Saturday, June 07, 2014

VIDEO: Sketching with coloured pencils #1

..and finally - we have a video of me sketching! Watch it here - or for the big HD version click the link and go to YouTube where you can view it on my YouTube Channel. Below you can also view some photographs from my day out at Great Dixter yesterday.

Making a video of me sketching!

I can't remember how many years it's been since I started thinking about making a video of me sketching. Last year I did get as far as making a slideshow of a step by step - see © Katherine Tyrrell Sketching the Long Border, Great Dixter (July 2013)

I've long said I'm going to produce a video of me sketching - and years have gone by during which time I have bought tripods etc and never ever done anything about it. We then come to the advent of the mini iPad and I've again begun to think about videos of sketching.  Yesterday quite spontaneously I finally did it!

...and finally - this is it!

This comes with about 15 seconds of thought and preparation and starts with me taking the mini iPad back into my own hands from "he who must not be bored while I sketch" - who was supposed to be filming me - just as he has yet another hay fever attack.

That's when I discovered I could actually hold the iPad Mini and sketch by looking at the sketchbook through my iPad!  For those of you with iPad Minis why don't you try it?

You might be interested in how I hold a pencil....... however my pudgy hands distress me - they come courtesy of both age and disability!

Other than that take a look at my first go at iPad videos of me sketching.  Like I said - this is spontaneous - and you get the usual features associated with sketching (something falls over , the sketchbook goes skew whiff etc).

More about my day out and photos of the sketching set-up

Who would have thought that writing a book about drawing and sketching would have led to a drought in terms of plein air sketching - and blogging about my sketching? My visual capacity in my brain has been completed filled with selecting and gathering in images (and copyright forms), rescanning and photographing over 100 images of my own plus creating lots of diagrams to explain points.

It was absolutely idyllic yesterday to sit in a very English Garden and enjoy the humming of the mower, the singing of the birds and the shade of a barn on a very hot day in East Sussex - and to also enjoy getting back into my plein air sketching!

The view

Here's the view of The Topiary Lawn at Great Dixter with its edge/fence of ash trees that I was sketching.

The trees reminded me of both Sisley (long slim tree trunks) Hockney (tree surgery!). I liked the people on the big bench as it added life into the garden - and of course show me yew topiary and I'm itching to get my sketchbook out - all those nice big shapes!

This shows you how far away I was actually sat - in the old cow shed which was lovely and cool (it was a very hot day yesterday!) - looking out across the wild flower meadow which surrounds the yew topiary! Listening to the grass paths being mown.

The set-up and kit

This is where I was sat

My sketching kit and where I was sat in the old cow shed
This is the pen and ink sketch - after a bit of judicious work in Photoshop - the photograph shows the white paper as actually being blue - as per the one above.
But you can retrieve blue sketches - see my blog posts about how to do colour corrections on Making A Mark

The pen and ink sketch I usually do some hatching to indicate shadows and form
particularly when it's a time of day when the sun is moving quite fast.

This is where I'd got to prior to the video. One of the aims of the day was a test of my new Stillman and Birn Zeta sketchbook with extra heavy weight paper in Natural White (kindly supplied for review by Stillman and Birn via Jacksons Art Materials). Plus a new pen - a Sakura Micron Pigment Ink - size 01 with archival ink. More about this on Making A Mark Reviews later.

The sketching kit in use - before I started the video
Stillman and Birn Zeta Sketchbook - the double page spread is 30cm x 42cm
the pen is a Sakura Micron 01 and
the coloured pencils are usual ecelectic assortment by Caran d'Ache Pablo, Lyra Rembrandt,
Faber Castell Polychromos and there's even an old Karisma Lime Green in there!
More of my sketches at Great Dixter can be found by clicking this link.

The wildflower meadows at Great Dixter

This is what the wildflower meadows are looking like at Great Dixter at the moment. I have never ever seen so many orchids in one place! The meadows are part of The Weald Meadows Initiative developed by the Wild Meadows Partnership. Great Dixter is supporting the High Weald Landscape Trust's campaign to double the number of wildflower rich grasslands in the High Weald by 2015. Now is the time to see them!

One of the Wild Flower Meadows at Great Dixter

There are thousands of common Spotted Orchids 
in the Great Dixter Wildflower Meadows.

Visit Great Dixter

If you want to visit Great Dixter, I suggest you take a look at a few facts


  1. Always enjoy plein air video. Yours no exception. But please, please invest in a tripod attachment case for your iPod. Too off putting the herky jerky affecting continuity.

  2. Thank you so much for this Katherine, it's fantastic to see how you achieve that lovely light finish to your sketches just by the way you hold your pencil. I've been following you for 5 years now ever since I finally joined the 21st century with an ipod on my 60th birthday, you keep me informed and entertained.

  3. Diana - I appreciate the feedback - and I'm sorry you find the 'impulsive' nature of the video off-putting

    Maybe you didn't read the comment that this was done with about 15 seconds of preparation? That was intended to brief people for the nature of the video which followed. I also intentionally left it as shot to show people what happens when you try using an iPad Mini for videos! Maybe I should have made that clearer?

    I've already got a tripod - as I also indicate in the blog post! The fact of the matter is I also have a disability which means I need to limit the number of heavy things I can carry and a tripod is far from the top of my list of essential items. If I was using a tripod I'd also be using it with my camcorder and that would be yet another item of kit to carry.

    Bottom line - I'm looking for the lightweight simple solution.

  4. Many thanks for the feedback also Valerie.

    The lovely light touch is achieved in part by having tenosynovitis in my right hand which means I can't grip anything tightly. That means I had to work out a way of holding my pencil for long periods in a way which didn't send me into spasms of excruciating pain!

    What I then discovered is that holding it lightly meant I could move the pencil tip very fast when I hatched - and hence I had a way of sketching and a whole new style evolved which I like a lot.

    I need to do a video about my optical hatching! But maybe indoors - Tina Mammoser has just told me a way of doing this which is super simple!

  5. This is a great tutorial, Katherine. I am saving it. Even the way you hold your pencils is helpful. I am delighted to see how strong the marks are--you didn't seem to be bearing down hard. I will have to get softer pencils, perhaps. Looking forward to a video about optical hatching. And it is so exciting to know that you are doing a book.

  6. I second the comment about looking forward to the optical hatching video and finding out about the tip from Tina Mammoser. I very much enjoyed watching this, thanks for posting it.


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