Monday, 23 January 2017


I am no artist and up until Christmas this year I had drawn only one sketch in my life which was done in art class about 1973 from a photograph taken of Penmaenmawr mountain after a holiday in Llanfairfechan, North Wales.

My skills may not have improved that much but thanks to my husband buying me a charcoal sketch set, I decided to have another go at drawing. The image above was my third attempt at capturing an image with a pencil. Copied from a black and white photo taken from the Italian Facebook page Cercami. The old photos posted up there showing history, poverty, humility and pride written in the faces and actions of the characters who didn't have much in their world but a life of hard work, landscapes, family and each other, make excellent practise pieces and interesting subject choices. It helps that there is no colour in the images because that is a harder challenge to face for a budding artist hobbyist like me.

The sketch, which I have called Homeward Bound, was also my first attempt at trying to draw a figure. You can see that I haven't quite managed to get the perspective right. My figure is smaller, fatter, and not quite placed correctly in the landscape, but as a first attempt, it isn't bad and with a little more work when I'm feeling more inspired, I think I could make it as realistic as it needs to be to satisfy my perfectionism. The landscape itself also needs a bit more shading but like writing, I've found my art work could always be improved and I am never quite content with the result. Space and time between written drafts always helps to clear the fog and help the mind see the bigger picture, while magnifying the smaller errors and imperfections. Perhaps that will work with a sketch too.

My second drawing in life was done from a photograph I had taken of Waddington Windmill on a snow day about five years ago. It was a lot easier because there was no vanishing point to work out and even though the original photograph is in colour, it was taken in the dusk, just before the sun went down fully, and has the feel of a monochrome picture because of the whiteness of the snow and the darkness of the landscape. I am relatively pleased with it although that perfectionist whispers in my ear that it feels more like the ruins of a old fort in Spain than a derelict windmill in the English countryside.

The image of Penmaenmawr mountain, viewed from Llanfairfechan Promenade, in that old art class shows that two sketches on, the skills needed for my hobby have improved a bit. The original photo it was drawn from has long since disappeared but last September, I went back for a visit and took another photo from almost the same spot. Perhaps I'll have another go at drawing the picture later in the year and add some colour, perhaps even just the rainbow that made a beautiful appearance that day. I'll also be taking my charcoal sketching set on my travels this summer and have a go at a landscape while sitting outside and looking at it.

By next Christmas, perhaps my husband will buy me a painting set, if I drop enough hints, and then I'll play about with colour and draw something like this challenging landscape scene of Manarola in the Cinque Terra, Italy. However, the sketching set will be put away for a while as real life and the intensity of real work follows now the long Christmas break is finally over.