Thursday, September 22, 2022

Trying out new art materials

As part of being involved in the USk London 10th Anniversary Weekend, I was given a ‘goodie bag’ containing a variety of art materials. I decided that instead of just looking at them and then putting them to one side, I would use them throughout the summer. It meant removing my tried and trusted watercolour tin as I knew that I would revert back to that if I found it difficult to use the new supplies! You can see some of the experiments in the previous post about the drawing trip to Liverpool too.


My initial reaction to using these was how vibrant the colour was! I used them ‘neat’ for this sketch at the ‘Drink and Draw’ evening at the USk UK Leeds Weekend.

I also tried toning the colours down by mixing them with white gouache, as in this sketch of the Corn Exchange in Leeds.

On the plus side the colours are rich and the sheets are small and light to carry around. On the minus side, they can stain your hands (if you are messy like me!) and difficult to mix with each other.


I received 3 half pans (in a cute little tin) and a ‘dot’ sheet from this company and particularly liked the more pastel colour shades ‘Cherry Blossom’ and ‘Flax.’ I think they had a big influence on much of my work over the summer. The texture of the watercolours is quite creamy, nice to use and, as I am always looking for colours to use when drawing architecture, felt really useful.


This was actually a gift from the USk UK Leeds Weekend, with colours from the sombre palette of Nicholas Lopez.

The fineliner I was given was a 0.1 size and is a decent enough waterproof pen but I am very loyal to my favourites, Tikky pens by Rotring so won’t be swapping over yet.

I tried new brushes over the summer too; a decorating brush from Harris that had been a gift and I bought two ‘riggers’ from Pro Arte, sizes 1 and 5 and even made a brush roll (recycled from a promotional canvas bag) to hold everything in as a way of making it easy to keep everything together.


I think that a lot of the inspiration came from two sources. Firstly meeting up with Carol Gillott aka Paris Breakfast and also going to a colour workshop earlier in the year with ‘The Colour Tutor.’

I met up with Carol on the Friday of the USk London Weekend. I’ve been following her on social media for ages and own one of her prints so it was lovely to meet her in person. We talked about pigments and Paris over an English Breakfast in the unique setting of the Chelsea Arts Club. Great to get a glimpse of her sketchbooks and colours!

In June, I’d spent time in Cambridge at the studio of ‘The Colour Tutor,’ for an intense day looking at colour, specifically in relation to illustration and painting. One of a small group of four people, it was an interesting experience, with demos and time for practical colour mixing. Comprehensive notes from the day were useful as I feel that I have only just scratched the surface and would benefit from spending more time experimenting with colour.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

A sketching weekend in Liverpool


Alongside a  group of Urban Sketching friends from London, Manchester and Leeds, I headed off to Liverpool for a drawing weekend in August. We had a great itinerary drawn up by Karen Jones which centred on three distinct areas of the city: the riverside, the cultural area and the Georgian Quarter. Having never visited the city before and not knowing quite what to expect, I was really impressed by the grand architecture.

I choose to experiment with the materials I had received in the USk London Anniversary ‘goodie bag’ a month earlier. These included colour sheets, watercolours and pencils from brands which I had not used before. I also took along large sheets of paper (A2-ish size), a big brush and a tube of white gouache.

As far as my experience of using the new materials, yes, the results can be random and unexpected with things going wrong. But by playing with the different materials, the ‘mistakes’ can often lead to discovering effects that can be useful and surprising. I found myself using a quite different colour palette to usual. Working on the larger single sheets of paper was awkward in the sense of carrying them around and sharing work at the throwdown was tricky, especially in windy conditions.

Many thanks to the USk Liverpool chapter for meeting up with us on the Saturday too!