Monday 12 November 2012

..pumpkins and pastels, paint and 'pology...

Well, I couldn't have planned to have the 13th meeting of HAG -  Hilgay Art Group - on or around Halloween if I tried, but there you are.
Back to business - just in case you thought I could multi-task...
I appear to have fallen into a rut of either writing my HAG blog at the last minute, on the day of the meeting, or have even missed writing one blog post entirely. 
I find that presently, most if not all of my time is taken up with launching, printing, promoting and selling the two calendars I have out now - i.e. the 'Downham Market 2013' Calendar, and delivered just this morning hot off the rolling feline presses - 'Cat Tales 2013'! Both calendars are also raising money for local charities when purchased either directly from me or online via my website



During an informal discussion with members last time, it was agreed that that the fee per meeting from tonight would be raised from £3.00 to £4.00. This would more easily cover the cost of setting up and running the art group, refreshments, and also the time spent maintaining an online presence, particularly when we have lower attendance - many thanks for your support. 
Since I've notified absent members pretty much at the last minute I sure we'll take a flexible view of what is paid into the pot this evening.



I have felt that although there are members who will come in and either take part in the still lifes/lives I have set up or simply get along with personal projects, there might also be an interest in other members to follow a more structured approach to their art group experience. 
This evening I will set up a third still life of bottles, and will ask for this to be executed in one colour only, allowing light and shade to play their part. Paint, pastels, or coloured pencils for example will be fine for this exercise, or of course any other medium you prefer.


Turkish Delight...?

Members have expressed an interest in purchasing my Downham Market 2013 calendar (thanks to all), so for convenience sake - although I am selling them on the market square, craft fairs, and via various local retailers, bless them (phew! I've never been so busy...) - I will certainly bring some in with me this evening.

'Downham Market 2013'

'Cat tales 2013'

Thanks again for all your consideration and support.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

...the calendar has landed...

 Downham Market 2013 Calendar    
I'm not sure whether the coincidence is All Hallows Eve or All Saints Day, but after five years or so - the Downham Market 2013 Calendar has landed! Having not drawn for many years I joined the Bates Wood art group in Denver and proceeded to fill a handful of sketchbooks with anything I could lay my eyes on. 
Having finally begun to get the hang of the old fashioned dip pen I drew Ferbruary's Ali Dents Butchers Shop in 2007 and eventually arrived at the most recent drawing in the calendar, June's 'Reeds Homestore' in 2012 - spanning a period of over five years. 

 - £1.00 donation from each calendar to local charities - 
For all calendars purchased directly from me either at craft fairs, public appearances (with or without an easel), or online - £1.00 will be donated to local Downham Market based charities such as The Downham Market Heritage Society, Downham Otters Swimming Club for the disabled, The Norfolk Hospice, John and Pauline's Lifeline 4 Chernobyl and Silverdale Day Centre. 
Forgive me if I've left out any charities, and I'm sure I have, but please remind me and I'll try to add them over the next few months. 
Or until people stop buying calendars...  

Visit 'Downham Market 2013 Calendar' in my website gift shop at for further details and also view the imminent online 'Downham Market 2013 Calendar' gallery. 

Thank you for all your support Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2013!

Saturday 13 October 2012

...finally - five years in the making - The Downham Market 2013 Calendar!...

I prefer to set up an easel and draw from life, using photographs as back up reference in the studio, rather than entirely from photos. I find this gets you out of the studio and allows you get to know your subject better, and check on any details directly.  
Another added bonus of course is that it puts you in the public eye, and in touch with the people of Downham Market. This is great for being more sociable, and getting comments and feedback from your audience - most of it complimentary. 
So a big thank you goes out to all the toddlers, teenagers, mums and dads, and senior citizens for all your stories, support and interest over the past few years. And finally - having talked about it for some time - here's the Downham Market 2013 Calendar! 
Hope you enjoy it as much I did while drawing it.

...'tyger burning bright'...or...'Chango Must Go!'...

Not sure of the age of this fabulous machine - 80 years?

Pamela's tyger, tyger burning bright...

In the forests of the night...

What immortal hand or eye...

