Drawing Yoga

I was invited to draw at a yoga workshop. I was excited but very, very nervous! I haven’t been to life drawing for ages, and it shows in the poor anatomy in some of the sketches. But… all experience is learning, as they say.


The fine line of my Uniball and Lamy pens did not work for me in poses that move and change fast, so I swapped to using a brush pen in the hope that I could capture a more gestural mark.


Some of the drawings are composites, capturing different stages of Asana. It was frustrating to try and capture a pose, and then have everyone move and change direction! There were a LOT of half made and incomplete drawings that I am not going to show you.


I love the Iyengar method of teaching and practising yoga. The thoughtful and considered use of props (straps, blocks, blankets, chairs etc.) allows all students to achieve correct feeling (and profound benefit) in a pose regardless of their strength, flexibility or ability. If used intelligently and with awareness, the student can feel where they should be going without straining or deforming (and injuring) the body in the attempt to achieve the outward appearance of the pose.


At this point I was wishing wholeheartedly that I was taking part in the workshop, not just observing! Dr Rajlaxmi’s instructions were so precise and subtle. Here the students are being directed to “descend the inner arch skin” Not the arch muscle or bone…


Iyengar constantly refined his teaching methods and use of props. This is passed on to his students. This is no health club ‘yoga’ class. If you have an Iyengar trained teacher, you can rest safe in the knowledge that they have trained long and hard to get their qualification,( for years!) and that they constantly have to be reassessed and study.yoga7

Interestingly, I concentrated as hard as all the students in the class, but because I had not been working my body on all levels, only my organs of perception, I was not energised relaxed and blissful at the end of the three hours. Instead I was enervated, shaky and exhausted.


I did come home and do a long Savasana though!

Thanks to Annie Beatty of Malvern Iyengar Yoga for inviting me to sketch, and to Dr Rajlaxmi from the Pune Intitute for allowing me to draw her teaching and absorb some of her wisdom along the way.

P.s. If you want to see Yoga Asana drawn beautifully and accurately, I have to point you in the direction of Illustrator and yoga teacher Bobby Clennell.  http://www.bobbyclennell.com/

Her book ” The Woman’s Yoga Book” is a beautiful, useful and life changing work.



Dream job.

Recently I was lucky enough to be commissioned to do reportage sketching of an event for young people in care who are about to leave. I attended various  workshops and tried to catch a flavour of the atmosphere and discussions. The young people were interested, the clients were happy, and therefore so was I.


As people arrived from all over the West Midlands there were party packs to open and keep each table amused. This was a great starter activity- write your hopes and dreams on a paper plane and launch it across the room.


The Youth Voice team is determined not to do anything without consulting the young people concerned. careleavers-2




So much to think about at such a young age! How would I have coped?


I met many lovely, interesting, committed and kind young people. Despite their personal troubles they all wanted to do well in life and look after each other along the way. Inspirational.


Poor old Pa

My Pa has got to that age when all his joints need replaced. Here he is last year having his knee replaced..Pa-knee-opPa-knee-op2

Here he is recently having his hip replaced.


But just as he had got his mobility back, he slipped and fell down the stairs and hurt himself badly. So I have spent the last few days and nights in A&E with him and my Ma.


As you know, I like to draw in hospitals because your subject is usually stationary and there is not a lot else to do at 2 in the morning …



Tonight they have said he might be able to come home tomorrow, so we shall see. pa-fall-4Think positive thoughts for us!

Out of hibernation – Spring is here.

Well hello there if you are still listening and looking!

That was a long pause, longer than I had intended, but now the sun is starting to show his face and things are coming back to life, this blog is also reviving.

Here is my obligatory spring tulip sketch, a quick 5 min one this time.


Since I last saw you I have had a busy time teaching, but I have still been sketching my life in my Stillman & Birn sketchbooks.  The A5 Alpha is my favourite book – brilliant bind quality, takes a lot of bashing in my satchel for months. Double sized paper takes strong washes of watercolour with minimal buckling although not a watercolour paper. This makes it economical. I can’t recommend them highly enough! Stillman & Birn.


