Self Portrait

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I haven’t made a self portrait in years, probably since college which was…some time ago now 😉 I’m not a massive fan of drawing myself and luckily in day to day life it’s not really called for. However I recently had to face my demons in order to create my new profile picture for the Drawn Chorus Collective website!

It actually turned out to be a really good exercise for me. Not only did I need the image to look (at least a little bit) like me but I also wanted to create it in a style that tied in with the rest of my illustration work. So whilst some sketches looked like me, they didn’t necessarily have the sort of marks and expression that I try to get into my drawings.

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I found that I ended up looking way too serious if I drew from a mirror, whilst drawing from a photo presented challenges too. Choosing the right pose (where I didn’t look like a prat) and trying to get my own likeness was quite tricky. I narrowed it down to these two images and in the end chose the warmer close up of my eye drawn in bright Crayola felt tip as it felt more ‘me’. I won’t be embarking on any more self portraits for a while but I was glad to be pushed out of my comfort zone again!

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Research

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I love kicking off a new project and delving into the research phase! I’m starting to explore my ideas for The Drawn Chorus Summer show and things are taking a bit of an Arctic turn (there’s a bird pun there if you want it!).

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I’m still experimenting for now. I like to make lots of quick sketches and tests working from reference images and also read up on subjects and find inspiring magazines and internet articles. Next i’ll try to narrow my ideas down and think about composition.

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! I’ve just been for my first outdoor sketch trip of 2017 to Birling Gap. A beautiful sunny day, though super chilly. So nice to get outdoors and tramp around for a bit. We stopped high up on a bench to draw a view of the cliffs and stripy red lighthouse, then headed back down to the beach to watch the sunset over the sea with our cheese and pickle sandwiches. I managed to drop my entire chalk pastel collection, twice :/ need to get a tin for them I think!

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Wilmington Expedition

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Back in January my Mum and I spent three days in a cabin in Sussex exploring and drawing on the downs! We stocked up on hearty winter foods; soups, crusty bread and cheese. We packed our warmest clothes our sketchbooks, paper and drawing materials and set off for the hills.

Hailing from Newhaven, my Mum has always felt a strong connection to this part of the world and has been drawn to the mysterious Long Man of Wilmington, something that she has passed on to me. There is definitely something about the place. An ancient chalk figure etched into the hillside, being able to see way out across the land, rolling greenery and patchwork fields. The feeling of being high up and catching glimpses of the silvery sea.

It was late afternoon when we set out on our first sketch-pedition. We walked up the chalky track that runs alongside the Long Man. Though icy cold, the sun was shining brightly, setting everything ablaze. It was hard going clambering up the steep track in our skiwear whilst juggling our drawing equipment and we quickly overheated. Underfoot, beautiful frosty patterns had formed in the chalk, the ice wrenching the track apart and churning up the ground.

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At the top, spectacular views across the valleys. The sun seemed to hook into you and draw you out of your winter shell. I always get a primitive feeling when I’m there. My inner cave girl rises up! I felt like I could have been a horse in a previous life as I had the urge to gallop and jump around. I wanted to look at all the plants and flints. Examine every bit of sheep’s wool caught on thorny bushes. Mum stood next to a large metal gate and discovered it was singing a strange melody as the wind blew through the tiny holes in its metal surface.

We made quick sketches. I thought about all the artists who have been inspired by the landscape over the years and the beautiful works they have created. Scruffy pencil marks, etchings, layers and textures. I found it quite difficult to draw the sparse landscape, but the feeling of calm that came from getting totally lost in the moment and absorbed by the surroundings was amazing.

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The cabin itself was our refuge from the cold. Lighting fires in the wood-burning stove became my job. A good little fire would quickly warm the small room and give off a lovely smoky smell. In the evenings we cooked our meals, settled into the comfy chairs with hot chocolate and dissected our drawings. Our soundtrack was Arch Garrison’s album ‘I Will Be a Pilgrim’ a beautiful piece of music with lyrics mirroring our experience of enjoying the wild, chalky land.

 

We spent two days like this, waking early, making crumpets then setting out to the hills. Drawing, getting cold, coming back to warm up and refuel, then setting out again. Collapsing into our beds at the end of the day, feeling that we’d earned our rest.

On the last day, it snowed. It had fallen quite thickly in the night and we woke to a silent, white world. The Long Man was lost in the freezing clouds of fog. We sat on the cabin porch and drew the view in front of us, our breath freezing in the air. We set out on a different route that day, the snow had completely changed the views and we had to stop every few minutes to photograph and gawp at how different it looked. The white contrasted against the dark sky and enhanced the many lines and furrows that cut across the landscape. They seemed to carve it up, scars on the surface of the world.

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We arrived at a little church and entered the graveyard. A giant, ancient tree was at its centre, reinforced by heavy planks of wood and bound by thick iron chains in an attempt to keep it together. Most of the snow had burned off by midday as we made it to the top. It was difficult to work on a drawing too long because of the cold but we put the effort in and both make sketches we were pleased with.

I enjoyed treading on the frozen puddles. Carefully displacing my weight a little at a time and watching the splinters and shards form in the ice until, with a squeaking sound, they give way and the brown muddy water gushes up to greet your wellies!

It was such a special weekend. Making drawing the focus of the trip meant that we really made time for it. If we saw something we wanted to sketch, we could change our plans to fit around it, something that isn’t always practical on a more usual sort of holiday. Being outside in January despite the cold made me very happy too. Shutting ourselves away from the modern world and keeping things simple. We definitely want to go back again next year!

On this trip we stayed at Jackson’s Cabin in Polegate, hosted by the lovely Alison.

 

Edinburgh

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I had a wonderful time exploring the beautiful city of Edinburgh. This was my first trip to Scotland as an adult and I took my sketchbook along to record the adventure. Good thing too as there was plenty of inspiring stuff to draw; from stunning gothic buildings to the cheeky airbnb cat ‘Minou’. Here are some of the other things that made my trip special:

Visiting Edinburgh Castle, climbing Arthur’s Seat, cobbled streets and ‘wynds’, The Elephant House, a battered Mars bar, bagpipe wars, crumbling graveyards, Michael Fassbender’s Macbeth, the National Museum, trendy cocktails, getting spooked in the catacombs, veggie haggis, quality whisky and vintage trousers.

 

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