Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Cardiff Castle's Animal Wall

Cardiff has quite a few architectural landmarks- the castle being the most eccentric. Perched on the battlement-style wall are stone animals, (some with glassy eyes). They're simultaneously humorous and spooky, looking like a second away from springing to life.


Here are the latest viking drawings, from the York Jorvik Viking Festival. The textures and colours are particularly interesting, viking costume can be very rich, especially the Russian ones.

Since I've been using KyleBrushes amazing photoshop tools my love of drawing has really taken off again. It still takes the same skill of pencil and paper, the only difference is that you don't rub a hole in the surface when erasing mistakes. An unexpected challenge of working this way is the temptation to be very detailed, something I have to drag myself away from. There still has to be a roughness to the edges and freshness in colour, and there's still judging what to put in or leave out.


Saturday, 31 January 2015

Hallowe'en dinner

So it's 3 months after Hallowe'en, but I dug this photo out of my collection and realised that it would be a great subject for the next picture. The location is Banners Restaurant in North London, it's such an interesting place, there are so many details to feast on along with a great sense of space. The Jerk Chicken is gorgeous, and the Singapore Sling will knock you out.

In the last few months I've started looking at combining drawing with using textures. The second image has some paper underneath, matching the slightly grungey feel of the place. Usually it's a base of an Ingres or sugar paper, but now I'm adding scuffed and mottled surfaces. The tricky part of that is not to let the background look gimmicky or obtrusive.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

House in the clouds

This is a complex image made with the starting point of a wooden house model. It started as a birthday present for my Dad, then has been on a bookshelf for a year. After seeing it for so long little cogs started working and my subconscious came up with the perfect scenario to set the building in. 

It's drawn in Photoshop, and is quite a large image, about 50cm wide. There was no intention to make it like the house in 'Up', maybe it's a common theme to dream about houses in the clouds. The whole image is just simple fantasy, a combination of two things I love- architecture and billowing clouds.

The first blue-tinted clouds version.

 With an apocalyptic edge to the clouds.

The line is removed, for a nice 'chunky' quality.

Here's the original model:

Monday, 13 October 2014

Etching Class at The Art House

This is a drawing of the etching class I taught at The Art House in Wakefield. It was a two day course, and was very successful for the students, who left still smiling.
The drive to improve and discover new ways of making work has really taken hold. It's interesting how old methods from art school have resurfaced and proved to be still interesting and effective.
There are two different styles here; one is to use a watercolour drawn line and then use a rough conte brush as the colour, and the other is to just have the pastel and no line. I prefer the latter, it's more painterly and chunky, it just about hangs together as a description of forms. This could go more rough and abstract in future drawings.

Neal's Yard, London

This was quite a big project. It started as a watercolour from about 4 years ago, but I decided to really push myself and do a big 60x24cm version in Photoshop with the new rough Dry Media brushes.
I'm really getting into my stride with the Kyle's Brushes, and have discovered quite a lot about drawing and painting. The most important lesson has been to work out how detailed to go and where to leave the quality more rough and loose.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Tea Time

On the trail of the Tour de France (Yorkshire Grand Depart), I had lovely cream tea at Bainbridge in Swaledale.
Then did a picture of it. Forget photographing your food, draw it too. Maybe that's a good idea for everyone to try…

It actually started as a test to see if I could tackle my horror of drawing ellipses. It took a day to draw it out, and a day to add colour and get the balance right for the composition.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

History Girl

It has been a while, but I'm back now, with a drawing of a Tudor Feast. It is a scene from Tudor Christmas, BBC. The scene was so reminiscent of the beautiful Dutch paintings of the 17th century, so I had a go at tackling such a lovely scene.
It was made on the Wacom Intuos tablet, and Kyle's Dry Media Brushes, which have fantastic texture qualities.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Mystery House drawing

This house has always fascinated me, it is in Crouch End, north London, opposite where I used to live. Apparently it looks even worse 4 years after I took the photo.
The dark picture is a tryout at night-time lighting, with an orange light in the hall. What I've found so enjoyable with this new way of working is the quality of shading with the Dry Media Set (Kyle's Brushes via

Monday, 30 June 2014

Portrait time

If you follow my blog you may know I'm a bit of a Doctor Who fan. Sometimes I like to draw portraits of some characters. So before the new series starts here are a couple of portraits of new-boy, Peter Capaldi. If you are eagle eyed you can see that the lower one has the mouth slightly more pursed. What is this man thinking? Will a witty comment come out?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Etchings of elder vikings

Some more vikings (I'm building up a collection).  These are two expressive vikings, the first is looking worried, and the second very imperious. They are both c. 18x26cm. 

