Category Archives: Sketchbook

Sketchbook shell

Had a go a shell inspired by Rembrandt’s shell.


Sketch 1:

This was very good for cones and cylinders… it also helped me to look as when I compared it to Rembrandt’s I found I’d angled my shell forward instead of back!

This made me experiment with how you see less of a circle as it turns towards you (foreshortening)… which is relatively straight forward if you’re looking at the circle face on but is much more difficult if the circle is tilted over.

I then realised that the end of the shell had a bump on it and I wasn’t actually seeing the far side of the circle but the top of the bump. This was one reason I couldn’t get it right, I’d been drawing what I knew to be there (the far side of the circle) rather than what I was actually seeing (the bump).

Sketch 2:

I then tried a more detailed drawing.

Without realising I’d swivelled the shell round.

I used architects pencil as I thought it would be a finer medium and I could use a putty rubber to help highlights. This would give me some leeway whereas the ink drawing had to be right first time.

Close up shell

I used my knowledge about the bump to help but couldn’t get the fat end of the cone right. So I held a straight edge against the shell and closed one eye. I found that I’d been taking the curve the wrong way!

As the shell had been swivelled the curve now went back not forward – because it had gone forward on the last drawing I’d assumed it went forward on this shell and was drawing what I ‘knew’ instead of what I saw.

This taught me an important lesson.

Draw what you see not what you understand… understanding how 3D shapes operate in space helps you understand what you see but looking should always come first… look… look… and look again.


(1) Looking comes before drawing.

(2) Draw what you see not what you assume is there – use your understanding to help you interpret unusual shapes – but always be driven by your eye.

(3) The putty rubber is a great drawing tool to give yourself a lighter shade of grey than you can achieve with the pencil alone, this gives you more subtlety. It’s like getting another colour in your palette.

(4) The putty rubber is good for highlights too.

(5) An architects pencil is very soft but a light grey. It is extremely flexible and a bit like drawing with butter.

(6) A good understanding of 3D objects in space and what happens as you move them around helps you draw organic shapes, like a shell.



Sketchbook 25/01/2016 to 05//02/2016

Not coursework but my sketchbook – I don’t think you can ever match seeing the real thing but I’m trying to do 30 minutes sketch every day.

This is only meant to give a rough feel as the annotations will also change and be added to.

Can’t work out how to comment by drawings… so will put comments here.

  1. Pastels on Chip Paper – friends liked as they said the chip paper really improved the drawing… they said perspective needs work but parts of it really ‘work’. I like it as even though just a few marks some of drawing actually taking on the character of the egg box. Enjoyed finding the shades and shadows. Will try more found materials as I go along.
  2. Abstract – I like this and figure on bottom right brings it to life for me a bit like the Hawk in Derek Hyatt’s ‘Hawk View’ painting. For me it says something about the cares of the world stripping away childhood and the joy of life so we’re grey, careworn and our lives lacking in joy. But… as it’s not ‘real’ it’s difficult for friends to comment on it … they can’t judge it by its roundness (like the apple) or how it represents anything in the ‘real’ world… and it’s not recognised by the art world, so has no value that way. I think this falls into Robert Kaupelis’ beginner’s divergent box?! More generally it raises the question about value and perception and how people ‘look’ at art? On it’s own merits or because experts tell them it’s a good painting? And also the ‘private’ language of a painter – even if they’re trying to communicate to an audience they may have invented a private artistic language that only they understand – versus a public artistic language that everybody ‘understands’. Impressionism didn’t go down well at first but people learned to ‘read’ it and now ‘see’ its value. Blake had a ‘private’ artistic language that made him very difficult to access and he wasn’t (initially) commercially successful whereas Picasso appealed to a mass audience – even though his art wasn’t obviously ‘commercial’ – he captured something universal. It’s interesting to think about high art which rich collectors will pay for versus ‘low’ art which poor people will buy and which appeal to both markets. When an artists paints for an audience… for cash… the audience has to like and understand his work in order to buy it. Flowers… birds… landscapes. And painting to express a vision or an idea may be for a narrower audience. As an actor I’d happily appear in a commercial for a large sum of money and then be in an art film which paid much less but I felt had artistic merit… I don’t see why artists shouldn’t do the same?! Unless you’re Picasso of course… in which case you are genius enough to just do your own thing!

25/01/2016 to 05/02/2016

Apple in Charcoal

Apple in Charcoal

Spring Flowers.

Spring Flowers.

Yorkshire Moors

Yorkshire Moors

copy of Robert Henri Woman Kneeling

  Copy of Robert Henri Woman Kneeling

Pastel on fish and chip bag - blue eggs in blue egg box

Pastel on fish and chip bag – blue eggs in blue egg box








Amethyst crystals - architects pencil

Amethyst crystals – architects pencil

Grapes in blue bowl - Art Pens

Grapes in blue bowl – Art Pens


Pencil sketch (copy) of costume drawing.

Watercolour sketch - copy - of costume

Watercolour sketch – copy – of costume 

Pencil on paper - self portrait from photograph - unfinished

Pencil on paper – self portrait from photograph – unfinished

Abstract - Brush pen and wax crayons on paper

Abstract – Brush pen and wax crayons on paper