Living In Lockdown, Day 42

Thursday 23rd April


I haven’t given up on trying to capture dandelions in watercolour. The race is on, because light grey spheres of the fluffy clocks are beginning to encroach upon the beds of sunny yellow heads; I don’t have long. I’m still struggling, and I may have to change tack.

A fortnight ago the beech tree was a mass of pointy russet buds poised to strike. Now the order to “fire with abandon” has been given, and the tree has gone from a branchy, twiggy thing to a bright, light green flouncy thing, covered in shiny, fresh green leaves. You can just about make out the lower boughs in the sketch.


My colleagues Suhita Shirodkar and Uma Kelkar have written a book each in the series The Urban Sketcher’s Handbook. They are doing a live instagram interview together, to talk about their respective approaches to writing their books. Needless to say, I am all ears, as I am coming to the end of my own book in the series…but there’s still time for tweaking! I lie on the grass and tune in. How wonderful to be able to sit on the lawn and watch these two lovely ladies on a device I can fit in my pocket. They shed lots of light on the mysterious process of how to approach a book. Suhita’s book is a beginner’s guide to urban sketching, and Uma’s is a guide to digital urban sketching (I will buy both). Suhita talks about doing market research, and finding that a big factor in causing hesitation to sketch in public is – fear. She has cleverly broken this down into those subjects of which the novice sketcher is most fearful, and least. Buildings inspire least fear, people the most (gulp, that’s my subject). She makes some canny observations and I know before I have turned a page that she will guide the new sketcher with kid gloves. For her part, Uma talks about bridging the gap between traditional and digital methods of drawing. She has thought of the message in terms of climbing a ladder, and making the leap at some stage – finding a missing rung – to drawing digitally. She mentions the erase button, and I jump in with a comment without thinking – “the erase button is your enemy” – but I quickly realise just how thoughtless I have been. Did not I draw in pencil first when I started, only to carefully go over everything in pen afterwards? It’s true that I do not erase any mistakes now, and only draw in pen, but that was not the case for the first few years of my urban sketching journey. The girls very gently refer to this: that we all erase, and then we stop. It’s a normal part of the journey. When you see someone like Suhita, Uma or me draw confidently with a tool that cannot be erased, you must bear in mind that it was not always like that for us.


I decide that I will make face masks for anyone who wants to buy them. Partly because they might be very useful indeed, but mostly because I like sewing them. I don’t have infinite supplies of elastic, but I have a fair bit. So I will make them until I run out. Go to my shop on this website and order away…if your country still accepts mail from Ireland. There’s a male option, a female one…and a lucky dip for the adventurous! That means I will get a bit creative with your fabric and you never knwo what you’ll end up with. But you’ll get at least two-ply (sometimes I iron fusible fabric onto the inside), a slot for a filter, an adjustable elastic and a covered wire sewn in to pinch the mask closed over your nose. They are lovely!

Until tomorrow, take care.


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