Drawing Techniques and Sketchbooks

Part One


I'm a huge fan of drawing and sketchbook work.  My sketchbooks are memory books as much as working ideas in progress and especially whilst gathering reference abroad they are absolutely invaluble.  The techniques for drawing and sketching are endless, but here are just a few.

Recently I've been going back to pen and ink drawing using a hand fashioned pen made from an Elder stick.  I find Elder works well as it has a soft pulpy centre which when hollowed out holds the ink very well.  Using a very sharp scalple  shave off the top and bottom of the stick up to about 1.5 inches.  Then gradually start trimming in the sides till you get the width of nib required. Carefully cut a slit from the point about half an inch to connect with the soft pulpy part.  When I have more time I'll post a video, it might be easier!  Here is a photo of one I've made.


The above image of Staithes was drawn using this.  Its amazing how long the ink will flow just with one dip into the ink.  You can use it on it's edge for finer lines, and when the ink starts to run out do your background lines so they are lighter and more sketchy. Sometimes they blob a bit but it's the nature of the medium and adds character to the image.  The above picture was then coloured in using just two Daniel Smith colours. Daniel Smith is an American make of watercolour.  Quite a few colours are not traditional in the sence that they have combined pigments in the same tube so as they dry and separate you get some lovely quirky results.  The two colours used in this were Piemontite Genuine and Blue Apatite Genuine.


I've also found that the softness of pencils really differ from make to make. For instance if I'm drawing out for a watercolour and don't want too much of a line I've been using a Faber Castel 2B..... but if I want to do a good tonal pencil drawing I've been using a Berol Turqoise 2B which gives great tonal variation, even quite dark shaded areas can be worked back into... I love detail in the shadows.



I've started going to a life drawing class at Old Sleningford near Ripon where Anna Poulton and Stuart Whitehead alternate tutoring. It's just 7.30 - 9.30 so not too daunting if you are new to it.  I've done a bit over the years but its certainly not my forte!  They come up with great ideas to make you think out of the box and tends to be more technique based rather than drawing a perfectly proportioned figure.  The image above was part of a larger one experimenting with a water wash compined with compressed charcoal... some charcoal is better than others so it was a bit trial and error, but once wet you can really move it about, then wait to dry and work back into it.  We also did a couple of poses on the same page creating an interesting juxtpostion bewtween the two.



This exercise was using white chalk to plot a very quick shape, only about 20 seconds, on a set of four poses. The model then repeated the same poses and we added a little more detail. It was used as a warm up.


If you want to get more tips on some of my recent pieces look at Ramsgill Studio Facebook page where I regularly post pictures and tips…..


Nearly forgot…..  something I just discovered, worth its weight in gold, if you have mixed a sets of colors in oils and don't have time to use all the paint and need to keep it, just pop it in the freezer, its ready to use again almost as soon as you bring it out….. magic!

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