New tools- Kyle T Webster Brushes for Photoshop

it has been far too long since the previous post. I've been very busy with work, and then needed to get my batteries recharged.

Via a friend's students at Aberystwyth University in Wales I discovered the wonderful Kylesbrushes. The link is I'm usually a bit sceptical of photoshop brushes, and favour Painter for my digital drawings, but was bowled over by their high quality.
This did involve me upgrading the tiny Wacom tablet used since 2008, and getting an Intuos Pro large, which has also revolutionised how I work. The Wamazing watercolour brush, Xerox brushes, and Dry Media brushes are my favourites.

Coffee Barker, Cardiff.
Kyle's Xerox Brushes.
Coffee Barker, Cardiff.
Kyle's Xerox Brushes, with colour layers. 

Dorling Kindersley Children's Reference department.

The first stage- a Wamazing brush drawing, with white chalk
added underneath, and a watercolour paper base.
Colouring layer, added, without white layer. 
Colour and white layers, without lines. 
The complete image, 60x20cm.  
A small section, as a portrait of Andrea, one of the editors.

Gulen's desk, Carlton Books.

Watercolour brush, 'Wamazing'. Full colour.
Sepia version, more subdued colour.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


This week is about jobs to do.

1. Set up my e-Commerce website, so you can buy my prints easily.
2. Get work ready for submissions to the International Print Biennale, International Open Mini Print Exhibition, and the Lincolnshire Open Print Biennale.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Crackle effect

This is a technique which has some interesting results. It is the application of gum arabic to a layer of BIG (Baldwin's Intaglio Ground) resist. 

1. Apply BIG in several thin layers and heat until cured (it becomes very hard like a varnish)
2. Allow to rest for 45mins to 1hour. 
3. Lightly dust with talcum powder.
4. Paint on gum arabic, preferably in a thick layer to make it stronger. Thick layers make bigger cracks but less of them, thinner layer makes more cracks which are thinner. 
5. The plate is heated on a hot plate, the gum shrinks back exposing the resist underneath. It is very unpredictable, and you can end up exposing too much resist.
6. Carefully take off the resist with cotton wool and white spirit or Lincoln Wash.
7. Carefully wash off the gum arabic with water. 
8. Etch the plate. You can do an aquatint before this process, but I didn't, not wanting to spend too much time on it.
9. Clean up the plate and it's ready to print.

A larger experiment in colour printing.

This is one of my favourite buildings, the rather sombre Hornsey Town Hall in north London. It's Art Deco and has some fascinating ironwork and staircases. I loved the back and forward quality of the stairs and how enclosed it was, so used a strong red as the diagonal and under stairs shading.
So I put it to good use as a colour print. There are 2 layers to the print- the etched zinc plate, and a thicker mylar sheet with drypoint. It's quite large for an experiment, about 45x36cm.

Colour printing

I've done some printing in colour. After buying Etching in Colour by Nigel Oxley I learned how to do a correctly registered print, using the same plate, but with different applications of ink, layered onto the same piece of paper. It has been something I've fought shy of for 3 years, being unsure of getting it right. Why did I wait?

The first print was a combination of drypoint scratching on a sheet of mylar inked in yellow, then blue and magenta on the original etched plate, printed over. the mylar didn't last very long, and I hadn't quite sorted out my exact registration. The second print is a combination of the mylar, then printing the magenta only on the toy itself, and finally the blue on the background. During this experiment I had to use scrim (muslin) to apply and brush the ink off, which is a better way of doing complicated prints, rather than using yellow pages which makes it hard to see where you're brushing.

The second type of print was made by inking only certain areas of the plate, then reprinting with different colours. It gives some really interesting colour combinations.

This is the original black and white print, which a friend has described as 'spacey'. He was spot on.