to Spike Island where there was an exhbition by Sean Edwards called Maelfa. He had a number of mixed media exhibits inspired by this run down shopping centre in Wales, and I suppose it was all about the sense of disappointment and failure associated with what was supposed to be a centre of commerce and community.

Anyways, I'm not sure the other sketchers were hugely impressed with the exhibition, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I'm really starting to enjoy drawing buildings, but I've always struggled with knowing what to include - I tend to try to include too much detail and my drawings end up looking messy. So I really enjoyed Edwards' style of pretty much blanking out huge parts of the landscape to focus the eye on one aspect of a building.

Here are my reproductions of two of his exhibits, called The Towerblock II and The Towerblock I, respectively.

I've tried to adopt this kind of style in the next sketch I did, which was a reproduction of a cool flyer I spotted before heading into the Spike Island Café for a much needed caffeine injection.

Of course, the real test will be try to mimic this pared-down style in a real-world situation, when I'm out and about in Bristol.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

My first watercolour in years

Years and years ago, I was a bit of a dab hand at watercolours. I took some lessons and really liked the effects that you could achieve with the paints. I didn't really go for your typical pale washed out landscape scenes though. I was more into painting castle ruins and old graveyards (yes, I was one of *those* teenagers.... and now I'm one of *those* adults). I particularly liked painting entire scenes in different shades of the same colour, just using water to intensify or lighten the hue.

But then I went to university and lost interest in painting and drawing, which was a shame. Since I've started sketching again, I've been itching to pick up the watercolours again. Unfortunately, I got duped into buying a cheapo set a few months ago and when I finally got around to using them I found that the quality of the paint was terrible. One colour had actually separated from the water in the tube and just made a horrible mess when I tried to use it. So that put me off for a while.

Then I went to Bristol Fine Art at the top of Park Street and bought a fantastic little set by Windsor & Newton. It was expensive, but it really does make a difference, in my opinion. The colours look really good and the paint goes much further than the cheaper brands.

Anyway, I'm slowly starting to try to build up my competence at using these paints again. I'm nowhere near at the level I was all those years ago, but I'm enjoying messing around with the paints and relearning those little accidental techniques where, at first, you think you've completely messed up the painting but then as it dries you realise that it actually looks pretty cool... That's one of the things I love about watercolours - they more often than not look way better than you were expecting them to, once they've dried :)

A couple of weeks ago, The Bristol Sketch Initiative took part in our second Sketchcrawl, which took us up to Brandon Hill on a freezing January morning. I did a quick sketch of some steps which I didn't like at all at the time. But when I got home afterwards I threw some paint at it, and I think it turned out fairly ok.

Yeah, it's not going to win any prizes, but I like it :)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

My (not so) secret tree obsession

I was recently sorting through the hundreds of photos I've taken over the past few years, and realised that there were a few themes running through my snapshots, one of them being my obsession with trees. Apparently, I love them. This was not at all obvious to me before I decided to try to organise my collection of photos, but now that it's staring me in the face, I cannot deny it.

Here are some of my favourites.

There are some weird-lookin' trees in this country!  That last one makes me feel uneasy, and I'm not entirely sure why... it kind of feels like it's watching me...

Friday, 21 January 2011

My new sketch journal

I think I've finally found a sketch journal to suit me. After sketching last Saturday, I was walking down Park Street in Bristol and popped into one of the millions of office supplies / stationary stores along the way. The search for the perfect sketch journal has become something of an addiction for me. I cannot walk past a shop that sells paper without sticking my head in to see if they've got something that will make me actually want to open it and decorate its pages with my scribbles.

So far, my search had been fruitless...

And then, last Saturday, I found it. And I've done more sketching this week than I've probably done in the last three months. Yay! Here's some of what I've done. You can click on the photos to enlarge them (although I can't promise they'll look any better).

The first sketch of the new journal... still struggling with the life drawing though...

But I'm working my way through Bridgman's Life Drawing and starting to get the hang of it.

I was in Suffolk for a few days this week and the gorgeous hotel I stay in has a fabulous open fireplace, which I had a go at sketching.

And finally, this is a table in my hotel room, which for some reason I felt compelled to draw.

Here's hoping the journal continues to work its mojo :)