Creeks and creativity

I haven’t disappeared, just been lazy about blogging. It’s far easier to sit and read other people’s posts over my lunchtime mug of soup than try and think of something witty and intelligent to say myself. Sailing adventures may be over for the year but I still can’t decide whether to post as an illustrator, art teacher, creek dweller or writer – so here’s a mix of arty and boaty:

1. How to Draw – the trickiest bit

I recently spent a fascinating weekend at Seapictures Gallery in Clare ( doing a series of 20 minute how to draw workshops with a few brave volunteers. I tried to convince them that drawing is for everyone, not just for ‘artists’…..

c drawing workshop

It’s all about what happens in your head when you look at something. Our brains insist that we wear 3D glasses, but to draw something accurately you have to ignore this way of looking and see everything as a flat image, as if it were projected onto a sheet of glass. It’s a different way of seeing. Usually we don’t see what’s actually there, only what our brain has told us is there, or what we expect to be there.

Don’t believe me? Try this experiment. Look at yourself in a mirror, reasonably close up. How big do you think your reflection is – about the same size as your real face? Or perhaps a tiny bit smaller?  You’ll be surprised. Measure the image projected onto the glass and you’ll find your face has shrunk to half its size. Objects shrink in perspective much much quicker than we think they do, because our brain compensates and adjusts everything back to the size it knows they should be.

perspective people

Another example: take two people of similar height, at each end of a fairly large room. How big is the person at the back in relation to the one at the front? Ask the one at the front to guess – it’s bound to be wrong. And notice how the person at the back will have shrunk from the legs up, as eye level stays the same.

So… to draw something, you have to measure it, exactly as it is, not how your brain knows it to be. Extend your pencil at arms length, close one eye, and compare the proportions of what you are trying to draw. Then even if the drawing still turns out badly, you’ll at least impress those around you by looking like a proper artist!


(More about this and everything else art related in my book on how to draw and paint – currently still in progress!)

Now off with arty head and on with boaty head….

language of line

2. How to choose a boat – reflections from a creek dweller

Living afloat is challenging in the winter. It’s cold, damp and dark and you have to put coat and boots over your pyjamas to go and have a shower in the morning. A torch and a hot water bottle become your most treasured possessions.

The other morning I was coming ashore, carefully down the gangplank as it was slippery with damp. I had a towel and a bucket in hand, and was wearing a fleecy top and jeans over my pyjamas. I still had my morning face on – no lipstick and hair a bit random. A passer by wished me good morning. ‘Is it romantic, living on a boat?’ he asked.

I had to think about that one. I didn’t have Johnny Depp hidden away under my duvet in the foc’sle, so not that sort of romantic. Romantic in the sense of being at one with the beauty of nature, perhaps? Well, maybe, but not on the mornings when you’ve carelessly left your slippers in the spot where a bucket to catch drips should be……

storm at woodbridge

Storm force winds on the Deben…..

I’m still borrowing my friend’s converted trawler while my hunt for an all-year-round boat continued, and the changing weather focussed my mind on a few priorities. Heating, a shower and no deck leaks were on the list along with having an engine that works and oodles of character. And of course it has to float. And be very cheap.

It’s not been an easy task; my search has taken me from Scotland to Devon and several muddy creeks inbetween. I found one in the end and will be bringing her home soon, so I will have plenty to say about that next time.

3. What’s on the drawing board? The daily life of a butterfly-brained creative:

At this time of year I have several commissions to do; usually surprise gifts. In the last two weeks I’ve painted watercolours for an outgoing Trust Chairman, an outgoing club Commodore, a 50th birthday cartoon for a sailor and motorbike enthusiast, and I’m now onto a watercolour of a rather lovely gaff cutter for a surprise Christmas present. The trouble is, the last few brushstrokes are often still drying as the client walks through the door, and I only remember to scan or photograph them after they’ve been collected – by which time it’s too late.

yearplanner design low res

Don’t forget to order your year planner from the SHOP page – there are more goodies to go into the shop as soon as my clever techie son can take time out from his final year studies to put stuff on there, so keep looking…. and keep sketching!







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