Monday, 21 December 2020

Hop Picking


This took a bit of working on and I could have tweaked it here and there. This is a hop picking machine I visited in September in Worcestershire. The two workers are attaching the hop bines brought in from the hop yards to the trackway. The hops are then lifted into the picking machine which strips the hop cones from the bines, removes all the stalks and leaves, and carries the cones off to to be dried. Just outside the shed himalayan balsam and woody nightshade were growing. I added them in, along with a few hops at the top, to frame the image.

I started by drawing a outline A3 sketch in pencil which I then scanned. From then on I worked entirely on the iPad, using the split screen function to view reference photos and my working image side by side. The final image was A3, 300 dpi and 190MB. With such a large file size I was limited to 30 layers so had to keep flattening parts as I progressed. 

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Classic Pizza Company

 The Classic Pizza Company at Orleton Court Farm in Worcestershire serving up delicious pizzas paired with craft beers brewed onsite with home-grown hops. This illustration took probably the longest time I have ever spent on an artwork in terms of production, not actual drawing time. I have been dipping in and out of it over several months, eager to work on it but somehow finding it hard to concentrate on the detail and apprehensive of what direction it was going to take. I am fairly happy with the result, though  I had considered redoing it to make a few improvements.

Monday, 19 October 2020


Another example of me not drawing what I had been planning to draw, but what I wanted to draw.


Sunday, 11 October 2020


Have done very little in the way of creating pictures for several months now. I spent quite a while concentrating on my writing and then got buried in decorating the house. There are a couple of picture ideas I want to work on but they will be time consuming and I am finding it hard to get motivated to start them. I began one, then decided to have a fall whilst decorating and bruised my ribs badly on the back of the sofa. In an attempt to do something creative whilst recovering I drew the above mainly as a playful doodling exercise to see what would appear.


Monday, 31 August 2020


New woodshed made from odd bits of wood and metal sheets lying around the garden. Now I will have decent dry wood for the chiminea.


Sunday, 30 August 2020

Sketching People

Sketches drawn over a few hours in Hitchin yesterday. The basic line work was created with a fountain pen and then I added the watercolour washes and some bolder ink lines at home to enhance the images.


Last year, fields of maize were harvested for biomass near Hitchin and the chopped maize stored in long sealed bags at the field edge (at a guess about 15ft wide and well over 100ft + long - like an enormous sausage). Passed the site today and saw this machine, a Ropa Euro Maus, waiting to unload the bag into a large articulated lorry. Unfortunately, I didn't see it in action because the lorry it was loading had got stuck in mud. After a few attempts of using a JCB telehandler to push it free, the lorry had to empty out its load (walking floor, not a tipper) until it was light enough to be pulled out using the JCB and a heavy chain. The lorry then drove off, empty.

I had only ever seen machines like this on YouTube used to load sugarbeet from stockpiles in fields into lorries - with a different header. I decided to adjust the photo I took and make it into a rather more interesting illustration on my iPad.




Sunday, 23 August 2020

August Garden

 A few photos taken today of the garden.

Sunday, 19 July 2020


Sketch drawn whilst sitting outside The Cog Cafe in Tring. I was pleased with this as I had a comfy seat and various nibbles to keep me going. There weren't many places to sit and watch people so this was ideal. People didn't stop and stand much so I had to add the characters afterwards.  Could have added more but didn't want to take too much advantage of my perch. There was no direct sunlight which was good as I would have had the sun in my eyes which would not have been much fun.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Walled Garden

The walled garden at The Whittern in Herefordshire where we stayed last week. The evening sunshine, when we had it, was wonderful and produced some gorgeous greens when the beech hedges were backlit. I captured the effect over a couple of evenings. I was just in time as the hedges were trimmed the day after I finished this.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Titley, Herefordshire

Three sketches made near Titley in Herefordshire whilst on a recent walk: a large beech tree growing in an old quarry, a sunken road leading down to the River Arrow and an old barn. These worked well - I had better lighting (no bright sunshine) and comfortable places in which to perch.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Westonbury Water Garden

The cuckoo clock at Westonbury Water Garden near Pembridge in Herefordshire. A beautiful, luscious garden with wonderful plants and quirky follies. Halfway into drawing this the sun came out which made seeing the image on my iPad almost impossible, plus it was very hot. Still, I was pleased with the result.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

River Teme

Two quick sketches of the River Teme at Shelsley Beauchamp in Worcestershire.  In the first one I wanted to capture the pink flowers of himalayan balsam. I would have liked to have zoomed in on the flowers but didn’t have the will power to do so. The bank of the river was very steep here and I couldn’t easily access the plants at close range. The black and white picture is the view from the bridge over to the orchards and hills. I could have done it in colour but I only had a few minutes spare and decided to work in greyscale instead.

Thursday, 2 July 2020


Doodling on the iPad is wonderful when something emerges out of all the rubbish scribbly stuff I do that gets deleted time and time again. Started with a few flowing lines which then developed into hills and the rest followed.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Ice Cream Shop

Drawn whilst sitting in the garden this afternoon. Looks like a place I'd like to visit one day!

Garden Plants

A variety of plants in the garden.

