Thursday, 29 June 2017


Quick sketch. The lady did have a left hand, but I got my colouring wrong so left it out.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Play sketch

A test sketch made on the iPad from my imagination this lunch time. I find it slightly depressing that I can instantly achieve, almost, exactly what I want to create this way rather than with pen and ink on paper. It is just so much more fluid and instantly variable. Need to explore both media more.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Urban Sketching: Milton Keynes

VIsited Milton Keynes today and was quite pleased with the following ink sketches. I am approaching this style of work with the aim of jumping straight in and getting on with it. They are more laboured than I would like but that does give them more depth. On an iPad it is so much easier to vary line width rather than having to change pens and I much prefer having a little more flexibility with tools working that way. I am not quite happy with the lines and it will be interesting to come back and look at these in a few months time and see how things have evolved - which I hope they will have done.

Friday, 16 June 2017

St Albans Sketch

I had a few minutes spare whilst waiting to go to the dentist today and so did this quick sketch in St Albans. I only managed to get an outline down in ten minutes or so and so worked on it more during my lunch break. Am I happy with it? Partly. It is just taking lots of practice.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Garden in June

The garden seems to be deciding to grow at last. Each year I get the impression that it is several weeks behind what is generally happening in gardens at large. This year is no exception. There was a cold, dry spring and now, after some rain a couple of weeks ago and the present warm weather, plants look like they are growing. Two successive sowings of parsnips failed to materialise and my onion sets are not much bigger than when I planted them around Easter. Fortunately a few things have not succumbed to the elements or eaten by something. Lettuces, runner beans, courgettes, sweetcorn and strawberries a doing well. The latter have given us a plentiful crop off only a few plants. The roses are doing well with profuse blooms in places but the honeysuckle doesn't seem to like the garden and is rather spindly. My hop plant is progressing very slowly and I do hope it does something as I adore the smell of them in late summer when they flower. All the things that have done well are those sown from seed under cover. Most seeds sown in the soil have perished apart from the spinach. The lavender is nearly out and at last the flower beds are filling out bit. I am trying not to buy much this year though unfortunately I have a few gaps near the house which might just have to filled after a visit to a garden centre. Shhh, don't tell the wife....

Wednesday, 14 June 2017


A warm sunny evening in the garden and there is the faint scent of elderflower drifting on the breeze. At last there is a stable spell of warm weather. This year has been so varied and I hope now that the garden will catch up a little. It seems so slow to get going this year so roses, honeysuckle and other odd flowers are a welcome sight. Now I am trying to maintain the flow a writing for a while.

I think I have written about prayer before and the subject just came to me as I was walking down the garden path wondering what to write about. In a sentence I could just say "Yeah, fine. It's just a thing that makes me feel good about myself when I think of other people for once" and leave it at that.

This is not the place to battle with age old arguments for and against it. Perhaps my sentence is true and what difference is there in purposefully wondering how to get things to grow in the garden with praying for a sick relative? I like the idea of intention. If I am to apply my thoughts to something or someone then what is my intention in doing so? I mustn't pray just so that I can get a nice warm fuzzy feeling for having spent a moment thinking about someone else and boosting my ego. Though that can be kind of pleasant. It is, I think, about entering into a mindful 
process that is reaching out to something that is bigger than yourself. For me, that thing is the underlying connectedness that holds the world together. It isn't about petition or asking the impossible, it is about connecting with my belonging. That gives me peace. If I bring people into the equation then that will change how I relate to them. In the garden, on the motorway, at my work desk, chatting to people in the cafe... - these are all places that I visit and therefore places I make a connection with. People don't see me as a wise old sage who can offer wisdom and counselling in times of need apart from the occasional exception. If my intention behind what I do is right, then all I can do is try and pray. It may well be that what will be will be, but I am sure there are connections somewhere and there is no harm in trying and so bringing others into my world.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017


feel as though I ought to write more. I miss doing so and more often than not the reason I don't write is because I don't know what to write about. My father didn't seem to pass on his genes of political discussion, debate and opinion to me. If he did, they are very rarely stimulated into action. This does frustrate me as most people around me seem to have the ability to discuss something in depth that leaves my brain struggling to cope with with sentence construction. I depends though. I don't think I am being particularly selfish in not wanting to engage with people. The opposite is true. I want to, but I don't NEED to. I am now wondering if I am reaching a point where this is no longer true. It is not easy and I usually have to make a conscious effort to engage.

This does, to my surprise, link up with what I had originally thought about writing today. Prejudice, descrimination, preconceived ideas and perceptions about other people that I might have. I'm not stupid enough to see the world through rose-tinted spectacles and know that I can't live in a utopia of love and peace. Not at the moment anyway. Part of my faith system suggests that I am tolerant and respectful of all living things. I should not separate out the conifered hills of Herefordshire, the walled garden at Croft Castle, the honeysuckle next to me in the garden or the Muslim/Asian/Eastern European communities around where I live. They are all part of the wholeness that makes up this earth. Everyone suffers emotional or physical pain inflicted intentionally or unintentionally upon them, that is part of life. I wonder if I have held onto things for too long. I wonder if my more people-centred/urban sketching artwork can help me....?