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Thanks to Marie for the fabulously organic sewing machine she kindly lent us this week - along with the lantern, hibachi, bongos and plant in a pot!  
From the top - Marie's wonderful apparatus, Pamela's pastel tiger, Chango's inspirational meditational, Sarah's flowing sewing machine, bongos.
Well done to Maurice for grappling and persevering with the baffling mysteries of one point perspective - keep up the good work. We all get to the vanishing point in the end. 
By the way, that red glow is the heat of our passionate creativity - baby it's not cold outside... 
And so long Chango. 
I knew Chango's days were numbered, but not having seen him for some weeks, I had not mentioned that as far as being our one and only canine cohort, he was on his last legs - all four of them. 
How people like us artists - who are supposed to be a little more observant than most - managed to not see the 'No Dogs' sign in the porch as you come in, I don't know. 
I guess like most people - 'you just see what you wanna see...' 
Apologies. Chango has been relegated to his home studio, sketch book and pencil in paw... 
...and keep drawing... 

Wednesday 10 October 2012

...daleks, ducks and multi media...

OK, I am surely running late with  my blog. 
Having diverted my attention to the completion of my 'Downham Market 2013 Calendar' - drawing, designing, marketing and printing - and what an education it's been, I thought I'd better get my Hilgay Art Group posts up to date. 
I'm not going to ramble on - too much - just to say thanks to all the members for making the art group as enjoyable and sociable as it is. 
And also a big thank you to Marie for contributing all and sundry plants and objects regularly to the two still lifes we have each meeting. 
Animal, vegetable, mineral - what shall I choose this week? 
Although I tend to walk a set drawing path, it is exciting and inspiring to see other artists this week, such as Sarah - pastels and crepe paper, Ann - watercolour and anything to hand I expect, and Jinx, correct me if I'm wrong - acrylic on canvas - approaching their own work with a much broader media palette and versatility. 



Multi media - ate?

Half past eight?


Perhaps when I come in to the art group myself I should leave pencil and pen & ink behind and make a point of using other media such as pastels, acrylics, charcoal and - well - you name it. 
Anything you do which is beyond your chosen area of expertise can only serve to inform and refresh your abilities and outlook. 

Too Late.


Hmm, better start listening to my own advice...

Monday 1 October 2012

...flamin' Framin' Art...

You might think that of all the demonstrations you can attend, that a demo on the art of picture framing might be a tad less interesting than say a talk on drawing animals using pastels, or pen and ink watercolour landscapes. 
Thankfully - owing to the to the expertise, knowledge and downright entertainablity of Framin' Art's Simon Prior we all enjoyed an evening which not only matched more obviously artistic demos but according to some fellow members - exceeded them for sheer enjoyment value!

Framin' Art - Downham Market High street.

During Simon's talk he handed out sample corner mounts with frames  and asked us to extend our painting and presentation skills into selecting the appropriate frames and mounts for the accompanying pictures. 
In view of the fact that a few of us go into our local framers and often ask for the 'usual' please - it was interesting to see the possible alternatives, or how a different frame or mount can alter or enhance a painting or illustration.

Assorted mounts and...


Following our tea and coffee break we were invited to try our hands at  the new selection of Pip Seymour acrylic and watercolour paints. Needless to say we were in our element! 

Pip Seymour acrylic and watercolour paints.

All in all, Simon's comments that this was his first demo to the contrary -  he entertained and enlightened us like a seasoned professional. I'd like to think that after 20 years or so in the Air Force, his experience of the The Downham Art Circle wasn't too demanding.
Look forward to seeing him again, and if you can't wait for the next flamin' Framin' Art roadshow - Simon can be seen at the well known site of Knott's Art Shop where alongside a broad selection of art materials, he'll be dispensing advice on framing at - where else? - Framin' Art. 

And what is the secret of that invisible glass...?

Monday 17 September 2012

Sunday 16 September 2012

...not Reed Richards, but definitely Fantastic..!

I'd been planning a Downham Market 2013 Calendar for some time - an illustration of 'Reeds homestore' is hopefully the last drawing I need before I can complete the design and artwork. 

'Town Hall' cover design for Downham Market 2013 Calendar.