Sunday, 14 June 2020


Two sketches. The first was just me playing around with an idea, and the second is a quick sketch made in the garden.

Saturday, 6 June 2020


It has taken a good week or so to decided how to illustrate a wonderful bloom of honeysuckle found whilst on a bike ride. This has worked, though it felt a rather complicated task and I had to simplify it as I wanted to move on.

Sunday, 31 May 2020


The garden is looking good this year, although it is very dry. As usual, the hops are the fastest growing plants and are already a good six feet high. Vegetables are slowly getting going. I always say the garden is a late garden, I put it down to the conifers in neighbouring gardens. A lorry load of woodchip from some tree cutting nearby has enabled me to resurface the paths and have little left over (or rather, a lot). I've decided to let some rough edges and weeds exist this year to increase the biodiversity. Just occasionally I see some interesting insects and want to see what I can attract by leaving nature to do what it does best.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Garden Sketch

Fountain pen sketch of the garden this evening.

Monday, 25 May 2020


This is a sketch of woodland near Knebworth today. A hot day with bright sunshine. The colours of the leaves were so vivid with the sunlight behind them. Several of my recent pictures have been experiments in using lighting effects to a greater extent. I have been inspired by many images on Instagram and I now trying to nudge my illustrations up a level.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Cow Parsley

This picture was meant to be a couple having afternoon tea in a garden. However, I got stuck planning the illustration and deciding how to draw the characters. After spending a week or so doodling ideas I then decided to draw this. (Affinity Designer on iPad)

Sunday, 10 May 2020


The first radishes picked from the garden. For once, I knew exactly where I wanted to go with this sketch and it worked well. Perhaps I will do more like this as I am not out and about as much at the moment along with everyone else. I am missing going out and sketching in cafes so enjoying a few challenges attempting different illustration styles.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Flower Lady

I wanted to do more of of an illustration as I hadn't used Affinity Designer for a while. I didn't really know where I was going with it and vector work seems much slower to do on the iPad, though there are advantages and it forces me to work in a different way. Not sure where the idea came from, I think it was a doodle I did one day.

Saturday, 2 May 2020


A very rare excursion for me into the world of portraits.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Working from home

Working from home. Gave myself 49 minutes to do this, the length of a particular CD I was listening to.

Sunday, 26 April 2020


 I am enjoying the results of doing some illustrations like this, though I don't really enjoy the process of doing them. This took a while to do, according to my iPad it took 14 hours and 28 minutes. I tend to get distracted easily so I hid myself in the summerhouse today to finish it off.  90% pleased with the result.

Shed Wall

What's on the wall: sketch for Beds Urban Sketchers challenge. Decided to draw what was on my shed wall.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Street View

I am doing a few sketches as part of a challenge set by Bedfordshire Urban Sketchers group, of which I am part. This was a very, very quick ink and watercolour sketch made on our driveway on the theme of 'Street View'. I will post some of the better drawings here, others are on instagram #matthewslaterart.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020


This was a pleasant challenge. I was inspired by stuff like this on Instagram and thought I would have a go. I am 95% pleased with it, not too happy with the figure but I had had enough of it after quite a few hours of stopping and starting and not being too sure how it would turn out. 

Garden Developments

As I have currently had a little more time on my hands due to having to work from home and take some holiday, I have been able to make a few small changes to the garden. Fortunately, I bought all my seeds and compost a day or so before the garden centres all closed.  I have restructured the pathway through the vegetable patch to form two paths and created a new pergola from pieces of woods I had been saving for a rainy day. Fortunately, the weather has been superb and after three or so days of hard work I am exhausted - what with taking up, pressure washing and relaying paving slabs; taking up turf, creating a path, redoing all the edging, reformating a flower bed, building the pergola, hand sieving my compost heap and loads of other fiddly jobs I am now ready to start sowing seeds. One of my neighbours resprayed nearly all his wooden fence panels and did our at the same time. Which was nice.

Monday, 30 March 2020


It might be a while until I see some hills like this again so I thought I would draw some. Thinking about all the people in Worcestershire around Ludlow/Tenbury Wells who suffered from flooding and now have to cope with the lockdown.

Thursday, 26 March 2020


Not quite sure why I drew this... I was scribbling one day and perhaps thinking about people isolating themselves. After the snowdrop picture this was a little more quirky.

Friday, 20 March 2020


Snowdrops, ivy and spotted deadnettle. I took a photograph of snowdrops in a churchyard a few weeks ago. This was used a base from which to work up this illustration. It has taken a while as I kept dipping in and out of it during lunch breaks, evenings and other odd moments. 

Friday, 13 March 2020

Wrest Park

The Pavilion at Wrest Park. A warm day, so very comfortable sketching outdoors. Bizarrely, my iPad run out of battery before I could finish it so had to add final few bits of undergrowth at home. Did a hard reset and it seems to be ok now.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Sketching in Bedford

Three sketches drawn in Bedford yesterday: La Piazza outdoor cafe and the Coffee with Art cafe. Drawn in-situ on the iPad. They were very quick and I was pleased with the results. I don’t find it easy to resolve detail on the small screen when working at speed as I try not to keep zooming in and out. Thus the line work is a bit scrappy but it does add more life to the drawing. One day I might get the larger iPad...