Monday, 12 June 2017

Christian Druidry Revisited

Several years ago (was it really 9?) I wrote a blog post here entitled the 'Christian Druid' in an attempt to find a way through the thoughts I was having about my spiritual life. I was trying to reconcile a few problems I has having with an evangelical Christian faith, connection with the natural world and creativity. I found a path that seemed more in tune with me personally and the post provoked a few interesting comments. In simple terms I found that I was very interested in aligning my ideas with the more philosophical and nature based ideas surrounding modern druidry, neo-paganism or whatever you want to call it.

A few days ago I received a comment on the blog wondering where I was with things now. A good question. Now how do I answer it? I answer it with caution in the sense that I don't always feel comfortable sharing with other people and what I write is in the public domain. I also don't want to delve too much into the workings of my mind which I have a sneeking suspicion may not always be working quite in the way I would like. 

Rather than ramble on for hours, I could redirect you to the author and blogger Nimue Brown ( Her frequent posts and thoughts on her path have been found to be very helpful to me. She covers anything from politics, nature awareness, mental health issues, sexuality, topical news stories and a host of other things from a druid/pagan perspective. I don't necessarily agree with everything she says, but her view on what her spirituality means to her from a day to day perspective I find very encouraging.

Over the past few years I have read quite a few books that I have found by searching through Amazon - either physical books or Kindle downloads. Finding authors who have something meaningful to say is easier here as there are usually plenty of reviews by which to judge what will be interesting. Nimue's book 'What happens when a pagan prays' was such a welcome find and provided an interesting insight into a surprising subject.

My path is evolving. I am not hugely interested in social media so finding connections with like minded people is not easy. They pop up occasionally and then life changes and I am left to my solitary walk again. Well, it isn't really. I am beginning to think that a more people-centric life enables me to bring my path alongside those around me at home, at work, at church and when I am out drawing. It is a slow process. That is how things seem to work with me. I sit and wait. I explore, I wait. I observe, I wait. I talk to people and I wait. Small steps. I feel as though my solitary self-centered, getting lost in the wilds of the countryside 'me' is shifting to another perspective. 

So, faith? Sometimes I think there is nothing there. Sometimes I just want to dance in the joy knowing that I am someone who can just appreciate the world around me, natural, physical or otherwise. Sometimes there is fear. Sometimes there is no need to fear.

Perhaps there is nothing. But there is ME! I am here. There is a journey to explore, a world of interesting things around me and I am finding a way through it all in a way that feels genuine to me. 

Urban Sketching

Ever since I fell in love with the the pen and ink illustrations of Ronald Searle, I have been enticed to attempt to draw people in places such as towns, cafes or any where else they might congregate. I have always been held back by a lack of confidence and a feeling of not really knowing what I want my drawings to look like. Most of my life I have been trying to find artistic inspiration in the natural world around me. This is fine but, as I find myself more and more drawn to urban environments just through the necessities of living, I find my artwork is taking on a new sense of direction and interest. Without going into too much detail I get a sneaking suspicion that this is also a consequence, or reaction to, some long term health issues and medication. My art has to evolve and looking back I wonder if I should have done more training. Creativity has always been a personal journey and, fortunately, has more than adequately kept me employed even though what I do in my own time is very different to the artwork I do for International Greetings.

Each lunchtime I look forward to going to a small cafe where I have freedom to sit in a corner and sketch the people around me - it is a fun and creative time. It has also become a little social world and I can end up spending an hour talking to new acquaintancies.

I don't always find it easy finding a comfortable place in an urban/social setting in which to sketch. Sometimes I feel quite secure and relaxed. Other times I can feel exposed and self-conscious. What I am trying to do is to learn a confident way of  drawing what I want to draw. It is a big learning curve for me. What I also suspect is coming out of the process is a subtle change in how I view and relate to people. This could be part of a journey that is initiating some subtle emotional healing. I have moved away from the iPad and back to my sketchpad. I would prefer to use the iPad because of the tools available to me but I think there is a greater discipline in moving back to traditional pen and ink illustration. It just has a fluidity and character that I can't get on a small screen and it works in bright sunlight. One day, it would be interesting to try out one of the large 12.9 inch iPad Pros in this context. However, I am not sure I really want to carry around an £700 sketchbook and a £100 Apple Pencil in the middle of Luton!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Sketching in Hitchin

A series of fountain pen sketches made a week ago in Hitchin. I've been working hard on developing this style of drawing over the past few weeks. In fact, I feel as though it has taken me 30+ years to get to this point - finally something seems to be fitting into place. They are fun, quick, loose sketches and I am fairly pleased with them.