A Change of Face

Profile Picture 2aI thought that I ought to do a profile picture.

The picture I tend to use for most of the social media sites I use is a rather badly photoshopped photograph of me as a Spaghetti Western cowboy.

So instead I thought I would use a drawing of a badly photoshopped photograph of me as a Spaghetti Western cowboy.

Ah, yes – much better.

“Urban Sketchers Singapore”

6334127896_eedb1eed48_oThe Urban Sketching scene in Singapore does seem to be particularly vibrant and I have to say, because of that; this book just blows my mind.

It’s a collection of various Urban Sketchers who draw Singapore; including, but in no way exclusively, Don Low and Tia Boon Sim.
There are about 37 artists featured in total.

This really is a feast for the eyes. The book is practically text free, allowing the urban sketches of different areas around Singapore to speak for themselves.
If you love sketching and urban sketching in particular then this is such a wonderful book; plenty of styles and techniques on show.

Urban Sketchers Singapore 1

Urban Sketchers Singapore 2

Urban Sketchers Singapore 3


248 pages

Want to find out more? 

The Urban Sketchers Singapore website

The main Urban Sketchers website

Danny Gregory

Ask the man on the street who Danny Gregory is and they probably haven’t heard of him. However ask that hunched figure huddled under the shop canopy who looks up sporadically to check that their pen marks are sketching out the buildings opposite, and you’re likely to get a different answer.

I wonder how many hundreds of people Danny has inspired to pick up a pen or pencil or paintbrush and create? For those of you who know who is, I’m sure that my story is similar to yours.

Profile - danny gregory smI stumbled across one of Danny’s books and his enthusiasm and energy sprang from every page; whether it be in his joyful text or his exuberant sketches.

He advocates drawing regularly, or journaling; and as Danny likes to put a lot of text around his drawings; this helps to not only explain context and feelings but helps the drawing become more than just a simple picture, or a half-completed drawing. It becomes a record of a life.
Trying regularly. Danny advocates drawing everyday. After all how can one improve at something without regular practice?
Varying your materials to explore different media and seeing how different media work together. Some will work and new combinations may be discovered that produce effects that you like and didn’t expect. Others may fail miserably, but may lead to discover further combinations.
Setting yourself little tasks and challenges. There’s a page in “The Creative License” (p98 if you must know) that is titled ’10,000 Things to Draw’ and is a long list of collections of things; all the pens on your desk, all the windows in your street. Some large, but mostly the small and , some might say, insignificant. But not insignificant to the sketcher on a journey. Everything and anything is fair game to be drawn. But not just drawn – try to find connections, get lost in themes and subjects, studies of photographs, of lamps, fire hydrants or manhole covers.
It all combines into a reflective whole; reflecting on the large and small, reflecting on the meaning and importance of your mark making and of the subjects that you choose.

Creating drawings and journaling is not an exact science; there is no right or wrong way to do it. But the important thing about creating is just that. Creating. It doesn’t really matter if the angles are skewed, or the shapes aren’t quite right, what matters is the process of creating.


Want to find out more?

Danny Gregory’s Blog can be found Here

… click on the book illustrations

10 - Apr - 12 - Creative License10 - Apr - 12 - An illustrated Life10 - Apr - 13 - Everyday Matters

Sketchbooks – Moleskine

Sketchbooks, much like other materials that I use, came about as favourites purely by trial and error.
Well, actually I have to admit, not entirely.
I realise that many people prefer spiral bound sketchbooks, but I prefer hard bound. Which, unfortunately, makes finding a decent sketchbook Materials - Sketchbooks - Moleskine sm(which can lie flat whilst open) nigh on impossible.

Moleskine produces a Watercolour Notebook, which has 72 pages of archive quality (fairly) stiff paper. But only comes in landscape format. Goodness only knows why this is so, there certainly seems to be enough of a market for a portrait version of this notebook. But I fear that it is merely to distinguish this notebook from the Sketch Notebook (Which conversely, only comes in portrait, but which has smooth, ivory pages – rather too smooth to take watercolour)

The paper takes paint well and has a nice tooth for pen work.
I particularly like the versatility of the Watercolour Notebook which, when opened fully, gives a possible canvas of 41cm x 13cm (Actually I’ve recently been adapting the pages to add an extra fold out leaf to give me a 61cm width!)
It’s also fairly easy to turn 90 to work in portrait. (Although a portrait-orientated Notebook could give a canvas size of 20cm x 26cm – which would be fun)

Liz Steel recently road tested Moleskine’s newer model of their Watercolour Notebook
Read her review Here.

This is the third part of my travels through my sketching kit. Read about the other bits at these links:

Part 1: Pens

Part2: Waterbrushes

or read the whole lot, so far, on my Materials page.


These certainly are a valuable addition to any painters outdoor kit. Eliminating the need for cumbersome and fiddly pots of water whilst working out of studio.

Materials - Brushes - waterbrush smThey provide convenience and ease; only requiring a slight squeeze of the handle to express water from the bristles.
Cleaning the brushes is just as easy – squeezing the reservoir and wiping the brush head with a tissue.

Many companies produce these handy devices now, but I would recommend finding ones with a filter behind the nib – to stop colour washing back into the reservoir (Although i know of some artists who actually prefer the colour to wash back into the reservoir!)

The brand I currently use is by Kuretake.

They are available in Fine, Medium, Large and Broad heads and being fairly cheap it’s useful to have all four types.

One thing that I find particularly useful is that, carrying all four water brushes means that should you empty one water brush reservoir it’s fairly strait forward to swap reservoirs with one of the others.


This is the second part of my review of my Sketchkit materials.

Read about my Pens here.

Uni Pin fine line pens

After much trial and error I discovered Uni Pin fine liner pens. These are produced by Mitsubishi.
These are the ones that I use the most. I do use other pens for more specific tasks, But Uni Pin are the ones I prefer for both studio work and urban sketching.
I tend to favour    0.05    0.1    0.2    0.3    0.8             But 0.4 and 0.5 are also available. As well as all 7 nib sizes being available in Black, Red and Blue.

Materials - Pens - Unipin smLines are consistent. And there are no problems with ink flow.
The ink dries very quickly on contact with a suitable surface, which needs to be porous, but not on waxed or plasticised surfaces.
The pens work well on the paper of both the Moleskine watercolour and sketch books.
The ink is waterproof, after a second or two, and doesn’t show any bleeding when washed with watercolour

I would say that the lifespan of the pens is fairly lengthy; allowing for pretty much heavy use over about three weeks. But, of course this will vary with the amount of pen work that you do.
As the pen nears it’s, fairly lengthy, lifespan, and the ink begins to run out, lines and ink flow become less defined and the pens can be used for lighter shading work.

They can be bought individually and in packs of five (0.1,   0.2,   0.3,   0.5,  0.8)

At the moment I tend to use specific sizes of pen for specific jobs.

0.8 – For initial outlining
0.3 – For titles
0.2 – For general writing
0.1 – For internal lines and hatching and shading
0.05 – For additional hatching and shading; usually over the top of water colouring.


This post is part of a longer series about the materials that I use.

Cafe Royal – The first day of the holidays

There’s always that wonderful feeling – the first morning of the holiday.

Waking up to a fresh morning, with no work.

Cafe Royal - Breakfast sm


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