I pitched up my easel opposite Reeds and began laying out the preliminary shapes of the building. Owing to my point of view, and the fact that Reeds was sweeping up and down Bridge Street  I could see that I was developing a somewhat exaggerated perspective within the drawing. When I returned to the studio I considered correcting it somehow, but thought better of it - 'What I see is what you get'.

Working from photo ref on mac allows me to enlarge images.

I normally work with an H pencil on Bristol Board or HP Watercolour paper. This gives me a clean sharp line, great for detail and no smudging or build up of graphite on the paper. 
On this occassion I used a paper I had not used before - simply because I done run out of the other stuff - and why not? 
While drawing on the heavier Sanders Waterford paper I noticed that the H pencil lines were not as apparent as on other surfaces, and I was not able to build up the layer of detail that I'm accustomed to. 

General shapes and details clarified and reinforced with dad's old pencil...

Working in the studio from reference I looked around for a softer pencil to use - and came up with an unused 50 year old souvenir pencil from my dad's restaurant way back in the good old 1960's! 
I had been saving the pencil as a memento of the days when I was often drafted in at a moments notice to wash dishes. I was quite experienced at the time, having previously served my time balanced atop an orange box or beer crate faced with a lunchtime's worth of dinner plates...

Elements added to left, right and foreground of main building enhances overall composition.

On the pencil here was a drawing of Santa followed by the inscription: 


I took out a Stanley knife and cut a sharp point into lead and I was ready and raring to go - and what a difference! Now I could see what I was doing. Invariably a change from traditionally used media encourages (forces) you to try different methods which can be quite rewarding, and certainly gets you seeing things in another way.  
I don't do that very often, but it is refreshing when I do.
Whether it's sentiment or not I felt that - like a figure in a block of marble - this drawing of Reeds was in that pencil all that time and waiting come out... 

That's a long time.

Saturday 15 September 2012

...all a matter of perspective...

Having agreed to begin teaching one point perspective this week, I thought it best to set up a couple of still lifes for those either already in the know regarding vanishing points and horizon lines, or those that prefer to paint and draw or work on their own projects. 

Positively vibrating off the page street...

How Ann managed to set up shop, drive back home to Downham, collect certain materials, get back and still produce the vase and flowers above as well as she has - well - I'll have some of what she's having for breakfast... 
Although I have no photos of Pamela's paintings and drawings she executes at home - well done for producing some great work! 

Precarious Olympic themed if not Olympic standard still life.

In the wake of the Olympics I'd cycled to the village hall. Having set up the newly arranged flowers at top, I was wondering what to use as the more complex, possibly non organic second still life - and then inspiration hit me! 
For any health and safety enthusiasts out there, during the class the bike was set up on a larger table, ensuring it wouldn't be setting any new world records knocking out any prospective Picasso's or David Hockney's.   
I don't recall seeing any drawings or paintings of the bike as it happens - maybe I'll try it again next week. 
Or not. 

Preliminary sketch of the village hall's one point perspective.

Having worked with perspective for sometime myself it's easy to forget how complex and mystifying a subject it can be. Owing to the extreme effect hard and sharp perspective can have on our immediate environment, it can often be difficult for a beginner to reconcile the appearance of visual anomalies with basic perspective.
Providing a building or group of buildings have been built 'squarely' with a common architectural line - all straight lines receding from the viewer will inevitably converge into one single vanishing point. The same can be said of skyscrapers and city blocks if you are looking upwards in the city. 
Again all straight lines receding from the viewer will inevitably converge into one single vanishing point among the stars. 
The single vanishing point is immediately ahead or above where ever you are looking.

Hilgay village hall with traced perspective lines.

Take a photo of any one point perspective scenario and trace the receding lines until they meet at the vanishing point. 
The blue line from left to right is the eye line or horizon line.

...Bendish. Barton Bendish...

Apologies for the lateness with my hagblog for our last meeting - or any other bog for that matter. I've been concentrating on drawing rather than blogging (or anything else), but it's coming. 
This weekend the village of Barton Bendish hold their annual Art and Photography Exhibition. Barton Bendish is the next destination passed Fincham on the right. It's an excellent show and organisers Mhari Blanchfield and Linda Webster kindly asked me to take part again this year, so I must have done something right last time. 