Easter was lovely, spent with family. My portraits have got a bit rusty, as you can see here…Its-smashing

Friends and family continue to indulge (or tolerate) me drawing them even when there is little hope of a likeness…


Marc, shown here, did the charming portrait of me in the previous spread, to let me know what it feels like to be sketched, but I am shameless, and love it.


A post from me is not complete without a hospital or waiting room sketch.


This is my friend John, not a bad likeness, but I’m glad you can’t see the travesty that is covered up by the blind contour drawing on the right… I try really hard not to tear pages out of my sketchbook, to keep the bad along with the satisfactory and occasional good, but I think pasting over truly horrible drawings is allowed !


I have here at last caught a likeness of my dear Ma. My friend Katy of the purple hair is still waiting…

You have already seen the obligatory hospital scene above, but I can show you that I have also been out and about socialising.


I am not the biggest fan of brass bands, but they were great, and I had the chance to see a performance of the most poignant song “Go in Peace” by local composer Lee Fisher.

The choir rehearsed this one night at St Richard’s Hospice and a man whose wife had just died thanked them and said that the family could hear them as she was passing, and that it sounded that angels had come to comfort and take her.


In the hope of establishing a lovely long summer habit I was enticed out to the riverside in the first sunshine of the year to Browns at the Quay.

We sat in the evening sunshine, met some charming people and ordered FAR too much food!! I can seriously recommend the fries with truffle oil and parmesan…


Well , That’s it for now, I will send the next dispatch soon I promise! Leave me messages, you know how insecure we artists are… Alison x




Suddenly sociable

My friends often complain of the difficulty they have in enticing me from my sofa, but recently I seem to have been going out, socialising, and not suffering any ill effects at all!

kimpartyKim had a crazy party for her retirement,



My family had a slightly more sedate one for Easter (!) My Pa and Sister did have a good time, honest.


This gig was great, I love West African music, and this had a good jazz vibe too. Drawing in the dark was good fun.




I went out for lunches,



and observed people in pubs. I wonder what they were all talking about?

Spring is in the air

I love the changing of the seasons, and Springtime in particular makes me happy, fluffy white clouds in blue skies and blossoms and buds everywhere.


It takes 45mins to drive to work, but I don’t mind as I get to see the glorious Worcestershire countryside changing day by day.


My absolute favourite flowers! Quick splashes of watercolour followed by slightly more careful pen lines.

spring-blossomHmmm. Gouache. I need to play with this more to get the hang of it.


err… now how did that sneak into my post about springtime? Another burst of pleasure perhaps.

New job, new people to draw

I started a new phase in my life in September, teaching art to kids with Social Emotional and Mental Health issues (SEMH)

I absolutely love it. The staff are a brilliant and committed bunch and the students are delightfully funny and very challenging. One of my colleagues calls them the ‘little cherubs’ and whilst they are anything but, I shall too!

There are meetings and training sessions to attend and of course my sketchbook goes wherever I go…


Here is a great way to talk to young children about personal safety using a song. The jolly animated video is on the NSPCC website, or you can watch it  here



Some training is more fun than others, but it is all necessary and most of it is useful.


Sometimes I catch a likeness really well (above) more often than not there is only a passing resemblance (below) I just turn the page. It’s only my sketchbook. It’s only practice.


Well now I’ve told you what I’m doing 3 days a week- having a great time working out how to make art accessible and engaging for students with complex emotional needs. But whilst I have been getting to grips with this, several months have gone by! I still have to tell you about my cruise around the med…

Until next time  xx



Portrait practice

I seem to be more interested in drawing people than architecture and landscapes in my sketchbook. This does not mean that I have any particular skill, my attempts at getting a likeness seem often out of my control. The results vary wildly from appalling to surprisingly pleasing, as can be seen below!


Quick scribbles at school and in waiting rooms. Teenaged boys that I have contact with are going through a worrying phase of having short back and sides with a permed top that makes them look like poodles…




This is a rather good likeness of our friend Amanda. I am happy with this one.



I messed up the mouth on this portrait of my friend John so much that I gave up in disgust.



My dear Ma is ever tolerant of my attempts to capture a likeness. I haven’t managed it yet, which I put down to her having a square head. Nothing to do with me. Oh no.squarehead2



With a sketchbook, one is never bored. Waiting is just another opportunity to do a character study.