Monday, 11 December 2017

An End and New Beginnings

After a bit of thought, I have decided to close this blog down and begin a new journey on my main website. I set this blog up over 10 years ago and I think it has now run its course. The new blog will be similar and will have more of a focus on my illustrations and regular scribbles. If you wish to follow me on the new site then send me an email and I will aim to send out a little update each month in return. This is still work in progress and I will see how things develop.

This blog site will be close sometime early in 2018

Please now find me at:

Thank you, Matthew
December 2017

Sunday, 22 October 2017

St Albans Sketch

Photo of the pen and ink illustration in my sketchbook from yesterday. French Row in St Albans.

Drawing in St Albans

Sat outside Simmons Bakers in St Albans yesterday enjoying a cappuccino and drawing French Row.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

New Garden Path

A few days ago I spent a merry few hours building a new path through a patch of lawn. This now completes the path all the way up the garden to the summerhouse - a job that I had been planning to do for a long time. Near the house is a patch of patio that is rather dead space perhaps around 8m squared in area. It had originally been covered with paving blocks which, sometime ago, I relocated and then filled the remaining hole with hardcore and topped with woodchip. To make the above path I dug up the larger pieces of hardcore (bricks and old concrete path) crom the patio and reburied it in a trench along the path line. The soil and turf removed will then be replaced back over the patio space to form a new lawn by the house. The path was edged with recycled plastic lawn edging from Homebase and woodchip salvaged from the patio area. I'll put new woodchip on the path when I can get hold of some or buy some. Hopefully it will be last time I see that hardcore and that it now has a permanant home. A pity in some ways as moving it all was an excellent workout! I still have a few lumps of concrete that I didn't have space to bury and so might just move these round the garden every few weeks to keep me fiit.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

New Journeys

My new sketchbook is proving to be a pleasure to carry around and it is beginning to fill up with scribbles, doodles, notes, prayers and anything else I want to add. Its arrival seems to have coincided with some new and interesting challenges in life and I hope it will be a way for me to try and find a path through them over the next few months. I may share more about that in the future.

I seem to have got bored with the iPad in the sense that I find it a little restrictive in how I want to physically move about on the screen and also the fact that it is yet another digital screen. After looking at my mac at work for hours on end each day I want a break from the digital world. A larger iPad might perhaps be good, or one of the new touch screen things that are becoming popular - a Wacom Cintiq or a cheaper equivalent. Technology moves fast and there are increasing opportunites for alternative working methods for designers but they are still not cheap and I am not sure I could justify the investment. That is one thing about a humble sketchpad and pen, it doesn't cost much and hand created artwork somehow seems much more pleasurable to handle and show people.

I don't always find it easy to focus or maintain a direction with my art and at the moment I think I need the sketchbook to nurture my creative soul. I always jump around between one thing and another: urban sketching, character design, cartoons, caricatures, whimsical ideas and nature based art. My mind switches between things depending on the inspiration around me and I get easily distracted. This isn't helped by some medication I am on that slows me down and getting my brain in gear to be creative can feel like hard work. 

A few days ago I was talking to a guy at work who seems to spend his lunchtimes and evenings glued to a computer screen doing some form of artwork. I can't work that way, it would be too stressful to me. I have done it in the past but now, in my more mature years, I can't cope with excessive hours in front of a computer screen. In some ways I would be happy to get rid of all the technology around me and be free of its seductive lure. In other ways I wish I could embrace it more and have the time and space to explore my own creative dreams.

Monday, 28 August 2017

New sketchbook

Summer holidays and experiences are great time for thinking about change. Have decided to change my rough and rather scrappy sketchbooks into more of a journal. Bought a new hardback A4 sketchbook today with a stitched spine rather than wire. This should make doing larger illustrations easier as well as an encouragement to draw more acurately and make notes, write things etc in a more constructive way. Also bought some wonderful 'Aqua Flo' watercolour brushes that can actually be filled with water or coloured inks. This will make doing more tonal sketches far easier as I can work loosely in watercolour with just a dab of paint on a jam jar lid and have a flexible watercolour brush that can add water by squeezing just when I need it and without all the fuss of water pots etc. That has also saved buying a new IPad and Apple pencil! Looking forward to seeing how it will work out. Filled in the title page this evening.

Tiny Tea Tent

The best place to draw and meet people at Greenbelt: the Tiny Tea Tent. Visited Greenbelt for one day this year and really enjoyed my day there. The Tiny Tea Tent provided endless varieties of tea but only one type of coffee. Not sure how my first cup of the day was brewed but the second, in the evening, came in a one cup cafetierre and was delicious. Apart from doing lots of sketching here and chatting to a few unknown people, managed to help light some of the many candle lanterns in the evening. Must return again sometime!