If you can get along I'm sure you'll enjoy it - the village is picturesque and there's a marvellous pub opposite the Village Hall...

Wednesday 29 August 2012 Superman and the WNAA saved my bacon...

What do you do when your A2+ finished commissioned artwork is accidentally skrunched in a scanner??! 

You don't ring the Batphone.  
You don't call International Rescue. 
Forget The Sweeney. 
Ignore Jamie Oliver.
You contact Stephen Martyn of the WNAA aka - The West Norfolk Artists Association! 
Explain the emergency, and hopefully the members experience will come through with a solution.  
Having spent the equivalent of almost two solid weeks on the commission I was understandably reticent to immediately put into practice the suggestions. Eventually, having prevaricated for  a suitable length of time, I felt it was time to pass the artwork on to the client. 
Revitalised after a couple of days break on the Norfolk coast I was ready to implement Stephen's own suggestion... 

The artwork - weighed down by superpowers
and dynamic anatomy!

I carefully moistened the indented areas of the Bristol Board both sides, applied a smaller piece of dry Bristol Board either side of the damaged corners and then weighed them down with a healthy dose of anatomy books and 'DC  Comics - Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes!'. 
I gave it an hour or so before having a look - flattening off nicely - what a relief!
Three hours later - had I been none the wiser - I'd have no idea the artwork had been damaged at all. Still being weighed down for good measure though... 

Mightily weighed down for good measure...

The West Norfolk Artists Association - you know it makes sense.
Now I can sell my artwork with confidence, and look any scanner in the lense.

A big thank you to Stephen and all the members who came through with their advice.

Thursday 16 August 2012

...creatures and goblins, I don't mean Ann - maybe Andy...

Owing to the village hall tables having all been requisitioned for the Hilgay Vintage Country Show this past weekend we almost had a table-less art group. I panicked for a moment then considered the possibilities. 
Estelle suggested I coral all my easels and drawing boards and organise an ad hoc arrangement for the evening. I quite liked the sound of this, we are an art group after all and should be no strangers to improvisation.

Vivien's work approaching full bloom.

Thanks to Vintage Show organiser Peter Bates, all the tables were returned and back in place just in time for the meeting.  Hmm, maybe we can improvise next time... 
Having plundered Marie's garden for props this week (again), our small group this evening had the option of potted plants with stone creatures and goblins (?), or a garden arrangement with table and chair. A returning Ann took a seat, transforming this into a life study.  

Linda's characterful pencil study of Andy.

Life drawing is always a tremendous challenge for all levels of experience. 
Congratulations to Linda for producing two great drawings this evening - for someone who has produced perhaps no more than  a handful of life drawings, Linda tackled foreshortening and perspective admirably in both her first drawing of Ann, and her 15 minute sketch of me, imbuing each drawing with the character of the sitter. 
It is true that when we sit down to produce a drawing or painting, that we have our highest expectations in hand. This can often be more of a hindrance than help, bringing inhibition and, well - fear - of getting it 'wrong'. 
A relaxed and somewhat less critical attitude can often produce simpler and more honest solutions to the task at hand. A good example are 5 minute life studies which compel you to strip back your  drawing and sharpen your decision making so that you capture the essence of the subject - an excellent way to warm up before embarking on a longer piece of work. 
A blog I read recently comes to mind 'Beware this Perfection Trap!' which discourages you from seeking 'perfection' but rather to 'progress with imperfect action'.

How does Ann produce a fifteen minute drawing and
painting which does what it says on the tin, so well?

While I didn't manage to get a photo, well done to Pamela for her acrylic painting of a seated figure which she brought in to show us at the start of the evening.    
Next meeting people, alongside still life - due to popular demand - One point Perspective! 

Examples as follows...

A kitchen using one point perspective.

A cityscape using one point perspective.

Keep up the great work!

Tuesday 14 August 2012

...half past midnight...

