This July I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to participate in the The Baltic Sketching Festival, an annual event usually delivered face to face but inevitably changed to an online format in 2021.
The festival always attracts a wide range of artists and urban sketchers and this was my first opportunity to run both an online demonstration and a more in depth workshop.
My planned session, ‘Fast and fluid city sketching’, covered of a range of topics to help beginners and the more experienced get to grips with quick mark making and capturing scenes with continuous line sketching for free and expressive line work.
The demo consisted of the following exercises.
The equipment I use
My preferred sketchbook and paper
Finding the right scene to sketch
Importance of perspective and depth
Continuous line sketching exercise
The use of negative space
Splashing watercolour with expression!
Tips and tricks
I have condensed down my hour long demo into a 13 minute version that offers some insight in to how the first session went. As expected I was pretty nervous and spoke too fast sometimes but overall, so chuffed to have been able take a leap out of my comfort zone - that’s where the good stuff happens!
The source photography was supplied by the brilliant team running the event. Sadly not a time that we could ‘urban sketch’ in the true sense of the movement, on location, but the next best option. Despite this I developed a fondness of the beautiful city of Cesis ❤️
Very pleased to have recently spoken with pedestrianspace.com on the the subject of ‘urbanism’ as part of their Friday Artist series. Read the full article here
We discussed a range of topics..
What is the relationship between the city and your art? How does urbanism influence your work?
Urbanism is pivotal to my inspiration. Architecture and historic structures carry all sorts of stories and tales that can fuel my vivid imagination. I love the fusion of the modern age framed by listed buildings, historic shop fronts, archways and spires. I adore working with visual depth and sharp perspective and spend a lot of time photographing and physically framing views and vanishing points for the perfect scene. The addition of people and daily life is the element that offers the unexpected twists to authentic ‘urban sketching’ – sketching on location.
What mediums do you work with?
The daily sketchbook is full of watercolours and fine liner markings. So much water indeed that my books, when full, have warped in size and carry the battle scars of the urban landscape.
We really love the blurred vehicles in the “Love the city” photo series if you can share more on producing these images.
Photography remains a passion also, having spent many hours in the traditional darkroom as an art student. My ‘city love’ series documents my own development in capturing movement through long exposure – a technique I learnt in the pursuit of capturing the night sky through a telescope. My blurred city shots were quite impromptu and involved just a mini tripod and timing. They all illustrate my craving for sharp perspective and experiments around the rule of thirds. My favourite shot ‘Behold’ was a December capture on Regent street which involved sitting on the kerb (safety advisory!) to capture the angle and to merge the Christmas angel amongst the busy London bus.
We got completely lost (in the best way!) while exploring your urban sketchbook works, can you share about the inspiration from this series?
As an urban landscape artist my work is inspired by the cities and towns we live in. An avid urban sketcher, my dedication to sketching on location. Whilst capturing a scene from everyday life, I always seek to bring an element of intrigue and spontaneity to deliver a more ‘artful’ representation rather than capturing a photo-realistic representation. Be it in the rapid sketching style that demands a simplification of the scene or indeed the fluid and spontaneous use of watercolours, both help to add rhythm – the essential ingredient to make it work as a piece of art.
Always central to my life, be it the music I listen to, the galleries I’ve visited, becoming a Father or experiencing brilliant conceptual marketing. Art is everywhere and is my conscious and subconscious driving force. Art, for me, is the process of a change of emotion or a change of ‘seeing’. I am addicted to the sensation that art can deliver and how this manifests itself. Brilliant art can make me cry and unlock new ways of understanding. Its fiercely addictive!
“The joy of art is particularly sweet … because it carries with it the threat of rejection, of failure, and of missed connections. It’s precisely the high-wire act of “this might not work” that makes original art worth doing.”
My love of sketching and mark making started from a young age - I was prolific as a young art student and graduate. Sketching and observation was, and remains, a passion and a natural process of expression. The catalyst for my artistic passion and growth can be directly pinpointed to my teacher as a young teenager. Had I not had the encouragement and drive to succeed at a young age I would not be writing this today. I studied at Art School in the UK and took the path towards graphical/illustrative design and after this continued my studies and took a BA (Hons) at Portsmouth, in Art, Design and Media on the Illustration pathway. My early career was more design based and communication based however my fine art aspirations never left me.
The world has shifted since Covid-19 and our industries and institutions have collapsed and died. Art has predictably taken on a new form in its survival. The digital format has risen, the online exhibition has matured, and a new wave of artists have appeared. Art will survive anything and will always be relevant either in retrospect or in the present.
This past 18 months has been huge for me personally with award wins with The Holy Art, digital exhibitions and international sales across the USA, Middle East and across Europe, born through the rise in demand for original work that doesn’t fall victim of smartphone photography, which rarely makes its way to printed form on a wall. With galleries closed, the platforms of Facebook and Instagram have offered a lifeline for artists to reach new audiences and it’s here I’ve seen exceptional growth and opportunity. The opportunity to follow and engage with true legends of the art world is only a click away – and yes, on the whole, they respond back!
As an urban landscape artist my work is inspired by the cities and towns we live in. An avid urban sketcher, my dedication to sketching on location and remaining true to the cause has been tested through various lockdowns. I have reflected heavily on my sketchbook and adapted many of these pieces into larger more artful creations on canvas that forge visual reference and my imagination. My latest work has begun to explore more abstracted views and techniques that are somewhat out of my comfort zone but as an artist I feel you must constantly be questioning and challenging yourself and treading just ever so slightly out of your depth to make real and pivotal progress.
I’m looking forward to future physical events and planned workshops in the UK and Europe happening without further disruption and excited to see where my own development takes me.