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



Where has the time gone? Summer is over!!

The best of Summer is certainly past, any day of sunshine now is to be appreciated as the delightful treat that it is. My summer ended in a rush of activity. I looked after  friends’ garden whilst they were away:




I didn’t have to look after the livestock thankfully, though I did enjoy my daily chat with the chickens. Beautiful creatures, as long as you don’t look at their horrible pre-historic dinosaur talons…





My own garden ( a profusion of pots on my roof garden) has given me much joy and delight this summer:


Each griddled courgette has been delicious, each magically grown tomato a burst of acid sweetness on the tongue.



The poppy seeds harvested from Chepstow have been surprisingly fruitful – pots of tiny pretty poppies and blue seed heads .



Gerberas are so jolly, and such good value! This plant has flowered repeatedly for 3 months, looking lovely every day. I will most certainly have more of them next year.

I have enjoyed my summer garden immensely, and might even get my act together to plant up spring bulbs. I do love a beautiful tulip… Watch this garden diary/sketchbook!

Next post : a few get togethers and jaunts before beginning the serious business of GOING BACK TO SCHOOL… 🙂 🙂 🙂




You do the eyes too big!

The very talented Vin Ganapathy introduced me to the app Sktchy which is available on iphone and ipad. People upload photographs of themselves and in so doing give permission for anyone to draw them. I love it because when you scroll through the artworks, you can swipe sideways to see the original source image and compare it with the artistic choices made by the artists! So, if you want to draw people, or want to be drawn….head to Sktchy!

Following are some of the portraits I have done recently.

HannahPI find the ones that are loose and spontaneous are most successful. KieranLNathanMAbbieJMy women are a bit hit or miss. Pleased with the one above, overworked the ones below.

ColleenOaudreyFBeardedWI really like this drawing, but I don’t think the subject was too impressed. I left out his ornate neck tattoo and made him look more scruffy hippy than hipster. But hey, it’s my drawing!lowkeyvibesadStuartYes, there is a bit of a beard thing going on…

ThithiBW2I must admit to quite fancying these two (the drawn versions, not the real ones) but I do have to do something about my tendency to make the eyes enormous. Just because my family all have big limpid eyes doesn’t mean I have to give them to everyone. Mind you, Picasso did…. DaveG


And here is the man responsible for this latest sketching fad, Vin G himself : VinPortrait


Heat and Happiness

I planted up a few pots this year (ahem) and my garden is bringing me much pleasure.


I am now washing the herbs thoroughly since the pigeons have taken to sitting in them…


Some nights it is actually too hot to sleep. This is England, it only happens about 3 days per year, so I won’t worry too much.


I promised Sadaf that I would draw her. Why is it so much harder to catch a likeness when you know the person? Is it just me? Sadaf has a wider kindlier face that this with her eyes spaced further apart. I will have another go soon.


Above is a drawing that in no way captures the charm of my goddaughter, but below is one that captures my friend quite well!


I have been having a #sktchy binge this week, practising portraits, so I will post the results next time. Enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasts!

School is over, Summer is here!

I have six weeks until I start my new job, teaching art 3 days a week to young people who have emotional, social and behavioural difficulties (ESBD). It’s the kind of teaching that I absolutely love and I am excited to be able to combine this with being an artist too. In preparation I went on a course.


Drawing whilst listening is a great way to embed information in the memory. And keeping notes this way is much more interesting.


Whilst most of the training is in de-escalation techniques, there are occasions when a young person will need to be held or escorted. I was practising a sideways lunge when my knee twisted sickeningly…

rubbishleftlegLast time that happened, I managed to break my ankle in two places! So I got off lightly with just sore tendons and ligaments.

Conor and his kids came to visit Grandma Grandpa and Auntie Alison. They are the greatest fun.




This calm serene scene in no way reflects the squealing mayhem of the water balloon hose pipe battle that is taking place. Kids v. Adults, Boys v. Girls, Everyone for themselves… except for me with my sore knee, I am the war artist, observing from the terrace on this glorious summer afternoon.

Being busy

I seem to be able to do more and more each day. My stamina is increasing, and although still easily fatigued, I have more drive and desire to do things. Let’s see what recent memories made it into my visual diary….


A trip up to Birmingham to learn how to inject myself every night. I think this hormone replacement therapy is going to make all the difference for me (fingers crossed) !


I have been out to the Opera which you know I have developed a recent passion for. I love the idea of live broadcasts being shown in cinemas and theatres.



I watched in stunned fascination as the country seemed to break itself apart…The ramifications are only just beginning to reveal themselves…


There was a great 50th birthday party for my friend Steve.


I wanted to see what the drawing was like with colour, so I scanned and printed a version onto cartridge paper and set to with my watercolours. It would work better if i hadn’t done quite so much tonal work with the pen, but it is hard to stop when the Lamy feels so good responsive and juicy in the hand!


I did a withie and papier mache workshop in a school,


and spent some time with small relatives.


My roof garden is blooming, the summer keeps appearing for a few hot days at a time through the rain, and life is good.



My Other Work

When I am not drawing and playing in my sketchbook, I am busy doing projects like this :


A shop doorway threshold for an urban regeneration project.



Or thinking up ideas like this: A design proposal for a gallery garden.


But I always make sure to have my sketchbook to hand to document events like this :


and more importantly capture special moments like this one:  early summer,  long, lazy lunch in delightful surroundings. Sunshine, flowers, wine and a blackbird singing his heart out.



Ordinary/Extraordinary. Reportage sketching

I really like trying to capture the ordinary (and sometimes extraordinary) moments of my life in my visual journal. Each sketch, when revisited, immediately evokes the whole experience, much more than a photograph can do – I remember the smells, sounds, atmosphere, emotional content and conversations at the depicted moment in time much more clearly than whilst looking at a perhaps more ‘realistic’ photograph. Here are some recent examples of me drawing in order to fix the moment in my memory. These sketches are the last few spreads from a moleskine sketchbook that I hated to begin with but have come to like…


A very interesting symposium on the role of the arts in health care. I was very interested in the research about the use of arts in treatment and palliative care of older people suffering from dementia.


Not particularly my taste in music, but a ticket was going spare so I agreed to go to the gig – always up for a mind expanding experience. Bryan Adams and his band were as slick and professional as you could hope for…The humongous hangar that is the Genting arena in Birmingham  was packed- It looked like thousands and thousands of tiny people were there to adore their idol. I really enjoyed the 21st Century phenomenon of the band calling for the audience to switch the torch app on their phones and wave it about in place of the outmoded holding of a butane lighter in the air…




Reportage sketching can take place in an intimate domestic situation as well as at big events. Not all profound experiences have to be big. I am happy to return the favour to my dear Pa back for all the times he gave us lifts and uncomplainingly collected us late at night as kids and teenagers.


I have recently had a fad for drawing men with beards, as you might have noticed. So I went up the road to the local traditional barber and cheekily asked if I could do some sketching. They were very kind and here are the results


Next I might have to do a photo essay on how to shave: steam, soften, shave with the grain etc…