I'd reached a point where I couldn't do any more work from photo reference in the studio. I needed to get back on site and in the square to check on details, and get my actual reference. 
When set up my easel that morning, it felt so much easier, and also as if I had stepped inside my drawing. Hmm, a definite sign of having spent either too much time in the studio, or more than enough time on a piece of work.
As it happened I was able to check on this or that, i.e. how many paving stones and kerb stones were located in the pavements as Bridge Street approached and joined the High Street. Ok - I'm not going to put everything in, but it's going to be pretty close, and hopefully accurate also... 
Artistic license not withstanding. 

One of the benefits of working al fresco - apart from the tan - is the social aspect. I find that a lot of people are curious about what someone may or may not be drawing at an easel. And let's be clear, if you're out there drawing or painting you're fair game for anyone who wants to come along and have a chat. 
Most people are kind are personable and often very complimentary, which is a tremendous lift when you are normally working in a solitary environment. Though I must confess that I have had the added benefit of showing this work regularly to my Hilgay Art Group members who have been forthright with their comments, all of them positive I'm pleased to say.  
Hello to Kevin from Ten Mile Bank who upon seeing the drawing said he particularly liked line drawing - I smiled and directed him to my website - we were clearly kindred spirits.
A big thank you also, to Dave Soakell who came over with his family to look at my work, spotting his camera I asked if he would take a few pictures of 'man at work' just for the record. He graciously complied and emailed me the images that afternoon - got my haircut just in time. 
Thanks Dave - hope you like the finished article.

I marked on the board in pencil any additions or amendments I wanted to make, and also for good measure took a few more photographs of any thing I was likely to forget. I firmed up the pencils that afternoon in the studio, and inked over them the following morning. 
It wasn't until my final visit to the square that I was able to add the definitely last details and fine tune the artwork, plus more final photos. 
This is nothing if not an organic process.

When I'd completed it, I still went back half an hour later (not at midnight), and made a couple of adjustments. And quarter of an hour later still, I beefed up a few lines on the bunting before calling it a the end of a long long day - figuratively speaking. 
If you've enjoyed this post - and the artwork - please leave a comment or email me - Cheers.

'That's all folks!'

Thursday 2 August 2012

...lanterns, life drawing and listening...

OK - I'd be hard pressed to convince anybody that holding this Monday's art class was hard work. As usual I'd set up two still lifes/lives - and a big thank you to Marie for letting me borrow a sturdy plant from the front of the house and from the lounge an eclectic array of tilley lamps and chinese lanterns.

Sarah's pencil rendition of moi sans lanterns.

Last meeting's life drawing turned out to be very popular, and it turned out that various members fancied having another go this week. Of course I volunteered again and added myself to the lantern arrangement - couldn't honestly call it still life since although I'd taken a book this time for good measure, I was no more 'unmoving' than I had been the last time.

Linda masterfully captured my 3/4 profile.

Where else can you profess to be going to 'work' but spend the bulk of your time listening to the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae, Bob Dylan, half of the first track of 'Dark Side of the Moon' ( looking forward to Frank Sinatra next time Jean!), and K D Lang, while reading the artist's self help book - 'I'd Rather Be in the Studio'? 
A big thank you to Becca for showing me her art book - excellent of course, and keep up the great work. 

Sarah's flourish of Mahonia rendered with pencil and pastel.

Thanks also to all of you who commented on my 'Town Square' commission, which - having spent this Thursday morning in Downham with a pencil and easel, is now approaching it's much delayed completion - hopefully by next meeting people.

While Ann was absent, she was with us in
spirit - a great pencil drawing by Sarah.

Finally a third thank you to all the people in Downham who commented, and complimented me on my work, some of whom had seen me take the first steps back in March when I began the preliminary layout. Although I'd drawn various elements of the square previously, I had no idea there was so much dang stuff many paving stones?!

Selection of reference books available from HAG library...

And definitely finally - What an excellent read and view Sarah Simblet's 'The Drawing Book' is - wholeheartedly recommended. It is available at it's cheapest online for £9.00 or thereabouts. I borrowed it from The King's Lynn Library, but will be returning it to Downham for anyone who is interested. Well worth a look!


See you all on Monday 13th of August - I swear I won't be sitting around not even pretending to look busy. And yeah I know - where are the hats...?